Hair extensions are by far the most luxurious salon or retail hair service, and finding the best extensions for your hair type can be quite a task. It should be considered the most affordable facelift as fuller hair makes every woman look at least 5 years younger. In our humble opinion, most people don’t appreciate the luxury of being able to get 100% human hair, whether it be length, volume or chemical-free highlights.
While there are many different brands and types of hair extensions available, it is important to remember that not all methods are created equal and that hair quality, craftsmanship, warranties, etc. vary greatly between manufacturers.
Choosing a brand and method of hair extensions can be overwhelming, but it is important that you choose the method that works best for you. This depends on several factors, including hair type, lifestyle and budget.
Hair extension methods can be divided into two different categories, each with a different method of attachment.
- Strand-by-strand – bonded, micro links and knotting.
- Wefted panels – tape in, clip in, flip in, sewn in and glued in.
Below you will find more information about the different methods, including budgets, advantages, disadvantages and recommended maintenance
Table of Contents
Strand By Strand
Strand-by-strand hair extensions utilize approximately 20-40 strands of hair that are glued/keratin or polyurethane joined together at one end. Strand-by-strand hair extensions are attached to small pieces/sections of the wearer’s hair using either warm ( bonded with a heat gun) or cold fusion (copper cylinder and plyers). Strand-by-strand hair extension systems are often referred to as keratin hair extensions, U or nail tips, flat tips or micro links and nanorings
Strand-by-strand bonding is attached to the hair using a heating element. Your hair is placed between the U-tips and sealed with a hot extension tool that melts the keratin glue and rolls into the hair. The best adhesive is close to the hair shaft, allowing a little room for movement. A large number of applications use 100-150 strands, while lengths may require up to 300 strands. The number of strands will depend on the wearer’s own hair count and length, desired look and length.
Budget: Most hair extension specialists do not charge separately for hair and application, most charge per appearance. The longer the application and the more hair used will determine the fee.
Budget: $500 – $2,500+
The cost of strand-by-strand hair extensions depends on the brand, how many strands are added, and in which city they are performed. Strand-by-strand hair extensions are usually the most expensive method because of the long application time, averaging 6-8 hours nationwide.
- Most suitable for thick, coarse hair.
- With proper maintenance, hair extensions can last 16-20 weeks, making this type the longest lasting application.
- Durability can also be a drawback. 80% of hair extension damage occurs after the 8th week of wear, so the longer the time, the greater the chance of hair breakage and loss.
- The most expensive method of hair extensions because of the long application and removal time.
- Most time-consuming to apply and remove. The national average application time is about 6-8 hours. An experienced hairdresser can complete an extensions treatment in 2-4 hours.
- The attachment points are hard after cooling and can be uncomfortable, especially during the first few weeks. Many wearers are agitated by the number of hard glue dots in their hair.
- Not reusable hair, requiring the purchase of new hair for each use.
- Heat is required for application, which not only causes damage to the stylist’s hands, but also to the client’s hair. Constant rolling is not ergonomic for the hairdresser.
- Special heat guns/tools/matches are required for application, which can burn the stylist and client if not used properly.
- Wearers often complain of headaches for a few days after application. You may also experience discomfort or an itchy scalp within the first few weeks of use.
- This application requires a high learning curve for the stylist and can lead to hair damage and breakage if not applied properly.
If not properly maintained, or combed often, hair can look like extensions because it looks like “spaghetti” hair.
Avoid any oil-based products or over-styling.
Cold Fusion, Micro-Links or I-tip:
Hair extensions are made by pulling a small section of your hair through a small cylinder/bead/lock and clamped in place with a pair of pliers. Reputable companies use copper cylinders lined with silicone to protect your natural hair from breakage.
Budget: $500 – $2,000+
The cost of strand-by-strand hair extensions depends on the brand, how many strands are added, and in which city they are performed.
- Since hair extensions are individual strands, the hair moves a little more naturally.
- No heat or glue is used in the application.
- The hair can be reused and any extensions that may slip or fall out can be repaired by an experienced technician in less than an hour.
- One of the most timely methods of hair extensions, the national average application time is 4-6 hours, while an experienced stylist can complete it in 2-3 hours.
If not placed properly, the beads or locks can be seen and slipped off more easily than with other methods.
- The attachment points are made of copper and are therefore hard and can be uncomfortable, especially in the first few weeks after use. Many wearers are annoyed by the many hard attachments to their hair.
- If tension is applied at the point of application, wearers often complain of headaches for a few days after application. Discomfort or an itchy scalp may also occur during the first few weeks after application.
- Not suitable for thin, fine hair, as the bonding, point can be seen through the hair.
- If the cooperating points are not closed correctly or precisely, they will have sharp edges that may cut the hair.
- Application of this method requires a high learning curve for successful application and removal and can lead to hair breakage and damage if not done correctly.
- The application requires the use of special tools for clamping, and the constant squeezing motion is not ergonomic for the stylist.
Avoid using oil or silicone-containing products near accessories.
A weft is defined as multiple hairs joined at one end. There are three types of weft available, machine made, hand tied or injection molded. Weft sizes range from 1 inch to 60 inches, but can be any length and applied to the hair in rows of panels rather than as individual strands. Weft can be applied with tape, clip glue or sewn in/braided methods.
Tape in Extensions:
Tape hair extensions are the newest method of hair extensions. Polyurethane-coated weft/panels with 1″ – 4″ long double-sided tape are applied to the sides of the wearer’s hair, “sandwiching” the user’s hair between the two panels.
Budget: $100 – $1,800
The cost of tape-in hair extensions will vary depending on the brand, hair type, stylist application fee and the number of boxes or plates of hair.
- The safest method of hair extensions because the weight of the panel is spread over a larger area without causing damage to the client’s hair.
- Fastest application method. Bulk application takes 10-30 minutes and full length application takes 40-60 minutes.
- Reusable, each hair extension lasts 6-8 weeks for your salon visit cycle.
- Reusable hair extensions that last 6-8 weeks per application to fit your salon visit cycle.
- The most natural method of hair extensions.
- The most comfortable method of hair extensions.
- No heat or tools required.
- The easiest method for hairdressers to learn, increasing the likelihood of client satisfaction.
- Hair should not be washed or excessively sweated for 24-48 hours after application, as the adhesive needs time to cure and adhere properly to the hair.
- Using any silicone or oil-based products directly on top of the adhesive may cause the panel to slip.
- Some companies’ tapes can be very sticky and messy when reapplied.
Avoid using any silicone or oil-based products on the roots of your hair. Comb your hair daily from root to tip. Do your hair as you normally would.
Hand tied hair extensions are ideal for people with thick and/or coarse hair. This method involves sewing multiple rows of “hand-tied” weft threads to the bead attachment points, which are made up of string/cotton thread.
The cost depends on the cost of the hair and the stylist’s application fee.
- The natural appearance and lightweight.
- Comfortable and imperceptible.
- Best for thick, coarse hair.
- Can be used on the scalp with oil-based products.
- No heat or glue is required for application.
- The tension point system can lead to hair loss in traction alopecia.
- Damaging to women with thinning fine hair and/or shallow follicular funnels.
- Not suitable for women who are experiencing hair loss.
- A difficult system to learn as it involves sewing and application that can take several hours.
- If hair extensions are not cleaned regularly, bacteria can build up and lead to infection.
- Hair extensions may feel uncomfortable and tight and cause headaches.
Wash your hair regularly. Avoid over-styling, as this can lead to the loosening of braids. Shampoo, blow dry, curl or straighten just like your normal hair for best results. Schedule maintenance appointments every 4-8 weeks for better results.
For short-term hair extensions, glue is applied to the base of the weft and attached to the hair. The weft will only stay on the hair for a few days and can be removed with an oil-based solvent.
Budget: $150 – $500
The cost of glue-in hair extensions depends on the cost of the hair and the stylist’s application fee.
- Suitable for people who want to get hair extensions in a short time without having to remove them before going to bed.
- It is the cheapest way to get hair extensions.
- The glue can cause damage to the hair if not applied or removed correctly.
- The weight of thick wefts may cause headaches or tension hair loss.
- If the glue is applied to the scalp during use, the hair follicles can become clogged, leading to bacterial scalp infections.
- Use only temporarily.
- Styling options are limited.
Hair must be reapplied every few days or after a shower.
Sew-in or braided
Sew-in or braided hair extensions, often referred to as weaves, are ideal for thick or coarse hair. The client’s hair is braided to create a base for the extensions, and then the weft is sewn into the braid using a needle and thread. This method is usually associated with ethnic hair wearers.
Budget: $200 – $500:
The cost of sew-in or braided hair extensions depends on the cost of the hair and the stylist’s application fee.
- An oil or silicone-based product can be used at the scalp, as slippage will not occur unless the braid becomes loose.
- Most suitable for thick, coarse hair.
- Application does not require heat or glue.
- Tension braids can cause hair loss from tension or traction alopecia.
- Application may take several hours.
- If hair extensions are not washed regularly, bacteria can build up and lead to infection.
- Hair extensions may be uncomfortable and cause headaches.
- There are limited options for styling hair.
Wash your hair regularly. Avoid over-styling, as this can lead to the loosening of braids. Shampoo, blow curl, or straighten as you would normal hair to achieve the best results.
Clip In Hair Extensions
Clip-in hair extensions are a temporary method of hair extensions that use small pressure sensitive clips to hold the weft of the hair. These are a great option for those who are not ready to wear hair extensions on a daily basis.
Best for special occasions or events, as hair extensions, can and need to be removed before bedtime. If you prefer to wear them without clips, there are also hair extensions that are attached using imperceptible wires. These clipless hair extensions are often referred to as halo hair extensions.
Budget: $150 – $600:
The cost of clip-in hair extensions depends on the type, brand, length, and weight of the hair.
- Greater versatility because of the option to apply and remove hair daily.
- Non-committal means you have the ability to change your hair color or style as often as you like.
- Hair can be taken in and out by the hair wearer without having to go to a licensed cosmetologist.
- Clip-in hair extensions should not be worn for long periods of time and must be removed before bedtime.
- Clips can cause hair loss if they are repeatedly clamped in the same place for a long period of time.
- Not suitable for thin, fine hair as the clip and base may be too bulky for the wearer.
- Hair will only last a few months unless used with proper care and maintenance.
Wash hair extensions only when needed and use a deep conditioner if hair becomes dry or shapeless. Use a wide tooth comb or Loop brush to comb through hair extensions. Comb before storage and store in a dark place, as prolonged exposure to light can fade the color.