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What Are The Different Types of Hair Extensions? An Expert Explains

March 24, 2022

1 Min read

In a time crunch, hair extensions may be the most logical answer to lengthen your locks. The only issue? The uninitiated may not know how to get started. That’s why we enlisted the help of Nicolette Rauchut, hairstylist and hair extensions specialist at Lrn Beauty. Keep reading to learn the hair extension guru’s take on this fan-favorite beauty trend, the different types of hair extensions, and how to care for them at home.

So, what are the different types of hair extensions?

There are four types of hair extensions, according to Rauchet: tape-in, clip-in, bonded, and halo hair extensions. And while they all share one common goal—creating long, luxurious hairstyles—they’re all different in terms of application, texture, and longevity. Consider the following breakdown.

Tape-in hair extensions

A must-have for those with normal-to-thick hair textures, tape-in hair extensions create a cascading veil effect and are reusable up to three times. “This application is convenient for those who need to touch up their hair color within that time frame as well,” says Rauchut of tape-in hair extensions, which boast a removal and reapplication time of one to two hours. Wear time, on the other hand, is six to eight weeks.

Clip-in hair extensions

Clip-ins are super easy to use and can be applied at home in a few minutes’ time. They can easily be removed at any time and are the least damaging as they don’t call for the addition of chemicals or other harsh solutions to secure the faux hair. They can be washed once every 15 wears, and are versatile as they can work for a wide range of hair types.

Bonded hair extensions

Also known as keratin bond extensions, bonded hair extensions “are flexible at the root, which is perfect for the client who regularly styles her hair or wears low ponytails,” says Rauchut. Application time can take three to six hours and these hair extensions—ideal for fine hair types—can be worn for two to four months.

Halo hair extensions

These easy-to-style, invisible hair extensions are perfect for those who are super low-maintenance. What makes them convenient is the single weft (hair strands sewn onto a super-thin cloth strip) row is secured by a barely visible thread that lays on the head’s natural curve. “This is a great option for someone who is curious about extensions but not ready to commit to a more permanent application,” says Rauchet of halo hair extensions, which can last three ot five years, and take two to three hours to apply if the extensions are being fitted to the whole head.

Most expensive vs. most affordable hair extensions

Pricing varies by hair extension type. Bonded hair extensions (aka keratin bond extensions) are easily the most expensive, starting at $2000 for the application.

“There is a lot we can achieve with this method,” says Rauchut. “This is because keratin bonds are less visible and more customizable. From a full transformation, like adding length or volume, to filling in a shallow spot, keratin bonds are for everyone.”

Meanwhile, halo hair extensions come in as the most affordable option, starting at around $200 for the application, but you can also find options that are a lot less expensive online.

“It is a very easy piece to install yourself,” says the pro hairstylist. “I also recommend this method to those who want to pump up their look without going through all the trouble. It’s also great for first-time extension users or someone on a budget.”  

How to care for your hair extensions

Like your natural grown hair, hair extensions require proper care to ensure they last for as long as possible, and as healthy-looking as possible. A rule of thumb that applies to all types of hair extensions: Keep them dry after washing your hair (which shouldn’t happen as often if they’re not the removable kind) and always brush your ends first and work your way up from there to eliminate tugging and further breakage when detangling. And as is the case for natural hair, submerging your extensions in chlorine and salt water (i.e. the pool and the ocean) should be avoided. 

It’s important to refrain from air-drying after getting your bonded or taped-in extensions wet. This may look like using a microfiber towel to blot your hair dry or using a blowdryer on low heat. Whatever you choose, it’s vital to keep your hair from being soaking wet. “If you skip this step,” Rauchet warns, “There is a chance that the bonds and tape will wither down and not last up to their full time lapse.” 

As for using styling tools, heading towards the roots is a big no-no. “Everything from the earlobe down is safe,” she says, adding, “It’s a good vantage point.”

How are hair extensions made?

While clip-ins, wefts, and halos are either hand tied or machine-made, human hair extensions—Rauchut’s preference—are carefully sorted. Before being cut from one’s head, the hair must be cleaned. It’s then pulled back and put in a tight ponytail, before being cleanly cut at the nape. From there, the soon-to-be human hair extensions undergo a sterilization and color bathing process before getting distributed. 

An interesting note: Most human hair that is used for extensions come from India and China. Even hair extensions that are labeled as hailing from Brazil may boast a small percentage that originated from China.

So, what type of hair extensions are best?

The “best hair extensions” are based on what your goals are, as well as what you’re willing to deal with, up-keep wise. Objectively, however, Rauchet has one clear pick.

“Personally, I prefer keratin bond extensions,” she says. “I love the feel of the bonds because they are almost undetectable.”

Wrap up

Regardless of which of the different types of hair extensions you choose, quality haircare and supplements are at the root of any potential healthy hair growth. Take the Prose consultation here to discover your custom formula.

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