Every woman wants full, thick, shiny hair, but nature sometimes has other plans. Actresses, singers, and models have been using hair extensions for years to augment their tresses, and as celebrity beauty secrets are more readily revealed in the Information Age, the use of extensions has filtered down to the general public. Some types of hair extensions are quite affordable, and thanks to modern technology, most look quite natural.
In fact, the availability of hair extensions in the general market means that there is a glut of colours, lengths, textures, and styles to choose from. For many women, shopping for hair can be overwhelming and frustrating. Luckily, there are some easy ways to prepare oneself for the decision-making process. The following six do’s and don’ts will help buyers of hair extensions understand what to look for and how to make the best purchase.
1. Do Choose a Few Hairstyles Beforehand
Many women think of hair extensions in one certain way: specifically, as loose wefts of hair that are attached to the scalp or the roots of the existing hair. However, the term “extensions” can sometimes apply to hairpieces as well as full hair extensions. Some of these pieces can be used to give a different look to the hair.
As with a wig, wearing hair extensions in the same way day after day is a signal to everyone that the hair is not real. It is far better to plan on two or three different styles in advance so that the look of the hair can be changed up. Consider how a woman with naturally long hair might wear her hair: long and loose; in a ponytail on casual or sporty days; and maybe curled, in a low bun, or in a half-updo for a special occasion. Look for one or more pieces or sets of extensions that will allow these style variations to be achieved. If necessary, talk to a stylist about different options with different extension attachment methods. It may not be possible to wear a full updo with certain types of extensions, for example, but one definitely does not have to have the same look at all times.
2. Do Get a Good Colour Match
Colouring hair extensions is difficult, sometimes costly, and eventually leads to earlier deterioration of the hair. Colouring can only be carried out on human hair, and like one’s own head hair, the colouring chemicals damage the hair. Even worse, extensions are not constantly growing and renewing, so any damage done is permanent. Extensions last longer when they are not treated with additional chemicals, so if a change of hair colour is desired, it is best to do so before extensions are purchased. Have hair coloured professionally or at home, and then purchase extensions to match.
There are always exceptions to rules, and in the case of colouring hair extensions, there are a few instances where it might make sense. One example is if the extensions have already been owned for quite some time. If one has gotten a great deal of useful life out of the extensions, there is probably little harm in dyeing them at this stage of the game. Also, certain hair colours (such as specific red tones, highlighting methods, or fantasy colours) may not be readily available in hair extensions, so this is when it makes sense to have extensions dyed to match after the fact.
3. Do Be Mindful of Length
Getting the right length of hair extensions is important. Extensions are often sorted by length, but it is important to remember that this length is the length of the hair used to create the extensions, not the final length of the hair from the top of the head to the bottom edge of the hair. So where extensions may be advertised as being 15 inches long, they may appear longer than this when they are attached to the middle of the back of the head.
Hair extensions may be cut, but remember that the longer the extensions, the higher the cost (each inch in length takes about two months to produce), so cutting them is sort of like chopping up pound notes. This may be worthwhile for a style change after one has the extensions for some time, but it is not good to cut them in the beginning. Take the time to get the right length in the first place.
4. Do Decide on a Hair Type
Hair extensions come in two basic varieties: human hair and synthetic. Human hair extensions are made of hair that is grown by men, women, and children in various countries; such hair most commonly comes from India and Southeast Asia, as well as Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, and Europe. Human hair may be collected in one of two ways: as individual hairs that are shed naturally in the growth cycle (fallen hair) or hair that is cut or shaved from a live human’s head (remy hair).
Healthy human hair has an external overlapping cuticle, much like shingles on a roof. On a head, the cuticle lies downward from the root end. Because it is difficult and painstaking to sort each fallen hair and arrange it so that all of the cuticles lie in the same direction, fallen hair is chemically treated with acid to remove the cuticle and then coated with silicone to restore the shine.
Because remy hair is taken in a bunch and bundled in ponytails, the cuticles are all kept in the same direction. Although the hair is processed, the cuticle remains. This results in the most natural-looking human hair wigs and extensions; however, these extensions are more costly.
Synthetic extensions may be further subclassified as “heat-friendly” or “heat-resistant.” Regular synthetic extensions do not tolerate any heat, even from a hair dryer; heat will cause these to melt, frizz, or shrivel up. In fact, it is even important not to stand too close to a fire or a radiator for this reason.
Buyers may also want to consider their own personal ethics in their choice between human hair and synthetic hair extensions. Some human hair is collected in questionable ways, so consumers who are concerned about how hair growers are treated should look into this before buying.
5. Don’t Make Drastic Texture Changes
Hair extensions come in straight, wavy, and curly textures, just like natural hair. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, but in general, it is not a good idea to get hair extensions in a texture that is noticeably different from one’s own texture. Certainly, if the hair is chemically permed or straightened, the extensions should match this texture and not the wearer’s natural hair. While a woman may be convinced that she is willing to spend time every day getting her own hair to match the extensions, this is very difficult to keep up with.
Anyone who enjoys playing with her hair texture should instead invest in heat-friendly or heat-resistant synthetic extensions, or human hair extensions; these can be styled just like head hair with a hair dryer, flat iron, crimper, curling iron, or other hot tools. That means that the entire head of hair will all be of a uniform texture, whether or not it has been styled. Just be sure never to style regular synthetic extensions with heat, or they will be ruined.
6. Don’t Over-Commit
Hair extensions can be attached in different ways. For the long term, there are a few different options. Many times, the woman’s own hair is tightly braided into tracks, and then the wefts of hair are sewn to these tracks. This method, called weaving, lasts several weeks but is also time-consuming and costly. Some people also find this type of extensions uncomfortable, both during the application process and after, particularly when sleeping. Some extensions can be glued on or taped on, but care must be taken to keep these looking natural, particularly if they are applied to the top of the head.
Temporary attachment options usually are some form of clip-on extensions. These work well for special occasions or women who want to experiment with extensions to see if they like the results. It is much better to start by going this route than to spend a good deal of time and money on long-term extensions.
Where to Find Hair Extensions
Hair extensions are available at a surprisingly wide variety of retailers once you start looking for them. They are sometimes easily passed by otherwise. Even dollar stores carry clip-in hair extensions in fantasy colours; while these are usually aimed at children or costume use, some women do use them successfully for everyday. Dollar stores and other discount stores may also offer hair that is used for braiding. Beauty supply stores, wig salons, fine department stores, and hairdressers are some other options for purchasing hair extensions. You can also check postal order catalogues and online sources, particularly Internet auction sites, for extensions.
How to Buy Hair Extensions on eBay
You can find plenty of hair extensions on eBay, from straight to curly and short to long. There are two ways to find hair on the site. The first way is to navigate through logical categories from the homepage. You can go through the fashion portal to women’s accessories and continue to click on preset categories until you reach the official home of hair extensions. The second way is to do a keyword search for “hair extensions.” This will bring up listings in several different categories, as determined by the seller (sometimes arbitrarily) so you can browse absolutely every hair extension offered on eBay, even those that are classified differently. Either way, you can use category filters to further narrow down the item listings to include just what you are looking for instead of having to browse through hundreds of thousands of available items.
Hair extensions are a great option for women who want to add instant length and volume to their hair but do not want to wear a full wig. Extensions are fun and can be beautiful if they are done well. Women looking to try hair extensions should follow a few basic do’s and don’ts in order to get the best-looking results. Buyers should know beforehand what length and colour they want, as well as how they wish to style their hair with the extensions in and if they want synthetic or human hair.
Women should not get a texture that does not blend perfectly with their current hair; if a move from curly to straight is desired; they should either perm or straighten the natural hair before getting extensions or buy heat-friendly synthetic or human hair extensions that can be styled with heat appliances just like the overall hair. Those ladies looking to experiment with hair extensions should also try temporary attachment methods such as clips before going with longer-lasting versions. By following these tips, women will have a positive experience with their extensions and enjoy their longer, lusher locks.