Hair Extensions - Know the Facts

Hair extensions can make you look gorgeous and a can be a real boost in confidence for some women. However, I've found that it's not always plain sailing. For a personal view, check out my experience with hair extensions

This page, on the other hand, is about giving you some facts. Here we go.

Extension types

There are two types, synthetic and human. Celebrities tend to use human hair extensions but synthetic, mainly due to its cheaper price, is often popular. Human hair has many different types including Euro, Indian, and Virgin Russian hair.

Method of applying extensions

There are various methods under several names including weaving, bonding and fusion.

Synthetic v Human

Advantages of Synthetic

  • It’s generally cheaper, so you can have a full head of long hair at a reasonable price.
  • There’s no bad conscience involved. Nobody has had to give up their hair so you can wear it.
  • It usually holds a style better. You can have poker straight hair or rolling curls for days rather than hours.

Disadvantages of Synthetic

  • You can’t style these extensions with heat. It is not human hair and it will melt in your curling irons or hot brush. I could however, use heated rollers on mine. Always use a hairdryer on a low setting.
  • On close inspection, they don’t look quite look or feel like the real thing.
  • It was too heavy for my hair and my own hair looked fine at the top and thick as it ‘grew’.

Advantages of Human Hair

  • It looks real!
  • You can get different textures to suit your own hair type.
  • You can use heat to style this hair, you can even dye it.
  • It’s lighter and so doesn’t tug at your own hair so much.
  • It’s usually stronger and won’t tangle so easily.

Disadvantages of Human Hair

  • It’s usually more expensive
  • There’s a stigma for some regarding wearing somebody else’s hair. There certainly was for me, anyway.

So, which to go for? Ultimately, assuming you don't mind the thought of having someone else's hair on your head, it tends to come down to price. Top quality human hair can cost thousands though it's possible to find good offers at around £400, much depending upon how many individual hairs you need.

Other Points to Consider

Extensions, whether human or synthetic have a life limitation of about 4 months though human hair can last longer. As natural hair grows, each strand at a different rate, the extension will start pulling on the shorter hairs caught in the bond. This can lead to pulling the hair out by the root and, if this happens often enough, creating a bald patch.

It is also vital to avoid extensions that are heavier than your own hair as this will also create tension on your scalp, giving headaches at best and at worst, causing more reasons for baldness.

With both types of hair extensions, you have to be prepared to lose a few inches from the length of your natural hair when you have them removed. Whether glue is used, or a plaiting or weaving method is used to fix the bonds to the hair, there will be some damage.

Added to this, it is vital to keep conditioner away from the bonds of the hair as it will dissolve the glue or loosen the plaits or weave and you will lose the extension very quickly. With glue or tight plaits or weaves, and no conditioner, your hair will definitely need some TLC upon removal. And if your new locks are long, you must put them in a pony tail or plait to sleep or you will wake up in a very tangled mess. See Blackpool picture.

Good News

Most people have extensions with a view to creating a quick and instant style, with highlights or lowlights, if desired, for a special occasion. If this is your aim, then a temporary set of extensions shouldn’t do more harm than giving you a few sleepless nights after application. However, if you are looking to create a long term longer hairstyle, then you need to think very seriously about the commitments of time and money involved.

And don’t think that extensions are aimed solely for the young. If you are in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s and you feel that having been through the menopause, your hair is not as thick and luxurious as it once was, a few extensions to ‘fill in the gaps’ will make a huge difference to your look. These extensions will be fewer and finer and every 4 months, your stylist will be able to place new extensions in different areas, making the continuous wearing of extensions more feasible. I know that this is the only way I would ever wear them again.

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