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Hair extensions are little angles, and if you haven’t had them sitting on your shoulder seriously where have you been? Extensions can give you the volume you’ve been dreaming of, the length you’ve been dying to have, and the highlights you’re afraid of getting because you don’t want to damage your natural hair.
I started wearing hair extensions a little over 11 years ago when I went to college. I was sucked into the extension world after I cut my hair super short and didn’t have the patience to wait for it to grow back.
I was blessed with dark curly hair that wouldn’t change colors no matter how many times I tried. I had always wanted to have highlights so when I found out about hair extensions I jumped on that train and have never looked back!
The number one question I get when people realize I wear hair extensions is
Do hair extensions damage your hair?
This is of course a loaded question because hair extensions can be applied in different ways. To answer that question the answer is of course it can damage your hair, but there are ways to get around that.
I will speak on the ways I’ve had hair extensions and what I thought of each application. I speak really loosely on this because there is really no right way nor wrong way to wear extensions, it’s what you’re personally comfortable with. All of the applications I talk about in this post are all methods I have tried and worn and I have my pros and cons to all of them.
Glue in Extensions
Glue in was personally my least favorite. I mainly did glue in’s back when I was in college and looking back on it, it was the worse application for me. I was able to do this myself but the positives didn’t out way the cons for me and here’s why.
How it was applied
When I had hair extensions applied to my hair with the glue it was just like it sounds, glued to my scalp. One of the pros about the glue in method is you can add as many rows as you want. Giving you the option to have more full hair or just add length when needed.
How it works is you’ll have your weft of hair, apply the hair glue to the weft of the hair, and apply the weft to your scalp. The glue did sting slightly but had a cool feeling and after a few strips it didn’t really bother me. The application time was depending on how many rows I wanted to add but could be anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours.
Removal time was long and a huge inconvenience and who has time for that? I had to use coconut oil to help loosen the glue and remove the hair. While the massaging felt great on my scalp, after the glue was removed it irritated my scalp and lead to infection. I was lucky enough not to experience a huge infection but my scalp was not in good shape.
Washing my hair with shampoo did burn a little and would cause me to scratch my scalp which lead to a scab. 9 out of 10 times I would have left over glue in my hair. Gentle removal was key for not damaging my hair as much.
This was the most cost effective way for me to have hair extensions all I needed was hair, glue and a comb. I would have the hair measured to fit my hairline, cut and glued so it was like a personal fit. This was the most damaging to my hair and will I ever glue hair extensions in again… absolutely not.
Clip In Extensions
This is my personal favorite and this is my go to. If you’re new to extensions and not sure if this is something you’d like to try, I would recommend clip ins. With clip in hair extensions, they clip to your hair and can be adjusted to your preference. The best part is you can take them out when you’re done!
How it is applied
The weft of hair is sewn to clips and you’ll attach the hair to your natural hair. When you clip extensions to your hair you’re clipping them to the strongest part of your hair, the root.
While glue is applied to the scalp, clip ins will not close the pores on your scalp preventing the scalp from breathing.
Clip ins are not as personable as the glue in method. They come in premeasured sizes with the clips already sewn on. You just have to adjust where they go on your head. One of the things I want to be honest about is sometimes clip ins can give you a headache depending the weight of the hair.
The removal process is what makes this method my favorite. All you have to do is unclip them and be on your way. This is the easiest method to remove if you’re just starting out. No sticky residue, no downtime just unclip and store them away.
Tape in Extensions
Tape in hair extensions lay very close to your hair since the band is super thin. It’s amazing that the extensions laid flat to the head and they were more lightweight than the clip ins. There were times I forgot they were even there and the movement of the hair was more natural.
How it is applied
Tape in extensions are bonded to sticky strips and you sandwich your real hair between the tape in extensions. These are not so much a do it yourself like the glue ins or the clip ins. I would leave that to a professional. I tried to apply these myself and the outcome was horrific.
Similar to the glue in extensions, a solution is applied to the sticky part of the extension and the strip will become loose. You’ll need to shampoo your hair really good to get the sticky residue off.
People that get tape ins usually have a removal and application timeline every 8 to 11 weeks. It is nice to have your hair done on a timeline, but that doesn’t really work into my budget and I felt it was more permanent than I’d like.
Sew In Extensions
Sew ins were the most nourishing for my hair, but it wasn’t my favorite way to wear extensions. I loved that my natural hair was tucked away in a braid allowing it to have a break from heat, but those braids were killer.
When they itch THEY ITCH!
How it is applied
Your natural hair is braided tightly horizontally which is why it’s so nourishing.
After your hair is braided, the hair weft is then sewn into the braid with thread and a needle. It sounds scary but it’s not, the scary part is the braid.
This way is fun because you can have a different type of hair extensions each application since your real hair is tucked away.
If you want to give your hair a break this may be an option you may want to look into. No heat applied to your real hair and there’s no sticky residue to remove.
I had a friend remove mine so I didn’t cut my natural hair. The thread that was sewn into the braid needs to be cut and the hair weft will follow.
Again no sticky residue to wash out, but I scratched my head so much I was left with dandruff and a super dry scalp. However it is worth mentioning that my hair grew while braided : )
At home Mask to Repair Damaged hair
These have been my experiences with hair extensions, everyone is different figure out what works best for you and go for it!