Hair extensions might seem like a new invention but in reality hair additions have been around as far back as the Egyptian times when both men and women work wigs. Since then hair pieces have been in and out of fashion ever since.
In 1800 fake hair was frowned upon and women left their hair to be natural until the Romantic era was in full swing when women wore elaborate Apollo knots. Come the mid Victorian era and hair pieces were used a lot more extensively. Then strangely in the early 20th century Edwardian women wore false hair additions to create the pompadour hairstyle which looked like a woman was wearing a teapot on her head. How that became fashionable I don’t really know!
Around the 1920’s less hair was the big thing so hair pieces took a dive around that time and it wasn’t until the 1940s when long hair came back into fashion and women starting indulging again. Then in the 1960’s big hair was back with a vengeance. Coils were the in thing or the updo as better known to us were seen of many women, this was created by very extravagant human hair pieces. Ararat Wigs made from real or fake hair were commonly worn around this time too and carried on into the early 70’s. Come the 80’s and big hair was in but only natural hair. Famous singers wore wigs but that was about it.
Human Hair Extensions
There are plenty of different options on the market at the moment for anyone interested in longer hair, with much debate over which option makes for the best hair extensions. Here we go over the pros and cons of different types of extension so you can pick the best hair extensions for your look.
Real vs. Synthetic Hair
The first thing to understand when choosing any type of hair extensions is that they can be made of real hair or from synthetic product. Although real hair products are usually more expensive, these are definitely much better than synthetic products, which will never look quite like real hair. There only time the synthetic extensions may be the best is if:
- You're having dreadlocks put in
- You deliberately want to add in a false look for example with neon extensions
Unless either of these applies, you should always go for real hair. Even then there is often a choice of which type of hair to go for. The golden rule is to try and match your own hair type as much as possible, so if you are a Westerner then buy European hair, which is treated to be available in any natural shade. Asian hair extensions are the best extensions to go for only if you actually are Asian, or they will not look like your own.
Different Types of Salon Hair Extensions
Visiting the salon to get hair extensions remains popular, where there are basically two main choices of extensions offered:
- Individual strand extensions
- Weft extensions
Individual strand extensions involve taking small sections of your own hair and adding in the extension hair to the strands. These can look pretty good, and are the choice of many celebrities, but there can also be dire consequences if they go wrong. The fact that chemical substances are used to basically 'stick' the hair extension onto your own hair means that it is pretty difficult to remove them without damaging your hair or scalp. This method can also be expensive, since the extensions will only remain in place for a few months before they start to fall out and have to be completely reapplied.
Weft hair extensions look like a long curtain of hair, and are attached instead using corn rows. Although this is much better for your hair, you still have to visit the salon every few weeks as your own hair grows. The cornrows can also be quite uncomfortable to have against your head over long periods of time.
Hair Clip Extensions
A much newer product to the market is the hair extension clip. These too come in a choice of synthetic and real hair, and are definitely the best hair extension for anyone who likes to change their look regularly, since you can pop them in or out easily whenever you want longer or shorter hair. Hair extension clips can be used to achieve the same look as you would get from salon extensions, but are also much less expensive, since they can be used over and over again.
Overall the question of which are the best hair extensions varies from person to person, but for many who wish to simply gain a glamorous look for a special occasion, clip-in extensions made from real hair are the best choice to go for.
The History of Ararat
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.
Hair Extensions: Synthetic or Human - What's Better?
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.