Hair Extensions for Beginners: All You Need to Know

Charity-Nasike-author
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Hair Extensions for Beginners

Have you ever experienced going to the salon to have your hair cut short and then regret your decision right after a week?

This got you wishing to your “fairy hair godmother” for that instant Rapunzel-long, luscious hair because it seems like forever to grow it back.

Girl, the wait is over!

Hair extensions got you covered and there are a lot of options to choose from.

In this article, let me guide you on the ins and outs of hair extensions and everything in between.

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Different Types of Hair Extensions?

It is a weave of hair meant to be integrated with one’s natural hair to alter hair extensions length, volume, and appearance.

It can either be human hair or synthetic material. It can also be applied through various mediums that suit your different hair needs.

Tape-In Hair Extensions

Hair Extensions

As the name implies, this type of hair extension is literally taped to your natural hair.

Imagine a sandwich where the tape-ins are the bread and your hair is the slice of cheese.

A thin section of your natural hair is sandwiched between two strips of hair extensions.

There is no heat needed in this method.

Pros of Tape-In Hair Extensions

Heat-free installation

Unlike other hair extensions, you do not need heat to bond tape-ins with your natural hair thus sparing you from damage.

Fast and easy installation

You do not need complicated tools to apply it. Just literally tape it in your hair strands and you’re in for that longer, fuller hair fast! Removing it is a breeze too.

Natural-looking tresses

No one would be able to tell that you have hair extensions on because tape-ins lie flat across your hair strands. This gives you a neat, more natural look and feel.

It’s reusable

If you opt to invest in high-quality tape-ins, there is a good chance that you can reuse it even after removal. All you need to do is clean the adhesive, apply a fresh tape and you’re ready to re-install!

Ease and comfort

Since the weight of tape-ins is evenly spread around your head, you will not feel any strain. Not to mention that it feels light and comfortable like you aren’t wearing extensions at all.

Hair Extensions

Cons of Tape-In Hair Extensions

Strong adhesive causes damage

If tape-ins are not properly removed, it can cause damage to your real hair. Always seek a professional’s help in doing so.

Related article: 3 Ways to Remove Tape-in Extensions at Home
Requires frequent maintenance

It can only last 8-12 weeks which means you will have to set an appointment with the salon every now and then.

Goodbye ponytails

With this type of hair extension, tying up your hair can be uncomfortable. Also, the tapes might be exposed so you better skip this style at the moment.

No silicone or oil-based products allowed

Applying these products especially at the roots can cause a major hair disaster. It will weaken the adhesives of your extensions causing it to slip down. Using sulfate-free products are recommended.

Long curing time

After installation, it takes 24-48 hours before the adhesive is totally cured. During this time, washing your hair or doing strenuous activities that will make you sweat is a no-no.

Micro Ring Hair Extensions

Hair Extensions

Are small bundles of hair that are looped through tiny sections of your own hair using silicone-lined micro-beads. These beads or rings are gently clamped in place using a pair of pliers without the need of heat or chemicals.

Pros of Micro Ring Hair Extensions

No need to use heat, wig glues or chemicals

With micro-rings, you are not exposing your hair to heat, glue, and chemicals. This keeps your hair safe and protected from potential breakage.

Durable & reusable extensions

With the help of a professional, these micro-bead extensions can be uncrimped and reused several times. In fact, they are so durable that it can last up to 6 months which saves you money in the long run.

Quick to adjust and remove

Adjusting your extensions up or down is easy. Simply squeeze the ring open, slide it with the help of pliers then crimp it again. The same goes for the removal process. And the best part, there are no harsh chemicals required.

Dye and style

Unlike other hair extensions, you have the freedom to dyeing and styling your mane anyway you want without disturbing the micro-beads. You can even apply heat near the bonds and not worry about it.

Budget-friendly beauty

Micro-bead extensions are way cheaper in price as compared to other types. Beautiful and lush hair isn’t that expensive after all.

hair extension

Cons of Micro Ring Hair Extensions

Not recommended for people with short or fine hair

The rings might be visible if you go for this type of hair extension.

Can cause discomfort

Sometimes the beads cause strain on your scalp. This leads to uncontrollable itchiness which can drive you nuts.

May cause hair breakage

The process of clamping the rings using pliers can cause damage if improperly done. The same goes when taking them off because if the rings are unprofessionally removed your hair strands might suffer.

Prone to slippage

If not installed properly, your micro-bead extensions might slip and fall off. To avoid this, seek help from a certified hair professional. This will save you from the hassle and embarrassment of any hair extension malfunction.

Skip ponytails

If you love wearing your hair up then micro ring extensions are not for you. High ponytails might expose the rings so watch out for that.

Weaving or Sew-in Hair Extension

Is installed by tightly braiding your natural hair in cornrows first. Then hair extensions are sewn into the braids using needle and thread. This weaving method is best suited for those women who have thick, coarse and naturally curly hair.

hair extension

Pros of Sew-in Hair Extension

Most secure and seamless

Since this hair extension is sewn directly in your hair, you don’t have to worry about any “hair-extensions-gone-wrong” moments. They are permanently intact while seamlessly blended with your natural tresses.

Lasts long

You can enjoy the volume and length of your sew-in hair extensions for about three months especially if you put in the time and effort to care for it.

Hair friendly

Since it does not require heat or glue for application, it reduces your risk for damaged hair.

Super natural

With sew-in hair extensions, there are no visible gaps, unlike other extensions that are installed piece by piece in small sections of the hair.

hair extension

Cons of Sew-in Hair Extension

A no-no for fine hair

Sew-ins put on a lot of weight and if your natural hair is not thick enough to handle it, you are prone to damage.

Can be uncomfortable and heavy

Cornrows can be tight and painful in your scalp plus the weight of the extensions can add up to the headache. Much worse, it can result in traction alopecia.

High maintenance

This type of hair extension requires deep cleaning which can be a challenge. Proper care and maintenance should be done or else bacterial infection might occur and no one wants that, right?

Not for DIY fanatics

Installation, adjustment, and removal should only be done by a professional so expect several trips to your favorite salon.
Limited styling options – it will be a bit of a challenge to style your hair without revealing the cornrows underneath.

Clip-in hair extensions

hair extension

Are wefts of hair that already have clips attached to them. It is the easiest, fastest and most affordable way to achieve fuller hair in just a snap!

Pros of Clip-in hair extensions

Beginner-friendly

This type is so easy to apply and remove. You can do it all by yourself even if you haven’t worn hair extensions before. No tools and tapes required. Just one snap and you can add length, colors, and highlights to your locks.

Saves you time

You do not have to sit in a salon chair all day in order to achieve gorgeously long and voluminous hair. Thanks to clip-ins! Everything you need is right at your fingertips.

Maximum comfort

No need to worry about itchiness, tightness, and headache. Clip-in extensions are very comfortable to wear.

Cost-efficient

What makes this option affordable is that you do not need to pay hundreds of dollars for a salon appointment or treatment. You can install, adjust, remove and reinstall them even without professional help.

Versatility

Want to change your do and try out every latest hair trend? Clip-in hair extensions allow you to play with endless hair possibilities. Be it ombre, wavy, multi-colored, you can have it your way anytime you wish.

hair extension

Cons of Clip-in hair extensions

They are not permanent

Clip-ins are not for those who want permanent hairstyle change.

Needs frequent TLC

Though it is easy to use, it still requires your utmost care. Frequent brushing, washing, and conditioning is a must! It should be stored on a flat and dry surface and should be kept away from sunlight.

Tends to fall out

Your clip-in hair extensions could end up falling out if not properly attached. So to avoid picking up your hair from the ground, always double-check them before heading out of the house.

Not compatible with short, thin hair

You’ll have a hard time rocking clip-ins if you have short and super thin hair. Why? Because the wefts tend to be more visible which could be an unflattering sight. It can also cause tugging on your hair and scalp due to its unbearable weight.

Frustrating for first-timers

Installation can be challenging at first. It can appear bulky if not applied correctly so you better watch out! You need patience and practice before you get the trick for fast application and removal.

Fusion Hair Extensions

hair extension

Are individual keratin-tipped strands that are fused to the root of your hair using a heating tool. It has a silicone lining that shields your hair from the damaging heat during application.

Pros of Fusion Hair Extensions

Most durable method

These hair extensions can last for about 6 months with proper care and maintenance.

Invisible extensions

Since the keratin dries clear, you can’t really see where the extensions have been attached but it doesn’t mean that the bond is not strong enough to hold your hair.

Natural effect

Fusion hair extensions blend smoothly with your real hair. Thanks to the “strand-by-strand” application technique which gives out that natural look and feel.

Safer for your scalp

Compared to the usual glue, the keratin glue is perfectly safe for your scalp and biological hair. Since your hair is actually made up of 90% keratin, you won’t have to worry about any breakage.

Styling flexibility

This extension is perfect for all hairdos because they are versatile enough to move and flow with your natural hair. It allows you to be confident in any style you choose.

Cons of Fusion Hair Extensions

Long installation time – with an application time of 6-8 hours, this process can be tiresome.

Damaging heat application

Since heat is the primary requirement in order to attach this extension. Your natural hair is prone to damage.

Weakens with heat

Blow-drying and ironing the bonds is forbidden because it will weaken the keratin bond. This might result in detached extensions.

Not reusable

This is a one-time deal! Once the fusion extensions are removed, you can never use them again.

It can be painful and uncomfortable at first

You may feel itching, discomfort, and headache a few days after installation. This might be caused by poor installation. If the extensions were placed too close to your scalp, your hair roots couldn’t move naturally resulting in painful tugging.

Halo Hair Extensions

hair extension

Are one-piece hair extensions with an invisible wire which is designed to sit gently on top of your head like a headband. It is the easiest, fastest and hassle-free way to achieve fuller and longer locks!

Pros of Halo Hair Extensions

Comfortable to wear

No itchy feeling, tugging, pulling or any kind of pain. Thanks to the halo extension revolution! You can’t even feel the wire attachment while wearing it.

Easy to blend and hide

You don’t have to freak out and check yourself in the mirror every time just to make sure your extensions aren’t peaking through. The attaching wire of halo extensions is invisible so it blends well with your natural hair.

Quick and easy application or removal

Unlike other extensions that you need to attach piece by piece, you will only have one whole piece to set and you are ready to slay. At the end of the day, you can simply take it off, toss it and you’re ready to doze off.

Evenly lengthy and voluminous hair

Be envied for that long, lioness hair without the hassle of a choppy, uneven look.

Free from hair damage

Perfectly harmless for your hair because you need not anything to keep your extensions in place. And no, it doesn’t slip from your head. The holding wire does the trick of effortlessly meshing it with your hair.

Longevity

Halo extensions can last for 6-12 months or a lot longer when proper care and handling is observed.

hair extension

Cons of Halo Hair Extensions

You can’t wear updos

Halo extensions are designed to be worn only when your hair is down. Tying up your hair while wearing it can be a little tricky because the seams might peek through.

Unsuitable for swimming

You can’t wear them while swimming under the summer heat. Water will damage your extensions and it will make it look dull and dry.

Adding volume where needed is impossible

Since this is a one-piece type of hair extension, you cannot pack in and concentrate hair volume on problematic areas.

If you want to know more about the different types of halo hair extensions.

Human Hair Extensions vs Synthetic Hair Extensions

hair extension

Human hair extensions as the name denotes are made of 100% real human hair. It is multi-tonal and natural in terms of look and feel so it blends well with your own hair. It is versatile because you can style, blow-dry and color it without harming the strands.

Yes, it can be expensive, especially Virgin Remy human hair. Why is that? Because its hair cuticle is preserved and all the hairs run in the same direction, giving you that naturally soft and silky texture. That is why it is still best to invest in high-quality hair extensions because you can get to enjoy realistic, luscious hair.

On the other hand, synthetic hair extensions are made of various synthetic and blended fibers which makes it look fake and unnaturally shiny. It is stiff and does not move and flow naturally with your real hair.

Also, it is not flexible enough to withstand heat styling and dyeing because the synthetic material tends to melt and damage the hair strands. In terms of cost, synthetic hair extensions are way cheaper than human hair extensions which explains why it falls short in terms of quality.

Temporary, Semi-Permanent or Permanent?

hair extension

Temporary Hair Extensions

Can instantly transform your look from mundane to glam so you can stand out in that special event you’re gracing this weekend. This includes clip-in hair extensions and halo hair extensions which you can wear and remove anytime you want.

Semi-Permanent Hair Extensions

Are hairpieces that suit those who are too busy for a daily hair extension routine but not yet committed to going full-on hair transformation. Tape-in hair extensions fall in this category and this lasts at around 4 to 6 weeks.

Permanent Hair Extensions

Are ideal for those who want to commit to a long-term extreme hair makeover. These are the types that need professional help in order to install and remove. Micro rings or micro-bead, sew-in, and fusion hair extensions belong here as these can last you up to 2 to 3 months.

How to choose the correct hair extension for you?

hair extension

If you are new to hair extensions, then clip-ins are best for you. This a DIY type of extension that can be applied and removed easily. But you cannot go with clip-ins if you have short and thin hair because its weight might be too much for your hair to handle.

If you want to go for that natural look, you can choose from sew-in, tape-in and fusion hair extensions. They look so real that people can’t help but stare and admire your beautiful hair.

If you want an instant volumizing effect, opt for the halo hair extensions. This will give you full-on diva hair in no time! But if you want it to be permanent, go for sew-in hair extensions.

If you want styling versatility, go for fusion hair extensions. Its installation method allows it to effortlessly mesh with the natural movement of your hair. Plus, it is invisible so no one would notice your knockoff mane.

If you care that much about your tresses that you do not want the heat to damage it, you have a lot of choices. We have clip-in, micro ring, halo, sew-in, and tape-in hair extensions. Get that new look without the risk of burning and breaking.

If you are on a budget, go ahead and purchase either clip-ins or micro ring hair extensions because they are much cheaper compared to others. But if you want the reuseable type, tape-ins and micro rings are good purchases too.

If you are all about security and peace of mind, sew-in hair extensions are best because the wefts are snuggly sewn in your own hair so you are sure it ain’t going nowhere.

If comfort is your priority, halo and clip-in hair extensions are your best bet. You won’t feel any discomfort, itchiness or tightness in your scalp while wearing them. Tape-ins are also a good option because they are light-weight.

With this wide variety of hair extension types, you will definitely find the perfect match for you.

How do I care for my extensions?

hair extension

Just like your natural hair, hair extensions need TLC too. They need extra nourishment since they do not grow from your roots.

Lavish them with sulfate-free, alcohol-free and paraben-free products to keep them well conditioned and smooth. But keep oils away from the roots as this can weaken the extension bonds.

When you sleep with hair extensions, braid them loosely or tie it in a ballerina bun to avoid excessive rubbing against your pillows.

Do not invert your head upside down or pull hair back in high ponytails as this puts tension on the underside of the bonds.

Brush your extensions gently using a wide-toothed comb starting from the bottom to top. This is to avoid unnecessary tugging and pulling.

Store them properly to keep their good shape and condition.

FAQs

How long do hair extensions last?

It depends on which type of hair extension it is. For clip-ins, you can wear and remove them instantly anytime since it’s a temporary type. Tape-ins can last up to 6 weeks while sew-ins, micro rings, halo and fusion can last until 3 to 6 months max. Of course, it can last longer when ample care is given.

How do I choose the right shade of hair extensions?

The secret to choosing the right hair extension shade is to color match it. Hold the extension against the tip or bottom part of your hair. Make sure that you are under natural light so you can accurately pick the closest match. You should always use the shade of the lower part of your hair as a reference.

Do hair extensions damage your hair?

It depends on the application methods used. If the installation requires heat application, gluing, crimping and pulling of hair then there is a high chance that it can be damaged. It also helps that you are gentle in handling your hair. That is why certified hair professionals are there to help.

Can I curl and straighten hair extensions?

Yes, especially human hair extensions. It can be curled, straightened, blow-dried and styled, just like your own real hair. But if it is for synthetic hair extensions, curling and straightening by applying heat is prohibited because it can burn and damage the plastic strands.

What products can I use on hair extensions?

High quality organic, alcohol-free and sulfate-free products are best for hair extensions. These will help keep your strands healthy and nourished just like your natural hair. If you are into styling that involves heat, make sure to use heat protectant spray to avoid damage.

Can I dye/color my hair extensions?

Yes, you can dye your human hair extensions just like your natural hair. But never dye your synthetic hair extensions! Hair dyes contain ammonia and bleach which can react and destroy them.

Can I sleep with hair extensions on?

It depends on what type of hair extensions you are wearing. If you have clip-ins on, it is still recommended to remove them before sleeping. But if you are wearing semi-permanent or permanent hair extensions like tape-ins or micro-beads, you have to braid your hair loosely before going to bed. This will avoid friction that can cause damage and tangles not only to your hair extensions but to your natural hair as well.

Can I swim with hair extensions on?

It is not advisable to swim while wearing hair extensions due to several reasons. First, chemicals and dirt from swimming pools and other bodies of water can damage your extensions. Also, soaking them on the water for a long time can cause shedding. But if you can’t resist the calling of the waves then at least use a swim cap to protect your hair or braid it before you dive right in so it won’t get too tangled.

Conclusion

Hair extensions are definitely a revolutionary solution for every woman’s hair needs and desires. Who would have thought that by just adding several strips of faux hair, you can easily transform your look from lousy to lovely? Never ever be afraid to let your hair down again!

AUTHOR

Charity Nasike is a passionate wig wearer and basically has diverse knowledge related to wigs' care and maintenance. When she's not writing, she's either in the kitchen trying out new recipes or on social media advising fellow ladies tricks to apply on their wigs.

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