Hair extensions can be an excellent way to get length without taking the time or effort to grow your hair out. They aren’t without their disadvantages, however. Extensions must be properly applied and maintained carefully to keep them in good condition and avoid damage to your natural hair. They can also be costly, rising in price if you choose longer or better quality extensions. If you’d like to add gorgeous length to your hair overnight, you’ll need to consider a few things before jumping in.
1. Application Methods
Hair extensions come in a few basic types: sewn, woven, glued and clip styles. Sewn and woven extensions produce the longest-lasting, most natural-looking results, but they take a lot longer and tend to cost more. Glued extensions are less expensive and easier to apply, but are appropriate for a limited range of styles only. Clip extensions are best if you want to add length for just a short period of time and are concerned about cost or hair damage. They produce a very temporary result that must be styled carefully to hide the clips, but work well for special events.
2. Hair Types
Extensions can use different types of hair, too. Natural human hair is the most authentic-looking, but also the most expensive and difficult to care for. This kind of extension can be easily dyed, highlighted, cut and styled just like your natural hair. In many cases, natural hair extensions require extra conditioning to prevent breakage. Synthetic extensions, such as kanekalon, are much less costly and do not dry out as easily as easily, but are harder to cut and style. They also often have a shiny appearance that keeps them from blending in with your own hair. Stick to these extensions if you want bright, artificial colors such as pink or blue, or if you intend to wear your extensions part-time.
The cost of hair extensions varies by the salon, the amount of hair applied, the type of hair and the technique used to apply it. Clip-in extensions can cost $10 to $15 for simple synthetic color accents, or up to $200 for natural human hair extensions for most of the head. Having more permanent extensions applied at the salon costs between $400 and $800 for a partial head and anywhere from $1,300 to $4,000 for natural human hair applied for volume and/or length. In general, sewn or woven extensions cost more and bonded or glued extensions cost less.
Hair extensions aren’t necessarily damaging to your natural hair, but they can cause serious problems when misapplied. If your stylist puts a woven or sewn set of extensions in too tightly, it can result in a problem called traction alopecia. The tension on your natural hair causes it to fall out at the roots, resulting in thinning hair or a receding hairline. The wrong care can also produce damage. If grease or dirt are allowed to build up on your scalp, you may suffer from itching and irritation. You could also develop flaking skin. Wash your hair gently and condition it thoroughly to keep your natural hair in good condition while you’re wearing extensions. Always make sure you choose a stylist who will put the extensions in carefully to prevent any hair loss. Avoid extensions that are heavier than your own hair, since they’re more likely to put stress on the follicle.
Hair extensions can be treated much like your own hair, but do require some extra care. For instance, brushing your hair requires a special brush or comb made to avoid damaging the bond or the new hair. Gentle shampoos keep the hair from drying out or the scalp from becoming irritated, while regular conditioning with a light product keeps all your hair soft, supple and healthy. Since extensions can be difficult to untangle, consider sleeping with them braided or in a bun to reduce knotting. Every few months, you may need to go back to the salon to get the extensions reapplied, since they will migrate down your head as your natural hair grows. Colored extensions may need periodic touch ups as well.