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Hair Extensions: T ypes Of Hair Extension Methods

Karen Marie Shelton - Copyright - All Rights Reserved 
Revised Date:  01/08/11 - Original Publication Date: 6/29/06

Introduction

Kathryn Erbe
Law & Order:  Criminal Intent
2001

NBC
All Rights Reserved.

Hair extensions have become one of the most popular hair styling options in the world.

On the surface, hair extensions options seem quite simple.  Natural hair can be extended in length or extended in volume.  Sometimes hair is extended in length and thickness at the same time.

The two major components involved in hair extensions is:

1.  Type of hair used to extend natural hair - 100% human hair, synthetic or mixed.
2.  Method of extension - Permanent (reusable extensions for an extended period of time), Semi-permanent (constant wear for 1-3 months), Temporary (clip-ins or tape method).

Types of Hair

Whether human, synthetic or mixed hair is used, it can be used in permanent, semi-permanent or clip-in extension systems.

Human Hair - 100% human hair comes from a wide range of countries although the majority of human hair comes from India.  Hair may also originate from China, The Orient, South America and Russia.
Synthetic - Non human hair is used in both permanent.  MicroPoint and ProHair are well-known for distributing synthetic hair products.
Mixed Blends - Some systems include a blend of 100% human hair and synthetic.

Method of Extension

1.  Professional Application - Hair extensions (all types of hair) are applied by a hairdresser or licensed professional.  Depending on the professional, hair may be part of a branded Hair Extension System (Great Lengths, SoCap, etc.,) or the customers may provide the hair.

2.  Do It Yourself known in the trade as DIY - Depending on the expertise of the individual that wishes to follow a DIY process, all types of hair can be used as well as all types of methods.  Not everyone can successfully adapt a DIY hair extension system just as not everyone can create updos on their own hair.

Attachment/Connection Procedures

When hair is attached it can be done some in a number of ways which include, but are not limited to:

Pinch Braids

  • Hand Tied Extensions
  • Sewn-in Extensions\Fusion
  • Hair Weaving

Fusion Methods

  • Glue
  • Silicon
  • Keratin
  • Other
  • Microscopic Coupling Shells

Keratin Ball Fusion Methods

Keratin balls are placed in a heating pot. The keratin balls are heated up until they melt and then the add-on hair is dipped into the keratin. You attach the keratin dipped hair to the customer's hair.  Many hair extension experts believe that this method is very damaging to use. 

The reason?  The melted keratin smears the rest of the hair, even parts that do not have extensions applied.  Also, the keratin connection from the add-on hair does not last long.  Some hair extension companies do offer and promote keratin ball attachment. This method does have challenges.  If you decide to have this method used, be very careful to investigate completely because it is potentially very damaging to your existing hair.

Other types of methods include:

Metal Rings
Clip-ins
Tape

Brands Of Hair Extension Systems

New hair extension companies have continued to enter the crowded hair extension market.  One of the oldest and most successful systems was initially provided by Great Lengths Hair Extensions.  Great Lengths has continued to evolve their systems and now offer more than one system. 

Depending on the company and their system, which is sometimes patented, any hair extension professionals using the system are required to use specific hair provided by the company.  Great Lengths does require training of any professionals certified in their system and the Great Length experts must use Great Length hair in their extension operations.

It is impossible to know all the various brands of hair extension systems currently on the market.  However, listed below are some of the most popular and well known.

High End Extensions Systems

  • Great Lengths
  • HairLocs

Medium End

  • SoCap
  • Short2Long

Low End Systems

  • Cinderalla
  • Adorable

Detailed Explanations of Each Type of System

In the professional world of hair extensions there are "systems" sold by companies that guarantee a consistent experience around the world.  Companies that sell "systems" usually require that all professionals utilizing their system must attend approved training and exclusively use their hair and attachment accessories.

Great Lengths

  • Standard Hot Fusion Hair Extensions
  • Ultrasonic Cold Fusion

For people with fine hair, over-processed hair, or hair breakage that limits their hairstyle choices. Hair extensions are a great way of creating volume in just a few hours. Depth and/or color for an artistic expression Different colored extensions can be applied to styles to create depth and/or artistic expressions.

With Great Lengths revolutionary Patented system, glues and hot waxes are eliminated. Unlike other systems, Great Lengths can be cared for just like your natural hair. Brush it, perm it, color it, and use your hairdryer, curling Iron and all other standard styling tools.

Recognized worldwide by beauty, industry professionals as the highest quality extension program available, Great Lengths technology has elevated Human hair enhancement services into the 21st century.

Great Lengths has been featured in many popular magazines including In Style, Marie Claire, Modern Salon, and Entertainment. They are also seen on many famous celebrities such as Shakira, Janet Jackson, Beyonce, J-Lo, and Paris Hilton.

Great Lengths Certified Specialists are trained and coached in the field of Hair Extensions. Application Process of Great Lengths is 100% human hair and comes pre-bonded with a polymer bond (not glue).

The bond is attached to your own natural hair using a high frequency unit that is heated to the same temperature as a curling iron. Great Length strands come in standard thickness as well as 8, 12, 18, & 24 inch lengths.

Where does the hair come from?

Hair comes from the temples in India. The local people give their hair to the temples as a gift to Gods. Great Lengths then purchases the hair in a ponytail form to guarantee that it is root to tip. This ensures that the cuticle layers are all aligned in the same directions. It is then gently processed in the Great Lengths laboratories in Italy.

Why choose Indian hair?

The genetic origin and basic structure of Indian hair is very similar to European hair. It is of exceptional quality because Indian women rarely go to salons for chemical treatments of any kind.

What is the hair made of?

It is 100% human hair, remiss (root to tip), with no silicon on it, which means that the hair has no artificial shine and is tangle-free. The hair is gently processed and de-pigmented. The gentle processing of removing the hair color makes the hair more tolerable to added colors. New color molecules are then put back into the hair. The cuticle layers are still left intact, this ensures that the hair is less prone to be dull. The hair can be permed and colored, and treated just like your own hair.

How does the extension hair attach to the subject's head?

The hair is pre-bonded with a patented protein polymer. The molecular structure of this bond is compatible to that of human hair, which allows an extremely resilient attachment. Great Lengths hair extension experts use a special machine that uses heat and a high frequency wave to break down the bond, which makes it soft enough to pinch and roll before it re-hardens.

All bonds resemble a cylinder shape after being applied into your own hair making them feel light, easy to wear and are virtually undetectable. How long will they last? Normal bonds last from 4 to 5 months. Fine and ultra fine bonds last from 1 to 3 months.

What colors are available with Great Lengths?

49 colors across the color spectrum, including 14 blonde shades.

What lengths are available?

The most popular lengths in the system are the 30, 40 and 50cm extensions. 60 and 70cm lengths are available by special order from Italy.

What textures of hair are available? Straight hair with a natural wave. Permed to a soft wave, suitable for people with natural wavy hair. Permed to a deep wave, also suitable for people with a deeper natural wavy hair.

What sizes of bonds are available?

The bonds come in two sizes, normal and fine. The bonds can also be customized into micro-bonds depending on a clients requirements.

How many bonds are needed?

The amount of extensions added to your hair will depend on the desired affect. Please refer to our price list

How long does the Great Length Extension process take?

The application takes from 1 to 4 hours, depending on the number of extensions.

How do I treat hair extensions?

Great Lengths hair performs just like any hair on your own head. This means that you can curl it with curling tongs, rollers, or a flat iron, whatever you desire.

When should the hair extensions be removed?

It is recommended that the extensions be removed every 3 to 5 months, depending on the bond sizes and a person's natural hair loss process.

Do they damage the natural hair?

While other hair extension systems use techniques like welding, waxing, gluing or knotting, which strain and very often damage your hair to a high degree, Great Lengths system is based on a much more gentle principle which does not damage your own hair during application or removal.

What results can be achieved with extensions?

Length

For people who want to instantly update their styles with long hair. Also for those people who find that there own hair is too fine or over-processed to be able to grow it to any longer lengths.

Volume

A great option for quickly adding volume, texture or depth.

Great Lengths Cold Fusion

Cold Fusion uses no heat. All hair is attached to your hair using an ultrasonic wave. This technique works exceptional well with very fine or thin hair

SoCap

The three different SoCap types are:

  • Original SoCap
  • Euro SoCap
  • SoCap USA

The original SoCap company was owned by a family.  At one point the original owners broke into three separate companies.   Since the SoCap name had already achieved public awareness, the three owners agreed to keep the name of the company SoCap but differentiate according to Original, Euro and SoCap USA.

All three SoCap systems basically work in a similar way.

The SoCap system is a hair extension line based on fusion as the method of application.

Hair is attached in bundles with Keratin tips and these tips are attached to your hair in a similar fashion to that of Great Lengths.

The hair is of average quality but makes for a nice attachment for bold colors that allow you to show off your free spirit. This technique comes in many colors and textures. It is priced more affordably than many other hair extension lines due to hair quality and the average duration the extension lasts.

If you are a budget oriented individual, this technique might be the one for you.

All three of the SoCap systems have slightly different bonding tips and hair quality. If you are unsure which SoCap is the best for you and your budget, find a hair extension expert that works in all the SoCap systems and then ask to see samples and finished images from all three.  A good hair extension expert will help you decide which one of the many different extension types and styles would be best for you.

SoCap can be a good medium priced option depending upon your hair type and budget.

HairLocs

HairLocs are a safe, re-usable, cold application, using no glue, keratin or heat. HairLocs is attached to the native hair using unique microscopic coupling shells.  The HairLocs system is considered the safest extensions available on the market today for most types and textures of hair.  It is equally safe for Caucasian and African-American Hair.

HairLocs can also be used for men or women with thinning hair problems to add fullness and length with minimal influence on the thinning pattern of the natural hair.

Because HairLocs is attached with coupling shells, the HairLocs hair can be easily maintained and re-used.  Since it does not use any glue, keratin or heat, HairLocs is least damaging to the natural hair.  Many hair extension experts prefer HairLocs because of its easy maintenance.

The Hairlocs Hair Extension System starts with 100% human hair from Europe. With Hairlocs, there is no tension, stretching, chemicals or heat used during the application or the take down process.

Hairlocs extensions are always applied behind the hairline and away from the natural partings. The unique coupling shells are color matched so they blend naturally with the natural hair and are virtually undetectable.

With Hairlocs, you can color, perm and style your hair like normal. Even use your favorite hot tools like flat irons and hot curlers. With regular maintenance, the life of your extensions is up to you. Most people can go up to 2 or 3 months before resetting the extensions.

The process is completely secure, safe and painless. It is the gentlest and safest hair extension system for most hair.

The hair is custom colored and cut to blend into your hair. This system can also create a highlighted effect for those who don't wish to use coloring in their hair. 

Microscopic Coupling Shells

Silicone lined microrings, extenshells and proshells resembling to coupling shells used for the HairLocs system may also be used by DIYers.  Silicone-Lined Microrings are available for purchase for use with individually purchased hair.

Silicone Lined Microrings are available in Large ( 4.5 MM Outside X, 3 MM Length) and Medium (3.5 MM Outside X 3 MM Length).

Silicone Lined Extenshells which are very close to Hairloc type shells have flared/flanged bell ends.  They may or may not available with silicone lining and are in Medium 3MM x 6 MM Length

Proshells with a cushioned silicone lining are also available in Medium 3MM x 6 MM Length.

The shells are used with appropriated sized threaders.

Short2Long

The Short2Long Hair Extension System is a hair extension system in the non-keratin category. It is a metal based system similar to HairLocs in most ways, except instead of Copper which is used by HairLocs, Aluminum is used to attach the Hair with the Hair Extension.

With Short2Long, there is no tension, stretching, chemicals or heat used during the application or the take down process. Short2Long along with Hairlocs are known as the safest extensions available today.  

The extensions are always applied behind the hairline and away from the natural partings. The unique shells are color matched so they blend naturally with your hair and are virtually undetectable!

With Short2Long you can color, perm and style your hair like normal. Even use your favorite hot tools like flat irons and hot curlers. With regular maintenance, the life of your extensions is up to you. Most people can go up to 2 or 4 months before resetting the extensions.

The process is completely secure, safe and painless. It is considered one of the gentlest and safest hair extension system for African-American or Caucasian hair.

The hair is custom colored and cut to blend into your hair. This system can also create a highlighted effect for those who don't wish to use coloring in their hair, and also can be used in men's hair where it is thinning, to add fullness and length, using microscopic coupling shells to attach the hair.

Malaysian Method

This method is basically a hair attachment method which utilizes metal links which are attached to your hair. Afterwards, hair is attached to your own hair in groups, creating a beautiful, natural hair extension.

An advantage of this technique is cost and speed.

Ultra Strands

This is another technique that is keratin based that attaches to native hair using small groupings of strands.

This process is very similar to the Great Lengths and SoCap systems. Ultra Strands are applied using Keratin bonds.

Locs, Shrinkies, Microlinks, Microillusions

These are all metal link based system.  They are similar to HairLocs and Short2Long but are considered to be less advantageous for use by many professional hair extension experts.

Cinderalla Hair

This is a pre-tipped hair extension system.  The add-on hair is pre-tipped with keratin or silicon and is sold "raw".  It is similar to Lugo's, Sensational and Adorable.  These types of offerings are not necessarily related to a formal "system" such as Great Lengths, SoCap or HairLocs.

Cinderella Hair has a wide-spread reputation for lower quality hair. Low quality hair does not last long. There are also many pre-tipped hair extensions with keratin or silicon on the market, or that are sold raw, that others try to pass off as a technique that are not part of a technique.  Many are not the best of quality.

Dream Catchers

Dream Catchers is a High End Hair Extension Technique, which uses very fine virgin, Remy cuticle hair, and is attached using a special metal link based system. This makes the hair re-usable.

Paris is not the type of girl who would sponsor a poor hair extension brand. The hair is very high quality that uses a European Micro-Cylinder Technology. The hair is from Europe. These are the exact same type of hair extensions that Paris wears. She has been involved in the marketing and design of the product. Paris is a high end brand in herself, and this line is an extension of her image.

FLhair Xtensions

FLhair Xtensions is a very unique hair extension method.  This system uses a unique loop and ring system, which basically allows you top push the extension hair through a disposable loop, and tighten using a small fastener.  The result?  A much tighter connection to the native hair.  The addition and removal of hair is easy and quick. 

As a result, a full head of hair can be extended quickly with this loop and ring system.  It works well as a quick hair extension system for people on the go.

Ultratress

Ultratress Hair Extension System is a seamless method. It comes as weft tape with a special high tech adhesive that attaches to your hair. The advantages of this it is easy to install and lower in prices than many of your more traditional extension methods.

The extensions last for up to 8 weeks and can be applied within a half and hour. This compares to traditional methods that take several hours. It comes in a good variety of colors.

Comes in either a one or a two piece package that can be used to add length and body. It can be applied high in the scalp to conceal certain damaged areas. You can work out and do all of your normal activities with these extensions.

Integration

An integration system is a hair enhancement system that adds an amount of fullness, length and body to your existing hair. It is done by adding a custom designed unit on top of the head. This unit is easy to wear, light in weight, securely attached to your hair, and would give a women with thinning hair that extra ten to twenty percent more density.

It works by attaching a unit to your head and then you pull your own hair through the fine crafted web to blend in with the added hair for an even fuller hairstyle. An integration system is easy to put on, secure and versatile. They are perfect with women that have an active lifestyle; they stay on thru the rigors of day to day activity. An integration system comes in different sizes, for different needs.

Invisible Strand

It is called Invisible Strand. This process is a hair on hair, one by one, hair extension technique. The extension last up to one year.

Using a special technique, this extension method takes days to apply for a full head of hair. This is available upon request, but is not recommended for a full head. This technique in often used in conjunction with other techniques, to fill in thinning areas, side areas, and frontal areas.

Invisible Hair

For clients looking for a brand name hair replacement solution there is a system known as the Invisible Hair Brand. Invisible Hair is a trademarked hair replacement system that originated in California.

Invisible Hair offers many hair replacement brands for people with thinning hair, or people who suffer from medical hair loss or inherent hair loss.

Invisible Hair systems are used by celebrities and the very wealthy.  Some of the highlights of this line are the following:

  • Can be Worn Anywhere on the Head

  • Smooth to the Touch

  • May be brushed in any direction

  • Virtually Seamless

  • Completely Undetectable

  • Exact Replica of Growing Hair

  • Hair is Re-usable

  • Competitively Priced

  • Sleep, Shower, Exercise, no Problem!

  • Full Head of hair applied in less than 3 hours

  • Hair Extension Specially Designed for Baby Fine and Fragile Hair

  • Quality 100% Human Hair

  • Can be Colored and Permed

Simplicity Hair Extensions

Simplicity is a hair extension technique that is very similar to that of Ultratress. Extensions are applied with a specialized liner tape that attaches to your natural hair. It attaches basically in a simple 3 step process.

These extensions are quick to apply, and can be done under an hour. It lasts 4-6 weeks and is affordable. This product is an addition to the product portfolio, due to cost. It is affordable and last for shorter periods. Ideal if you want nice hair extensions for a short period of time.

Microchet Hair Extensions

This is a system that is unique in the way it works. Most non glue/heat based systems use metal in the form of copper and aluminum to attach hair to the natural hair using cylinders as the go between.

Microchet uses hair that comes with its ends in the shape of hooks. These hooks are attached to you hair using a threading technique.

The advantage to the hooks is that hair feels light with no glues or metals. After two to three months the extension will become looser because your hair grows. The extension hair can be removed by simply cutting the thread. Usually about 40% of the Microchet hair can be reused after removing. 

There is a no heat or harsh chemicals involved in this technique. There is no pulling or stress to your own hair. It is a gentle technique that is available today.

Hair comes in sizes up to 22 inches, and the cuticles are aligned to prevent tangles.  Microchet offers a Hollywood Top System.

Hollywood Top

For men and women who suffer from hair loss there is a system known as the Hollywood Top.  It is a feather-light system with a transparent base that fits like a second skin and allows the scalp to breathe. Hair seems to be growing right out of your scalp, even from inches away.

Weaving Extensions

Numerous hair weaving systems are available.

The Interlocking Hair Weaving System

This is done without any foundation whatsoever, which means no braids, no poles, no cornrows tracks, no machines, no pre-tracking, no laser, and no bonding (glue).

Wrap Netweaving System.

This system compliments the Interlocking Hair Weaving system and is combined to provide a competitive weave on the market.

The first step in this system is to interlock the hair. A conditioning scalp treatment is applied and is designed to prevents tresses from getting dry under the netting.  The net is then stitched onto the Interlocking System.  Then the weft-hair is sewed onto the netting.

The new weft-hair is cut and styled to blend with the natural hair.  The goal is to provide a layered, feathered look, with absolutely no chops or visible lines. Partial weaves which provide increased fullness and desired length are available.

Standard hair weaving solutions basically attaches hair to a braid which is created using the natural hair as a base. The advantages of these techniques are cost and time required to apply. Works great for African American women.

Lace Front Systems With Hair Extensions

Custom and Hand Made Lace Front Units are a popular option used in combination with hair extensions.

A lace front unit is often combined with hair extensions.

Each lace front wig unit is individually tailored to the individual's head lines and shape. Used for the frontal part of the head, many people then add hair extensions to the sides or back to complete a sexy look.

This technique is especially great for people who have hair damage from overused hair weaves, and people who suffer effects from medical hair loss.

The Lace Front Wig technique is used extensively by the stars but you would never know it. Stars such as Gwen Stephanie and Tyra Banks are known to use this procedure.

Many people use a partial lace front with one of the hair extension techniques for the back. This is a popular combination.

Custom Hair Extension Sequencing

A Custom Hair Sequence Process is one of the ultimate Hair Replacement and Hair Extension solutions available in the industry.

The process in short is similar to a Hair Integration system that is custom made but this process blends the native hair with 100% Human Remi Hair.

The unit has specially placed holes that allow for the native hair to be mixed in with the fine hair unit. This allows hair to look natural and free flowing. Special micro-weave process is then used to hold the unit on special edges to secure the hair.

This process holds the hair better than any clips or locks that might be used in other systems. The advantage of doing it this way is that the hair in the locking area does not get damaged.

Each unit is custom made.  All pieces are made from exclusive hair sources in India and Europe that supply similar pieces to many of the top stars in the film and music industry.

Depending on care, these pieces can last from 1 year with regular care. This process is not inexpensive, and is one of the more expensive processes that can be performed.  Most custom work has a starting price in the $2,500 - $3,500 starting prices. 

Summary

Over the past ten years I have received many questions from consumers interested in hair extension system.  Unfortunately there is no finite answer to the questions.

There are many opinions by both hair extension experts and hair extension consumers about which extension methods are least damaging to natural hair.

Many extension experts and wearers swear by the hand tied method, which is the most expensive, but feels the most natural and can last the longest.  This is especially true if the hand tied extension is retied on a regular basis as the natural hair grows.

Hand tied extensions with 100% European human hair can feel the most natural, look the most natural but be the very most expensive. This is the method that many of the top celebrities use but a head of hand tied, 100% human hair can cost up to $20,000 or more.

Most will agree that hair extensions made with 100% human hair from Europe feels the most natural and looks the best. This type of hair also costs the most.

The other methods such as hot glue and locking systems that use tiny locks, are considered safe for your hair although not as safe as the hand tied method.

Bottom line, everything depends on the quality of the hair used, the expertise of the hair extension expert that apply the extensions and what you are ultimately willing to spend.

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Original Publication Date:  1/26/00 - Revised Publication Date:  01/08/11

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