Here at Makeup.com, we are lucky enough to have a panel of experts to sound off on those topics that leave the everyday girl scratching her head. Today, for example, we asked hair guru Zachary Morad to give us the rundown on all things hair extensions!
Nowadays, extensions are everywhere. We see them in the movies, on the red carpet, on the street … everywhere! However, as popular as extensions are, they still seem to be uncharted territory for many. How do you know if they are right for you? And if they are, how do you know which types are right for you? Well, I’m here to help you learn a little bit more about the types of extensions to make sure you get the hair you want without the guesswork!
What It Entails: A weave is the process of sewing wefts of hair (loose human or synthetic hair sewn onto a track) into cornrows, many times with a net placed in between. A weave is finished by either leaving your natural hair out on top or using a closure, which is designed to look like your scalp so your hair part looks natural.
Who It Works For: Weaves work well for anyone with coarse, thick or curly hair, as the cornrows can suppress any unwanted texture. Weaves do not typically cause much damage if they are done on the right type of hair. Doing a weave on fine or weak hair can result in the thread breaking the hair. When done on the right hair type, the weft can serve as protection for your natural hair and can promote growth.
How Long It Lasts: Weaves last anywhere from three to five months and should be tightened between visits.
What It Entails: Fusion-bonded hair extensions are applied “strand by strand,” and consist of free-flowing human hair connected at the root by a small rice-shaped bond. A small amount of natural hair is wrapped at the root with a heated bond.
Who It Works For: Fusion extensions are good for most hair types and provide extreme versatility when styling, with very little maintenance. Fusion extensions can be washed and styled as normal and should be brushed from roots to ends daily with a natural bristle brush.
There is a minimal amount of damage that can occur with fusion extensions, generally due to the extensions becoming tangled at the root. This can be avoided by making sure hair is brushed daily.
How Long It Lasts: Fusion extensions typically last between three to four months. They are removed by applying an alcohol-based solution to each individual bond to dissolve it while a removal tool breaks off the bond.
What It Entails: Tape extensions are small wefts of human hair, anywhere from one- to two-inches wide, that are applied to the hair using “double-stick” tab adhesive (similar to tape). A thin section of hair is sandwiched between two of the pre-taped wefts. This bonds the extension to the hair securely.
Who It Works For: Tape extensions are good for most hair types but can be restricting when it comes to styling your hair, especially when creating an updo. They can be washed and styled as normal and should be brushed daily with a paddle brush to keep it from getting tangled.
Minimal damage occurs with tape extensions, as they are extremely gentle and are one of the best options for women with weak or over-processed hair.
How Long It Lasts: Tape extensions last about six to eight weeks before they have to be “re-taped.” This involves replacing the old adhesive tabs for fresh ones.
What It Entails: Micro bead extensions are applied using a hook to pull a small amount of natural hair through an attached bead. The bead is typically attached to an individual human hair extension or is part of a row of beads sewn onto a weft. A small set of pliers are then used to squeeze the bead closed, securing the extension to your hair.
Who It Works For: When considering micro bead extensions it’s important to know that they can place a lot of stress on your hair. That being said, they are best used on thick, strong hair to avoid any damage or breakage. They can be washed and styled normally, but should be brushed gently so that none of the beads slip out.
Micro bead extensions can easily cause damage if they are not applied and removed correctly, so it is important to work with an experienced stylist.
How Long It Lasts: Micro beads last six to eight weeks before they have to be “moved-up.” This process entails opening up the bead and sliding it up to the root.
What It Entails: Clip-in extensions are the most temporary form of extensions. Small clips are sewn onto a weft to fit your head. After sectioning your hair where you would like to place the extension, a small amount of hair is teased at the root. The clips are opened, anchored onto the teased root, then snapped closed.
Who It Works For: Clip-ins work for all hair types as they come in many lengths, colors, and textures and are available in both human or synthetic hair models. They can be both custom made or bought pre-cut, clipped and ready to wear. They should be washed and conditioned after a few wears and brushed regularly.
Clip-in extensions do little-to-no damage, as they are not bonded to the hair in any way.
How Long It Lasts: The best part of clip-in extensions is that they last forever! You can wear them as many times as you want for as long as you have them!
What It Entails: Glue-in extensions consist of a thin layer of glue (similar ins substance to eyelash glue) that is applied to the tracking of a weft and is then applied directly to the head. This can be done in one of two ways: The weft is either glued in between the layers of natural hair or directly on top of the natural hair after it has been molded to the scalp (also known as a “quick-weave”).
Who It Works For: Glue-ins are great for any hair type and are an ideal option for those looking for temporary extensions.
How Long It Lasts: These types of extensions usually last one to three weeks and often need to be touched up with glue. For removal, an oil-based solution is applied to the weft to dissolve the glue and an anti-residue shampoo is used.
There is little to no damage involved with glue-ins as long as they are removed gently with the proper materials.
What It Entails: There are many ways to braid extensions into hair. While most other types of extensions primarily use human hair, braided extensions typically use a synthetic fiber called kanekalon. Extensions can be braided into the hair in the form of cornrows, micro braids (which entails the root being braided and the ends hanging freely) or box braids where the whole head is braided to hang freely.
Who It Works For: Braided extensions work for any hair type as they cause little damage. Repeated braiding can sometimes cause tension at the hair follicle and, over time, can weaken hair to the point of thinning, although this isn’t typically the case.
How Long It Lasts: Braided extensions can last anywhere from six to twelve weeks, depending on the style of braid, and are removed by simply cutting the end of the synthetic hair and unbraiding them.
About the Author: Zachary is a New York-based hair stylist with an A-list client roster that's included Catherine Zeta-Jones, Janice Dickinson and Nicole Miller (to name a few).