A Beginner’s Guide to Hair Extensions

All my life I’ve suffered from FHS: fine hair syndrome. My mother was forced to put hats with bows on my head as a toddler because I was a wide-eyed bald baby until the ripe age of 3 and people thought I was a boy. When my hair finally decided to grow, it came in fine and scarce. I envied girls who had long hair past their shoulder blades and thick locks that made a perfect bun in ballet. If this sounds all too familiar, have no fear, white girl weave is here.

When I tell people I have extensions a lot of times I get weird looks and so many questions about how and why, so I’m so excited to share my experience. Every magazine editorial, many films, and most celebrities feature women wearing some form of hair extension to create their desired look, in fact I can’t think of a single female celebrity who hasn’t used an extension at some point. It’s perhaps the best kept secret of the elite, but it’s more than a possibility for normal people like us if you have the right information. There are a lot of myths about hair extensions so I’m here to settle them and give you a little insight into the world of fake and fabulous hair:


1- Hair extensions are painful
FALSE: While extensions do put a bit of tension on your roots, they should never cause discomfort especially when applied correctly.

2– Hair extensions damage your hair-
MOSTLY FALSE: Depending on what type of extensions you choose, the right extensions shouldn’t harm your natural hair at all. Buying a brush with moving bristles that won’t pull the hair out and sleeping in a ponytail or braid keeps the hair from tangling and getting damaged or pulled out. Proper care of your extensions is key, and checking in with your cosmetologist for regular upkeep is crucial.

3– Hair extensions are expensive-
SOMEWHAT FALSE/SOMEWHAT TRUE: The most important thing about hair extensions is to find hair that matches your own (not necessarily color, but texture and style). Synthetic (non-human) hair is significantly cheaper, but it is much harder to blend in with your natural hair and you can’t really style it like you would your own. Extensions made of real human hair will act as a literal extension of your own hair and you can apply heat, shampoo, and other products and it will react just as your own hair. Depending on what kind of extensions you choose, the hair itself can range anywhere from $50-$200, but will last for many months with the proper care. You can skip the cost of application and try clip-ins for a simple easy-to-remove style, or you can go to a licensed cosmetologist and have the extensions put in for anywhere from $80-$200.

So what kind of hair extensions should you get? Well, there are plenty of options:

Clip-Ins:  In my opinion, the best option for those new to extensions, and it is the cheapest option. I wore clip-in hair extensions for over a year, I loved how easy it was to pop them in and out and create a day to night look whenever I wanted. My first clip-in extensions were Vienna Hair from Sallys Beauty Supply. You just snap them into place at the nape of the neck and layer them a little higher up. Most packs contain eight or ten pieces which offer a wider variety of styling options, but take more practice to achieve a natural-looking effect. The picture below shows how the clips should be placed on the head for a natural look. I was beachy blonde and the color I bought matched my hair perfectly. Every month when I freshened up my blonde I would glaze my extensions with color, too. (I shamelessly admit I dyed my own hair for a while from a box with L’Oreal Preference Color and it was extremely easy to manage). When I finally decided to go red, my hairdresser used the exact same color on my extensions as she did on my hair and they both took the color so easily. That’s a huge advantage of getting real human hair – you can dye them with your natural hair!

clip-in extensions
source: afrocare.com


Braided Weave: This is the stuff you think of when you think “fake hair”. My experience with a sewn-in/braided-in extensions haven’t been the best, mainly because my hair is so fine and doesn’t hold a braid very well. That’s just my experience, others swear by this application style. These extensions are essentially braided into your natural hair in a very tight twist, and require a lot of maintenance so your roots don’t get knotty.

braided weave
source: cmhair.wordpress.com


Fusion: I’ve never tried it, but have heard mixed reviews. This is an intricate method of applying hair extensions. Thin strands of the extensions are taken and bonded to your own natural hair with heat and glue. While bonding is a lengthy (taking up to six hours) and expensive procedure, it results in very natural-looking extensions since the strands of fake hair move with your real hair. Bonded extensions can last up to several months, although they do require regular trips to the salon to maintain them and it’s impossible to do them on your own. This is also a difficult style for anyone who has a sensitive scalp.

fusion extensions
source: http://www.beautyinternational.uk


Micro-Links: Micros are small rings made out of plastic and silicone. Small strands of the extensions are joined with small strands of your real hair and pulled together through a micro ring, which is then flattened. This process is repeated along each weft of hair; each weft is attached to your scalp by fitting several strands of both the extensions and your natural hair together. This style also can irritate the scalp, and take a lot longer to remove and change/maintain.

microlinks extensions
source: ih.constantcontact.com


Tape-Ins: Finally, the style I swear by. I recently go my first set of tape-ins and I couldn’t be happier with my look. I bought my hair from http://www.donnabellahairextensions.com per the recommendation of my stylist.  I got 2 packs of hair, 1 in 16in and 1 in 18in (10 come in a pack). The hair cost me a little over $100, and donna bella runs a lot of sales and you can find discount codes on various coupon sites. My red hair was a really hard color to match, so I ordered a platinum blonde and had my stylist dye them to match my hair. The application only took about 2 hours, each strip literally tapes onto a strand of hair with special tape strips and you can use a flat iron’s heat to make sure they are tight against the hair. I can hardly feel them on my head, and they stay in place for up to 3 months as long as you use the proper brush and treat them with care. They are so lightweight and easy to manage, and when you want to remove them or move them around, you just brush a little bit of anti-stick oil and they come right off.

tape-in extensions
source: s3-media2.fl.yelpcdn.com


My transformation:

Rachel's Hair

So there you have it, my personal experience with extensions has been so much fun!. I love switching up my look, and I hope this helped some of you who have been thinking about extensions or hair pieces.



Rachel Spivey, Guest Blogger.



3 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to Hair Extensions

  1. I like that you included how to properly care for your extensions. I have always had really fine hair as well, and have been considering getting some hair extensions. Now that I know how to care for them and choose the type, I can start shopping around.


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