The Different Types of Hair Extensions

Girl with very long brown hair
Photo: Shutterstock
These days, everyone seems to be using some sort of hair extensions. Whether used for everyday use, a wedding, a creative hairstyle photo shoot, or just for a change of scenery during the holidays. Hair extensions have been made hugely popular by Hollywood in the past decades, making it easy and accessible for anyone to literally change their hairstyle with a trip to the salon. The market for hair extensions has grown immensely quickly, as the need for beautiful, interchangeable, and maintainable hairstyling has taken the salon industry by storm.
In the past, hair extensions were a luxury that could only be afforded by Hollywood starlets and the wealthy. These days, hair extensions are readily available to almost anyone, ranging from dirt-cheap artificial extensions to seriously expensive AAA-grade 100% human hair extensions.
Different types of hair are used in the manufacturing of hair extensions:
Human Hair
100% human hair is the most sought-after and the most expensive type of hair extension on the market. These extensions can be cut, colored, heat-styled, etc. A lot of women from countries like India grow their hair for specific periods, and then have it cut and sold to hair extension manufacturers. The hair then goes through numerous processes to cleanse it for commercial use. The hair is then also dyed if needed, for example to manufacture light brown or blonde hair.
You will see that the lighter the extensions, the more expensive they tend to be in the case of AAA-grade human hair extensions. This is because extremely healthy hair must be used in the first place for the hair to be bleached and processed to a blonde or especially platinum color, without causing excessive breakage or damage to the hair. The additional processing obviously also increases the cost of the extensions.
Hair for extensions
Photo: Canva
Next we have human hair mixed with other heat resistant hair-like fibres. These are usually used to manufacture lower grade hair extensions or mannequins used in cosmetology schools or training salons. The quality and appearance of this type of hair is obviously subpar in comparison to that of 100% human hair, but it is of course also much cheaper.
Artificial Hair
Lastly, we have artificial hair extensions. These can vary greatly in appearance, quality and type. Some Chinese and Japanese hair extension manufacturers are manufacturing synthetic hair extensions that can withstand heat styling and appear almost more glossy and healthy than 100% human hair extensions; especially in the case of very light blonde or platinum extensions.
The downside is that no synthetic hair extensions can be colored, as the hairs are made of a variety of plastic and silicone-based products. Synthetic or artificial hair extensions are the least expensive and least desired extensions on the market today. It is also the most affordable form of hair extensions to manufacture, and they are available widely all over the world.
Let's take a look at the different types of extensions available on the market, as well as the associated pros and cons.
Pre-bonded Hair Extensions
Pre-bonded hair extensions
Photo: Canva
First up are the pre-bonded hair extensions. These are literally pockets of hair strands purchased at a hair extension retailer. The root parts of the hair extension strands are bought pre-bonded with some version of several kinds of bonding agents such as keratin, plant-based, glue, and petroleum-based adhesives. The bonds are softened with a machine prior to gluing the pocket of hair extensions to the root of the client's natural hair.
The pros of this method are that the extensions are securely attached to the client's own hair, meaning it grows out with the natural hair. When it has grown out too far, the stylist can remove the glue/keratin with a dissolvable substance, and attach the extensions to the root of the hair again. This is the most permanent type of hair extensions and a favorite among a lot of Hollywood actresses. If done correctly, these extensions look incredibly natural and stay in the hair for a long period of time.
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