Hair extensions, also called hair weaves, are lengths of real or synthetic hair that are closely attached to a person’s scalp, adding length and/or thickness to the person’s own natural hair. There are several different systems for attaching hair extensions, some of which are longer lasting than others. When well matched in color and texture, and professionally applied by a competent stylist, hair extensions are designed to mix in and move naturally with a person’s own hair, making it difficult to tell the person is wearing them. They can provide volume, extend hair, and add highlights or lowlights. With the proper maintenance, some extensions can last up to a full year before they need to be removed.
Types of Extensions
Both human and synthetic hair extensions are available, and both come in a variety of colors, textures, styles, and lengths. Each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Natural or human hair extensions are usually significantly more expensive than their synthetic counterparts, though they are typically considered to be of higher quality. Synthetic hair is made from chemically processed fibers; although more affordable, it may not look as real and can be more difficult to style.
High quality, long-lasting human hair extensions are often available only through salons. The hair can be washed, conditioned, dried, and colored just like a person’s own hair. It also tends to provide a great deal of styling freedom; heat styling at temperatures reaching 430°F (about 221°C) should not damage the hair. This typically results in faster and longer-lasting styles with more shine.
Made from various types of synthetic fibers, these hair extensions are often available in a wider variety of beauty supply stores, drug stores, and other locations. The quality of synthetic hair can vary widely, but the two most common types are made of Kanekalon® and Toyokalon® fibers. Of the two, Kanekalon® is the most resistant to heat, and can be styled with curling irons and straighteners at up to 230°F (110°C) without melting or other damage. Toyokalon®, although less heat-resistant, usually tangles less and may last longer.
Hair extensions can be attached in a number of different ways, depending on the type of hair, the amount being added, the budget of the consumer, and his or her lifestyle. When significant amounts of hair are to be attached, or the hair is expected to last for a long time, a professional stylist typically should be consulted.
Further Reading: real hair extensions clip in