Hair Extensions – Friend or Foe?

By Mackenzie Morrison, stylist at Essence

Let’s face it, we all know someone who knows someone who’s had a negative experience with hair extensions. Damaged hair, a painful and lengthy application process, a ridiculously high cost; the list goes on. Most of the bad rap that hair extensions receive is due to people with little or no experience trying to make a “quick buck” by offering a service they are not qualified to provide. Unfortunately, this deters many women who could be looking and feeling amazing in longer, thicker, beautiful hair [extensions]. The first and most important step on the path to great hair extensions is finding an experienced stylist who knows what they are doing.

I have been applying hair extensions for the better part of a decade. My goal is to arm you with enough information to decide if you are truly interested in extensions and help you become comfortable enough to ask the right questions.

Types of Extensions 

There are four basic types of hair extensions and each type has slight variations available. The most basic are Weave-in hair extensions. The back and sides of your hair are braided into small rows and long wefts of hair are sewn onto the braids (YIKES- these are not for the tender headed!) They are very tight at first, but they do loosen and are usually worn for 3 -4 weeks. Weave-in hair extensions take about two hours to put in and are ideal for creating dramatic length for special occasions.

The second type of extension is a Tape-in extension. These are small wefts of hair (about an inch wide) that are sticky on one side. Two wefts are sandwiched together with a small amount of your hair in between them. Tape-in extensions take about two hours to apply and last 1-2 months.

Next, are Clamp-in extensions. These are small bundles of hair that have been bonded together at the tip. They are paired with a small amount of your own hair and clamped in with a small metal bead and pliers. They take anywhere from 1.5-3 hours to apply and because they are not actually bonded to your hair the metal bead starts to slip after several weeks. They usually need to be reapplied every 4-6 weeks.

Last, (but definitely not least) are Bond-in hair extensions. These are very small bundles of hair that have a keratin tip. The tip is heat bonded to your hair close to the scalp using a special heated tong. These are the most labor intensive and also the most versatile and believable extensions available. They can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours to apply (longer in some situations) and last 4-6 months (YES- half a year!)

Why Extensions? 

The first and most obvious reason to get hair extensions is length. Good quality hair extensions come in lengths measuring 10 to 22 inches- you can have hair so long you can sit on it! Another great benefit of hair extensions is thickness and volume. One of my favorite reasons to use extensions is to fill in thin spots in my client’s hair or give them a little “oomph” if their hair is getting thin. Have you ever seen a dramatic asymmetrical cut that you love but your hair isn’t quite long enough to pull it off? Applying extensions to one side provides the drama you want now- without the painfully long growing out process. Think about all the fun and funky colors that are popular now; you can achieve those extreme colors without fading (EVER!) and you don’t have to damage your hair with bleach or color. On that same note, non-chemical highlighting or ombre effects are a great option with extensions. You can pick the lightest blonde without worries of chemical breakage, fading, or brassiness. There really are countless ways to use extensions to achieve your desired look!

The Cost Factor 

Many celebrities spend thousands of dollars a month on their hair. Unless you want your extensions reapplied weekly, you will not spend anywhere near that amount. The key factors that determine the cost of each extension service are desired length, thickness, and the effect that we are working to achieve.

Unless you are only going to wear extensions for a few days it is imperative that high quality, 100% human hair is used. Human hair extensions are not cheap, but they can be washed, dried, and styled the same way as your own hair. Lesser quality hair may have been processed carelessly, poorly sorted and bundled, or blended with synthetics or animal hair, yielding a less expensive product that doesn’t hold up to every day maintenance and wear. Worse yet, low quality hair can get matted and tangled into your own hair creating a mess of damage that will result in having your own awful experience to share with all of your friends.

The cost of hair extensions is derived from a combination of the cost of the hair and the time it takes to apply the hair and shape it into the desired result. A very dramatic transformation will generally require more hair and time, thus being more expensive. Adding a bit of thickness or a splash of color takes less hair and time and is quite affordable. Consider what you spend regularly on Starbucks or lunches out; wouldn’t you rather have long thick beautiful hair?

Why Essence? 

At Essence, we offer only high quality, 100% human hair extensions. All of our hair is purchased through reputable vendors that guarantee the quality of their product. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to care for them- extensions do require home maintenance if you want them to last and look good as long as they should.

Extension Consultations are always complimentary at Essence. In your consultation we discuss which type of extensions make the most sense for your type of hair, desired result, and budget. If you decide you want to move forward, we determine the length, color, and amount of hair to order. At that time you will be given a total for the cost of your hair. Once paid for, we place the order and set up an appointment for you to come in and have your extensions put in. The cost of having them put in is due upon completion of your appointment. It really is that simple- and for many clients it is a complete game changer. If you would you like to find out how extensions could work for you personally, call the salon and set up a consultation with Mackenzie. I look forward to meeting you!