Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Sewn-in Hair Extensions

Q: I am considering getting hair extensions. But, I am confused as to what to get. I am thinking about the ones that are sewn in, but am not sure. Are they irritating against the scalp? How long do they last? When the hair is pulled up, are the extensions visible? Thank you for any answers you can give to me. Thank you for your time.
A: When it comes to extensions, there are a number of options available. The biggest factor for most women when choosing extensions is cost. The cost of extensions is determined by both the product being used (whether the hair added is synthetic or human hair) and the method of application.
The most common application methods available today are track-and-sew, bonding, and fusion. Track-and-sew extensions are sewn to braided tracks in the scalp. Bonded extensions are attached at the scalp using a special adhesive. Fusion extensions are attached in small clusters to the hair at the scalp area using a special tool.
With the track and sew extensions, the hair is prepared for the addition of extension hair by braiding tracks into the natural hair. These tracks can be horizontal, vertical or can be curved to follow the contours of the hairline as desired. In most cases, a good stylist will place the braids sufficiently back from the hairline in all directions so that the braids/tracks are well hidden from most all angles.
One common complaint among women who have "sewn-in" extensions is that the hair tracks can be braided too tightly and cause discomfort. Having the tracks braided too tightly can also lead to hair loss and damage to the natural hair. The key to avoiding this problem is to carefully research your stylist before allowing him or her to work on your head. The braids do need to be secure to give the extensions a secure anchor point, but you should not experience prolonged pain from the braided tracks.
As for the longevity of hair extensions applied by the track-and-sew method, you can reasonably expect to go from 6-8 weeks between maintenance appointments, provided you follow the at-home care instructions carefully. Your stylist will go over with you the proper methods of caring for your hair extensions.
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