Extension Types 101: 6 Ways To Add To Your Hair

Find out which type of extra length is right for you.

Ah, fake hair. The bane of my existence, the love of my life. I have tried so many types and ways of attaching additional hair to my head that I started a whole career around it. My hair has been through a journey over the past 10 years, but I wouldn’t change much. Today I bring to you a brief but detailed explanation of the many different methods by which hair can be added to your existing tresses.

Certain criteria must be addressed, such as damage factor, DIY factor, price, and whether it can be used on shorter (above chin length) hair. Explaining exactly how to do these methods will not do you too much justice if you don’t know which method to choose based on your needs or capabilities.

Choosing which hair to purchase can be the hardest part, and without seeing hair in person it can be next to impossible to decide what color will work for you. If you plan to be a DIY extension maven, I must highly suggest investing in a universal color ring, as this will give you an in-person matching reference. Sure, you won’t need 90% of the colors on the ring, but 30 or so dollars to be able to pick the right color every time you need it is a worthy cause.

With some of my fun sketches (I know how you’ve missed them) I will physically illustrate how these methods stay attached to your hair, so let’s go!

Glue-In Tracks

Wefted hair is glued onto parted hair for about a week using (usually) latex adhesive.

Length of wear: 7 days

Ease of removal: 5/10

DIY-able: 7/10

Appropriate lengths or thickness: For most lengths, thick hair not advisable

Price for a pro application: $50-ish

Other important info: Can use this method to add a pop of color anywhere on head, short hair can add a few accent pieces, not advisable for adding more than eight inches of length.

Sew-In Weft

Wefted hair is sewn onto reinforced cornrow braids. This can be done on two or three tracks to add length or on most of the head to create an entirely different effect.

Length of wear: 4 to 6 weeks

Ease of removal: 2/10

DIY-able: Depends how good you are at braiding tightly!

Appropriate lengths or thickness: This method is for everyone. Tracks and braids can be tailored to your texture and desired result.

Price for a pro application: $10 per track, whole head can vary

Other important info: Braids must be done tightly, but safely so as to not put extra stress on the hair follicles.

Tape-In Tracks

Wefted hair is split into two parts and sandwiched over a thin sliver of natural hair with super strong polyurethane tape.

Length of wear: 4 weeks

Ease of removal: 7/10

DIY-able: 4/10

Appropriate lengths or thickness: Can be used to add thickness, length, or color.

Price for a pro application: $100-ish depending on hair quality

Other important info: Can be a bit too heavy for finer textures

Micro Braids

Small braids close to the scalp of both natural and extension hair are braided for a few inches, then flow loose.

Length of wear: 6 to 8 weeks

Ease of removal: 7/10

DIY-able: 5/10 again, depends on your braiding skills

Appropriate lengths or thickness: Good for any length and thickness but best for going from very short to very long.

Price for a pro application: $150 to $300, varies

Other important info: Must be a skilled braider to get consistent sized braids and correct tension.

Fusion Method

Tiny bonds made of keratin glue are fused to small sections of natural hair.

Length of wear: 4 to 6 months

Ease of removal: 8/10

DIY-able: 9/10

Appropriate lengths or thickness: This method is also for all hair types, hair must be expertly matched to curl pattern. Can be used for length, thickness, or color.

Price for a pro application: $600 to $1200 and up

Other important info: Can be damaging without proper maintenance and removal. This is a pretty in-depth process that can take hours.

Clip-In Extensions

Wefted hair attached to clips is fastened into backcombed natural hair.

Length of wear: Indefinite, must take out at night

Ease of removal: 2/10

DIY-able: 2/10

Appropriate lengths or thickness: Shoulder-length is the best candidate

Price for a pro application: $100 to $200 depending on hair quality

Other important info: Most flexible method

I hope that sheds a bit of light on all of the different methods for gettin’ falsies! Have you tried any of these? Are you thinking of trying extensions for yourself?

Photos by Darnell Scott