Hair Extensions Revisited
Hair extensions are the quick and easy way to "grow" long and lustrous locks. As we discussed in a previous article, there are plenty of reasons why someone would use hair weaves. The most common ¬¬reason and benefit is being able to achieve any style, color, or look without chemically treating or styling your natural hair. But once you've made your choice to take the plunge, the question is which hair extensions method is best for you. Style, hair type, budget, lifestyle and frequency of use are the main considerations you'll want to think about. Below, we'll discuss hair types, extension types, and the more common methods of hair extension application along with their benefits and drawbacks. Then you can decide which combination is best for you.
Synthetic Hair Extensions vs. Real Hair Extensions
Synthetic pieces (made from plastics) work well for braided or twisted styles, but are generally not so great for the free-flowing styles. Synthetic hair extensions are more irritating to your natural hair and skin, can frizz uncontrollably if not careful, and tangle more easily than real hair extensions. All these factors conclude that synthetic hair extensions don't last as long, and are not your best option.
Lace extensions: Lace extensions are made from nylon mesh formed into a cap. Your natural hair is fed through the cap by hand and knotted, or bonded with adhesive to the hairline.
Single Strand Method or Wefts a.k.a. Tracks
The single strand method consists of 20-50 strands of extension hairs that are attached to your natural hair via such methods as heat fusion, adhesive, clamping, or waxes. A coating is usually applied to your natural hair before extensions are attached. Single strands usually last a few months.
Wefts are long rows of hair called wefts because the hairs are woven onto the track. Wefts are connected in a continuous strand across the top of the hair or in layers, and are attached with glue, heat fusion or thread. You can find wefts that are machine made or hand sewn, the latter obviously being more expensive and of better quality.
Tracking: Cornrows are made all around the head in concentric circles. These then act as the anchor for the extensions, which are sewn on to the braids. You will need anywhere from eight to fifteen tracks to hair weave your entire head.
Braided weave: Tiny cornrows are braided across your scalp down the middle, and weaves are sewn onto the braids using heavy duty weaving thread. The stylist then combs your natural hair over the rows to blend the extensions together with your hair for a seamless effect (optional). How many weaves you want will determine how many braids you need, and braiding will last one or two months depending how well you care for it. This method is considered the most natural (no chemicals, heating elements) that involves braids. To avoid drying out, breakage, and even balding, you can apply oil to the base of the extensions and braids. Types of braid include French, herringbone, spider weave, fish scale and twist strand. Feed-in cornrows and no knot cornrows are a few examples of the versatility of cornrows.
Netting: Another form of braiding, netting employs a thin net over the cornrows to provide a surface for the extensions to grip. The net offers the stylist more flexibility as to where and how the extensions can be attached, rather than being limited to the tracks. There is a 2-3 months life span for this method (if cared for properly). The thing to look out for with the netting method is that the hair dries completely to avoid mildew build up under the cap. It is worth your while to invest in a hood hair dryer.
Bond weaves: Stylist divides your hair into small groups, and attaches the hair extensions with glue as close to the scalp/roots as possible. Glue should be used sparingly, avoiding the scalp. The bonding agent can be difficult to remove without damaging natural hair, and the adhesive can cause allergic reactions. To avoid serious breakouts, test a small area prior to application. Expect bonded weaves to last one to two months, and be sure to have these hair extensions professionally removed. Even if they loosen on their own, go to your stylist to prevent serious damage to your hair. It is generally recommended to use the bonding method for no more than two weeks at a time.
Fusion weave: With this method, your hair is divided into small sections, and extensions are attached with hot wax, similar to using a hot glue gun. Fusion weaves last 2-3 months, and are more expensive that the above methods. This is because they tend to appear fuller and realer and are stronger and more versatile than the braided weave. It will run you anywhere from $800-$1800, and could take anywhere from 8-16 hours to complete. Fusion should be left to the professionals. Serious hair loss, damage or skin burns can result from untrained application.
Tree braiding: Tree braiding is a method, which incorporates the extension piece into the braid itself. A few strokes are braided, and then some of the weave is brought into the foreground. This process is repeated until the entire weave is integrated into the hair.
Malaysian Weave a.k.a. Healthy weave: Malaysian weave is an innovation that is quickly gaining popularity. This method is done without any glues, braids, or bonding agents, just a strong thin thread that allows your hair to grow naturally beneath it. The procedure takes about one and a half hours to apply and less than ten minutes to remove. While expensive, this method is certainly the best choice for keeping your natural hair healthy.
Clip on or clip in hair extensions: As you can imagine, the clip in hair extensions are the least permanent and therefore least damaging method of hair extension. These are also the easiest to apply and can be done by yourself at home. Clip ons/ins come with small clips sewn into the front of the weft. Section off the different areas of your hair, and, starting at the nape of your neck (for a full head, if you're just doing specific areas, start wherever you'd like), simply set into the hair and close the clip around the small section of hair. Despite their lack of permanence, clip in hair extensions are highly versatile, convenient for both day and night time wear.
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| April 21, 2018
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