What are hair extensions and their types?

All you need to know about hair extensions - an in-depth guide 

The first impression is the last. This is a quote that all of us are familiar with. To bedazzle someone with your intellect is something that leaves a lasting impression.

That doesn't mean that looks are nothing. They provide a mirror of our self.
Looking glamorous and stylish all the time is the dream of every individual. We look stylish by wearing high-end clothes, applying on-the-point makeup, and accessorizing our looks with beautiful jewelry.
Our hair is just as crucial in providing that window to our soul. And that is why styling our hair is also significant. But in this constant styling, sometimes we might up damaging our hair.

That's why it is better to always go for a safer alternative. Hair extensions provide that safety and security, all the while keeping our sense of adventure alive.

Now you can volumize your hair, increase its length, add highlights or curls, etc., all in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.
But diving into this world of hair extensions can be quite confusing for first-time users. That's why I have made this in-depth guide to help you. So let's start.

What are Hair Extensions?

Contrary to common belief, hair extensions are not wigs. Though both terms denote hair accessories, hair wigs are more like "Hair Caps."

Since wigs cover more than two-thirds of the scalp, technically, you are flaunting someone else's hair if you put on a wig.

Compared to this, hair extensions are designed mainly to add volume to your natural hair. Or, maybe to add a splash of color, say highlights or lowlights.

But how do you decide which extension would suit you? Now, it depends on your requirements and consequently on the type of hair extension.

How Many Types of Hair Extensions are There?

Honestly, no one can tell for sure. Cause there are so many ways to categorize them. Don't worry, it's no rocket science, and I got you covered. Here are a few ways to classify extensions:

Based on Hair Source:

Hair source is crucial to both the quality and the cost of a hair extension. These could be natural or synthetic. 

Virgin Hair

The human hair that has never been dyed or treated with other chemicals is called Virgin Hair. It usually comes in packs of washed and lightly braided hair bundles.
Since this hair is entirely natural, neither luster nor color fades over time. Virgin hair can either be directly applied as hair extensions or can be dyed later on.

Dyed Hair

The human hair already exposed to dyes is, of course, Dyed hair. This kind of hair typically cannot be further dyed, at least not into lighter shades.
The dyes can be in a range of colors, from blacks, browns, and blondes to pinks, purples, and greens. The hair can also be high- or lowlighted, gradient dyed, or colored as ombre extensions.

Synthetic Hair:

These hair extensions are not hair but plastic fibers. The cost of these extensions depends mainly on their resistance to heat.

Heat-stable extensions can be easily straightened or curled and so are more desirable.
Since synthetic hair extensions are made from colored plastics, their color does not fade.

But, they cannot be dyed over. These are primarily used for neon or monochrome hair extensions.

Based on Hair Binding:

Though virgin hair is sold as unbound braids, most of the hair extensions are applied in the form of bound bundles. These bundles can either be sewn, woven, or glued together.

Bound by Seams & Weaves:

Hair bound by seams is the most reliable hair extension with minimum hair loss. Seams have a braided part as their foundation onto which hair is sewn together.

This may be done in small bundles or a more comprehensive patch.

Which one is better? It depends on your hair type. Since wider patches usually have wider braided portions and additional lace support, therefore they stand out on the scalp.

This gives a bouncier look to curls. But, not straight hair. So, if you have straight hair, small seams will provide you with a naturally full look.

Bound by Wefts

Like seams, wefts are extensions sewn together. However, wefts don't require braided hair as their foundation. But, they have silicone or lace as their base.

Depending on the number of knots every stitch, the wefts can be simple, complex, or quad wefts. Quad wefts are the most superior form of wefts, with four knots in every section of the base.
Why? Well, quad wefts have minimum hair fall with the highest flexibility. So, a quad weft will fit perfectly to your scalp and won't stick out, giving a healthy natural look.

Glue-Bound Extensions

Hair glue binds bundles of hair together. Typical hair glue may include polyurethane, keratin, or polyvinyl-based glue.

I don't prefer glued-together hair extensions, as they might get sticky and greasy in summers.

However, polyurethane is quite a reliable glue, and it doesn't melt in higher temperatures. The glue-bound extensions from reliable vendors are usually better than seams and wefts.

Why? Because they don't contain extra laces or braids, allowing them to attach the closest to the scalp. Also, they don't tug on natural hair, causing minimum damage.

Braid-bound Extensions

Unless you want to give yourself a braided beauty look for, say, only 4 hours, don't use this extension. The hair in these is not properly bound, and extension may fall out from your head un-announced. So, I suggest you use other forms of bound hair.

Based on Hair Extension Insertion:

This decides whether a hair extension is permanent or temporary. 

Permanent Hair Extensions:

Typically, these last more than six months and up to 2 years. Most permanent hair extensions are made from natural hair and only rarely include synthetic hair.

Like other hair extensions, these are also applied close to the scalp on natural hair strands. But, as the natural hair grows longer, the extension also extends further.
Therefore, over time these extensions get distorted. So, permanent hair extensions must be re-aligned close to the scalp every 6-8 weeks.

The type of re-aligning or "re-bundling" may depend on the insertion method of these extensions. Major of these methods are as follows:

Heat Glued Insertion

This usually includes extensions bound by hair glue, e.g., polyurethane or keratin glue.

The hair extension is held onto natural hair strands close to the scalp, and then heat is applied using a small extension iron.
Thus, the glue gets affixed with hair, and the extension gets attached. Normally, I suggest you avoid these extensions.

However, if you find a reliable brand, then these are fine. Only don't try to apply these on your own; seek professional help.

Bead-In Insertion

Just like it sounds, it means to put a bead onto a small bundle of hair extensions and to slide it onto your natural hair. T

he beads are then clicked on or tightened using a specific instrument designed for those particular beads.

Now, these beads may be tiny acrylic-made or wooden based, with glued edged. Or these could be cylinders.

Cylinders could be formed out of silicone, zinc, or aluminum materials. There is not much difference. But I prefer silicone ones as these cylinders are pretty small and flexible, making them superior to wooden beads.

However, I reckon you might choose wooden beads if you are into natural stuff. Nevertheless, all beads are fine, and they seldom fall out.

So, what's the catch? The most common problem with cheap cylinders is that their paint might chip out, so make sure to buy high-quality cylinders.

Tape-In Insertion:

Most tape-ins are not permanent extensions. The permanent tape-ins are typically small bundles, seams, or wefts bound, about 3-4-inches wide apiece.

You can easily apply these, just pull up a section of your hair and apply these close to the scalp onto your natural hair.

The tapes can get non-sticky with time. However, you can easily replace them.

Weave-In Insertion:

Remember, I told you that weave-bound hair extensions are braided together? But you can do this directly onto natural hair.

So, in this method, small sections of your hair are braided. This braid is used as a foundation while raw hair is sewn onto it.

It is as brutal as it sounds. So, I don't recommend this method cause then a part of your hair will always be pulled up, causing damage to your natural hair.

Temporary Hair Extensions:

These extensions can be applied daily, but you will have to fix them on your own. Most of these come in large pieces, say 4-12 pieces depending on hair brand.

These are designed to give even volume. These are generally inserted via clippings or tapes. 

Clip-in Hair Extensions:

These are relatively small in width, with 1-3 clip-ins per hair patch. All you have to do is pull up your hair, pop open clips, and then slide in the clippings.

If applied rightly, the clip-in hair extensions give proper volume and a whole look.

Also, there are relatively easy to use and maintain. Clips are rarely faulty.

But you can easily replace faulty ones. The clip-ins don't cause any harm to natural hair and are the most used hair extensions.

Tape-in Hair Extensions:

Compared to clip-ins, these are relatively wider patches of bound hair.

The tape-in temporary extensions can easily be applied, but tape might have to be replaced every other week.

Final Thoughts:

I hope that you find your match and this may guide you to choose. But whatever and whichever extension you choose, it's essential that you are satisfied with it. 

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