Hair extensions have become a big part of my identity over the years. I have naturally very fine hair, and growing up I was always jealous of people with the long, thick hair I could only dream of. When I finally discovered hair extensions it was like a whole new world had opened itself up to me. Finally I could make my hair longer, thicker and sometimes a completely different colour just by using extensions. I now had hair that people were envious of and they were often shocked when I told them that it wasn’t mine! But before you follow in my footsteps and head towards your own hair epiphany, make sure you educated yourself as much as possible and follow my steps below.
Find a Fitting Expert
Before you let anyone near your hair, make sure you do your research and pick someone who is an extensions expert. Regardless of whether they are salon based or a mobile fitter, they should have (and you should be able to see) a fitting qualification from a reputable company who specialises in the type of extensions they are fitting (Spectrum, Beauty Works, Easilocks, Raccoon, to name a few). They should also be able to show you plenty of photos of past fittings they have done, and will be able to cut and style your hair into the extensions once they have been fitted. So many so-called ‘extensions experts’ are actually not qualified hairdressers and can only apply the extensions but not finish the styling. Reputable extension companies will only train qualified hairdressers, meaning that these ‘experts’ who cannot blend and style your hair extensions, are not experts at all. If you’re based in Manchester/Cheshire, then I can highly recommend Sophie at Fiorucci, Alderley Edge. She has been colouring and styling my hair, and fitting my extensions (that’s my hair in the picture!) for a while now and I can’t recommend her enough.
Not all hair extensions are made equal and trust me when I say you need to buy the best quality hair you can afford. I would advise away from the synthetic hair that is available at the moment; it may look nice but it has a shine and a texture that makes it very difficult to blend naturally into your hair. Instead look for 100% human remy hair extensions, that have been double drawn. This means that the hair in your extensions will be thick from root to tip as each strand is the same length, unlike single drawn hair which contains 50% of strands that are one length and 50% of mixed length hair stands.
Also the better quality hair you buy, the longer it will last. Good quality hair extensions can last up to a year (if they are well taken care of) where as you may only get one or two wears out of the cheaper alternatives so you may end up spending more money in the long run.
This is where things can get confusing as there are currently five main types of hair extension application that are all slightly different and have different price points. A good extension fitter will speak to you about the different application types and advise what is best for your hair and your budget. If you’re just looking for a temporary hair solution or to try a new style, then clip ins are the way to go. For a more permanent change, you can opt for pre-bonded hair, micro beads (I-tips), tapes or a weave. Each application type costs a different amount and are applied in a different way. At this point in time I would never recommend pre-bonded hair as this involves hot gluing keratin bonds to your hair, which can be very damaging (despite what they say) for your hair. There are now so many other options that are less damaging to your hair and are much more discrete, that I feel like pre-bonded hair shouldn’t be recommended anymore.
Instead if you have thick hair and are looking for length, opt for a weave or micro beads, and for finer hair where you want length and/or volume, go for micro beads or tapes as they are a great option. A weave and tapes are often cheaper and take less time than micro beads however they need maintenance more often and may not last as long, or look as discrete as micro beads.
Hair extensions require more care and attention when washing, conditioning and styling as the hair does not receive the natural oils and nutrients from your scalp, and can easily become dry and tangled. You need to use shampoos, conditioners and styling products that contain no sulphates or silicone, as these can damage the extensions and their bonds. You also need to take care when brushing the extensions as you don’t want to push too much pressure on the bond or it will slip. A tangle teezer or wet pro brush are perfect for making sure your extensions remain in top condition. Maintenance is also an essential part of your hair extension aftercare and you should expect to be back at the hair dressers every 6 – 12 weeks, depending on the extension type, for removal and refitting.
Simply put, hair extensions cannot be treated like your own hair, and you will need to make sure you have the time to maintain a good aftercare routine if you want to ensure your extensions remain in perfect condition whilst you are wearing them.
There is no general rule of thumb for how much hair extensions should cost, so I can’t tell you how much you should expect to pay. It all depends on your hair type, extensions type and how much hair you want to add. The price your hairdresser will give you will be completely unique to you. But one key thing I always stress to people who ask me is that if the price seems too good to be true, it usually is. Good hair extensions and a quality fitting are not cheap, and you should expect to pay for the service.