So you’re thinking about getting extensions?
Well, let us tell you, you are about to be bombarded with a whole new hair vocabulary that you didn’t know existed. Here are all the extension terminologies you need to know explained simply….we hope.
THE HAIR: Synthetic vs human hair
These are the two main types of hair extensions. Synthetic is an acrylic man-made material and tends to be more affordable and available in a wide range of colours, lengths and textures. You want bright pink strands or a rainbow coloured hue, then synthetic is what you need.
Human hair extensions tend to come from Asia, Russia and South America, are more expensive and are sorted into lengths and grades of hair, before being fitted by a number of attachments: bond attachments, tips, wefts – don’t worry we’ll get to those in a bit. Aside from the price difference, the other way to know if hair is synthetic or human is how quickly it burns! If you use any kind of heat – tongs, straighteners etc. – on synthetic hair that hasn’t been heat protected it will melt and smell like burning plastic, which is so not what you want when you’re styling your ‘do.
Human hair extensions behave exactly like your own hair so you can wash and style them as normal.
HUMAN HAIR: There’s more to know
If all of that wasn’t complicated enough then it’s also good to know what kind of human hair is being used in the extensions you’re having put it. Here are the options…
Virgin: this is natural hair in its purest form that has not been processed in any way. It is easily styled to suit you (mermaid ombre anyone?), it can be reused, coloured and you can wear it again and again. It needs a little TLC and will last longer if washed in salt free shampoo and conditioner and treated with natural oils like a Moroccan Argan oil.
Remy: after the hair has been cut from the donor it has been maintained in the same alignment from root to tip; a little processing is often involved. It is very high quality and probably the most popular human hair that you will find.
Single drawn: this is where various lengths of hair are used; the hair tapers towards the tip.
Double drawn: has strands of the same length and thickness from root to tip for a smooth and tangle-free finish. This is very labour and material intensive as it needs around ten times the amount of hair to produce a single weft.
GETTING THEM ON: The attachment methods
Clip-in extensions: great for an instant, short term boost in hair length – they simply clip in and out of your natural hair so are a great way of changing your look without the commitment factor.
Weave/sew-in: this is the most popular technique for afro hair. It’s long lasting and secure. The natural hair is is braided into cornrows plaits from ear to ear and then wefts or strips of hair are sewn on with a needle and thread.
Pre-bonded/pre-tipped hair extensions: ideal for thin and silkier hair textures. Each extension has a pre-bond on the tip that’s then sealed with heat onto the hair.
Micro-loop/micro rings: work better for longer, stronger hair. The extensions are secured by tiny metal clips, which are either self-sealing or fixed using special pliers.