This article will take a closer look at how different hair extensions work.
If you have ever looked at a celeb and lusted after their glamorous locks, you’ll most of the time lusting after beautiful hair that has been augmented with extensions.
Do you need to be a celeb to wear extensions? NO! Not at all, I’m here to give you a general overview of how different types of extensions work, and hopefully, one or two will resonate with you, so you can go explore that method more in-depth.
So who am I? I’m Bianca, and I have been wearing tapes, I-Tips, micro beads, micro links, clip ins, and even sew-ins since 2006. I’ve explored, researched, and experienced a veritable plethora of extension methods and I am delighted to share my knowledge with you.
Ready to learn about extensions? Let’s get started!
Quick Answer: How Do Hair Extensions Work?
Hair extensions instantly add volume, length, and glamour to your natural locks. They can be worn daily or for up to 4 months at a time (although, depending on how fast your natural hair grows, you would probably only leave them in for three months).
Hair extensions work brilliantly on fine hair, but weirdly, hair extensions look GREAT in people with long, thick hair. Jealous, me? NEVER.
There are a wide variety of extensions, and they can be classified as Temporary, Semi-Permanent, and Permanent.
In this article, we will take a look at how each of these types of extensions work.
How Do Temporary Hair Extensions Work?
Clip ins, halos, and ponytail extensions are prime examples of temporary hair extensions.
A temporary hair extension can be defined by the fact that you can easily clip it in and out. Also, you usually only wear them for about 2 – 12 hours at a time.
Temporary hair extensions are typically either a single weft or multiple wefts of hair with sturdy clips that secure the weft(s) to your head.
Clip In Extensions works by clipping the wefts throughout the bottom two-thirds of your hair, leaving the top of your natural hair to cover the wefts and help give you a seamless blend.
Halos work similarly, except a fishing line is attached to the ends and clips to help the large, thick, single weft stay securely in your hair without falling loose.
Ponytail extensions are wrapped around your own ponytail to add volume and length.
How To Take Care of Temporary Hair Extensions?
Make sure to use a good heat protector as well as extension-friendly brushes when styling your extension hair.
Otherwise, you could tug and put pressure on your own scalp.
Store your extensions in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and dust. Also, spritz a hydrating mist on the ends before putting them away.
How Do Semi-permanent Hair Extensions Work?
Semi-permanent extensions last about a month once they’ve been installed. The most common type is tape-in extensions.
A tape-in extension is a length of hair that is adhered to a thin strip of keratin glue at the roots of the extension hair. It forms a very thin, very flexible weft.
A very thin strip of natural hair is “sandwiched” between two tapes when installing the tapes. The glue on both tapes fuses and bonds around the natural hair. These little sandwiches are layered around the head to form a seamless blend of extension hair and natural hair.
If you read many blogs, many people will say they can keep their tapes in for up to 8 weeks, but as someone who has worn tapes exclusively for the last five years – I have never made it past five weeks before they start to curl up and pop through.
Out of all the extension methods I have tried, I get the best result with tapes. They are also by FAR the most comfortable type of extensions.
How To Take Care of Semi-permanent Hair Extensions?
As with all extensions, moisturize as often as possible with serums, protectors, and more.
Also, always brush the hair gently with a natural boar bristle brush or a Tangle Teezer near the roots.
How Do Permanent Extensions Work?
Permanent extensions can be broken down into three main categories:
- Cold Fusion Extensions: Micro loops, micro rings, I-Tips, and nanorings.
- Heated/Fusion Extensions: Pre-bonded keratin extensions, e.g. microbeads
- Protective Styles Extension: Various braids, cornrows, twists, knots, and sew-in weave extensions
How do Cold Fusion Extensions Work?
Cold Fusion Extensions are, in the most basic form, extensions that are fused to your natural hair without heat.
Micro loops, micro rings, I-Tips, and nano rings are all extensions methods that work to the basic principle of taking a thin sliver of natural hair with a thin sliver of extension hair. Bonding them together, at the root, with a small ring clamped down with pliers.
Most rings have a silicone lining to protect your natural hair and give added grip.
This method doesn’t do much damage if correctly maintained and installed.
HOWEVER – it is the most uncomfortable method for the first three days after installation, as your scalp is sensitive, and the rings bite into your scalp, especially when you are sleeping. After three days, the hair has grown a little, and the tension releases.
Another point to note is that I-Tips aren’t great for fine hair. The longer keratin stick makes them quite uncomfortable, possibly tugging a little harder.
The added pressure had my hair ripping out and leaving me bald spots, whereas I never had a problem with micro loops, micro rings, and nanorings.
How To Take Care of Cold Fusion Extensions?
Cold fusion extensions are very susceptible to getting bristles caught in them, and you can damage your natural hair if you do that too hard or repeatedly.
I would suggest getting a loop brush. This type of brush has loops instead of bristles and won’t tug on your extensions, and is unlikely to get caught in them.
As this method is just a clamped ring holding your hair and the extension together, be extra careful with conditioners, serums, and oils at the roots to prevent them from slipping out.
How Do Heated Extensions Work?
Tiny sections of extension hair are fused with your natural hair using keratin glue (forming a little bead where they bond). They also use a little heated device that is similar to a glue gun to bond the natural hair and extension hair.
This method uses heat, which can be a little more damaging to your natural hair. However, this method is very comfortable and lasts for three months. The keratin bonds are also roughly the size of a grain of rice, so they are fairly seamless when installed correctly.
How To Take Care of Heated Fusion Extensions
The tiny little bonds are adding weight to your scalp. The further away they get from your scalp (as your natural hair grows), the more likely they are to get caught in the bristles of your brush.
So get a looped extension brush and be gentle when brushing to avoid adding more weight and tugging to your scalp and possibly doing any damage to your delicate hair follicles.
How Do Protective Styles Hair Extension Work?
Very textured hair benefits from being protected from the elements and excess manipulation. This is because textured hair can grow more slowly.
One brilliant way to protect your hair is through braiding, adding twists and sew-in weaves.
This means your natural hair is left healthy, safe, and protected, while you rock a fabulous hairstyle thanks to extensions!
There are endless options when talking about braiding patterns, which hairstyles work best with which styles, and what extensions to use, however, to keep it simple:
Generally, natural hair is braided with synthetic extension hair such as kanekalon, and you can make braids, twists, knots, and so much more with this method.
When it comes to sew-in weaves, the natural hair is braided, and the (usually) Virgin or Remy hair wefts are sewn onto the braids to give a flawless finish.
How To Take Care of Protective Style Extensions
Your natural hair needs moisture. When it is in a protective style, make sure to use deep penetrating oils such as coconut, jojoba, or olive oil to keep your natural hair happy and healthy.
And there you go, we have come to the end of our deep dive into how extensions work.
Hopefully, this will have helped you to understand more about how extensions work. If you have any more questions or want advice on which extension method is best for you – let me know in the comments below!