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A Newbie's Guide to Hair Extensions

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Why Do People Get Hair Extensions?

Many people are unhappy with their natural hair for one reason or another. Maybe they lack volume or it is unable to grow past a certain length—perhaps this is due to genetics or a side effect of a health condition such as Alopecia.

Other people just want to enhance their crowning glories and to keep up with the latest trends. Whatever your reason for getting hair extensions, it is a very personal decision. It’s not everyone’s ‘cup of tea,’ but for everybody else, it’s a gift from the hair gods.

What Is the Best Type of Hair for Extensions?

If you want braided extensions or dreadlocks, the hairdresser will more often than not use a cheaper synthetic hair designed for this purpose. One of the more common brands is “Kanekalon." It comes in a huge range of shades and is ideal for afro-Caribbean hairstyles.

For anything else, human hair is the best choice. If you want ­the very best, virgin hair is the one to go for (but also the most expensive)—this means the hair has not been dyed or tampered with. Blonde is the most expensive type of virgin hair to buy because it has not been bleached before—somewhat unusual in this day and age!

Then there is remy human hair. This is easier to get a hold of and far cheaper; it's chemically processed but relatively tangle-free. European remy is the preferred choice because Caucasian hair is generally a lot smoother than Indian hair (don’t get me wrong, I think Indian women have stunning crowning glories – once it is cut off though, it knots and tangles quite easily. This spells trouble for hair extensions).

What Types of Hair Extensions Are There?

It all really depends on your budget and lifestyle. Some hair extensions can be extremely high maintenance, others, you can put in and take out for special events.

Here are the different types of extensions available to you:

  • Clip in hair extensions – clip in and out of hair in a few minutes
  • Fusion hair extensions – a thermal bonding technique
  • Bonding – a latex adhesive used to stick the wefts to the hair roots
  • 'Shrinkies', 'Linkies' and 'Extend tubes' – do not require adhesive, heat or braiding
  • Sewn if wefts – extensions are sewn onto the existing head of hair
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Prices vary from £100 to £2000 in a salon – the higher the price, the better quality the hair and insertion technique. Some hair extensions take a while to put in too, so labour costs should also be taken into consideration. It can take many hours to complete a full head of extensions!

Sewn in wefts are great because they stay in the hair the longest – lasting many months if you maintain them well. The downside is the time and effort it takes to put in; best left to the professionals in my humble opinion.

Check out this video to see how it's done:

People with really frizzy hair benefit the most from Sewn in hair wefts, especially people with afro Caribbean hair types – as you can see from the following pictures, the results are well worth the time and money.


If you have never had hair extensions before and you want to install them yourself, it is wise to get them done in a salon the first time – that way you can observe how it done properly. You can also ask the hairdresser lots of questions regarding aftercare; stuff you need to know for future upkeep.

Hair Extension Maintenance

Go out and buy yourself some hair care products especially designed for hair extensions – it really is necessary for preventing tangling. Just think of the hours you could save – especially if you want to keep your long hair in the best condition possible. Also buy a good quality brush; if you don’t, your scalp could pay the price.

It is normal to experience pain on your scalp after getting sewn in extensions (or any hair extensions for that matter), this is totally normal because the scalp is adjusting to the extra weight of the hair. Discomfort should subside, but if it doesn’t, go back to the salon for advice.

If you go down the synthetic hair route, make sure you do not apply thermal heat to them – your extensions will melt into an ugly gooey mess; if that isn’t an incentive for choosing human hair, I don’t know what is! Human hair can be treated as your own; that means you can straighten it and use a hair dryer as normal.

I Still Can't Decide Which Hair Extensions to Get

In summary, hair extensions are great if you feel like pushing the boat out, on the condition you have the willpower to maintain them. They start to look worn after a relatively short time frame unless you take good care of them and use products suitable for extensions. This is especially the case if you have glued in hair extensions because using the wrong products can weaken the bonds, causing them to fall out prematurely.

If you prefer low maintenance hair, clip in extensions might be the way forward since you can remove them at the end of each day. You will also have the luxury of washing and styling your natural hair, without having to worry about damaging the hair extensions.

Having beautiful hair can do wonders for your self-confidence. Taking a little time to research all of the above will not only help you achieve what you want but in a way that suits the needs of your lifestyle and your budget.

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