Answers to Common Questions About Hair Extensions




We have all the answers to your most common questions to help you make the right decision about getting hair extensions. We asked the experts about types of hair extensions, attachment methods, costs, maintenance and all the other pertinent information that you want to know.

Q: Can hair extensions help disguise hair loss?

“Hair extensions can add volume and contribute to the appearance of density, which can be very useful for those with hair loss issues,” says Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a hair trichologist in New York City. A trichologist is a certified expert in the care and treatment of the hair and scalp.

If you suffer from progressive hair loss or don’t have a lot of healthy hair left, hair extensions may be problematic, since they require hair to which the extensions can attach. For those with limited hair loss or thinning hair, weigh your options and talk to your stylist to decide which bonding method will be the least damaging to your hair.

“At least 2 inches of hair is needed to use more permanent methods, but the longer the better and more natural,” says Teresa Cliff, hair colorist and extension specialist at Le Posh Salon and Spa in Los Angeles.

Q: What are the best kinds of hair extensions?

Hair extensions are created from either human hair or synthetic hair. The human hair comes from Europe, India or Asia. Although human-hair extensions are more expensive than synthetic extensions, they are also more natural, easier to care for and versatile. You can cut, color, style and otherwise treat human-hair extensions the same as you do your own hair.

Q: What are the different types of attachment methods for hair extensions?

“There are numerous different ways to attach hair,” says Phillips. “Adhesives are widely used — they can be composed of waxes and medical grade tape, or a keratin-based product. Bonding glue, microlocks, heat seals and track weaves are all methods of attachment as well.”

Q: How much do hair extensions cost?

“The cost of extensions ranges depending on the method used and the quality of the hair. The usual cost is between $500 and $3,000 and can go higher for custom-length and colored hair,” explains Norma Bouza, extension specialist at Cristophe Salon in Beverly Hills. Keep in mind that the area of the country in which you live plays a big part as well. You’d think the bigger cities would charge more, and though that’s sometimes true, it’s not always the case. In small towns having very few hair experts, hair extensions can be pricey because of supply and demand.

Q: Is any special care needed to maintain hair extensions?

“As long as the extensions are made from human hair, you can style and care for them as you normally would care for your hair,” says Giovanni Mele, owner of Giovanni & Pileggi salon in Philadelphia. “You do need to be careful with classic bonded extensions so that your heated styling tools don’t get too close to where the hair is bonded.”

When shampooing your hair, use your fingertips and massage your hair and scalp gently. To dry, gently pat your hair with a towel rather than rubbing vigorously. Avoid small, dense brushes, which can tangle hair extensions easily. Talk to your hairstylist about the products and tools that are best for your hair extensions and their attachment type.

Many clients are wary about using heated styling tools on hair extensions; however, this shouldn’t be an issue. “Heated tools — blow-dryers, flatirons and curling irons — can all be used on extensions,” says Ron King, L’Oreal Professionnel stylist and spokesman and creator of Invisi-Tab Hair Extensions. “Remy hair (hair that isn’t striped and is often considered the best hair available) is human hair, so it can be styled as you would your natural hair,” he adds.

Q: Can hair extensions damage my hair?

“The biggest problem associated with hair extensions can be traction alopecia,” Phillips says. “It is important to note that they should not hurt the scalp. I always say that they should be removed after eight weeks and reattached.”

Never leave your hair extensions in beyond the recommended time frame or try to remove them yourself. “If you do not care for them properly or leave them in too long, hair extensions can cause breakage,” explains Mele. “For best results, extensions should be applied and removed by a professional.”

Q: How long does it take to attach hair extensions?

If you are looking for a full head of extensions, you might have to plan on spending most of the day at the hair salon. “Long-term ‘permanent’ extensions can take hours to apply, but it depends on the length and fullness you are looking to achieve,” says Mele. “Clip-in temporary extensions are very quick and easy to apply.”