How many times have you seen an "A" list star in a magazine with cute, short spiky hair and
then on TV the next day with long, beautiful flowing hair? How do they do it? No, they don't have some
super hair growth genes, but they do have a super hair growth bank account which can buy that long
hair. They are called hair extensions and they come in any number of colors, types and are attached using any number of procedures.
Let's start with the different types of hair extensions that are available. Synthetic hair is available
in nearly any color one could imagine. It is also a more price conscious way to achieve Rapunzel
style locks. Full head synthetic extensions will run you right around $500.00 for chin length to mid-
back length hair. Please note that there will be some salons that will be higher and some that will be
lower, take your pick and shop around.
Natural human hair is also available for much more money. Generally the
charge is upwards of $1000.00 just for the hair, don't forget about labor charges.
Hair can be dyed to match a customer's natural hair color, or the natural color can also be
dyed to blend with the new follicles. And contrary to the urban legend, natural hair for
extensions does not come from morgues. Hair can come from any number of places
including prisons, mental institutions, or from willing donors that are paid for their
hair. In some cultures this is a rite of passage for young women to be given the honor
to have their hair purchased. In some cases, hair comes from young women who
have been ordered to grow their hair by parents from a young age. When the young
lady is finally on her own, she may make the decision to cut her hair as a sign of rebellion and that
hair is then donated by the salon.
So now that you have the hair how are you going to stick it to your head? There are as many
different procedures for attachment as there are heads to attach it to. Hair extensions can be applied
to certain parts of the head to add fullness to thin or fine hair. They can also be applied to the whole
head to add length and to change a style completely. Small extensions can either be sewn into the
existing hair or, more commonly, clipped into the hair with very small clips that are virtually
undetectable to the eye when the hair is fixed. Many of today's stars add in these small extensions for
highlights, fullness, and a little length. Generally they are not noticeable to the untrained eye and can
be a fun and temporary way to vamp a lagging style.
For a more permanent change, extensions can be added for a look that will last up to 4 months
with proper care. Extensions are added to a very small section of hair consisting of about 50 hairs.
A drop of special glue is added and then activated with a special iron to bond the new hair to the
original hair. These bonds are generally so small and secure that they are hard to detect whether hair
is worn in an up do or down. Another way to attach hair is to sew it on, this method has the potential
to be a bit painful as the hair is braided tightly in corn row type braids. The extensions are then sewn
onto the rows and some of the natural hair is pulled over the braided areas. A potential side effect of
this type of extension is scalp ulcerations from the hair being braided so tightly.
What I have written is just a drop in the hair extension bucket. There are many different types,
qualities and methods of extension and finding the one that works best for you may require some
research. I am sure that there are salons out there offering full head extensions for a great deal,
just be sure you know what you are buying. Sometimes going the cheap route ends up being more
expensive than doing things right in the first place. Remember that there are advantages and<
disadvantages to all procedures, I can not stress enough how important it is to figure out what is the
best for your life style, and not what is the best for your style life.
There is so much more to say about living with extensions. I will write more later about
hair extensions care and styling and some of the more specific aspects of lengthening one's hair.