Hair extensions started being used in the 1980s, but because of poor results and high expense, were abandoned until about 5 years ago. Their popularity has been boosted by all the celebrities who now use them.
What are hair extensions?
Hair extensions are hairpieces that can be attached to your natural hair or scalp; they enhance the thickness of your hair or the length. There are several kinds, but the most popular ones are
· Strands, small clusters of about 30 pieces of hair
· Wefts, slightly larger curtains of hair, joined at the top and free flowing at the ends. The best wefts are hand-made, not machine-made.
· Braids and dreadlocks, which are pre-wound.
Some are synthetic and some are made of human hair. The natural hair of Caucasians is different from that of Asians or Afro-Caribbeans and you should choose an extension that will match your own hair.
They come in many varieties and can be pre-colored, pre-highlighted or pre-permed with curls or a body wave. Depending on how it was attached, you may need to have your hair extension Emerald re-done after 6 or 8 weeks, or it might last up to 4 months. Re-attaching will always be periodically necessary because our natural hair continues to grow, the bonding agent becomes loose, life happens, and you’ll need to re-adjust and refresh your hair’s appearance.
How are hair extensions attached?
· Strands are woven, glued, or clipped to your natural hair. If they’re clipped, you can take them off easily any time. If they’re glued, various bonding agents may be used and care must be taken to protect your scalp and natural hair.
· For wefts, your stylist will make a small corn row or weave in your natural hair, and sew the weft to this weave. This method uses no chemicals.
· Braids are usually woven in with your own hair and again no chemicals are used.
The Rise and Fall of the Hair Extension
The quality of hair that you receive within a set of extensions will play a major part in the difference between a good and a bad set of hair extensions.
We all know just how popular extensions have become throughout the world and, with the demand for them getting more and more everyday, the extension market is becoming very saturated, rapidly.
More and more manufacturers are skimping on quality, as the price of natural human hair rises. With new competitors appearing throughout the market everyday, all retailers are feeling the pressure to perform.
As with anything, the price that you pay for your extensions will generally reflect in the quality of product that you receive, however the extension market is renowned for being a highly unregulated, so this cannot be taken as gospel.
This series of articles is designed to educate you as a consumer, so you can make an informed decision about the type of hair extensions that will choose to transform your look.
Origins have nothing more to do with the quality of extensions that you will receive other than the texture; however this still plays an important part in how our hair extensions look. We must also understand that companies will sometimes treat the hair using chemicals to change the texture, which can also affect the quality.
Everybody's natural hair texture is different and, although not imperative, it is a good idea to look at the type of extension origin in relation to the texture of your natural hair, before buying.
Lets look firstly at probably the cheapest and most readily available; Chinese hair. This has a very coarse/ thick texture and comes in dark colours, mainly black. With Chinese hair you have much more chance of it being put through a chemical process; manufacturers know that extensions are very popular for people with that of Caucasian hair so they will strip down the cuticle to make the hair resemble this texture.
Next we have to remember that with Chinese hair, any extension colour other than black, will have to go through some kind of colour stripping process to reach its desired colour. This normally means some kind bleach product will be used, so again, especially with the lighter colours quality will be affected.
It has such a coarse texture, it is not well matched to the majority of Caucasian types of hair. It is personal preference as to whether you are happy wearing this hair. To give you an example; my hair is quite fine with lots of layers and, as I prefer a thicker, coarser look and my hair extension stylist is very good at blending I do not see much of a problem using Chinese Extensions. I reiterate that personal preference is key!
So then we move up the scale to Indian hair. Texture wise this is a much similar texture to Caucasian hair but will still have the same issues colouring wise as naturally it is found in very dark colours and blacks.
Indian Temple hair is hair that is sacrificed in temples throughout India. It can be seen as a very good type of hair to use as long as it is not over processed. Good Indian Temple Hair will cost a bit more to buy, but will be worth the investment.
Then we move on to European hair. This can mean it is collected from countries within the EU; a massive area with a lot of countries in it. However not many where people cut their hair off and sell it! Consequently we are narrowing down the availability already. Again texture wise this is much more suited to Caucasian hair, however you will find that countries where hair is available from for example Spain will also be in the majority of dark colours. We need to also bear in mind that companies will label their extensions as e.g. 'Spanish Hair' when actually the hair has been sourced from China, but processed in Spain, giving its apparent 'Spanish' origin!
Russian Hair is another origin of hair where supply is extremely limited and consequently cost is high. This is because a lot of time and money has to be spent travelling through isolated Russian villages finding hair donors. Russian hair is classed as the finest best quality hair suited to Caucasian hair that money can buy. Please note the last section of this sentence; this is hair is from one of the most expensive origins. Russian hair comes in a variety of natural colours meaning the need for dying and bleaching is limited if not non existent. It is also renown for being soft and silky to touch therefore doesn't really need any processing so there are no problems with drying or matting after washing.
Again we must watch for these companies that will use only a percentage of Russian Hair in their extensions and sell as Russian hair and companies claiming their hair is Russian, when actually it has just been processed in Russia and nothing else.
So, to conclude, the second statement in our Hair Extension Article Series; What Do You Know About Hair Quality? Chapter 2 is; 'The texture best suited to Caucasian Hair, regarding hair origin is Russian Hair. This hair is very expensive and hard to find. Buy using a good hair Extensions Technician, we can use blending techniques to disguise the texture of other coarser hairs e.g. Chinese. Textures and Hair Origins are all to do with personal preference and must be analysed carefully. '
Please read my other Articles within the Hair Extension Article Series; What Do You Know About Hair Quality? To start piecing together the whole story about what to look for in Hair Extension Qualities.
Emerald Hair Extension Salons – A Guide
You see them everywhere; they allow celebrities to go from short hair to greater lengths in an instant. Some look awful while others blend so well that no one would ever suspect; but have you ever wondered where the hair used in extensions comes from? Is it from human sources? What kind of process does it go through before it is attached as an extension? This article will address some of these questions and offer a couple of other insights into the world of the hair extension industry that may interest the average, information seeking, consumer.
First, we should establish that there are many companies that send buyers out to acquire hair for hair extensions and, without sounding biased to one brand or the other, I will just say this... not all hair extensions are created equal, so, buyer beware!
There are three basic categories of hair that is used for hair extensions.
• Synthetic - Hair made from synthetic fibers that are less likely to tangle with your natural hair but is very susceptible to melting due to heat from hot dryers and irons.
• Animal - In particular, the animal hair that is widely used for extensions comes from the under-belly of the Yak. It is claimed that this type of hair, because of its texture and look, has the most suitable structure for use as a match for chemically relaxed and treated African-Ethnic hair. One major drawback is that from there are those who will experience or develop allergic reactions to the Yak hair.
• Human - This hair may come from a variety of geographical regions. A word of caution: There are companies that will claim that the product you are receiving is from a human source but on final analysis, it may be shown to contain animal hair or synthetic fibers, as well. The reason this is allowed to occur is due to the technicality that if a collection of hair joined to form an extension strand contains at least one human strand in the mix, by legal standards it can be marketed as human. So, when researching where your particular extensions come from, always make sure that you are guaranteed that what you are buying is 100% human hair.
Now that we have categorized what the basic types of hair extensions are made of, we can look a little further into how the human hair, used in hair extensions, is collected.
Human hair collected for extensions can be categorized as:
• Remy: Meaning that all the hairs still have their cuticle layers intact with each strand faced in the same direction (this creates a natural fall to the extension, keeps tangling to a minimum, and allows light reflectivity for shine). Ideally the donor of this type of hair has a long braid cut from their head so as to preserve the quality of the cuticle layers following the same direction. Because of the care taken when gathering Remy hair, it tends to be more expensive to purchase but is the most desirable and suitable hair to use.
• Non-Remy: Cuticle layers are not aligned in the same directional flow. These strands are usually collected as naturally shed, fallen hair that is collected from hairbrushes. As you can imagine, this confused mixture of hair is very prone to tangling and matting due to the cuticle layers of the individual hairs not following in the same directions. To rectify this, these hairs are often subjected to acid treatments that remove the cuticle layers from the hair shafts, leaving behind a product that is weakened and dull looking. A silicone is then added to the hair to make the dull, stripped hair shinier. Over time this silicone erodes and washes away, leaving the Non-Remy tresses in their post-chemically treated, compromised condition. Being of lesser quality, this hair is less cost prohibitive than that of Remy hair but typically, produces a less desirable result.
Hopefully, I've shed a bit of light on where hair extension hair comes from, how it's processed, and created a platform where those of you that may be interested in getting an expert hair extension service performed will be able to make thoughtful decisions about the products that are used on your head.
The Best Hair Extensions for Thin Hair
It can be difficult to find a hair extension stylist near you, and you don't always have the time to drive hours to get your hair done. Luckily, several online resources are available to help.
Here is a helpful, condensed list:
The Hair Extension Salon Locator
This site lists hair extension salons by state. It also features articles on the care of hair extensions and hair loss information. Additionally, they have supplies and training resources.
This is the website for the HairBonz hair extension system. You can call 1-888-693-HAIR to find a listing of hair extension salons using the HairBonz system.
This informative site has links to hair extension salons. Unfortunately, the information is listed alphabetically and cannot be searched by city or state. However, if you have the patience to scan the listings you just might find a local salon.
Black Beauty Care Directory
This site is specifically for African-American beauty concerns, and lists salons that cater to African hair. Information is categorized by state for easy access.
Another way to find a local hair extension salon is to type "Houston hair extension salons" or "hair extensive salons near Houston" in a search engine. Of course, use your own city name in place of Houston!
You can also use your Yellow Pages to find hair extension salons.
One of the best ways to find a top-quality salon is by word of mouth. If a friend or family member has beautiful extensions, ask for a reference.
No matter where you located your hair extension salon, make sure that your stylist is qualified to apply the extensions. He or she should be a licensed cosmetologist with ample experience in applying the type of extensions you are considering. Many experts recommend that you meet some of the stylist's other clients and find out if they are happy with their extensions. At the very least, ask to see a portfolio with before and after pictures.