Hair extensions have become increasingly popular, but with so many different types available, it can be tough to know where to start.

Whether you're looking for real human hair extensions or synthetic hair extensions, clip-ins, tape-ins, weaves, fusion, or micro-link extensions, we'll give you a breakdown of it all.

What is the difference between human and synthetic hair?

First off, hair extensions are available in various styles, colours, and application methods, whether they are made from real human hair or synthetic materials. It's important to understand the difference between real human hair extensions and synthetic hair extensions.

Human hair extensions are in the name, it’s hair that is collected, cleaned and treated. Once applied, they can be treated just like your natural hair. You can heat style, colour them, and apply hair products.

On the other hand, synthetic hair extensions are made from various synthetic fibres that are manufactured to imitate human hair and can vary in quality, often tending to be stiff and lacking natural movement. It’s not recommended to chemically alter or heat style them, doing so will ruin them entirely, making them virtually useless. While synthetic extensions may be cheaper to buy, they don't blend well and don't last as long as human hair extensions, which can last upwards of one year if well maintained.

What types of hair extensions are there?

Temporary Clip-In Extensions

One popular type of temporary hair extension is the clip-in extension. These extensions are composed of strands of contoured pieces that can easily be attached to your natural hair. The best part about clip-in extensions is that you can apply them yourself, and they can be effortlessly removed and reused as many times as you desire. What makes clip-in hair extensions even more appealing is that they are the least damaging option out there. Unlike other types of extensions, clip-ins do not require the use of any chemicals, heat, or pressure to install or remove, ensuring that your natural hair remains healthy and undamaged.

Tape-In Extensions

In addition to clip-in extensions, another popular type of hair extension is the tape-in extension. These extensions differ from clip-ins in that they come pre-taped before installation, and are considered more permanent. To install, tape-ins are secured by hand by sandwiching your own hair between the two pieces of tape, this type of extension can last upward of 6 weeks, based on your hair growth. If cared for properly, tape-ins can be re-used multiple times, making them a cost-effective option. However, it's important to note that using regular hair products on tape-ins may weaken their hold. To maintain their longevity, it is recommended to use non-alcohol based hair products and avoid applying them near the roots, as this can loosen the adhesive and cause the extensions to come loose. By following these precautions, you can ensure that your tape-in extensions remain securely in place and maintain their optimal lifespan.

Weft Hair Extensions

Weft hair extensions are also an option. This type involves braiding your natural hair horizontally into neat cornrows (aka tracks) and then sewing the hair piece onto these braids. Also known as sew-in extensions, wefts are particularly well-suited for individuals with thicker hair, as the cornrows provide a sturdy foundation for attaching the piece. However, it's worth noting that the application process for sew-in extensions can take several slightly uncomfortable hours to complete, so patience and commitment are required. Sew-ins require moisture and deep conditioning products to keep them healthy and should be removed every 6 to 8 weeks. This form of extension is also known to be heavy and uncomfortable and can cause strain on the scalp.

Fusion Extensions

Finally, there are fusion hair extensions, which are thin pieces of hair that are bonded onto your natural hair using a keratin glue-like adhesive. Fusion extensions require a specialist for installation for best results due to the precision placement of each piece, as it is a delicate process that typically takes around 3 to 6 hours. The hairstylist carefully applies the extensions, section by section, using a heated tool, similar to a small flat iron. This technique ensures that the extensions blend seamlessly with your natural hair, creating a natural and voluminous look. This is the best option for those who highlight their hair, and have dimension, because the pieces can be blended using multiple colours to simulate the highlights.

Fused extensions take around 3 to 4 hours to install and remove, and should only be applied by a professional hairstylist to avoid damaging the natural hair. This option is not ideal for everyone since it might damage the natural hair and weaken its growth if not done properly.

Knowing which extension type works for your lifestyle is half the battle. Once you decide, it’s about maintaining them to keep them looking flawless that really matter.