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Hair Extensions Cheat Sheet: Get Long Hair in a Snap

Why should celebrities and strippers have all the fun? What you need to know about going long
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Whether you're regretting going for the big chop or just want to add a little (or a lot) of extra length or volume to your hair, hair extensions can change up your look radically and immediately. How do you think celebrities are able to change their looks so often? After reaching out to the stylists at Just Extensions, we got the deets on all the popular techniques. If you're considering taking the plunge like I did, use this hair extensions guide as your cheat sheet for the most popular methods, their pros and cons, and what type of hair each works best on.

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Hair Extension Lingo
Virgin: The gold standard of hair extensions, virgin hair has never been chemically processed or dyed. It's typically more expensive than any other hair extension types and comes in natural, darker hair colors. Though this is considered the best quality, virgin hair may sometimes come from multiple donors, which would decrease its quality -- so be sure to check first.

Remy: Remy grades come from the same hair donor, and provide the most natural look. The hair's cuticles (the outermost protective layer of hair) are kept intact and are not stripped, which means hair will be at its healthiest and shiniest, so there's very little tangling. Remy-grade hair isn't necessarily virgin. If you're looking for a long-lasting style with a ton of mileage, opt for a hair type that is both remy and virgin hair grade.

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Know Your Origin
When choosing the texture and grade of hair you want, the styles vary by origin. Here are the most popular types:

Brazilian: The most sought-after hair on the market, this hair is coarse in texture and heavy in density. Perfect if you want thick, bouncy hair that comes in rich brown to black hair colors.

Indian: Great if you want shiny, straight hair that comes in very long lengths and mimics most hair textures.

Chinese: Thicker and stronger than European and Indian hair, this hair type is hardest to curl when it's bought unprocessed. Chinese hair is best for those who want stick straight hair and have naturally thick hair. Typically, it's a bit higher in quality than Indian hair.

Peruvian: One of the most exotic hair types, Peruvian provides you with the strength and body of Brazilian hair with the smoothness of European hair. It tends to be more expensive than Brazilian hair as well.

Malaysian: This one is great if you're looking for naturally wavy or curly hair extensions. It's mostly available in darker colors and can be expensive.

European: This type of hair is perfect for those of Caucasian descent seeking hair that is similar to their natural hair type. Since lighter hair tones are typically more expensive, this (along with it being very rare) adds to its high price.


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Clip-In Extensions -- For the Novice
What it is: Temporary hair extensions that are quick to apply and come in a variety of lengths and widths. Installation takes about 10-20 minutes and lasts for two to three days (though daily removal is suggested to prevent pulling or tugging of your hair overnight).

Variations: You can buy clip-in extensions or sew the clips onto the hair wefts yourself. (Hint: If you've ever fixed a hole in your sweater or sewn a hemline, this will be a cake walk). Clips may come in a variety of sizes, typically small and large.

Pros: The least damaging form of extensions for your hair, they can be taken out or put in quickly and easily -- no professional required. Clip-in extensions work on all hair types and lengths.

Cons: As easy as they are to apply, clip-in extensions can be high-maintenance to hairstyling novices. The clips often need to be taken out daily as they tend to slide out, and they can tug on hair uncomfortably if not placed correctly. Extensions should be washed separately from your own hair.

How to do it: First, style your hair as you normally would, whether it's curling, straightening, or waving. Then use a comb to part small sections of your hair starting from the back. Tease each section gently at the root, then place the clip-in pieces right at the teased roots to secure. Snap them in place, and repeat as needed.

Tips: Remove the clip-ins by unsnapping each clip and gently sliding them out of your hair. Remove them in reverse order of how you put them in to ensure pieces are placed around the same section each time. Remove the highest-placed extension piece first, put it down on your counter, then remove the subsequent pieces, placing them on top of one another to form a neat pile. Once you're ready to put them in again, you'll have the ones used for the bottom section of your hair (your starting point) at the top of your pile.

Get it if: Your hair isn't super fine, you like a little extra length in your hair, but you don't want to commit to anything permanent.

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Tape Weft Extensions -- For the Intermediate/Pro
What it is: Semi-permanent hair extensions that are quick to apply and come in a variety of lengths and widths. A transparent keratin tape bond is connected to the base of each hair weft. Installation takes about 20-40 minutes and lasts up to six weeks.

Variations: You can buy tape hair extensions or place the tape bond onto the hair wefts yourself.

Pros: Tape weft extensions can be taken out or put in fairly quickly and easily, and feel more natural than clip-in or sewn-in extensions. They do minimal damage, work on all hair types and lengths, and don't necessarily require a trip the salon (though it's helpful).

Cons: While they can be washed when installed, the extensions tend to slide out after conditioning, and can be high-maintenance to hairstyling novices since sandwiching the two pieces typically is best done when you have a friend there to help.

How to do it: Starting with your hair straight, use a comb to part small, horizontal sections of your hair starting from the back. Sandwich the tape wefts between a 1/4-inch thick section of your hair close to the roots. Press firmly to secure at the roots. Repeat as needed.

Tips: Place the wefts as closely to the roots of each section as possible as you go. For maximum hold, put aside strands of hair that aren't sticking to the tape before sandwiching the second piece onto it.

Get it if: You've mastered the clip-in technique and are looking for something a little more permanent but that is still easy to remove and reapply. These work much better for updo hairstyles, as the tape is flexible yet sturdy enough to be tugged in different directions.

It was something my mom said during an argument when I was just eight years old that affected how I would wear my hair for the next 15 years of my life.

While fighting over why I couldn't get a weave, she told me that I had "good hair," and that any treatment would ruin it.

For some reason, those words stayed with me. Even though I pined for thick, lustrous, straight long hair, I held off. In high school, when all my friends embraced their inner vixens with experimental weaves, I stuck with the same, boring (but good!) hair. Until my junior year of college, when I finally realized (duh) that even good hair had room for improvement.

Instead of dipping my toe in, I went for a full weave. The results were so drastic, I hardly recognized myself for two weeks. The dozen Brazilian hair extension pieces looked so good, and made my eyes so slanted (from my hair being pulled so tightly) that everywhere I went I was mistaken for having Asian or Latin blood. It gave me instant exotic appeal. And when I finally took the extensions out, my hair had grown exponentially -- no awkward grow-out phase! Needless to say, I'm hooked to this day.

Whether you're regretting going for the big chop or just want to add a little (or a lot) of extra length or volume to your hair, long hair extensions can change up your look radically and immediately. How do you think celebrities are able to change their looks so often? After reaching out to the stylists at Just Extensions, we got the deets on all the popular techniques. If you're considering taking the plunge like I did, use this hair extensions guide as your cheat sheet for the most popular methods, their pros and cons, and what type of hair each works best on.
BY TIFFANIE PETETT | OCT 18, 2013 | SHARES
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