Years ago when I first became certified for hair extensions, the world of salon hair extensions was very different than now. At that time there were only a few salons in Kansas City offering this service. Now it seems as though every salon offers some sort of hair extensions. It has been quite a while since I’ve addressed hair extensions and so much concerning this topic has changed in the last several years. I’ve decided to dedicate the next few posts to topics relating to hair extensions. This post will be a brief overview of some facts (some scary) and terms that can be confusing.
Most recently the taped hair extensions have exploded on the scene making every stylist that performs extensions an “extensionist.” Even as I type this, spellchecker is underlining it because it’s not a real word! This does make me laugh some, because here’s a confession: years ago I made this up and put this next to my title on our website. You can still see it there now. At the time, I was only the only one with that self-given term. I literally just made it up to describe “a stylist who specializes in extensions”, because I didn’t want to type all that out on my bio. Now I see it everywhere on local salon bios! “Master Extensionist.” What is that really? We will go into that more next month.
I’ve found that new clients are just as confused as they were years ago when there was much less information available. Now the web is saturated with videos and info and no one is any more informed than they were years ago, because much of it is malarkey or biased at the very least. Every method seems to be “the best”, every hair type “the best” and consumers simply don’t know where to turn. On top of that, you can purchase them yourself on eBay or Amazon and there are YouTube video’s showing you how to DIY.
Why go to a salon for hair extensions?
For those of you thinking about attempting this, let me just say this. If my child gets a scrape on his knee I can certainly spray it with bactine, but that does mean I’m confident enough to stitch it up myself. Perhaps this is an extreme example, but you get my drift. Hair extensions are ‘hair plastic surgery’ and should never be attempted at home. Those YouTube girls have nothing to lose- however you do- your hair!
The Basics of Hair Extensions
Salons typically partner with reputable companies that are only using real human hair. A startling fact, even 10 years ago yak hair (as in water buffalo) was commonly used in lower end hair extensions. In the manufacturers mind it is real hair; real yak hair. It wasn’t synthetic and it came from a mammal. Even though this is misleading, technically no lie was being told. That was 10 years ago. The hair extension demand has quadrupled in just the last 3 years driving the demand for quality human hair extensions through the roof. This in turn drives up the prices which also drives up sketchy behavior. The extension industry, both professional and non professional, is a multi billion dollar industry. Different type’s of hair have changed through the years. ‘Remy’ is a term thrown all around. Keep in mind that most of the major hair extension manufacturers (not the type of hair) come from China, Pakistan, India and so on. Countries where there are no real advertising laws or regulations. This fact combined with heavy importing to the largest world Market (the U.S.) which also doesn’t regulate this booming industry, is a catastrophe waiting to happen. I am surprised after many years of watching the industry grow, there are still no minimum regulatory requirements. We have seen firsthand severe matting caused from poor quality hair extensions. We have had clients come to us to have them cut out their hair!
The benefit of having this service done with a professional stylist is that she is more than likely trained for this service. Let’s hope anyways. They should be trained with a salon exclusive extension company. Not a company that targets non- professionals. The companies that target non salon industry consumer should be avoided or at least handled with caution. They know you are a click and pay consumer who isn’t going to ask the right questions because your professional reputation isn’t on the line, unlike a stylist or salon owner. So this is post to help inform you about industry terms to help educate you about this. Don’t forget- people falsely advertise all the time! Just because something says “human hair” doesn’t mean its 100% human hair. There may be human hair blended with synthetics or animal hair that has been chemically treated to resemble human hair. Technically as long as it has some human hair in the package they can still get away with it legally. Even if they say this and you discover it to be untrue by testing the hair (do you really have the equipment to do so or the knowledge to do it properly) will you really take the time to sue this faceless and nameless seller on eBay? No! They know that. So here is a small glossary of terms that may help you, but don’t get too caught up on these either. They are often also over used.
I hear this all the time” Are your hair extensions Remy ? Clients often ask this without knowing exactly what it means. This is an insider term originally used years ago to separate good and bad hair extensions, the quality, and if you’re getting your hair extensions in the salon the answer is always yes- or again it should be. Some salons just run down to the local wig shop and buy whatever they think is good or maybe what they think they can get a quick profit off of. I’m not speaking of these types of stylists or salons. I’m speaking about salons that are concerned about their professional reputation. Those public beauty supply places do sell all types of hair, good and bad. If a stylist is uneducated on this- they may purchase non Remy hair, even if they ask, because remember alot of hair says it is, even if it’s untrue. Remy simply means the cuticle of the hair shaft is still intact and it’s a healthy cuticle, running the same direction.
A tape hair extension is a method of hair extension placed in hair by sandwiching client’s hair between two extensions that are attached by an adhesive that resembles tape. We have seen some real at home nightmares with these since they have gained popularity because they look easy. What if you get crosshairs, what if you get a mat, or what do you do if you want them out and they are really stuck in your hair and you try everything to get them out and they are just a big greasy matted mess? Clearly my vivid descriptions indicate we have seen this scenario as well. Really, don’t try this at home.
This means this is an extension that is attached by a no heat application. Don’t be fooled into thinking no heat means no damage. I’ve seen instances where locks have caused friction on some clients hair and caused hair breakage or clients have simply waited too long to get an adjustment and the hair mat above the extensions were horrible and caused hours of labor costs by the stylist simply trying to comb out the mats with as little damage as possible. Sometimes the lock doesn’t give when pressure was applied and it simply ripped the hair out, extension and all. Hair extensions are not 100% damage free. This is mainly determined by individual care and how long they are worn.
This is a traditional method made popular by the African American community. It is the original way to wear extensions. The client’s hair is braided in to horizontal tiny braids and wefts or “weaves” of hair (that is hair sewn in a track seam that hangs like a big hair curtain) is sewn in the tiny braids. This has become popular with Caucasian women and again we have seen some bad results. This method, in my opinion, is never OK for Caucasians. Here’s why: African American hair naturally has a hard glassy finish that Caucasian hair does not. Simply put- it’s stronger. Even African American hair can be pulled out or have hair loss and breakage from this method, it’s called traction alopecia. So if your Caucasian and you still choose this method, don’t wear them long term! You will, without a doubt, lose hair over time.
Here at Studio 39 Salon we actually own our own label of real hair extensions. This brand includes a micro link single strands, tape in, clip in and locking wefts. Wouldn’t it be nice to have variety and be advised by a professional? We have a saying here, “there’s a type of extension for every type of client.” You have to be advised by someone who is in the know about multiple types. Not one salon or stylists that use one method of hair extensions. We don’t believe in a one size fits all approach, especially for hair! If you’re shopping for hair extensions, contact us and book an appointment at Studio 39 Salon first and we will lay out all your options for you. Generally salons don’t have the resources or money to carry inventory on extensions because they are so expensive. This is one of our specialties so we always have some inventory. You benefit the most as we carry inventory here in the salon so chances are we have your perfect color match in stock!