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by sarah kester

Whether you’re looking to experiment with a new look, or you miss rocking longer locks, extensions may be a solution for you.

Before going this route, however, there are some details to consider. Things like hair texture, type of application and more, can make or break a ‘do (almost literally).

So before you book that appointment, read on for what 4 extension experts have to say below. 

What type of extensions should I get?

So, what’s the difference in types of applications? Miguel Estrada, master hair designer and extensions specialist at the Julien Farel Salon And Spa, explains. Human hair extensions are exactly that – human hair — while synthetic hair is made out of various artificial and blended fibers.

In terms of pros and cons, Darrius Peace, a natural hair expert, mentions that human hair lasts longer and can’t be beat when it comes to adaptability with one’s lifestyles. Things such as washing, straightening and curling simply don’t hold up with synthetic extensions like human hair ones do.

How can I match extensions to my hair type?

It wouldn’t make sense to get super curly extensions if your hair is pin-straight. In this event, selecting the right texture for your additions is essential: “A compatible texture allows you to put less stress on your hair because it is already a match so a lot of manipulation is not needed,” says Peace. “If you want to experiment with different textures, opt for full coverage of your own hair so there are no awkward demarcations between your hair and the extensions.” 

What is the best hair extensions application?

“You must be aware that there are no one-size-fits-all hair extensions—what you see on one person may not work for you, and vice-versa,” says Angelo David Pisacreta, celebrity stylist and salon owner of Angelo David Couture Hair Extensions & Additions. “If you choose the wrong type of hair extensions, they can be harmful to your hair and cause damage.”

So, to give you an idea of the many different kinds of installations there are, and ones that’ll preserve your locks, see Peace's breakdown below: 

  • Clip-ins: Clip-ins are comb clips that adhere to the hair with a comb and a snap. Clip-in hair extensions are the least permanent style of extensions because you can quickly remove them and put them back on whenever you want.
  • Track sew-in: These extensions are applied by braiding natural hair into cornrows, then using a needle and thread to sew the weave into the braid or cornrow. Note: Estrada adds that weave hair extensions are predominantly used for people with thicker hair because the tight application method can put a strain on the scalp and feel very heavy or uncomfortable.
  • Fusion: Here, microbeads of glue are used to extend hair onto your own locks. This is done with a wand tool that heats and melts the glue onto your tresses. 
  • Bond extensions (glue): This involves weaving extensions to the hair or scalp using glue. Estrada adds that applying pre-bonded hair extensions takes approximately 3-4 hours to apply.
  • Micro-link extensions: This is a process where you attach tiny wefts of hair to small sections of your natural hair with a small silicone-lined bead. A special tool is then used to secure the bead to the hair and tightened it to hold it in place. 
  • Tape-ins: In this case, tape is placed at the root of the extension to adhere to the roots of the natural strands. 
  • Loc extensions: These are added to the hair with an extension with a special tool that fuses the strands into the loc without the use of heat or glue.
  • Crotchet extensions: This is applied by attaching extensions into braids using a latch-hook tool.

What hair extensions application is the best for me?

With all this in mind, the safest option is one that doesn’t involve tape or glue, says Pence. “With glue and tape, you’re at risk at some type of hair loss,” he says. Like the name says, they can be easily clipped in, which is a great temporary way to experiment with your look!  “Unlike some of the other hair extension applications mentioned above, clip-ins usually take 5-15 minutes to apply at home,” Pence adds. “Clip-in hair extensions are also the least damaging because they don’t involve any chemicals, heat, pressure or other installation methods mentioned above. They simply clip onto your hair with ease so there is zero damage to your natural hair.” 

Where should I buy my hair extensions?

It’s always good to put your head in good hands. “Schedule appointments with different certified specialists for consultation,” says Estrada, adding that you should be prepared to ask a lot of questions: “Things like natural or synthetic hair, how they are used, maintenance, how long they last, when they need to be removed, cost and most importantly, if your own hair can hold the extensions [are good asks].”

Pisacreta also says that you can do some shopping around online by reading online reviews and asking questions over the phone or email.

What commitment do hair extensions require?

Just like you shouldn’t go blonde without first committing the time and money involved, you shouldn’t commit to hair extensions unless you’re willing to handle the extra work. “Although they are ‘permanent,’ they need care and upkeep throughout their time on your head,” says Kristine Murillo, master extensionist and salon owner.

With hair extensions, you’re typically looking at having to upkeep them every four months, she says. When this happens, you may have to do any of the following: have them removed, adjusted, re-done, as well as following instructions for maintaining at home. “With proper installs and removals and proper upkeep, damage will be minimal to none and some people even see their natural hair has grown to their liking when they are removed,” says Murillo.  

How will hair extensions impact my current routine?

Even though hair extensions aren’t your real hair, you’ll want to treat them as if they’re your own — with a few tweaks, of course. For example, you’ll want to avoid going to bed with a wet head since you don’t want moisture held in the bonding areas, advises Murillo.

The good news is that you can still use some of your favorite products. “Using a moisturizing cream or oil is beneficial to your hair since your natural oils won’t make it all the way to the ends. Note: Only use oils and creams mid-shaft to the ends to prevent slipping,” says Murillo. “It’s also best to sleep in a low ponytail or braid to prevent knotting.”

You’ll also want to show your natural tresses some love by adding Vital Proteins' collagen products to your routine. One of our faves? Our Glow Collagen Shot, which contains 7g of collagen peptides and beauty-loving ingredients hyaluronic acid, biotin and vitamin C.

How much do hair extensions cost?

This may be one of the biggest factors of all since (spoiler alert!) hair extensions don’t run cheap.

“Someone that wants just a few highlights might spend around $100, but someone that is looking for a full head can go up to $2500,” Murillo tells Lively. She adds that the cost of extensions varies with different factors, such how many you are adding, length, texture and technique. “Tapes and wefts seem to be most cost-efficient, as they are reusable but keratin bonds need less maintenance.”

Her best piece of advice is to discuss pricing options and what the maintenance costs are with your stylist prior to installing.

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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.