Everything You Need To Know About Getting Hair Extensions For The First Time

October 6, 2015 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

We live in a day and age when no one has to keep what they have, at least in terms of beauty and appearance. Don’t like your fine lines? There’s a filler for that. Tired of that bob haircut? Hello, hair extensions!

But to the hair extension newbie, the idea of attaching fake hair to your own is a little daunting–scary, even. Are they safe? Can you wash them? Will the entire world know that you’re walking around with a head full of hair that isn’t your own (assuming you give a fig what others think)?

Matthew Parkes, owner of the Matthew Parkes Salon in Fort Lauderdale, FL, gave us the lowdown on everything you need to know before taking the hair extension plunge.

SHEfinds: What can a new client expect during a hair extension consultation?

Matthew Parkes: Our stylists always talk with new clients about the current condition of their hair, their hair type, daily routine, and any maintenance involved in caring for extensions. Hair extensions can be more maintenance than the client is used to and it is important to inform them how to maintain them so that they do not damage their own hair.

SF: Is there more than one type of hair extension option?

MP: There are many types of hair extensions to fit each and every client’s needs. Here are some examples:

Fusion hair extensions. If a client has a healthy normal head of hair, you may consider fusion hair extensions, which are are single strand extensions that are bonded to the hair with keratin. This service can take up to 4-5 hours. There is no glue or wax. Keratin is heated and boded to the natural hair. This type of extension can last from 3-5 months and, for removal, your stylist will use a solution that will crystalize the bonds so that the extensions can be removed without damage.

Tape extension. Tape extensions are great for many types of clients. If you have existing damage, if your hair is thin or fine, and also if you want a service without a long commitment, then tapes would be for you. They are applied using medical grade double sided tape, often used with hair pieces. The tape method is a much faster service–you can apply a full head in just one hour. Tape extensions need to be serviced every six weeks by removing and reapplying as the hair grows, however. One of the benefits of doing tapes is the hair can be reused up to three times, unlike fusions which you need to replace once they come out.

Cylinder extensions. Similar to tape extensions, these are applied by using a small tool and metal bead. They need to be serviced every six weeks, but the hair is reusable–you just apply a new bead.

SF: Can anyone wear hair extensions?

MP: Hair extensions can be worn by anyone, whether you’re athletic, a business type, a stay at home mom–the important thing is that you maintain them properly. When you’re working out we suggest you keep all of your extensions in a low ponytail, which will prevent them from tangling or possibly getting pulled out. When you’re sleeping we suggest you braid your hair loosely to ensure they don’t tangle. We also suggest using only professional products that do not contain sodium chloride, sulfates, and proteins–these things will do irreversible damage to your extensions.

SF: What is the best way to care for extensions?

MP: Care for them as you would your normal hair: blow dry them regularly, be sure to brush the hair at least four times a day and before bed to remove any tangles. Keep in mind that it will take longer to blow dry your hair extensions, so allow time for this. Pick a day of the week when you’re not busy and take the time to blow dry your hair. If you don’t have time, please see your stylist so he/she can assess the progress and also blow them and remove any tangles.

Whether you want longer hair or are dissatisfied with the amount of hair you have and wish to make your mane look fuller, hair extensions might prove to be the answer to all of your hair dreams. To be sure (and to find out about costs, which vary greatly depending on your hair and the extensions that are right for you) make an appointment with your stylist and keep an open mind.

For more beauty tips, check out the best drugstore body lotions under $10 and how to lighten your hair without dye.


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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