Clip-In Hair Extensions: How To Prepare, Secure And Look Gorgeous Wearing Them

A step-by-step guide that I use on my very own head.
Publish date:
March 13, 2014
How-To, extensions, fake hair, clip-in extensions, hair extensions

There's nothing wrong with getting a little help once in a while, and if your hair is not quite where you want it to be, you can turn to extensions for that help. I am staunch individualist, and I express myself quite a bit through my hair, which is why I have no problem putting anything I feel like on my head to complete a look.

Generally speaking, extensions are a very accessible way to change your look. There are so many methods to apply them, but--real talk--most are best left to professionals. One method that is completely doable on your own however, is the clip-in technique.

Clip-in extensions are sections of hair, also known as wefts, attached to your own hair with a clip (or several). A weft is like a long, braided string with hair flowing from it. You can cut a weft of hair to any size to fit a number of application techniques, including glue-in and sew-in extensions. One cut piece of weft is usually known as a "track." The number of tracks required to create a desired effect varies greatly, but I'll shed some light on what it takes to make just two or three of them work for you in the right situation.

Wefted hair can be cheap or it can be exorbitantly expensive. If you are clipping it in, you should almost never--maybe once a month or every six weeks--wash it. Wefted hair is not attached to a follicle, and it has almost certainly been processed with chemicals, meaning it really cannot stand up to the same treatment as normal hair. Since the hair will not be washed as often as a "permanent" extension method that remains in the hair during washing/sleeping, you can select a lower quality of hair.

Hair is purchased by the pack, and this is usually enough for half a head of tracks in a sew-in situation; for a clip in set, though, you will usually only need half this amount. If you have the funds, "Remy" hair is a great option; its cuticle is intact and holds up better to styling and washing.

A good beauty supply shop will help you choose the right color. Buying online can be tricky for this reason, and I almost never do it, but if you have an easier to select color, such as jet black or medium brown, you should be fine.

You will also need a few more things that can be found anywhere that sells packs of wefted hair:

• Rattail comb

• Measuring tape

• Needle

• Weaving thread (this comes in three colors: blonde, brown, and black; choose the closest to your desired shade)

• Small thread scissors

• Weave clips (approx. two per track; same color guidelines as the thread)

• Hair

Once hair has been selected in the appropriate length and color, determine where you will be putting your tracks. Most can get away with two or three tracks if you are not going significantly longer than your actual hair. The longer the set, the more hair required to blend the difference between lengths.

The first place for a track is usually in the nape. Use a horizontal section just below the ears and clip up the rest of the hair.

Use the measuring tape to determine the length of the parting.

Cut double this measurement minus ½ to 1 inch to leave space near the edges of your hairline. In my case I will be using 10 inches of hair to make the first track.

Double over the hair and using a short length of thread, stitch the first clip right into the edge of the weft, securing both loose ends with the thread and looping through the holes of the clip.

Usually, just a few stitches will do, but you can secure the weft to the entire top of the clip if you so choose.

Tie a knot, trim the excess thread and repeat on the other side.

You can repeat this process two to three times with new measurements and new hair, once more in the upper nape, and one last time from ear to ear, which is the longest track.

If you have very thick hair, you can go as high as you want, but with thinner hair textures, it is advisable to not go above the parietal ridge, which is the bony area on the side of your head where it starts to slope in and downward. Unless you have the texture and curl to disguise the tracks completely, anything placed higher than that will potentially show when the wind blows--or pretty much anytime. Curly girls strike it rich here because their texture allows them to hide tracks anywhere they want to; curls naturally camouflage everything going on underneath.

To install the tracks into your hair, use the same horizontal sectioning technique, beginning in the nape.

Lightly backcomb the hair nearest the parting.

Open the clips of the track, "hook" them into the backcombed hair, and snap into place.

Repeat until all tracks are applied, and style!

Usually, styling with big fat waves will hide ANY amount of extensions, even uncut. Start looking closely because nearly EVERYONE in Hollywood does this. Curling hair away from the face is the best camo for a whole mess of fake hair. When in doubt, curl them out!