Hair Extensions 101

Today I’m going to talk about one of my recent obsessions – hair extensions.

Hair extensions are great for those who have short or medium length hair and want to add length and volume. They’re also great for those with long hair who want to add additional body and volume.

There are different kinds of extensions:

Fusion/Bonded, which are individual keratin-tipped strands that are bonded to your hair using a special tool (either with heat or via cold fusion).

Tape-In Extensions, where wefts are attached to your hair using a special double-sided tape.

Weave/Sew-In Extensions, which are as the name implies, wefts are sewn into little braids made from your natural hair from ear to ear (kind of like horizontal cornrows).

The above three types are typically done at a salon, which can take anywhere from at least 1 to 3 hours (not including a consultation usually done beforehand), and can cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

However, there is a cheaper and more convenient alternative: Clip-In Extensions, where wefts attach to your natural hair using little comb clips (which are of course sewn onto the wefts). This type of hair extensions are great because you don’t have to wear the extensions 24/7. You can wear them or not wear them as you wish. They also last longer (6 months to at least a year with proper care) compared to the others (anywhere from 2-4 months, depending on what kind you get). They’re also less expensive, averaging from $125 to $250.

 

Human Hair vs Synthetic Hair

When it comes to extensions, usually you get what you pay for. Synthetic hair is of course going to be cheaper, but there’s not much you can do with it when it comes to styling. Most synthetic hair will melt when heat is applied to them. Synthetic hair also tangles easy. However, there are some companies that have come out with a new kind of synthetic hair that can be washed and styled using low heat, but you can’t color them.

Human hair is the way you really want to go. Be aware though that some companies sell what they call a “premium blend” which is a mix of human hair and synthetic hair. You  want to look for 100% human hair. Human hair is just like your hair (which, technically, it is) and can be washed, styled and even colored if desired (just remember if you’re going to color, it’s better go darker as lightening can damage the extensions). When looking at human hair extensions, be mindful of the all-over thickness as well as the weight. Some companies will place a lot of shorter hairs at the top of the wefts to add to the weight, which will give you thick at the top but sparse at the ends. Look for companies that state their hair is “double drawn” which ensures the same thickness from top to end.

 

Caring for Extensions

They key word here is GENTLE. Always use extreme care when handling your extensions, especially when washing them. Use a shampoo/conditioner for treated hair and don’t scrub when washing – gently work the suds from top to end. And wash them separately in the sink or tub (don’t wash them when attached to your hair if they’re the clip-in kind). Since extensions aren’t part of your natural hair, they don’t get oils from your scalp for nourishment, so using a treatment like Moroccan Oil/Argan Oil or a good leave-in conditioner at least twice a month will help preserve your extensions and keep them silky soft. Also if you use clip-in extensions, always let them air dry after washing them (just lay them flat on a clean, dry towel overnight) and use a soft bristle brush too (but comb them out using a wide-tooth comb when wet).

 

Tressmatch Hair Extensions

The extensions I currently use are from a company called Tressmatch. They’ve been around since 2011 I believe and are located in New York. Their extensions are 100% human hair, come in a variety of colors and they come in two lengths – 16 inches (which is actually 18 inches) and 20 inches (which is actually 22 inches). I have the 20 inch extensions, which come in 2 different sets – the Artisan Set for fine hair (which is what I have) and the Elite Set, which is for thicker hair. If you like Ombre hair, they have sets for that as well. The extensions from Tressmatch are soft, silky and are thick from top to end. They come pre-straightened, so if you want to style/curl them, you’ll need to wash them first to get off the factory residue. The cool thing is these extensions have a little bit of a natural wave to them after they’re washed. They also hold curls pretty well (definitely better than my own natural hair).

Tressmatch has a couple professional hair stylists that work with them and if you send them a couple of photos of yourself in natural light (no flash – sunlight is best), they can attempt to color match a shade of extensions they sell to your own hair, which would eliminate the need for coloring them yourself. Unfortunately, I color my hair reddish-brown and they don’t sell that shade, so I got light brown and dyed them myself. They came out great and blend into my hair well.

But… don’t take my word for it…

Me before extensions on the left, after on the right.

Me before extensions on the left, after on the right.

Another nice thing about Tressmatch is their prices. They sell for 20%-30% off their list price on their website (they also have a shop on Amazon), plus if you sign up on their website, they’ll email you a code for $6 off your first order. The extensions I got, the 20 in Artisan Set in light brown list for $119.99, but are marked down to $91.99, and with the $6 off coupon, I got them for $85.99! That is a STEAL for extensions like these. They also offer free same-day shipping (if ordered before 4:30 PM Eastern Time) and shipping is FAST! I ordered my extensions on a Tuesday evening (after 4:30), they shipped the following day (Wednesday) and they arrived that Saturday! Another great thing about Tressmatch is they’ll let you open the package and allow you to actually feel the hair to see if it’s to your liking and as long as you don’t cut the gold ties and remove the extensions from the cardboard backing, you can return them within 30 days for a refund (and no restocking fees).

 

I’ve heard good things about other hair extension companies such as Hair Secrets and Hello Gorgeous. I would love to give other hair extension brands a try, so… if you’re with an extensions company, I’d love to collaborate on a review sometime!

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