Like many fashion components, when it comes to beautiful hair some women have it and some women don't. However, natural beauty is only skin deep and no one ever said that it cannot be altered. For women with thin hair that lacks body or length, or even those looking to update their style at lightning speed, hair extensions provide the perfect solution.

This hair extensions buying guide is designed to help women determine which hair extensions are right for them. After explaining the function of hair extensions in greater detail, the many options for getting hair extensions will be presented. Next, a detailed rundown of do-it-yourself (DIY) hair extension options, including braidsclip-ons, and feather extensions will be discussed to help cost-conscious buyers make the right choice. Finally, a guide to purchasing hair extensions will allow buyers the option to choose where and how they buy extensions and the supplies that go with them.

Defining Hair Extensions

Like a lot of fashion accessories, hair extensions are one of those items that most women understand in principle, if not in detail. They know that hair extensions help lengthen hair and give it body. They may even be aware that most Hollywood stars and other famous people routinely use hair extensions for acting roles and award shows. However, the fact that hair extensions are not a one-size-fits-all option is a bit unfamiliar. Yes, professional, permanent hair extensions may be too expensive for the average consumer. However, there are several other options and application methods for hair extensions that are accessible to everyone.

Understanding the different types and application methods for hair extensions is an important first step. This includes the difference between human hair extensions and synthetic hair extensions as well as how to achieve temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent hair extensions.

Types of Hair Extensions

When it comes to traditional hair extensions there are really only two choices available for purchase: human hair extensions or synthetic hair extensions. Each of these choices has its own pros and cons that buyers must consider before moving on in their purchase.

Human Hair Extensions

One reason that women like human hair extensions is because they are of an extremely high quality and tend to last the longest time. However, they also tend to be difficult to acquire outside of a hair salon or professional hair supplier. One of the many benefits of human hair extensions is that they can be washed and conditioned, dried and colored as if they were the wearer's own hair. Human hair provides a great deal of freedom when styling as well. This is because heat styling can reach temperatures up to 430 degrees F (about 221 degrees C) without damaging the hair extensions. As a result, styles are achieved more quickly and last longer. The hair also has more shine.

Synthetic Hair Extensions

By contrast, synthetic hair extensions are made up of synthetic fibers rather than actual hair. These hair extensions are more widely available for private purchase. When it comes to synthetic hair, quality can widely vary. The two most common types of material used are Toyokalon and Kanekalon fibers. The Kanekalon fiber is more heat resistant than Toyokalon, and it can be styled using straighteners and curling irons that reach a maximum temperature of 230 degrees F (110 degrees C). Toyokalon is less heat-resistant, but is known to tangle less and last longer.

Hair Extension Application

Depending on the type of extension a woman chooses, there are several different methods of application she may want to use. Each of these application methods, again, has pros and cons and can create results that last for as little as one day or as long as one year.

Clip-On Extensions

Women who are new to the hair extension world and who may be simply looking for a little variety in their lives will benefit most from clip - on hair extensions. These extensions are completely do-it-yourself and may involve a hair clip, beads, or even a ponytail holder to secure. The extension will need to be removed at the end of the day, but can be reapplied again and again for the same effect.

Micro Tube Extensions

For a longer-lasting look, using keratin tubing or rings to attach hair extensions may be a better option. The damage to one's actual hair is relatively minimal with this method since the synthetic pieces are simply clamped onto existing hair without the use of adhesives or other solvents. This process is generally difficult to complete on one's own, though the services of a professional stylist are not always necessary as long as the person attaching the extensions has some experience with the techniques.

Hair extension kits and tubing are sold by specialized retailers for this purpose. Micro tube extensions will generally last for more than one day, but are considered only semi-permanent. Depending on the skill of the person applying them, these extensions can weigh hair down and often loosen after a few washes. Also, women with fine hair cannot generally use tube extensions because the tubes cannot properly hold onto the hair and will loosen too quickly.

Bonding, Fusing, and Weaving

There are three main ways to produce a relatively permanent hair extension: bonding, fusing, and weaving. However, all of these methods are best left to the professionals since they involve advanced techniques and the use of adhesives and solvents which are dangerous if handled incorrectly.

DIY Hair Extensions

Outside of the permanent hair extensions available in salons, there are many options that buyers can purchase and use at home. This includes a variety of clip-on hair extensions as well as parts and kits for tube extensions that can be done by a friend or family member. Which option a buyer chooses will depend on the goals she has for wearing hair extensions.

Clip-On Options

The largest variety of choices for at-home hair extensions can be had by choosing one (or several) clip on pieces that can be worn and changed on a daily basis. The choices buyers have for clip-on extensions range from simple length extenders to more chic options like highlights, colors, and feather extensions.

Basic Clip-On Hair

A basic clip - on hair extension is used to add both length and body to the hair. Generally sold in long sheets and meant to wrap around the entire back of the head, these extensions use different methods of adhesion. The most basic extensions will use toothed comb clips. Others may use what is known as a skin or hair weft which is a type of tape graded for the scalp or hair.

Ponytail Clip-On

A simpler way to add some oomph and volume to hair is through ponytail clip - ons. Generally attached using an alligator clip, headband onto the top of the head, or an already-created ponytail these extensions can add curls or a special style to the hair with minimal need to actually style it.

Highlights, Lowlights, and Colored Extensions

While most people who use basic extensions or ponytail extensions choose to stick with a color that is close to their natural hair, others like to use hair extensions as a temporary way to add highlights, lowlights, and color to their hairdo. A less expensive and longer-lasting alternative to salon-style colorings, using different colored extensions can add pep for a party or funk for a concert.

Feather Extensions

A final option that has become popular is the feather extension. Though the tradition of wearing feathers in one's hair is as old as recorded history, the look gained prominence once sported by well-known young stars like Lady GaGa and Selena Gomez.

Authentic feather extensions are made from the feathers of actual roosters and then dyed every color of the rainbow. Feather extensions can be applied by clip-on, through the tube extension method, or through permanent bonding which allows them to be styled with the rest of the hair. For animal lovers, there are also alternative options to feather extensions that provide the same look but are made of human hair or synthetic materials.

Tube Extension Options

For women interested in the semi-permanent benefits of tube extensions, the choices are pretty simple: one must just choose a hair color and get to applying it. Depending on the skill of the person applying the tube extensions, several different shades of color can be added for a highlight or lowlight effect. Feather extensions can also be added using tubes, as can more dramatic colors like fuchsia or turquoise. Those new to DIY tube extensions can get hair extension kits as well as extra supplies like tubing to go along with the hair extensions purchased.

Buying Hair Extensions

When it comes time to buy hair extensions the options available are pretty diverse, although they vary according to the type of hair extension that a woman wants. In general, clip-on hair extensions are the most readily available since they almost never require the services of a professional. Clip-on hair extensions are found in places as diverse as drug stores and department stores as well as boutique accessory shops, wig shops, and at salons.

Salon-Grade Hair Extensions

As mentioned above, any sort of permanent hair extension should be applied by a professional, licensed cosmetologist. However, there are ways to purchase the supplies needed for fusing, bonding, and weaving ahead of time as long as your particular stylist is okay with that.

Though getting a full head of salon-grade hair extensions is quite expensive, smaller items like feather extensions can be much more affordable, and permanent, if done through a salon. The best way to save money if you are looking for permanent hair extensions is to talk the process and price over with your stylist before going through with it.

Buying Hair Extensions on

For all other hair extension needs, the Wigs, Extensions & Supplies section of the is a great place to start. With thousands of items in the hair extension category alone, women have many choices among colors, styles, and application methods for their temporary and semi-permanent hair extensions. They may even be able to purchase supplies like glue for permanent hair extensions to save money at the salon.


Women come in all shapes and sizes and with differing types and styles of hair. Though it is beyond anyone's control to alter that which nature has given them, the use of fashion accessories like hair extensions allows them to at least pretend. The vast variety and types of hair extensions on the market today allows women an unprecedented level of choice. Whether women are looking for a temporary punch for a special occasion, the ability to change looks frequently, or just the peace of mind that comes from a fuller, thicker head of hair, hair extensions can help.

The discussion in this guide of the different types of hair extensions available today and the different effects that they create can help women make a purchasing decision. In addition, looking at the options regarding where one can get hair extensions, including the salon, will help cement their choice. Hair extensions are a great option for many people. They don't have to be permanent, and they don't have to be expensive, which makes them truly worth a try.

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