Have you ever wondered how some celebrities change their “look” from short hair to long hair overnight? For ordinary mortals, getting a bob cut means accepting that for months they won't be able to wear a ponytail or updo with dignity. But they are able to get it from one red carpet to another. How do they do it? As you can already guess, the answer to those drastic overnight makeovers is in hair extensions.
Hair extensions are used both to give length to the mane and to add volume to the hair. Although they also serve to add nuances of colour to the mane. They are ideal for women with fine hair or low density in the mane, as well as for those who have cut their hair and need to regain a certain length.
But facing hair extensions for the first time can raise many doubts in relation to what type of extensions to choose, how to take care of them and what effects they will have on the health of our hair. Here we try to solve them.
Types of hair extensions
First of all, it should be remembered that we will find synthetic and natural hair extensions, with obvious price differences. But the first decision we will have to make is whether we want fixed extensions or temporary ones. Depending on this, we can find removable, semi-permanent or permanent extensions. These are the most common types:
They are temporary hair extensions, which are often used to improve hairstyles and get them to reach the necessary volume. That is why many women resort to this type of removable hair extension that allows us to gain length and density in the hair at specific moments and instantly. Thus, they are placed before styling and are removed at the end of the day, when we go to bed. That is why it is common for many to go to the hairdresser with their hairpiece or have it at home to put it on themselves.
Clip extensions are a kind of hair curtains that include clips or hairpins for placement. Thus, it is enough to divide the hair into two sections, drawing a horizontal line at the middle of the head, to fix them.
The advantage of this type of removable extension is that they do not require the help of a professional for their placement. That is precisely why they are very comfortable since we do not have to sleep or wash our hair in the shower with them. In return, the volume or length of hair that is achieved with them disappears once we undo the hairstyle.
Also known as “tape”, they are a type of semi-permanent and adhesive extensions whose placement is quite simple. With a duration of up to three months and the possibility of reuse (up to three times), they are made up of horizontal and thin sections of hair.
They have the advantage that the adhesive tape that they include to fix them to the hair does not disturb the hair and allows the sections to blend in perfectly. They are also very easy to apply, even by non-professional hands. The key is to position them horizontally and parallel so that they adhere well to the hair and never obliquely.
In addition, they usually include replacement adhesives in case you have to repeat a job that has not turned out well. Of course, when removing them, it is necessary to apply a special solvent liquid to undo the glue.
When we talk about fixed extensions, we refer to this technique in which keratin is used as an adhesive to place strands as close to the hairline as possible. For this, a sufficient amount of hair is selected so that they are able to withstand the weight of the hairpiece without damaging the hair. That is why it is essential that these types of fixed extensions are fitted by an experienced professional.
To place the keratin extensions, a heat gun is used that melts the adhesive of each strand on the natural hair. That is why you can add as many strands as necessary to achieve the desired volume.
It is a very durable type of hair extension since it can remain in the hair for up to four months, as long as the maintenance is adequate.
They are those that are placed with small metal pieces that hold each strand. These staples are fixed and removed from the hair with the help of special pliers. There are also techniques such as the “micro ring” or “micro loop” that are placed on the lock of hair with the help of a plastic loop that allows the hair to be “threaded”.
The advantage of this type of extensions is that they do not need the application of any type of adhesive on the hair. Although we will have to touch up the extensions every month to upload them at the rate that natural hair grows. The other disadvantage of these types of extensions is that the staples can be uncomfortable and are not as invisible as the other methods.
This variety of extensions is characterized by the fact that it is placed on the hair by means of a horizontal braid that is made with the natural hair itself. Thus, a kind of curtain is configured that is integrated into the natural hair by means of this braid that acts as a support. This type of extension should be touched up approximately every 15 days.
Which are the most suitable?
For women with fine hair , it is advisable to opt for keratin or adhesive extensions. If instead, we are talking about thick hair, it is best to choose “micro ring” or sewn extensions. And if it is an African type of hair, we can choose the knot extensions without fear of damaging them or stitched them.
If this is the first time that we are going to use extensions, we can use the clip-on, removable, as an introduction. If we decide on a more durable solution, we can try the adhesive extensions for their comfort and ease when placing them. And, if we are looking for durable and quality extensions, it is best to opt for keratin ones, which are placed in professional salons.
In general, the extensions are suitable for all types of hair, except for cases with loss problems. Therefore, when it comes to the professional placement of hair extensions, a prior counselling session will always be necessary. In it, the expert will advise us on whether or not it is appropriate to use extensions, the most appropriate type in each case and the amount necessary to obtain the desired result.
How to care for extensions
If we are talking about semi-permanent and permanent extensions, it will be necessary to visit the beauty salon every two months (at least) to check its condition and perform maintenance. Each type of extension requires different care, but, in general, brushing the hair twice a day is recommended to remove tangles and keep the roots clean. It is important to avoid brushing wet hair as much as possible and wait for it to dry to detangle it.
This daily brushing of the extensions should be done with a soft brush that does not break the hair or the joints. It is important that brushing is from bottom to top: first to the ends, then to the middle and then to the roots.
To wash the hair, before doing so, it is advisable to untangle the extensions. Also, the idea is to use a special shampoo (especially if they are made of keratin) and massage the hair from top to bottom, never in the opposite direction. In addition, softening them with each mask wash to facilitate detangling will be essential. In fact, it is advisable to use a mask without rinsing on damp and clean hair.
At bedtime, it is recommended to do it with the hair in a not too tight ponytail or braid and never with wet hair.
If we want to shape our hair with extensions, we must make sure that they are suitable for the use of this type of tool (those with natural hair are the most suitable for this).
Can they damage hair?
Although it always depends a lot on the quality of the extensions and the professional's hand, in general, the extensions that involve the least risks are clip-on and adhesive. But that is where the expert's assessment should enter depending on the type of hair and the conditions in which it is found.
If the extensions are placed incorrectly or in hair that is inappropriate for the type of technique used, it is likely that they damage and weaken the root of the hair, causing it to fall. Likewise, poor maintenance of the extensions can have dire consequences on the health of our hair. Therefore, before committing to a specific technique, it is convenient to assess the maintenance costs to assess whether it really compensates us or not.