Everything You Need To Know Before Getting Extensions
Updated: Nov 14, 2021
If you are interested in getting extensions there are a couple of things you should probably know before making the investment. From what type of extensions might work best for you, to what brand you should invest in, and more, these are all important questions you need to have answered by the time you schedule a consultation with your hair stylist. Your stylist will probably go over some of these options with you but probably not as in depth. And why wouldn't you want to have all of the information you could possibly need about the subject?
In this post, I will teach you about what type of extensions are available, what the difference between them is, which type will work best for your hair type or goal. We will discuss the time frame for moving your extensions up, how each type is applied and removed from your hair, and how many grams of hair you should actually be buying for your type of hair. We will go over multiple different brands, some in which you can access without a license and some where you will have to order through your stylist. All of your questions should be answered after reading this blog, so it is important that you read it in its entirety.
Types of Extensions
First off, we need to establish what are the most common types of extensions. There is a wide variety and sub-variety of extensions, but most commonly offered are Sew-In, Tape-In, Beaded (I-Tip), adn Keratin Tip (Fusion).
Sew-In extensions are the most popular in 2021. Personally, I have found that they are the most easy to care for, maintain, move up, and there is not a ton of complexity or mess with the install and removal. What you will need for this type of extensions is a weft of hair. Wefts are most commonly found as Machine Tied Wefts, and Hand Tied Wefts. There are some sub-varieties of wefts from some companies that will offer certain advantages, but primarily you will only find these 2 types of wefts.
Machine Tied Wefts offer more grams of hair on one single weft, and it may even offer longer lengths due to it being a thicker weft. The top part of the weft which will be sewed into your hair is much thicker and may not lay as flat as the Hand Tied weft. This can be an issue for people with thinner hair, as the track will show through the hair and you may not be able to go more than 4 or 5 weeks before you need to move them up. Another important fact about Machine Tied Wefts is that you are able to cut them to whatever length you may need to fully customize them to fit your head.
Hand Tied Wefts are much thinner than Machine Tied Wefts, which allows them to lay flatter against the head. This is a great advantage for people with thinner hair. Unlike Machine Tied Wefts however, Hand Tied Wefts are not able to but cut to customize them. If they are cut, they will start to rapidly shed and the track will unravel to the point where you can no longer wear them or reinstall them. Once they start to unravel there is no way to fix them. Some stylists have thought of putting a dot of glue on the corner to stop the unravelling but even that does not usually help. Machine Tied Wefts are mostly available in one long strand that can be cut to different sizes, but Hand Tied Wefts need to be ordered in seperate track lengths in order for you to customize them to fit your head. In most cases, when Hand Tied Wefts are ordered too long, the stylist can double them up (fold the length in half), and sew them in, since they are much thinner than Machine Tied. However, it is not suggested to double up Machine Tied Wefts, as it will be too much weight and thickness to evenly blend with the hair, and will cause damage to the hair it is attached to. When too much weight is applied to the beads, intense hair breakage can occur, including possible bald spots if it is not taken care of immediately.
When wefts are installed there are a few different techniques that stylists use. I will tell you about the most common way we install wefts at Lizzy Paige Hair Design. First, we start by sectioning either a straight line or a horseshoe shape across the head. Then we will apply beads to strands of hair every half an inch across that part line. Once the beads are anchored, we measure the weft to make sure it is all even and pin in along that part line, on top of the beads. We then go in with our curved needle and cotton thread and sew the extension into the bead and the pieces of hair that are attached to it. No, we are not sewing the weft into your scalp, which most of you probably already knew, but you would be surprised at how many people actually think that. Once the weft is all sewn in, we cut the thread and you are either done or we will section out another part line and repeat with the next weft.
It is an easy procedure and although you will be able to feel the wefts when you comb through your hair, it won't feel like anything is actually attached to strands of your hair. I have found this to be the easiest type of extension to install, to maintain, and the one that offers the widest variety of customization. This will be the best option for most types of hair, there is even a special way of installing the wefts for people with extremely thin hair. This type of extension offers not only added length but also extra volume, which some types of extensions do not offer. Sew-In extensions are recommended to be moved up and reinstalled every 4-6 weeks, you can try to push it out even further but then you will risk breakage, and they will get harder to manage.
Tape-In extensions are exactly how they sound. A small section of hair is attached to a tape at the top, it is applied to the hair by "sandwiching" two tapes together with a thin slice of your hair in between it. This should applied as close to the scalp as possible while still being able to lift the tape up, and also being able to have the tape lay flat against the head. A few years ago, this would have been the most popular type of extensions, but it has been overshadowed in the past few years by Sew-In extensions. However, this is still a very prominent type of extension today.
Tape-In extensions have a wide variety of colors and you even have the ability to mix and match shades to fully customize them to your hair color. By "sandwiching" two different shades together you can give a seamless blend into your own hair. Some companies offer different size tapes, and more "natural" looking tape options to help hide them better, but you will primarily find regular 1.5" tapes across most brands. Tape-In extensions should be moved up every 6-10 weeks, depending on the amount of tapes and the length of the hair. Tape-In extensions are primarily used for added length and some of the longest extensions will be Tape-In.
Tape-In extensions are applied all around the head, across a straight part line. They are brick laid in rows that help blend into your natural hair. They are applied away from your hairline to assist in hiding them, and they are not applied close to your part on the top. It is important to let your stylist know where you normally part your hair, or if you often switch up your part so that we can plan the layout of the tapes accordingly.
It is important to remember that with Tape-In extensions, they are applied to thin slices of your own hair. People normally shed up to 100 hairs a day, if not more. Which means the hair in between the "Tape Sandwich" will also shed. Between the hair naturally shedding, and any tension the weight of the hair or brushing causes may result in the tapes slipping out. In that case, do not panic, it is completely normal. It is your responsibility to hold onto the tapes, keep them in a safe place, until your next appointment when you can have your stylist remove the old tape, replace it with a new one, and reinstall. Please give your stylist a heads up before the appointment if you need to have some tapes reinstalled if it was not a move up appointment, so we can plan out more time for your appointment.
I-Tip extensions, or "beaded" extensions are individual strands of hair glued together at the top of the strand by a silicone cylinder, and applied to the hair with a small metal bead. A small strand of your hair goes through the bead as well and they are applied in straight rows all across your head with about a half an inch in between each row. This means there could be almost 100 beads in your hair at once. Although it is not a very common extension, it can allow for precise customization, which can mean a highlight extension is attached directly to your hair's highlight. A dark piece is applied to a lowlight, and so on.
Some companies also offer different sizes for this type of extension, such as normal size I-Tips for the bulk of your hair, and smaller I-Tips for the front parts of your hairline where it is much thinner than the rest of your hair, which allows for easily hidden beads.
Although it is not a vastly desired type of extension like the Sew-In and Tape-In extensions, it is still beneficial if you would like added length and/or some volume. Most companies do offer this type of extension, but it may not have the same color variety as the other types of extensions. I-Tip extensions do take the longest to apply, but because they are applied to smaller strands of hair, it is easier to comb or run your hand through, which is a big thing most people don't normally consider when thinking of extensions.
Typically I-Tip extensions can be pushed out a little bit further than other types of extensions for the reinstall. It is recommended that they get moved up every 6-12 weeks, depending on length and volume of the extensions, or personal preference. Just as we discussed with Tape-In extensions above, when the hair naturally sheds, or tension is put on the natural hair, some extensions and beads may fall out, in which case you must hold onto those strands for the next time you see your stylist.
When the time comes for the move up, all the beads will need to either be removed fully if you would like to refresh your color or get it washed without with the extensions in the way, or they can just be pinched, moved up, and pinched back together. If they are not fully taken out the first time you get them moved up, they will need to be removed the next reinstall so that the bead can be replaced with a new one.
Keratin Tip extensions, or "Fusion" extensions, are like the I-Tip extensions in the sense of being a small section of hair attached to a small section of hair. However, instead of applying them with a metal bead, the top is made of a small bit of keratin that acts as a "glue" once heated up and molded around the hair strand. There is a specific tool that is used to heat the very top of the extension up, once the keratin has turned into a sticky consistency, it is bent and molded around the strand of your natural hair.
K-Tip extensions do offer to most natural looking kind of extension, as there is no track visibly seen. However, this type of extension is not usually reusable, and there is no quick reinstall. Not all companies offer this type of extension, there usually is not a huge variety of colors, and lengths are shorter. Some may say this is the healthiest type of extension, but personally I feel it can do more damage to fragile or thinner hair than other type of extensions, so don't be fooled when you see "keratin" and think it is a healthier option. The move up for this time of extension is about 6-10 weeks.
There are other types of extensions your may see with some companies but primarily you will find just the types we just went over.
So How Many Grams of Hair Do I Need?
Everyone will need a different amount of hair depending on what their goal is, and how thick their natural hair is. If you are looking for just added volume, you will want the length of the extensions to be the same as your natural hair.
Every extension brand that you look at will have the amount of grams per pack/weft. This is very important to pay attention to. Some stylists or brands will tell you how many packs or wefts you will need for your hair but they usually don't show a variety for different thicknesses of hair. In order to get the most accurate amount of hair for your own head, it is important to consider what thickness your hair is naturally.
If you very very fine/thin hair, you will want between 80 - 100 grams of hair. This will allow for the most natural look, without having to worry about your track showing or it not blending correctly. If you have slightly thinner/finer hair than average, but not by much, you will want about 100 grams of hair. If you have an average amount of hair, you will want between 100 - 150 grams of hair. For my own hair, I thought I had thinner hair than I really did so I ordered 100 grams. It ended up being not quite enough to make it blend naturally with me real hair, so I bumped it to 125 grams and it was a perfect fit. You may have to play around with the amount of grams you have until you find what is right for you. It is better to tell your stylist how many grams you are planning to get, and get his/her opinion on it before ordering. This way if you need to order more, they can position your extensions in a way that you can add another pack if necessary, without having to remove everything and reinstall. Finally, if you have extremely thick hair, you are looking at between 150 - 200 grams of hair.
If you do not order enough, unfortunately it will be very obvious you have extensions in, they will not blend, and it will look very stringy. You must be able to fully commit to the amount of hair you need before you think about ordering because as much as you want to believe it will look okay, it won't. Most companies also will not accept returns or refunds if you decide to send the extensions back after the package has been opened.
Extension Brands Ranked
There are many brands that offer extensions but it is important to only look at reputable companies so you are not scammed on such a big investment. Below I will list my ranking on brands that offer hair extensions, some you can buy directly from without a cosmetology license, but there are some that you will need the help of your stylist to get. Remember that this is a big investment and you will want to consider the quality over the price.
1. Bellami Pro - When I say that this is the highest quality extension brand, I mean it. There is no quality that tops what Bellami offers and although it does reflect in the price, it is completely worth the investment. This brand offers Tape-In, K-Tip, I-Tip, Volume Wefts, Hand Tied Wefts, Micro K-Tip, and Micro I-Tip extensions. All extensions are offered in either straight, or body wave texture. The lengths range from 14" - 24", which is one of the widest varieties of lengths that any company offers. They offer dozens of color options, and have the highest quality color, with zero fading over time. Even their Hand Tied Wefts have a higher volume of hair than any other brand, making it great for adding volume. You can re-apply these extensions up to 3 times, depending on how well they are maintained.
2. JZ Styles - Amazing hair quality with a reasonable price tag. This brand offers a wide variety of extensions, including some which are curated from the CEO of the brand. They include the classic Hand Tied Wefts, Machine Tied Wefts, Tape-In. They have 2 exclusive types that only their company sells, the CO-Z Weft, and the J-Tied Weft. The CO-Z Weft is meant for extra comfort, there is no rubbing against the scalp, it is softer at the track line and is lighter so it doesn't put as much tension on your natural hair. The J-Weft is their newest version of a regular Hand Tied Weft, it has the same thin track quality, it is delicate and lightweight, and lays flat to the head. Except where you cannot cut a Hand Tied Weft without it unravelling, you are able to cut a J Weft to fully customize the lengths. One downside to this brand, however, is that most extensions options only have a 20" length, only a few have other length options of 18", 20", and 24". They offer a wide variety of very real colors that are most popularly requested by clients. The color remains fresh and unfaded for the duration of their usage. You can re-apply these extensions up to 3 times, depending on how well they are maintained.
3. Babe - This company is a popular option of hair stylists because it is easily accessible and has a good quality for the price. They offer Hand Tied, Machine Tied, Tape In, I-Tip, Flat Tip and Fusion extensions. Lengths range from 14" to 24", and they have a wide variety of colors.
4. Hotheads - Most companies do not offer fashion colors or pastel colors, you much apply that yourself, however, this company does offer such colors, as well as a variety of natural colors. Lengths range from 18" to 22". They offer Hand Tied, Machine Tied, "Keraflex", " Tape In, and "Ultimates" (only available in 10"-12"). This company sells directly through distributors, which only stylists can buy through, and it is not always the easiest, or quickest process.
A few other honorable mentions that have a reliable inventory of hair extensions include:
Please allow your stylist to reviews any other brand you may have heard of or want to try before you spend your money on their site. Too many sites advertise real Remy Human Hair and it is mixed with synthetic hair. It is important that 100% of your hair extensions is human hair.
The maintenance required to make sure your hair and extensions both stay healthy, and intact is extensive. You must use the right products, not wash your hair as often, make sure the track on any type of extensions are dried, and keeping up with move up installations. There is a lot of work that goes into taking care of extensions, and if it is not something you think you will be able to take care of everyday, you may want to reconsider getting extensions. However, if you do think it is something you will be able to do, extensions are an amazing addition to your style. You can achieve all of your length and volume goals, and not to mention the confidence that comes along with it.
A post will be coming soon that will explain everything about the day to day maintenance. It will include specific products, step-by-step for which products to apply, and when to apply them. What you can do to style them, how to get through a week of not washing them, and why that is a must. Any information you may need to know on how to properly care for them will be available in the coming post to this website, so keep an eye out.
As mentioned at the beginning, if you have anymore questions, feel free to email me. I look forward to hearing from you and possibly seeing you for your new extensions adventure.