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Let's walk through the basics. There are extensions that last months and extensions that last days. The three types of long-term extensions: BONDED EXTENSIONS: These are fused by a stylist to natural hair with a heat-activated keratin-based polymer. Lifetime: Up to five months Cost: Upwards of $1,000 We like: Great Lengths SEW-IN EXTENSIONS: Commonly known as a weave. A stylist cornrows a section of your hair, then sews the hairpieces to the cornrows (also called tracks). It takes several hours to do the whole head. Lifetime: Six to eight weeks Cost: About $1,000 TAPE-IN EXTENSIONS: Wefts (small strips of hair) are taped to the roots of your natural hair by a stylist. They are particularly good for fine or blonde hair "because you can barely see the attachment," says hairstylist Isaac Davidson of Wigbar in New York City. Lifetime: Experts say up to six weeks (from personal experience, we say closer to eight weeks) Cost: About $650 We like: Invisi-Tab virgin European Hair Extensions
The two primary short-term extensions are: CLIP-ON EXTENSIONS: Hairpieces with tiny combs that attach to the root of the hair. They come in small sets or as one long swath that goes from ear to ear. Lifetime: Until bedtime Cost: $30 to $1,500, depending on the length and hair type (human or synthetic) GLUE-IN EXTENSIONS: Hairpieces secured to the scalp by a professional stylist with liquid glue and removed with an oil-based solvent. Lifetime: A few days with proper care Cost: $150 to $500
All extensions are either human or synthetic. Human hair is five to seven times more expensive, but it can be colored and heat-styled. Virgin remy hair is the highest quality of human hair available. This hair has never been treated with chemicals and is left unprocessed and
Your desired look will help determine the type of extensions that you choose.
If you're happy with the length of your hair but want more of it, try short extensions.
• Ask your stylist to cut the extensions the same length as your hair.
• Section hair three inches above the nape—the higher you go, the fuller the hair looks.
• Start the tease-spray-clip method, adding each new weft a half inch higher than the last.
• Create a section two inches from either side of your part. Attach wefts on either side of the part.
If you're looking to jump from a lob to waist-length overnight, look for quality extensions and a good cut.
• Human hair, and only human hair, preferably virgin remy (some remy hair is coated with silicone, which can look unnaturally shiny and also dull over time).
• Match color and texture. Stylists may mix different shades to make extensions look more natural.
• Ask your stylist for a dry cut with layers, depending on the length disparity, to blend your regular hair with your fake hair.
An edgy, punky look is only one (strategically placed) clip away.
• Pick one bright color, like cobalt or hot pink. Buy the skinniest weft you can find.
• Pick a point on the side of your head between your ear and temple. Section off the hair above it.
• Tease that spot at the roots, spray it with strong-hold hair spray, and clip in the extension.
• Let the rest of your hair fall into place. You should be able to catch a glimpse of the colored extension.
Clip-on bangs were made for looking mysterious and coy.
• Choose bang extensions with a triangular base and three small attached clips.
• Have a pro snip them to the right length and shape them for you—don't do it yourself.
• Create a V-shaped part, starting at the temples and going toward the crown. Tease the roots and mist with hair spray. Clip in the piece.
• Brush your own hair over the top of the bangs.
This is the easiest and most believable way to have insta-long hair.
• Choose a ponytail weft that has at least one secure comb at the base.
• Pull your hair into a ponytail at least two inches above the nape.
• Insert the weft's comb into the top of the real ponytail between your scalp and the elastic.
• Wrap the weft around the outside of your ponytail. Secure with the attached combs.
Really match your color.
Hair with gradated color looks the most believable. "For brunettes, it's nice when the bottom half is a little darker than the top," says hairstylist Garren. Blondes should aim for the reverse: extensions that are darker at the roots and lighter at the ends. If you can't find the perfect shade, ask your colorist to dye them. This can be done only on human hair.
Keep oils away from your scalp.
Apply conditioners and serums from midlength to the ends. Oils make the roots too slippery to hold the combs (and can break down extension glue).
Learn to say good-bye.
When replacing extensions, change the point of attachment. "Place them a half inch above or below where they were, just to give the last spot a break," says New York City hairstylist Sheila Chung.
Hair extensions add weight and can break or rip out your hair when they're removed. The pros advise taking a break every six to eight weeks.