How Hair Extensions Work & How to Pick the Right Type for You

There are several different types of hair extensions on the market, made from everything from pure synthetic to 100% virgin remy hair like those we sell at Jasmine Nicole. If you’re interested in trying extensions, you may be overwhelmed by choices. How do hair extensions work? How are they applied? Which kinds of extensions work best with what types of hair? Well, we’re here to answer your questions and give you the 411 on all things hair extensions.

Before we talk about how hair extensions work, let’s go into a little history.

Origin of Hair Extensions

The origin of hair extensions dates back to ancient Egypt. We see the first documented proof of hair weaves among Egyptians around 3400 BCE. Back then, they used resin and beeswax to attach the extensions to the natural hair. Bright blue, gold, and red were popular colors, as well as the standard black. And rumor has it that Cleopatra’s favorite extension color was peacock blue.

Later on, around 500 BCE, braids originated as a symbol of age, religion, and wealth. Extensions were needed to create the long braids demanded by status-conscious Egyptian aristocracy.

Hair Extensions in European History

Long hair has always been a popular status symbol, and European and American women used extensions to create those draping tresses we see in paintings done in the 1700s. Extensions were supplanted by wigs due to influence from the European courts, where it is believed that kings introduced wigs to cover their baldness, as hair was considered a sign of virility and power.

During the Romantic era, approximately 1800 to 1910, women used extensions to create “Apollo knots” to capture the Greek influence of the Romantic and pre-Raphaelite painters. The Apollo knot hairstyle had three essential parts: the front of the hair was combed into a center part, the long hair at the back was piled into a neat bun at the top of the head, and small ringlets were left by the temples to frame the face.

Hair Extensions in Modern Culture

While shorter haircuts were popular in the “flapper era” of the 1920s and early 1930s, long hair became fashionable again in the following decades, and the demand for extensions increased. In the 1960s, the era of big hair, long hair extensions were needed to create popular hairstyles such as the beehive. And in the 1980s, hair weaves became especially popular among Black women.

In the 1990s, hair extensions became much more common due to pop culture influences. Extensions also became less expensive—particularly the clip-in style—which made them more accessible to ordinary people who wanted a quick and non-permanent way to change their look.

Today, hair extensions are still a popular way for the modern, multifaceted woman to add length and volume to her hair.

How Do Hair Extensions Work?

How hair extensions work depends on the application method, because each type of extensions is different. The best way to get the extensions you want is to know what you want to accomplish. Are you looking for a quick style change or a long-lasting, natural look that’s easy to style? How much time do you want to commit to hair extension installation and maintenance? Some types can be more difficult to install than others. To learn more about that, let’s visit the various types of hair extensions.

How Clip-in Extensions Work

Clip-in extensions are worn during the day and taken out when you’re done with your daily activities. They can be used for a fuller look, or even for bangs. Placing clip-in extensions properly at the roots can take a little bit of practice, but the end result is an easy, natural look, as the clips can be hidden even if you have thin hair. Another bonus of clip-in extensions is that you can do them yourself, so there’s no need to go to a salon once you have the clip-ins in hand.

Temporary glue-in extensions

Unlike regular clip-in extensions, temporary glue-in extensions do require a visit to the salon to install. Hair wefts are secured to the natural hair with glue and removed with an oil-based solvent. These stay in place better than clip-ins and last a few days, so temporary glue-ins might be a good solution for an event where you want to have a long-lasting and lovely “up do,” such as a wedding or prom. Temporary glue-in extensions are more expensive than regular clip-ins.

How Bonded Hair Extensions Work

Bonded hair extensions are the most popular type of extensions, and a well-done job can last up to five months. They do tend to be quite expensive, however, because the installation of bonded hair extensions needs to be done in a salon and can take hours. In addition, the extensions will need to be repositioned every two to three months as your natural hair grows out. Bonded hair extensions result in a very natural look.  There are two techniques for installing bonded hair extensions: hot fusion and cold fusion.

Hot fusion

When installing hot fusion extensions, the stylist uses a miniature flatiron to bond glue-tipped extensions to a section of hair. The heat can damage your natural hair, so if your hair is already damaged, you may want to look into cold fusion bonding instead.

Cold fusion

In the cold fusion bonding technique, a stylist uses ultrasound waves or keratin polymers to attach the weft to the hair. This is a much less damaging approach, as the temperatures used to bond the extensions to the natural hair are much lower. Cold fusion bonding is ideal for fine or damaged hair.

How Tape-in Extensions Work

Tape-in extensions need to be installed at a salon. They are applied in a sandwich-like pattern, with the natural hair between two pre-taped wefts. The entire process takes about an hour. You can shampoo, condition, and style your hair as usual, but you should avoid using styling products with alcohol, as it can break down the glue, which could make the weft fall out. However, be aware that doing all that styling can be time-consuming.

Tape-in extensions are great for fine or blonde hair because the tape is barely visible. They can last up to two months with good care. They do tend to mat more easily, though, so be diligent about brushing your hair a few times a day. They are not recommended for curly hair because you could get your curls stuck in the tape, and they blend better with fine, straight, or wavy hair.

How Sew-in Extensions Work

Sew-in extensions are commonly called weaves because they are sewn onto natural braided hair. They are quite popular with Black women, who have the best texture of hair for sew-in extensions. The process of getting sew-in extensions can take hours, and the process—which includes cornrowing the hair and reinforcing the cornrows with thread before sewing the extensions into the cornrow braids—can cause strain on the scalp. Because of that, sew-in extensions are best for women with thicker hair.

When properly installed and cared for with weekly shampooing and conditioning, sew-in extensions can last for six to eight weeks. Don’t neglect the hair around the edges of your scalp that was left out of the cornrows when the extensions were sewn in; otherwise, you could find yourself with broken hair. Be sure to get help from a stylist when taking out your weave, too.

How Micro-Ring Extensions Work

Micro-ring extensions are also popular with Black women because they work very well with natural, thick hair. They work by pulling the hair through a small aluminum ring lined with silicone. The threading and ring are secured to the base of the hair, at the scalp, and then the extension is inserted into the ring and clamped shut.

The micro-rings are tiny and usually not visible. Because micro-rings don’t use heat or adhesives, they are less damaging to the natural hair. And, as with all extensions, they will need to be repositioned every two to three months as your hair grows.

Tips for Making Your Extensions Work Best for You

First, understand that hair that isn’t your own will respond differently to washing and styling than you’re used to. It’s important to use a sulfate-free, non-stripping shampoo and a highly moisturizing conditioner.

A co-wash can also work, but you need to follow certain steps for making your extensions turn out well when using a co-wash. First, wet the extensions completely with water, then apply a moisturizing conditioner from weft to tip. Then, comb that conditioner through the hair with a wide-tooth comb and let the conditioner sit for a minimum of 10 minutes. Then, rinse out all the conditioner with cool water to seal the moisture into the hair. Finally, place the hair in a towel to remove excess water from the hair, and let it air dry. Don’t rub the hair together because it will create tangles and frizz.

Finally, use a mixed-bristle hairbrush to keep your extensions tangle-free.

Extensions shouldn’t be uncomfortable

You shouldn’t feel pain or great discomfort after having hair extensions installed. If you are experiencing these things, go back to the salon and have your extensions repositioned.

If your scalp is itchy after getting extensions, this could be the result of not properly rinsing the shampoo out of your hair. Make a conscious effort to take longer to rinse your hair every time you shower, and this should solve the itchiness problem.

Hair Extensions Can Be a Great Fashion Option

As long as you know what you want out of your extensions and what you’re getting into in terms of cost and maintenance, hair extensions can be a beautiful part of your style. You don’t have to spend months or years growing out your hair when you can have long, luscious locks with a few hours of your time and high-quality wefts of hair.

Your hair, extensions and all, will style much better if you invest in virgin remy hair because it more closely mimics the texture of your natural hair. Synthetic extensions can look just that—synthetic—and they won’t last as long as high-quality, natural hair. Why go synthetic when you’re making an investment in your look and how you feel about yourself? Seek out high-quality extensions such as our Indian Straight, Indian Wavy, or Indian Curly, made of 100 percent virgin remy hair.

Ask your salon to order your extensions from Jasmine Nicole to ensure you get the highest quality hair in your luxury extensions. Our extensions are made with 100% raw, unprocessed human hair, grown to length and collected in ponytails at our processing center in Chennai, India. Because our hair isn’t chemically processed to ensure a consistent texture, our extensions are stronger, healthier, easier to care for, and longer lasting than ordinary hair extensions. Your extensions may grow out, but with our high-quality hair, they will never wear out—allowing you to use the same wefts for multiple installations.

As a modern, multidimensional woman, you deserve no less than the best when it comes to your hair extensions!