Popular Hair Extension Methods
There are many different hair extension methods available to you if you’re interested in changing the texture, length or color of your hair. The method that you choose should be dependent on your own hair’s texture and length, as well as the reason that you’re getting the extensions done. Someone with inch-long kinky-curly hair who’s going for a sleek wavy look should look for a different extension from the woman with mid-back length relaxed hair who’s only looking to add chunky highlight extensions. If you’re interested in getting hair extensions but are unsure of which type to get, the information below can act as a primer.
Wefted vs. Non-Wefted Hair
Extension hair is either sold wefted or non-wefted. Wefted hair is hair that is sewn onto a thin track with thread. They’re either sold as machine wefts or hand-tied wefts. If you purchase machine-wefted hair, you’re purchasing wefts that are sewn using a special sewing machine. They’re sold on wefts that usually weigh about four ounces each, so the weft varies in length according to how long the hair is. Most of the wefted extension hair sold is machine wefted. The wefts on machine wefted hair can be cut, but they must be sealed or you’ll experience extensive shedding.
Hand-tied wefted hair extensions are wefts that are sewn by hand. They’re much thinner than machine-wefted extensions, and they’re more expensive. They lay flatter than machine wefts and are more flexible, so they are perfect for placing at the top of the head where you need the hair to look flawless. Hand-tied wefts are usually short so that they can be easily placed, and cannot be cut.
Skin wefts are hand made wefts where they hair is attached to a polyurethane-coated mono mesh base. They are glued or taped directly onto the client’s hair. They are usually only used at the top of the hair to create a natural part, or in the back of the head to allow for a pulled-up ponytail.
Weaving hair that is not wefted is called bulk hair. It’s sold loose, and is usually used for braid or strand-by-strand, bonded extensions.
Cornrow Track Extensions
The track extensions are the ones most people know about, and the most common extension method for African-American hair. The client’s hair is cornrowed in a natural growth pattern. Stylists will choose a braiding pattern based on the client’s head and the desired style. The stylist may or may not add a net on top of the braids that will function as a base for the extensions so that they are are sewn to the netting instead of directly to the client’s braids. When done correctly, this is one of the safest methods of attaching hair extensions. Depending on the stylist and the client’s hair, this method can last as long as three months or more. In order to prevent matting of the client’s own hair, stylists generally recommend keeping track extensions in for no longer than three months before having them redone.
This method is also referred to as pinch or micro weaving. With this method, the stylist will take thin tracks of hair and sew them flatly across the scalp from left to right. The pattern of the tracks will mimic the growth pattern or the client’s hair or the pattern of their chosen style. The extension hair is attached to the tracks, and your own hair is left loose in between the tracks, creating a natural look. Clients like this method because it looks really flawless, but it can cause stress on the scalp if installed improperly or left in too long. It’s also best for people with relaxed hair since the client’s own hair is left loose in between the tracks.
Tree braiding is a method of hair extension that uses bulk hair braided directly into the client’s own hair via an individual or cornrow braid. The weave hair is braided down to hide away the client’s own hair and the rest of the hair is left free. Women like it because it allows them more versatility than a fully cornrowed base. You’re getting the versatility of individual braids with the fullness of a traditional weave. Some people don’t like that you can see the braided base. You also have to have the hair retouched regularly in order to keep it looking fresh. Some people refer to tree braiding as “invisible braiding.”
Strand-by-Strand The strand-by-strand method of hair extensions is also referred to as fusion extensions. With strand-by-strand weaving, grouped strands of extension hair are bonded to small sections of the client’s hair by means of an adhesive or keratin polymer cap. The locks of human hair usually have about 100 strands each, and you’ll need anywhere between 50 to 100 locks. Hair for strand-by-strand extensions can be bought pre-glued, or you can glue them yourselves. Done correctly, this method can last about four to six months. It can cause stress on the hair installed incorrectly, so it’s generally not recommended for African American hair except for short-term use. This method can be quite expensive depending on the stylist used.
Micro rings are installed in pretty much the same way strand by strand/fusion hair is installed except that instead of glued tips, the extension hair is attached via tiny (micro) rings. If done properly, the style can last four to six months. An experienced stylist should install the hair, although women have done the technique on their own hair. Care needs to be taken when combing, washing and brushing the hair so that you don’t cause matting and tangles, and so that you don’t cause undue stress on the scalp.
With bonding, wefts of hair are attached directly to the client’s own hair using bonding glue. You can get an extremely flat, flawless look with bonding. You need to make sure that you use a non-toxic, easy to remove glue. Bonded wefts are only meant to be kept in for the short term or else they can cause damage to the hair and scalp. Extreme care must be taken when removing the weft.