The world of extensions is seemingly expanding every day, and there is enough content out there to overwhelm even Hairstylists. We’re going to break down six types of extensions for you, from ready to wear to semi permanent, and how to decide which type is right for you. Choosing the right extension for your hair type and lifestyle is key, and by the end you’ll be able to find an extension that works just for you!
While your bestie may be head over heels for her Halo, your active gym workouts maybe won’t be able to handle that type of extension. Enter Semi-permanent extensions. There are more methods of semi-permanent extensions then we’ll cover here, but the three tried and true methods are Fusion, Tape, and Microbead (also called I-Tip).
Fusion aka Hot Fusion
Let’s start with Fusion. Fusion are thin strands of hair held together by melted keratin. The “bond” - or where the hair strands and keratin are bonded, is usually 1-1 ½ cm long, and the hair itself can vary from 10” to 24” long. These types of extensions can only be applied by a licensed Stylist, and when done properly are extremely discreet and seamless with your own hair. Fusion is fantastic for those with active lifestyles, and clients wanting to simply wash their hair and go.
When applying Fusion the Stylist will warm up the keratin bond with a fusion tool, they will then quickly wrap the melted bond around a small bundle of your own hair, usually only a few millimeters wide. The keratin will cool around your own hair strands, and not come out until they are removed with specific Fusion Gel. It is important to note that the entire process should be completely pain-free, the hot glue will never touch your scalp.
Typically the bonds are applied less than 1 cm away from your scalp; this will ensure they don’t grow out too quickly or bother your scalp. Once your own hair starts to grow, the bonded hair will grow out with it, slowly moving farther away from your scalp. Most clients will need to remove the bonds after 3-5 months, depending on hair growth. The removal process usually takes between 20 minutes to an hour depending on how many strands were applied.
Why clients love fusion:
- Low maintenance
- Never have to remove at the end of the day
- Can be blended beautifully to look like balayage
- Can be worn up in a ponytail
Concerns with fusion:
- Extensions cannot be removed at the end of day
- Those with extremely thin hair, or thinning hairlines may not suit fusion
- Can be expensive long term
Tape or Tape-In
Tape are widely popular for many reasons. They generally sit more flat to the scalp than fusion does, so those wanting less volume on the sides of their head prefer Tape.
Tape are 1” wide pieces of hair with double sided tape attached. The hair length can vary the same as fusion, from 10”-24”. This type of application is fairly straightforward, but that doesn’t mean you can do it yourself. A trained Stylist is needed to apply Tape.
Your Stylist will take a thin piece of hair 1” wide and place one piece of the tape on top of the strands. Then they will add the corresponding piece underneath the strands, essentially “sandwiching” your own hair in-between. This secures all the hair together. Tape is very similar to Fusion in terms of at-home care, the only major difference is Tape has to be removed sooner as it can slip down more than fusion.
Why clients love their Tape:
- Quick and easy installation
- The hair can be reused up to 3 times (over 1 year of wear if taken care of properly)
- Flat to the scalp
- Can we worn up in a ponytail
Concerns with Tape:
- It can be difficult to give a subtle balayage look with Tape. As tape pieces are 1” wide, even placing a lighter colour underneath and a darker one on top will give a more noticeable colour difference.
- Must be moved up more often than Fusion. Move ups are typically less than 3 months for Tape and up to 6 months for Fusion.
- The Tape can only be applied a certain distance from your hairline. Tape and Fusion can only be applied 1” away from the hairline or else they will be visible.
Microbead aka I-Tip
Microbead Extensions are also called “Cold Fusion” as there is no heat applied. This type of extension is one of the most seamless options. Your Stylist will pull a few strands of your hair through a small bead, this bead usually has a ring of silicone inside it to grip the hair better, and ensure no damage. A small piece of hair extension is inserted into the bead, and the Stylist clamps it down, sealing the hair piece with your own hair strands. Microbeads are popular for their easy and painless application, and extremely quick removals.
The only reason some Stylists avoid working with Microbeads is they often require more maintenance. As they are so quick and easy to apply, they are more prone to slipping out than Fusion or Tape. With proper care, brushing regularly, and not applying conditioner to the roots, Microbeads will stay put where they’re supposed to.
Why clients love their Microbeads:
- Quick and easy application
- Absolutely pain free
- Extremely comfortable and light
- Can achieve a very subtle highlighted look by adding lighter strands of hair
Concerns with Microbeads:
- Move Ups are more often, typically every 2 months
- Gives medium volume at the sides of the hair
- Can be more prone to slipping out than Fusion or Tape
- Those with extremely active lifestyles or those who play with their hair often may not suit Microbeads
PHEW, there you have it. The three major semi-permanent extensions. Now if you already know you want something that can be taken out every night, you’re in luck, because here we go with the three most popular ready-to-wear extensions!
Have you ever worn an extension that takes less than 30 seconds to apply? No? Then you have to try a Halo! Halo’s are a one piece extension that fit underneath your hair. Here’s how it works:
- Section half your hair and clip up out of the way.
- Place the halo’s invisible wire to the front of your head, about an 1” away from the hairline.
- Wiggle the back of the halo down to sit underneath your occipital bone (the widest part of the back of your head).
- The back of the halo should be snug, and the wire at the front should feel comfortable.
- Unclip your hair, and smooth the hair overtop to hide the wire and halo band.
Easy right? Okay it may be hard to envision on paper, so if you’re more of a visual learner check out our video of how to apply your halo here:
Halo’s are quick, easy, and come in a variety of thickness and lengths.
Why clients love their Halo:
- Super easy to apply
- Time saving
- Can remove at the end of day
- Can achieve maximum thickness, more than can be achieved with Fusion or Tape.
- A variety of colours means you can finally get that balayage look you’ve wanted without damaging your own hair
- Zero damage to your own hair
Concerns with a Halo:
- Gives volume at the sides and length, but not volume at the top of the head
- Ponytails have to be kept very low, or else the band will lift up
- Halo’s can be difficult to blend with very short hair, as there must be enough hair at the top to discreetly cover the band
Ahh, tried and true clip ins! There’s a reason they are widely known and a staple in the hair extension industry. These versatile extensions are truly chameleons. Want your hair up? Sure. Want it down and mega-mega-mega full? Absolutely.
Every brand crafts their Clip Ins differently. They can range from 3-12 piece sets, with varying thicknesses and widths. Most sets will come with a few large pieces to fit in the back of the hair, and a few small pieces to fit at the sides.
Why clients love their Clip Ins:
- Can remove every night
- Can place exactly where they want to achieve the look they want
- Simple to apply
- Very secure
- Can we worn with ponytails
Concerns with Clip Ins:
- Can take up to 15 minutes to apply, the hair must be sectioned piece by piece
- Can cause slight damage if worn in the same place every day for long terms
- Takes longer to remove than a Halo
Now if you’ve made it this far and you’re feeling like none of the last five options will work for you, you may suit a tTopper! Toppers add volume at the very top of your head and at the sides. They are crafted by hand-stitching hairs through breathable lace, giving an extremely natural look. The breathable lace has four silicone grip clips attached which are gently clipped to your own hair. Toppers are fantastic for those thinning on the top of their hair but don’t need a full wig. They can come in varying thicknesses so you’ll be sure to find one that suits exactly what you need.
Why clients love their Toppers:
- Easy to apply
- Less than 15 seconds to apply
- Less than 15 seconds to remove
- Completely customizable, each topper can be dyed to match your exact roots. They can also be cut to blend perfectly with your own style
- Zero damage to your own hair
- Volume at the top
Concerns with a Topper:
- Toppers give fullness on the top and slight volume at the sides, but don’t generally give medium-full thickness at the sides.
- There must be enough hair on the top of the head to clip the piece to. If there is minimal hair on top, a wig may be a better option
Each Extension has great benefits, while some may not suit everyone. The most important thing to remember is to choose what is right for your hair type and what your hair goal is. If you have a good idea of what extension you’ll best suit then the next step is choosing the colour, length, and thickness! Stay tuned for our next Blog Post on “Choosing the right Extension (just for you!)”!