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Hair Extensions

If DNA didn’t grant you long, thick hair, or if you’ve lost hair for some reason, you can gain the mane of your dreams through hair extensions.

Before You Go

The best thing to do before your hair extensions is to fully research your hair and hair attachment options. If you plan to get highlights, make sure to get them before selecting matching hair.

After care for Hair Extensions: Do not go to bed with wet hair. Use a special brush designed for hair extensions. Try not to wash hair every day, as this may loosen hair extensions prematurely. Use a hot iron as little as possible and never on synthetic extensions.

Put your hair in a swimming cap when entering the water. Use a leave-in conditioner to soften your new hair(unless you opt for synthetic extensions). Return to the salon every six to eight weeks for tightening and touchups.

What To Expect

A full head of hair extensions, no matter what the method used, will typically take at least three hours and sometimes as long as eight hours. The basic procedure is as follows. First, you will discuss the desired length, color, thickness and consistency of the hair extensions with your stylist. Your stylist will examine your hair, assessing its strength, color and your natural part. The stylist will then help you select the type of hair you want. Your options are synthetic hair, Asian hair, European-quality hair and European hair.

Each of these hair types has its advantages and disadvantages. Synthetic hair is by far the cheapest, and it can come in any color. That said, synthetic hair does not move like human hair, and it doesn’t look exactly like human hair either, though more recent methods have produced synthetic hair closer to the “real thing.” Synthetic hair can also be vulnerable to heat, and typically does not wear well.

Asian hair is often used for extensions. In its natural state, it is black and has thicker strands than European-origin hair. When prepared for use on non-Asians, Asian hair is often thinned in an acid bath, which also weakens the hair and damages the hair cuticle. While better quality than synthetic hair, Asian-origin hair is best used for extension on Asian people. If you are Asian, make sure to ask for untreated Asian hair.

European-quality hair is most often sourced from India and Pakistan. It varies in quality and tends to weaken if dyed. There are some highly regarded purveyors of European-quality hair, like Remy, though other European-quality hair can have rough cuticles (which leads to matting and tangling).

European hair typically comes from Russia and other Eastern European countries, like Ukraine and Belarus. Other European hair is sourced from Italy and Spain. This hair comes naturally in colors ranging from blonde to dark brown and can be very expensive. Ask to see proof of the origins of European hair prior to paying a premium.

In addition, you should differentiate between cuticle and non-cuticle hair. Non-cuticle hair has had its cuticles stripped, often to apply color, and then resealed with a layer of silicon. Once the silicon wears off, however, this type of hair becomes rough and prone to matting and tangling. Cuticle hair is also called virgin hair, which means it has not been processed.

Hair extensions are typically attached to a weft, a fine band of threads that facilitates attachment. Wefts can be hand-woven or machine-woven. Hand-woven wefts are more expensive, but also higher quality, as they tend to lie closer to the scalp.

Always make sure to examine hair prior to its attachment to make sure you are happy with its quality.

After the appropriate hair is selected, the attachment process begins. Generally, your stylist will either attach hair extensions to your hair with three methods: bonding or braiding. In the bonding method, hair is sealed piece by piece to existing hair. In the braiding method, hair is attached to a tiny braid around the crown of the head, called a track. In clipping, a less permanent form of hair extensions, tiny clips are used to attach hair.

If you experience pain during the procedure, your hair extensions are very likely not being done correctly. Stop the procedure and tell your stylist.