Getting Hair Extensions

Blonde girl before and after hair extensions
Before and after hair extensions - Photo: Aliaksandr Barouski/Shutterstock
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 any 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 upward of $1,000.00 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 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 or sold 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 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.
Hair extensions
Hair extensions - Images via Canva
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 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 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.
Gretchen LeAnne     ©
See also:
The Value of Hair
Hair extensions buying guide