Hair Extensions: The Everything Guide

Date: 2017-05-23

We all like to add a little length to our hair every now and then, but of course, it’s never as easy as it seems. Enter: hair extensions . There are so many options from clip-ins to wigs: where does a woman begin?

How you wear human hair extensions is up to you: it comes down to the look you’re going for, how long you plan to commit to the style at hand, and the method that works with your particular texture of hair. Whether you’re a frequent gym-goer looking to maintain your mane while sweating hard, a runway-inspired fashion maven who changes her hair just as often as she does her shoes, or a woman simply looking to change her look for the season, we have (with a little help from some of the country’s most famed hairstylists) rounded up the best options for you—no matter your hair type.

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SO, WHEN SHOULD YOU USE HAIR EXTENSIONS—AND WHY?

There are plenty of great reasons to get extensions: wanting to wow at a special occasion, needing an everyday boost of glamour, or something in between are all great reasons to get extensions. “They’re perfect for creating a signature look, protecting and giving your hair a breather, or for changing your style without the commitment,” says stylist and Heat Free Hair creator Ngozi Opara.

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The honest truth is that it doesn’t get much more versatile than extensions. Whether it’s the color of your hair or just the length, you can switch it up effortlessly. Extensions can also aid in hair growth, says celebrity hair stylist and educator Sacha Quarles: “By alternating rows amongst your hair, extensions will serve as a cushion to keep your hair from rubbing on anything, promoting growth.”

And they can be a year-round thing. Perhaps curls are fun for the summer months, but you want to try out sleek, straight locks for the winter. As long as you’re keeping your own hair healthy and well-nourished in the process, the possibilities are endless.

WHAT KIND OF HAIR WORKS BEST?

This all depends on the style you’re going for, how long you want it to last, and how natural you want it to both look and feel. Almost all of the stylists recommend human hair, as it will blend seamlessly with your own locks. “There are many grades of human hair extensions varying from those blended with synthetic hair all the way up to the rawest form of 100% virgin, unaltered hair,” explains Opara.

Kimble is all for virgin Remy hair and breaks down the meaning for us: “As you might imagine, ‘virgin’ means that it has never been processed. ‘Remy’ means that it has been collected in such a way that the cuticles of each individual hair are intact and the cuticles on all the hairs run in the same direction.” She adds, “In short, this means the hair is softer and silkier than other types. It is the highest quality hair and can be quite pricey, but you really do get what you pay for.” What about synthetic hair? “I don’t recommend synthetic hair,” Kimble says, “It just won’t blend in with your natural hair as well, and it’s more likely to get tangled and damaged.”

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