If you weren’t blessed with long, flowing glamazon locks, hair extensions might seem like an easy solution. After all, they’re behind most of those enviable red-carpet hairstyles you see on your favorite celebs. But between voluminous, bouncy curls and a few extra inches of silky strands, there are a few important particulars about hair extensions that seem unknown unless you’re in the know. Before you end up blinded by the promise of Victoria’s Secret model hair, consider these seven things no one ever tells you about hair extensions.
You Get What You Pay For
Price varies greatly with hair extensions. You can find synthetic hair extensions for under $100, while high-quality ones can cost several thousand dollars. The pricier extensions will be real human hair, which can be styled with hot tools and colored just like your own hair. Synthetic hair doesn’t offer those benefits, nor does it blend as well with your own tresses. But it is inexpensive and makes a good option if you just want to try out a new style, like bangs. If you’re serious about achieving longer, fuller, natural-looking locks, pay a little more for natural hair. If you’re looking for the best of the best in extensions, choose Remy hair. It’s considered the top tier of natural hair.
You Need to Do Your Homework on Remy Hair
Remy hair (also called cuticle hair) is healthy, virgin (never before processed) human hair. Each strand is carefully selected to ensure that the cuticle remains intact and all cuticles align. Because all of the hairs run in the same direction, Remy hair maintains a soft, silky texture. But just because a seller says their hair is Remy hair doesn’t mean you should take their word for it. This term for the highest quality hair gets abused regularly. Be sure to do your homework and only buy from trusted sources.
The Details Make a Difference
If you’re not a seasoned pro when it comes to hair extensions, the terminology that gets thrown around can be confusing. Beyond synthetic, natural, and Remy hair, there’s also the distinction of single-drawn versus double-drawn hair. With single-drawn hair, the difference in the length of strands is no more than two inches. Double-drawn hair holds up to even higher standards—there’s more uniformity throughout and less thinning at the bottom. Another detail to look out for is silicone-coated strands. Some companies coat their hair with silicone to make it extra shiny, but it wears off quickly and leads to tangling and dulling. If the extensions look excessively shiny, be sure to ask about it.
Your Stylist Is Just as Important as the Hair
The stylist who works with your extensions is just as important as the hair itself. Experience with extensions is a must (improper application or removal can really damage your hair), but you should also make color experience a requirement. An inaccurate color match will make your extensions very obvious. If you’re blonde, find someone who specializes in your color, since they’ll understand the variations of blonde hair. The next step to making your extensions undetectable? A great cut. After your extensions are in, get your hair cut dry and ask for layers to blend your own hair with your new hair.
Density and Placement Matter
Two more considerations to add to the list: density and placement. The weight of extensions can put additional stress on your roots, so you have to match your hair’s density to avoid extra tension on your natural hair. If you have fine hair, opt for extensions of a lighter density. The thicker the hair, the denser you can go. Placement is also key.
Extensions need to be secured where the hair is strongest. Skip the back of the neck and along the hairline—your hair is too fragile in those spots to hold up to the extensions.
Your Hair Care Routine May Need to Change
Combing your hair will need to be a daily activity to protect against tangles at the roots as your hair grows. Be gentle, and hold onto the bonds when brushing to avoid yanking them out. You’ll also want to ditch any hair care products that contain alcohol and switch to hydrating sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner to keep the bonds strong. Also, try to wash and condition in one direction only. Vigorous rubbing and circular motions won’t do your hair any favors. After showering, always dry the bonds with a blow-dryer—even if you air-dry the rest of your hair—to prevent tangles.
Your Sleeping Habits May Need an Overhaul Too
If you want your extensions to last, don't sleep on wet hair—it can weaken the bonds. It’s best to put your hair in a ponytail or braid before bed. A loose braid or pony will keep the bonds laying flat and prevent tangles. Another must is a silk pillowcase, which will be gentler on your hair and protect against breakage. You could also try sleeping in a silk bonnet if you’re not ready to part with your cotton pillowcase.