Whether your hair is freshly cut or lacks a little lustre, hair extensions are an easy way to achieve length, volume, or a bit of both. Read on to discover everything you wanted to know about hair extensions: from the different types and methods of applying, to the best hair extension brands. Your journey to mermaid hair starts here…
Types of Hair Extensions
If you’re new to the world of hair extensions, you’d be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed at the many varieties on offer. Depending on your hair type, hair length, and how long you want to keep the extensions in, here are the options available:
Micro Bead Extensions
Micro bead extensions are applied by looping the extensions through natural hair, and clamping it down with a metal bead to fix it in place. Micro beads are one of the most popular forms of extensions as they don’t use as much heat as pre-bonded, and therefore lessen the risk of damage to the hair. However, some heat is still applied to fix the metal in place, which does carry a risk of transfer onto the hair. Micro bead extensions last from 2-4 months.
Weave Hair Extensions
Weave extensions are primarily designed for thicker hair types, which is why this method tends to be dominated by black hair extensions brands. The natural hair is braided into a corn row, and extensions are then attached using a needle and thread. As weave extensions can be quite tough on the hair and the head, this method is not recommended for fine tresses. Weave hair extensions can last anywhere between 2-6 months depending on maintenance.
Tape Hair Extensions
There are plenty of high quality tape in hair extensions brands out there, and they are quick and easy semi-permanent option. These extensions are pre-taped and sandwiched on either side of your own hair for an instantly fuller effect. Tape extensions can last between 6-12 weeks, and are usually of a lower quality than weave or micro-beads, but a lot easier to apply.
Pre-Bonded/Hot Fusion Keratin
One of the most popular types of hair extensions, known primarily for their long-lasting effect. Pre-tipped/bonded bundles of hair are attached using different adhesives, such as glue or keratin. A heating tool helps to connect the hair extensions to the natural hair, and creates a look that should last for approximately six months. Although a great option if you want your extensions to last as long as possible, this method can damage the hair due to its inclusion of polymers. This has recently led to the development of cold fusion keratin, designed to be more gentle on the hair.
Ideal for reinventing your look without the commitment, clip-ins are for daily use, easy to fix to the hair, and risk averse when it comes to damage. No wonder they are one of the top hair extension methods.
Halo Hair Extensions
Fairly new to the hair extensions market, Halo Hair uses a transparent thread that you can easily place on and off the crown of the head. Usually very high quality, Halo Hair is thicker than most hair extensions and, once again, means that your natural hair won’t be at risk from heat damage.
Human Hair vs. Synthetic Hair
When it comes to the texture and type of hair extensions, most brands offer either human or synthetic hair. The best human hair extension brand are Remy, whose virgin extensions are made from 100% human hair that has not been dyed or altered. With Remy extensions, the hair cuticle is preserved instead of stripped, and the hair runs in the same direction, maintaining that natural, soft texture. Because it’s human hair, it also means you can style and dye it in the same way as you would your own.
Synthetic hair is a great option if you’re looking for a cheaper way to reinvent your look, or test out a new style before you decide to permanently take the plunge. However, synthetic hair extensions are not as high quality as human hair, and so do have some disadvantages. As synthetic hair is often coated with silicone to give it the shine that natural hair has, they are likely to look dull and lacklustre over time. Additionally, because natural and synthetic textures are very different, you may find it difficult to blend your silicone extensions with your natural hair. It’s also important to keep in mind that if you like styling your hair on a regular basis, synthetic hair tends to tangle easily and struggles to withstand heat.
Colour matching is one of the most important steps to take if you want to make your hair extensions look as natural as possible – but, depending on your hair colour, this can be rather difficult. Blonde hair, for example, is notorious for being difficult to match, as the colour is less forgiving and even the slightest difference can be very noticeable. However, there are a few simple tips you can follow if you want your extensions to blend effortlessly.
Firstly, think about the tone of your hair. Undertones in particular are an important detail to keep in mind when looking for your perfect match. If you have blonde hair, is it ashy or golden? If you have brown hair, does the colour contain warmer or cooler undertones? These are all things to consider when choosing the top hair extension style for you.
If you’re still in doubt as to what your perfect shade is, many of the top hair extension companies have colour matching services, where colourists will find the shade for you. These are qualified experts so use their judgement if you can.
Finally, if you’re still in doubt, opt for a shade you think might be slightly lighter than your hair colour. Many extensions have been bleached or lightened prior to being distributed, and so bleaching them again could cause further damage. Dying them darker, however, shouldn’t affect the hair, particularly if they’re of high quality.
Hair Extension Brands 101
When it comes to finding the best hair extension brands, there are a few that stand out from the rest. These brands provide consistent quality for a range of budgets – proving that hair extensions don’t always have to mean a big investment! Here are some of the top hair extension brands:
Lullabellz – One of the best companies for affordable hair extensions, Lullabellz provides a wide range of synthetic and human hair wefts, all pre-styled so no heat is needed.
HQ Hair – Stocks a wide range of BeautyWorks Hair Extensions, widely known to be one of the best clip in hair extensions brands around.
Very Exclusive – Stockists of Extension Professional, which receives consistently high praise when it comes to hair extension reviews, and produces quality human hair extensions.
Treatwell – Treatwell salons stock some of the best Remy hair extension brands – including Remy’s virgin extensions – and provide consistently good results. They also offer Vixen and Blush, one of the best clip in hair extensions options.
Barefoot Blonde Hair – Blogger Amber Fillerup fast became known for her beautiful head of hair, which she admitted was in fact the work of extensions. She’s now launched her own company, which is fast becoming one of the most popular hair extension brands around. Using 100% Remy hair, this line is particularly good for those with blonde locks who wish to emulate Amber’s Rapunzel style.
Lauren Pope Hair Extensions – When it comes to celebrity hair extensions, TOWIE star Lauren Pope’s line has received consistently good reviews from customers and beauty insiders. Not only does it feature natural hair, but also it’s becoming one of the most popular synthetic hair extensions brands, with its excellent colour matching service.
Babyliss Styleable Hair Extensions – A great option for beginners wishing to dip their toe into the world of extensions, Babyliss’ line features a range of synthetic hair from as little as £29.99.
Hershesons – Simply one of the best brands of hair extensions out there, Hershesons consistently produces quality human hair products.
Citrus Beat – Citrus beat brand hair extensions are another popular product range. A favourite amongst beauty bloggers, they receive consistently good reviews.
Balmain Hair – Widely known as the celebrity’s choice, this is also an option if you want to try out some new styles with one of the best clip in hair extensions brands currently on the market.
Celebrities With Hair Extensions
Va Va Volume
Top Hair Extension Tips
- New to hair extensions? Start with clip-ins to see if you like the effect.
- If you decide you want your extensions to become semi-permanent, do your research and think about what method is right for you.
- Remember to consult a colourist if you’re buying online, and if in doubt go lighter than your natural colour so you can dye it darker without causing damage.
- Start with synthetic if you simply want to experiment with your look, but remember that the best quality hair extensions are usually human hair – and worth paying a little extra for.
- Don’t forget to blend your style as much as possible by having the extensions cut to suit your natural crop.
So what have you got to lose? Take inspiration from your favourite celebrities this season and give extensions a go!
Read more great articles on women’s beauty here at alexie.co.