Types of hair extensions

Updated November 21, 2016

If you’ve ever wondered how celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Jennifer Aniston and others suddenly have long locks only days after you’ve seen them in shorter hairstyles, there’s a simple answer. They use hair extensions for their versatile hairdos that change as often as they change outfits. It’s not just celebrities that are taking advantage of hair extensions. Both men and women are discovering the benefits of hair extensions. If you’d love to have long hair but don’t have the patience to grow it out, consider getting hair extensions.


Hair extensions are lengths of either synthetic or real hair that can be attached close to the scalp by using various methods. Besides adding length, hair extensions add volume and highlights or lowlights, sparing your own hair from the harshness of colouring it.

Clip-in Hair Extensions

The gentlest and easiest types of hair extensions are those you clip into your hair. To attach them, separate your hair, starting at the neck’s nape, working your way upward. The number of clips used depends on the volume needed. Open the clips, facing them to the scalp. Then simply snap them into place. Clip-in extensions are also an excellent way to add highlights to your hair without colouring it.

Human and Synthetic Single Hair Extensions

Single hair extensions are single strips of hair. Because they can move and swing in sections of your own hair, they look natural. Human single hair extensions typically come from human hairs from India, Asia or Europe, which can be bonded to small sections of human hair. Synthetic pieces are available in wavy, straight and curly varieties, matching your hair. They’re attached to a small braid of each extension base and then sealed by heat, which melts them to your hair. They come in different shades of colours, ranging from a natural look to brighter hues.

Bonding and Sealing Extensions

Bonding and sealing extensions are used on sectioned real hair. Extensions are plaited to your real hair and then painted with a bonding agent that seals the extension surrounding the hair. This hair extension can last up to four months before the bond begins loosening.


Weaves are tiny hidden braids that hold hair extensions against the scalp. This hair extension can apply tension and add uneven weight to your natural hair where they’re attached. This is a special concern when washing your hair or when swimming or participating in other activities where your hair gets wet. Because it’s hard to dry hair that’s under the braids, some people with weaves don’t wash their hair as often.

Hair Extension Lengths

According to, hair extensions come in a variety of lengths and may be as long as 26 to 30 inches. Hair longer than 30 inches adds weight to the scalp and can damage your own hair. Hair extensions for women of average height are about 22 inches long or less, with those measuring 18 inches being the most popular hair extensions.

Misconceptions and Warnings

Be wary of stylists claiming extensions can be treated like your own hair, without any special maintenance. Long hair requires more work, taking longer to wash, as well as condition, style and blow dry. Not caring for long hair can lead to damaged hair. Also, be cautious of any home hair extension offers. Often people see hair extensions done and buy a home kit, thinking they can do the job themselves. It takes a professional not only to attach the extensions but to also remove them.

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