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Let's weigh the pros and cons of hair extensions before you drop a small fortune

Aly Walansky is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She lives with her two Shorkie-Tzus, Scarlette and Max, and a display of pink polka-dot-themed home decor -- not to mention a selection of flavored vodka. Check out he...

Hair extensions are your meal ticket to Kardashian-worthy hair (even if you hate the Kardashians)

Hair extensions are your meal ticket to Kardashian-worthy hair (even if you hate the Kardashians)
Image: Jon Kopaloff/JB Lacroix/Francois G. Durand/Getty Images

Just a few of the many stars with hair extensions: Jennifer Lopez, Lauren Conrad, Kim Kardashian

How much are hair extensions?

The bad news: Hair extensions aren't cheap. Depending on how much you get, how you get them attached and the type/grade of hair you use, the cost can range from the hundreds to the thousands of dollars — and that's not including maintenance every six to eight weeks. You will also need to make an investment of time, usually four to six hours, for the initial setup.

The specialist who will apply your extensions may be called a hair designer, an extensionist, or simply a hairdresser. No matter what title he or she uses, be sure they are experienced and have photos to prove it. Also make sure you understand how they will be removed, and how damage to your natural hair can be minimized. No one wants a bald spot.

More: How to craft the perfect chunky bun hairstyle

Is caring for your extensions going to give you a headache?

Do extensions require a great deal of upkeep and time commitment? "Extensions are not hard to maintain," says Pelusi. "People just need to keep an eye on them — almost like you would with color or anything else." She says that to allow for an hour at the salon every six weeks.

Caring for your hair extensions

Here are some specific tips to help you care for your extensions:

  • Human hair extensions can be treated as real hair, but more gently.
  • Use a special brush (often a loop brush) made just for extensions, so you don't damage the new hair or the bond.
  • A gentle shampoo is recommended, and use cool water to help minimize tangles.
  • A light conditioner will help reduce tangling and keep your new hair supple.
  • Sleep with your hair in a ponytail or braid to avoid bed-head and knots.

More: 11 Curly hairstyles that prove it's just as sexy as straight hair

Would Jackie get extensions again? "Assuming my hair is healthy once these come out, I would do it again in a heartbeat," she says.

Originally published July 2009. Updated Sept. 2016.

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