Hair Extensions

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What's the beauty buzz on hair extensions?

Sienna Miller

Sienna Miller was spotted at a trendy New York salon having beautiful light-blonde hair extensions woven into her hair, instantly transforming her short, “deconstructed” bob into a luxurious, below-shoulder length mane. She reportedly spent $2,500 on them. This look should last about 6 months. “Woah!” you say, “Are they really that expensive?" Well, like wine there are many different types and qualities and therefore there are many different prices.

“A lot of celebrities have hair extensions”, says Lucy Liu’s hairstylist, Robert Hallowell. Paris Hilton helped to popularized them, wearing them on her rural reality show, The Simple Life. Britney Spears has worn them in many of her videos. But not all celebrities use them to make their hair look longer. Stars like Hillary Duff have had pieces of hair woven into their natural hair to make it look thicker.

If you’d like to give them a try, your job is to learn how to spot the “fine wines” of hair extensions from among the garden varieties. If you’re patient enough to learn the secrets of picking out quality products, you may end up paying a lot less than what Sienna Miller and other celebrities pay!

What are Hair Extensions?

applying hair extensions

You've seen Paris Hilton with short hair one day and long hair the next. With these pieces of hair it’s possible to have the hair you’ve always dreamed of. When you choose the right color and texture, that matches your own hair, and have them professionally applied, no one will know that it’s not your own hair. They can not only add length, but also volume, highlights or lowlights.

What type of hair should you choose?

When it comes to hair extensions, you certainly get what you pay for.

Poor: Synthetic hair: Looks good on 12” dolls, not on you. Besides looking fake, no curling irons or blow dryers can be used since these will melt.

OK: Asian hair: Very dark and straight. Looks best on those of Asian decent. If they have been permed or colored they will not last long. Only buy this if you can’t afford anything else

Better: Italian and Spanish hair: Good quality but usually grows very dark. Could be naturally straight or naturally wavy. This hair can be colored only once and these should last up to a year.

Best: Virgin European Hair: This is the best but very expensive. This is the hair any celebrity would choose. This hair is grown in Russia and Poland by families who have been growing their hair just for the purpose of it being cut and sold. These will last for years.

How are they applied?

They can be applied in several different ways and because of this, it is important to have a consultation with your hair extension specialist. The length and texture of your own hair should determine which application would be best for you.

Some of the ways they can be fixed to your own hair are as follows:

Individual strands: Individual strands of hair are pre-glued. These are fixed to your hair by use of a fusing tool. These can be removed with a special glue remover, and the tips are then cut off and re-glued.

Machine wefted or hand-tied: This method attaches the hair at the top and sews it together in different widths. Hand made extensions are known to be of better quality because of the ability to match your own hair color, or because they are able to blend in highlights or lowlights. They also enable you to decide the thickness of each weft. The best quality virgin human hair is never machine-wefted. Wefts are then attached to your own hair by sewing them to a track (which is made from a tiny braid of your own hair where they are not seen). The volume you wish to create determines how many tracks will be made. After these are sewn in, your own hair is blended over and only you and your specialist should know that you’ve had them applied.

Clip on or taped on: As the name implies, these are easy for the do-it-yourself gal. Taking only minutes to apply they can add volume, length or highlights. No commitment needed! But be cautious, because they are not professionally applied they also can fall out easily.

How do I care for them?

They are to be treated just the same as you would your own hair. The one exception is that you need to keep them moisturized. This is because they do not get the natural oils from your scalp. All your time and expense will be wasted if you do not treat them with kindness. Be sure to ask your hair extension specialist for her recommendation on which products will be best for your type and style of hair.

HOT NOW: Hair extensions can take you from drab to FAB in a matter of minutes. You too, can have the long, thick hair of a celebrity. Not quite ready for hair extensions, but want to occasionally wear long hair? Try Put on Pieces (POP) by Hair U Wear. These clip-on human hair products were featured on Oprah's Red Carpet Makeovers! Visit for more information. They are available at Jessica Simpson's line of hair extensions, that she created with celebrity hairstylist Ken Paves, will make their debut in October 2006. Find salons that carry them near you at Or visit to purchase. You can get 22" of synthetic hair for $95, or 21" of human hair for $500. Adir Abergel of recommends picking clip-ins that are close to your hair color and texture. You can also purchase pieces that are slightly lighter or darker than your hair color for highlights or lowlights. If you style your hair by straightening, waivng or curling it, do this to your hair extensions before you clip them in your hair. You should work with sections of your hair that are between 2" and 4" wide. Decide where you want the extensions to go. Part your hair horizontally so that there will be a section of hair that hangs over the clip-in extensions. Tease your hair at the roots, then hair spray, then clip in the extension. Teasing the hair (also known as back-comibing) is great because it gives the extensions more to hold onto. This technique was used to add clip-in hair extensions to Katherine McPhee's hair before her American Idol performances. Then she would take them out at night before she went to sleep. So commitment phobic, long hair-aspiring lasses can rejoice!

What can go wrong?

Well, since we always give you the pros and cons you should know that hair extensions can cause you some big problems. Jennifer Aniston has said that her's were a big mistake. She has said that they ruined her hair and it took a long time for the damaged hair to grow out. Besides damaging your hair, hair extensions and weaves can also cause what is called "traction alopecia" also known as "tension alopecia". This is a hair loss condition caused by continuous tension on the hair. It can also be caused by wearing tight ponytails or braids frequently. The tension or tightness causes the hair to be pulled out at the follicles and this can result in bald patches. This type of hair loss can be permanent if it's not caught early. If you notice this condition, you should take out the hair extensions or stop wearing the offending hair style immediately, and let the hair grow back in. You should also give yourself scalp massages in the area to help encourage growth. You may also want to check out our articles, "How to Make Thinning Hair Look Thicker", and "HairMax LaserComb", which are both in the Celebrity Hair section.

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