Whether you’re lusting after waist-length, beachy summer waves or just want a half decent ponytail for once in your life, hair extensions can be the instant solution to all your long hair issues.
But, and this is a big but people, it’s important to know what you’re actually getting for your money. Because dodgy hair extensions and glue-damaged leftovers is so not hot.
We got in touch with the hair extension experts to get the lowdown on everything you need to know before you take the plunge. Consider your hair extension questions answered.
What Types Of Hair Extensions Can You Get?
If there’s one person that knows everything there is to know about hair extensions it’s Sarah McKenna aka the ex-biochemist, hairdresser and owner of the hottest hair extension salon in London, Vixen & Blush (aka where Alicia Vikander gets her hair extensions done).
Renowned for creating natural-looking extensions that are super high quality and custom-made to fit you (this isn’t your cheapo out of the packet deal), Sarah is the go-to on how to nab Blake Lively’s ‘do and avoid the dreaded Jodie Marsh mullet.
1. Temporary (take in and out each day or week)
‘Temporary methods include clip-in pieces, wefts and weaves where large pieces of hair are added.’
2. Semi-Permanent (worn for 6-8 weeks)
‘Semi-permanent hair extensions include tape-in pieces that last around 6-8 weeks. These are smaller sections than clip-ins and the new Invisible Tape extensions are almost completely undetectable when hair is down or worn up.’
3. Permanent (are worn continuously, for many months)
‘Permanent methods are strand-by-strand meaning many small attachments are added. Examples include micro rings or micro bonds.’
How Do I Know Which Type Of Hair Extensions I Should Get?
‘Temporary methods are great for occasional wear and are usually used by those who like their own hair but just want to enhance their look for the weekend, or for a special event,’ says McKenna.
‘Clip in hair extensions are excellent as they can be easily clipped in and styled in minutes and then removed just as easily.
Permanent methods are good for those who are disappointed with their own hair and feel they need additional hair to gain extra volume, length or both on a daily basis.
‘The micro ring method is the most popular method at Vixen & Blush because it is a re-usable method – clients can refit the same hair many times. However, the Invisible Tape hair extensions are a great option for those with fine hair that want to bulk it out on a semi-permanent basis.’
What’s The 2020 Way To Wear Hair Extensions?
According to Education & Creative Manager for Great Lengths, Louise Jenkins, it’s all about using your hair extensions for volume in 2020. ‘We’re definitely going to see hair extensions used more and more for thickening and volumizing techniques this year,’ says Jenkins.
‘The trend at the moment is to look really natural and really effortless, using undetectable methods to enhance and emphasis your existing style. If you’ve got a bob, you might want to add thickness to the base line, if you’ve got long hair you might want extra volume and texture.’
Should I Get Synthetic Or Natural Hair Extensions?
‘It’s always best to choose 100% human hair as other synthetic pieces are not a convincing alternative!,’ advises McKenna. ‘It is also advisable to invest in the highest quality hair you can afford. At Vixen & Blush we only work with real hair and although it is expensive, the hair will last for many refits so the cost in the longer term is a lot more affordable.
Synthetic hair is usually unnaturally shiny and also does not allow for heat styling. It is a lot lighter weight than human hair (which is surprisingly heavy!) and so will never move in quite the same way.
‘Also the methods used to fit synthetic hair do not allow for a multi-tonal color match as they are produced in block colors. All clients need a mix of colors/shades to get a true color match
Do Hair Extensions Damage Your Hair?
‘This really comes down to education, providing your stylist has been trained properly- regardless of what method of hair extensions you are using you won’t cause any damage to the hair.,’ explains Jenkins.
‘This is still one of the biggest misconceptions about hair extensions – at Great Lengths we pride ourselves on our two-day assessed certification that is absolutely mandatory for every stylist that wants to use Great Lengths. We need to make sure that everyone certified stylist that can offer a bespoke service for their individual clients, a service that is suitable for the hair and causes no damage.
‘With our certification we’re confident that everyone is receiving the same service, no matter which Great Lengths salon/ stylist they go to. We encourage our stylists to take before and after, and also take a picture after Great Lengths have been removed so you can really see the difference and that no damage has been caused. ‘
How Much Do Hair Extensions Cost?
‘The cost of hair extensions varies so widely even just in the UK that it’s difficult to know what is an appropriate price to pay,’ says McKenna.
‘Permanent hair extensions will cost more than temporary hair extensions as they do take time to fit. A full head of hair extensions will take 2 or 3 hours to fit, so you’re paying for the labor costs. But most of the price you pay will be for the cost of the product itself – and this therefore means that it can be an expensive service.
‘It is worth going to a specialist salon and having some test pieces of hair fitted first, and then investing in the best quality hair you can afford up front, knowing that you can re-use the hair.
‘However, there are some salons that do overcharge based on being located in large flagship premises in a prestigious area (especially in London). This will obviously impa’ Temporary hair extensions vary even more widely. If you’re just going to wear the hair for one or two uses then buying less expensive hair is a good choice. But, if you would like to use the pieces repeatedly over years then investing in high-quality hair is essential as this is the only grade of human hair that will last for many years.’
Common Hair Extensions Mistakes To Avoid
- Poor quality hair. Some salons find it difficult to get good quality hair, even if it is expensive, it can still be over-processed and not long lasting.
- Bad color matching. Hair extensions that are pre-made in strands are generally one color, or two colors mixed in a stripy strand, so the color match is never going to be good enough as your natural hair is multi-tonal.
- Strands too large for a small section of your hair. The strand of hair must be securely placed using an appropriate amount of the client’s own hair, matching weight for weight of the clients natural hair.
- Hair extensions not blended in and cut properly to create a new hair style. Inexperienced salons can just leave the extensions, but they need to be properly blended and a new haircut needs to be created.
- No aftercare advice given. Most salons do not guide their clients through how to take care of their new hair extensions and get the most out of them in terms of styling. Simple routines like tying the hair in a low pony at night and drying thoroughly at the roots, can save damage to the hair, prevent matting and help the extensions last longer.