How to find the best hair extensions

May 21, 2012 at 3:13 p.m. ET

Hair extensions are a fabulous way to add volume and length to your locks. When choosing hair extensions, you need to find the best type for your lifestyle and your budget.

Woman with long hair extensions

Types of hair

Hair extensions can be created from human hair, synthetic hair or a mixture of both types. Human hair is obviously the most realistic looking and most versatile because you can treat it like you do your own hair.

Synthetic hair extensions are generally less expensive than human hair. However, you should keep in mind that synthetic hair can't be styled with heated tools and often gets tangled and matted. While some extensions are made from a mix of human and synthetic hair, it's not advisable to use them since each type of hair needs different care.

Attachment methods

Hair extensions can be attached in a variety of ways.


With weaving, very small sections of your own hair are braided close to the scalp, and then extensions of hair are sewn into that braided foundation. Weaves are often easily detectable and they can do some serious damage to your scalp.


Bonding is normally cheaper than weaving because it doesn't take as long. With this method, extensions are attached to a latex plug and that plug is glued to your own hair with adhesive. Removal of these extensions can take a long time, as oil and heat are utilized to dissolve the glue.

Hot fusion

For a very natural look, consider hot fusion extensions. Heat and glue are used to fuse the extensions to the roots of your own hair. The process of attaching these extensions can be very long because only a very few strands of hair are done at a time. The results, however, are worth the time and money to most clients. And fortunately, removal is very easy. A product is applied to the extensions that turns the adhesive into a powder, which is then simply washed out.


With these hair extensions, there's no weaving, braiding, heating or gluing which means your hair sustains much less damage. Microlink extensions are attached using a small locking bead. With these microlinks (links, rings, loops or beads), hair is inserted into the links strand by strand. You only have to purchase the extensions one time, and then every three or four months you must go to the salon to have them reattached.


For a cheap, temporary solution, you can also consider DIY clip-in extensions. These extensions, of course, aren't as realistic as the other varieties, but if you just want to add some volume to your ponytail or want a quick fix, they are a decent option.

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