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The World of Weave: All About Hair Extensions

Thinking about hair extensions, a.k.a getting a weave? Whether living in the world of Instagram models or succumbing to the genealogy of your parents, you may have questioned if hair extensions might be right for you. If you are new to the world of weave, finding the appropriate extensions for your hair type can be daunting.  The right type of extensions for you depends on several factors: your hair type, hair density, desired length or look, hair condition, hair color, lifestyle, budget, and last, but certainly not least, the craftsmanship of your extensionist.  Here we will dig into the different extension methods available, including pros and cons, budget expectations, and recommended maintenance for each type.

Strand-by-Strand Hair Extensions

  • Keratin Bonds | Fused Extensions
    • Small ‘u’-shaped sections of hair no larger than the extension piece itself are fused to the hair by heating the keratin edge with a hot tool and rolling the natural hair and extension hair together close to the root
      • Pros:
        • You can wear your hair in virtually any style with a natural look and the extensions hidden
        • You can wear these extensions for up to 20 weeks with proper maintenance and care as they are the most durable
        • They are better on coarse hair
        • They can be re-bonded instead of buying new hair
      • Cons:
        • Durability can be considered a negative, as the longer the wear the greater chance of breakage. More frequent maintenance will help to prevent this.
        • These can be more expensive due to the intense application and removal (2-6 hours).
        • They can also be uncomfortable at attachment points or while sleeping.
        • Re-bonding instead of buying new hair can cause loss of length.
        • Because they are heat-fused, there is a chance of causing damage or a chance of burns for tech or client. An experienced extensionist is key to preventing this. 
        • Smaller sections mean greater pressure on less hair which can lead to breakage and the small sections can create separations that could cause the strands to look like spaghetti
        • These extensions are not good for fine or previously lightened hair
  • Beaded | Flat-tip | I-tip | Micro-lock Extensions
    • Small sections of hair are taken in a ‘u’ shape and pulled through a copper or metal bead then clamped using a special pliers-like tool
      • Pros:
        • Individual strands allow for natural styling without exposing extensions.
        • No heat or adhesive is used in the process.
        • The hair strands are reusable.
        • These extensions can be fixed or moved up quickly by a seasoned extensionist.
        • They can be worn for 4-8 weeks.
      • Cons:
        • The stress of the metal attachments combined with the pressure on each small strand of hair makes this method the most damaging to existing hair.
        • Beads can slip more easily versus the bonded method and beads can sometimes become visible.
        • No oils or product can be used near the bead.
        • Install/removal can be time-consuming (2-4 hours).
        • Headaches may sometimes be caused by the pulling/tension on the hair.
        • These extensions are not good for fine/thin hair.
        • If not installed and removed properly, the metal bead can cut the hair. A qualified/experienced extensionist is a must.

Weft or Panel Extensions

A hair weft is defined as a collection of hair strands which have been woven into a fine strip using various methods to create a “weft”.  They can differ in width, usually 1 to 10 inches, and can also be referred to by weight in grams.

  • Tape-In Extensions
    • Two small thin wefts of hair sandwich a thin natural slice of hair in between by use of a medical-grade double-sided tape and clamp; sometimes an adhesive is also added for extra hold
      • Pros:
        • This is the fastest extension method.
        • The wider panels of hair cause less stress on existing hair.
        • The hair is reusable.
        • Wearability usually lasts 6-8 weeks.
        • The panels naturally camouflage into the hair.
        • No heat is required.
        • This is the most comfortable method to add extensions.
        • Tape-in extensions are great for all hair types.
      • Cons:
        • Tape/adhesive is used to adhere the extensions.
        • You cannot always wear hair in every style as desired without exposing the tapes.
        • The adhesive needs time to cure (you cannot get this style wet within the first 24-48 hours).
        • Slipping can occur over time.
        • No oils or products can be used near the application point.
        • A thin section of hair with heavier tape can cause breakage.
        • Removal and reapplication can leave an adhesive residue or remain tacky.
        • The relatively large 1-2” sections can cause splitting in hair, creating a noticeable effect.
  • Natural Beaded Row or Hand-Tied Extensions
    • A large weft of hair is attached in camouflaged rows by first creating a row of silicone beads, then layering wefts below and above the beads before sewing through the beaded row with a silk blend string to adhere it for longevity and wear
      • Pros:
        • The most natural-looking of all extensions.
        • More hair density with fewer individual pieces.
        • Excellent wearability for 8 to 12 weeks.
        • The hair is fully reusable.
        • The weft spanning the circumference of the head with multiple attachment points allows for even weight distribution meaning little to no breakage.
        • Nearly undetectable if applied properly.
        • No heat or adhesives are required.
        • You can use all products all the way to the root.
        • These extensions are great for most hair types.
      • Cons:
        • Tension point systems are not good for clients with thinning natural hair.
        • This is the most difficult system to learn for stylists – you must choose a very skilled extensionist for the best results.
        • These extensions may feel tight or uncomfortable when first applied but will loosen a bit over time.
        • You cannot create a high up-style for the first week or two.

Maintenance of hair extensions

All extensions require some maintenance and a little TLC – Wash as you regularly would so bacteria does not build up. Always go to bed with a dry root and sleep in a low, loose braid or pony on a silk pillowcase. Brush with a natural bristle brush (or looped brush for single stranded extensions). Give your extensions a little more moisture than your existing hair as it often doesn’t receive the natural oils from our head.  Lastly, make sure to come in for maintenance and move-ups regularly as 80% of breakage and damage happens after the 8-week mark.

Some final thoughts on hair extensions

Extensions are not all created equal – choosing the right method for your hair is important.  You will always want 100% Remy Hair (100% human with cuticles intact), as anything less will not give you the best results or durability. Extensions are a significant investment – Geography, type, and talent can put the price tag anywhere from a few hundred up to thousands of dollars. But there is no faster or better way to get such dramatic improvements in length and fullness than with properly applied hair extensions. Please contact your local Scottfree Salon in downtown Milwaukee or Mequon, WI today for more information.