Considering hair extensions? Here’s what you’ll want to know

Longing for longer, more luscious locks? Hair extensions may be the answer. Read on for expert advice on choosing the best types, colour matching and care.

Hair extensions have always been popular for lengthening or thickening the look of your natural hair.

And recent advancements have made extensions better than ever, hair extensions educator Yovanka Loria says.

“Hair extensions are now of a higher quality and able to be personalised, allowing them to seamlessly blend with your natural hair,” Yovanka explains.

A recent report confirmed hair extensions took a hit during the pandemic, but things are back on track with the market forecast to grow over 8.5 per cent to US$7.9 billion by 2030.

With their popularity projected to soar, we asked the experts what you need to know when choosing hair extensions.

What are the different types of hair extensions?

Hair extensions are categorised according to the way they affix to natural hair.

“The main options include bonded, micro-link, fusion, tape-in, sew-in and weft extensions,” Yovanka, the founder of Yovanka Loria Extensions, says.

She explains that bonded extensions and fusions involve joining the extension to natural hair using a polymer, while micro-links instead join the extension to the natural hair with beads.

Tape-in extensions utilise strips of hair taped at the roots; for sew-ins or “weaves”, the natural hair is first braided before hair pieces are attached by “sewing” with thread.

Lastly, weft extensions are thin, flexible hair pieces that are “sewn” into the natural hair and secured with beads at the root.

“In order to choose the best-suited method, consult with a professional stylist, who will discuss your hair type, budget and lifestyle,” Yovanka says.

“They’ll also ensure correct installation and maintenance.”

But if the experts had to pick their favourite, it would be micro wefts.

“Wefts distribute the weight more evenly across the natural hair, ensuring that the health of your natural hair isn’t compromised,” Adelaide-based salon director Sam James says.

Yovanka adds they don’t require glue or individual placement, reducing tension on the scalp, and are often preferred for their lightweight and seamless appearance.

What about temporary hair extensions?

If you want to dabble with hair extensions without the commitment, Sam, the founder of SJ Establishment Salon, says there’s an array of cost-effective, short-term options that you can add to and remove from your hair as you please.

“There’s clip-in extensions, halo extensions, clip-on ponytails, temporary hair colour extensions, topper crown extensions, and clip-in bangs,” Sam says.

“These all offer temporary style transformations for one-off occasions.”

What are hair extensions made of?

“Hair extensions are typically made from either natural human hair or synthetic fibres,” Yovanka says.

Unsurprisingly, human hair extensions are far more costly than their synthetic counterparts – and, Yovanka notes, synthetic hair simply “does not look as natural”.

The price of human hair extensions varies widely, depending on the quality of the hair.

“Different regions of human hair donors can affect the texture and quality,” Yovanka explains.

The expert adds that “virgin Remy hair” is the gold standard as it’s “never been treated with chemicals and is left unprocessed and uncoloured”.

“In my opinion, the most natural-looking extensions are micro wefts made of high-quality natural human hair, as they offer a more authentic look (and) feel, and extended longevity,” Yovanka says.

How are extensions colour-matched to your hair?

Once you’ve chosen your hair extension type, the next step is colour matching.

Yovanka explains that quality extensions are fully customisable – so start with an extension close to your natural colour and go from there.

“Gone are the days of randomly selecting hair from a pack and hoping for the best!” Yovanka says.

“Custom colour blending is the key to achieving a flawless and natural look.”

How do you care for hair extensions?

Correct maintenance is essential to preserve the longevity of your hair extensions.

Yovanka advises washing the extensions using a gentle, sulphate-free shampoo, followed by a conditioner on the mid lengths and ends, and reducing wash frequency when possible.

She adds that the extensions should be detangled carefully, using a wet brush.

When heat styling, Sam suggests adjusting the temperature to below 160℃, and “always use a heat protectant”.

Sam also notes that some extensions require a re-lift or move-up every couple of months, which is a quick and simple in-salon process.

“For great-looking extensions, stick to the suggested maintenance appointment schedule,” Sam says.

How long do hair extensions last?

There are three factors impacting the longevity of hair extensions: the type of extension, the quality of the hair, and how well the extensions have been maintained.

“Higher-quality extensions can last up to 12 months with proper aftercare,” Sam says.

“Consistent maintenance, gentle handling and using appropriate products help extend their lifespan.”

There are also telltale signs that indicate when the hair extension is done.

“It’s time to remove or replace the extensions when they have lost length and the ends appear sparse,” Yovanka says.

And, as with the installation, hair extension removal should be left to the pros.

“Attempting to remove them yourself can lead to damage or hair loss, so always seek professional assistance,” Yovanka recommends.

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Written by Sharon Hunt.