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All you need to know about Hair Extensions

| Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Artificial hair integrations are used to add length to human hair. Hair Extension or Integration is a method of adding commercial hair to natural hair. These methods are used to conceal thinning or hair loss in concentrated areas.

Types of hair fibers
Hair extensions are made from a range of human and synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers include Kanekalon and Toyokalon, and can differ from brand to brand. Synthetic hair in general is far less expensive than human hair, and is available in a wide array of colors and textures, from natural to extraordinary.

Methods of integration
There are many different types of Hair Extensions on the market, but for the sake of simplicity we will focus on two main types of application methods: Individual Strands and Wefts

· Individual Strand Extensions
The Individual method involves taking small amounts (maybe 20-50 strands) of extension hair (natural or synthetic, but we'll get to that later) and applying to small sections of your own hair by either weaving in, heat fusing, gluing, clamping with metal rods or using waxes and polymers. All of these methods (except for the clamping which is self explanatory) involve coating your own hair with a chemical or foreign substance. These extensions usually only last a few months before they have to be taken out and completely re-done. The main problem with this method is taking the Hair Extensions out without damaging your own hair.

The misnomer of 'tracks' comes from the common, long-lasting method of integrating wefts, known as the 'track and sew' method. The 'tracks' are usually cornrows, braided in the direction of how the hair will fall. Toward the face or away, with or without a part, the tracks build the foundation of how the end result will look. The wefts are then sewn onto the braids, usually with a specially made, blunt-ended needle. The needle can be curved or straight. There are many different colors of specially made thread to choose from, depending on what color of hair you will be integrating. Darker hair lends to darker thread. Wefts can be made by machine, but the best wefts are handmade. A weft looks like a little curtain of hair attached together at the top and free flowing at the bottom.

Wefts may also be bonded directly to the client’s hair using special bonding glue. Care must be taken not to bond the wefts directly to the scalp, as it can cause sensitivities in some clients. A patch test is frequently recommended, as per manufacturer's directions

Shampooing and styling of integrations
Shampooing of artificial hair integrations can be as easy as shampooing real hair, with some considerations. For instance, many manufacturers suggest using a mild shampoo, or even a wig shampoo.

Most human hair extensions can be treated as real hair, albeit more gently. Since human hair extensions are usually heavily processed to achieve uniform color and texture, a mild shampoo is recommended, along with a light conditioner to reduce tangling. Cool water is recommended when shampooing, to reduce or prevent matting and excessive tangling. Having to remove snarls and tangles loosens the foundation of the integrations and further damages the hair.
Wash, condition and MOISTURIZE (very important) your hair every 2 - 3 days. The extensions do not receive your natural scalp oils and so need to have moisture added every wash. If you don't moisturize your hair extensions they will become brittle and break easily leading to split and ratty ends. We recommend a good moisturizer for Hair Extensions.
Treat them with respect. They will not grow back if you yank at them with a brush, burn them with the blow dryer, and kill them with chemicals. Be nice to them - they cost a lot of money so make sure you get your money's worth.
Always brush out all knots before you wash your hair, swim, or sleep. Start at the bottom and work your way up slowly using a paddle brush.
Make sure you wash in between the braids to keep your scalp clean and free of bacteria.
Removal methods
Sewn-in integrations must be removed by cutting the thread that attaches it to the cornrow. Care must be taken to snip only the thread, and not the client's hair. Care must also be taken not to leave the wefts sewn in for so long as to cause the hair to mat around the thread.

Invisible Hair Weave integration is generally easier to remove.
Bonded integrations are removable based upon the method of bonding. Bonded wefts can be removed with special bonding-glue removers, allowing the remover to penetrate and break down the latex in the glue. Usually these removers have a high content of oil, dissolving adhesive, so a less-expensive alternative can be baby oil.
Some bonded integrations can be shampooed out, depending on the strength of the adhesive, though it is less common, since the integrations do not last very long.
Professional pre-bonded methods using cold/heat, such as "Great Lengths", "Hair Dreams", "So-cap" and "Cinderella", should not be "melted" out of the hair. The individual company's removal solution should be used to saturate the bond, and then crack with a plier type tool resulting in shattering of the bond. The hair extensions can be easily removed at this point. If extensions must be removed and solution is not available, ethyl alcohol, hand sanitizer or acetone will break down most pre-tipped bonds.
Metal bonds such as Hair-locs and Eurolocs are released by the plier, which is used to smash them on. Sometimes a regular plier can be used in the opposite direction to release, or a hot iron can be touched to the metal to melt the wax inside, releasing the bond.
Simply pulling out bonded integrations can result in damage to the underlying natural hair. Hence be careful while removing your hair extensions.
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