Posted by Lisa Marquis

I Think I Want Hair Extensions, What Next?

What application is right for my hair? What kind of hair do I buy? How much does it cost? How long do they last? Will it make my hair fall out or break?

These are all valid questions, and the most commonly asked when clients are looking for hair extensions.

When shopping for hair extensions, there are several things to consider. First, talk to your hairstylist about which type he or she prefers. If your current stylist doesn’t work with hair extensions you will need a referral to someone who does. Consult with this stylist on what type of extensions they do (there are many different applications). Ask if they provide the hair for you or if you need to purchase your own.

Personally I feel it’s more professional to provide the hair to the client. This way the stylist is responsible for the color match, quality of hair and can take care of any returns if the hair isn't right. You as a client shouldn’t have to deal with these issues.

There are many different types of ways to apply hair extensions. You need to consider the condition of your hair in this process. If your hair is very damaged and you are considering extensions to get through a growing out process, then you should choose a method that is the least damaging to your hair. While we should always keep the health of the hair in mind in any hair service, stronger hair can take certain methods of hair extensions better than others.

For the purposes of this article, I am going to explore two different types of applications of extensions that I myself have done for years on my clients. I think these two are the best wearing, most comfortable and least damaging to the hair. PS I have worn both types myself, so I have first hand knowledge of how they feel.

First up is the sew-in method. In this method, the natural hair is tied off to make a “track” that the extension hair can be sewn to. The tied off hair is either braided to form the track, or it can be tied off in other ways, such as mini pony tails, clipped with metal rings, sealed with a type of silicone or with thread. If you choose the sew-in method, look for someone who’s willing to use thread, or perhaps small rubber bands or silicone to secure the tracks before sewing.

Sew In Hair Extensions

The other method I’m discussing today is the tape-in type of application. This method is more comfortable and less detectable than the sew-in type and is a bit more versatile. While the sew-in type can sometimes feel too bulky (and tight for the first few days, which may be painful for tender heads), the tape-in type generally skips this break-in period. Tape-ins are also more effective for finer and thinner hair which are the most common reasons people look for extensions to begin with.

Tape In Hair Extensions

The tape-in method is simple to apply: a small horizontal section of the natural hair is sectioned out, one extension piece is applied to the top and one to the bottom of this section; hence, a kind of “hair sandwich.” The extensions adhere to the natural hair with tape that is already affixed to each extension piece. In this manner, the hair stays flatter to the head, is less visible and more comfortable.

So you’ve chosen which method you want. Now it’s time to get the hair. Your stylist will color match your hair (by the way, it’s best to get your hair to the color you want before buying the extension hair; coloring the extensions is not forbidden but not recommended), together you will decide what length you’d like (tip: buy a little longer hair than what you think you want, this way you have more versatility in length once you get them on). Buy the best quality hair you can afford, you will be happier with it all around.

Cost can vary among stylists, of course. Some may charge a flat fee, others by the hour. Choose which method is most affordable for you, keeping in mind that the better you take care of your extensions, the less it can cost over all. How fast your hair grows also plays a part in how frequent your visits to the salon will be. The average client should be able to go at least six to eight weeks between visits. If you color your hair, you might want to time it so you can get both services done each time, which can limit your salon time. Also keep in mind that while wearing extensions you can sometimes get by with partial color services, as the extensions will cover the portions of your hair that you don’t color. Discuss this with your stylist.

If you treat your hair properly, neither of the two extension methods discussed here should break your hair or cause it to fall out. I have not seen these problems with any of my clients. One thing to keep in mind with extensions is that although your hair continues to shed, (a normal process with natural hair), with the extensions secured the shedding hair can’t always get out. So when you have them removed you will see that loose hair come out at the salon. Don’t freak out! This is normal based on the circumstances. This does not mean that your hair is breaking or falling out.

Checklist for hair extensions:

*Find the right stylist to do the job

*With your stylist, decide on the right hair for you in the right length and color

*Negotiate a price that works for your budget

*Take extra good care of your hair (**with or without extensions**)

*Enjoy your new hair!