Artificial hair integration, popularly known as hair extensions are an important hair trend of today’s fashion conscious generation.
As polluted air and contaminated water in our cities cause excessive hair fall and damage, more and more people, women and men are turning to treatments like hair extensions to add to their crowning glory.
What do hair extensions do?
Hair extensions add length and volume to your hair for a short or long period of time depending on what type of extensions you choose. They are ideal for people with thin hair that lacks volume and looks limp. Hair that has been treated very often needs time to recover so in the meantime using hair extensions can keep you looking like you have a head full of thick healthy hair. Hair extensions are reversible, so if you don’t like them they can be easily removed within a short time frame. Hair extensions, if attached near the scalp to the hair roots can camouflage bald areas of the scalp. If you have a lot of split ends, extensions can cover that up too!
Types of hair extensions
They are broadly classified into natural and artificial hair extensions. Natural extensions are made from natural human hair while synthetic hair is hand-made, cheaper and more easily available. However, it may be difficult to get the latter in a colour that matches your hair.
Pre-requisites for hair extensions
- Your hair must be at least four inches in length.
- You must be willing to invest a little more time to take care of your hair.
- You may need to touch up your hair extensions every couple of months, so a visit to your stylist or hair salon is a must.
- You may feel some discomfort for the first few daysbut it will go away once you get adjusted. Most people report no discomfort.
Methods of adding hair extensions
Clip-in - The most popular and temporary method is by using hair extensions which can be clipped on to your natural hair. These work well if you want to use them on an everyday basis, say to work or if you want to look your best for evening parties and dinners. However, you need to remove them before going to bed.
Micro rings - These are very small aluminium rings or loops lined with silicone to which the hair extensions are attached. They are invisible once attached to the natural hair close to the scalp and need to be re-aligned every two or three months.
Hair weaving – This lasts longer than the clip-in method as the hair is woven along with the natural hair. Hair weaving means the extensions are braided or sewn to the natural hair usingspecial thread. Types of hair weaving include tracking, netting and lace fronts.
Tracking - This is the most common method in which the person’s own hair is braided from one side of the head to the other. The hair extensions are then sewn onto the braids. This technique is inexpensive and can be done quickly.
Netting - In this technique, a net is attached to the scalpand the natural hair is passed through it. Then the extensions are sewn onto the net.
Lace fronts - This is a newer method in which nylon meshes are made and attached to the person’s scalp up to the hairline. Then the extensions are either glued or sewn on. As it is customised to an individual, the head measurements are taken to make the mesh to order.
Bonding - This is a semi-permanent method and lasts longer than the clip in method. Herethe hair is braided into the natural hair strands, then an adhesive glue is applied which attaches the extensions to the natural hair. The bond is of two types, soft and hard. Soft bond is made of latex or acrylic and gives better results. As it is flexible, it blends well creating a natural look. Hard bond is similar to super glue available in the marketand as the bond is rigid, the end result may not be as desired although it lasts longer as the glue is waterproof. A disadvantage of bonding is that it may cause traction alopecia which means hair loss due to the weight of the extensions pulling on the natural hair causing bald patches. Bonding is a temporary method of hair weaving.
Skin wefts - Invisible hair extensions are known as skin wefts. Wefts means a material which looks like skin with hair attached to it. As it is fixed to the scalp, it gives a natural look and lasts for about five to eight weeks before a touch-up is required. It is ideal for people who have had chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hair loss due to hereditary or medical reasons. It is more expensive compared to other means of hair fusion.
So, if you want to give yourself a head full of lovely hair, try hair extensions. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Photograph via sxc.hu
Written by Dr Nisreen Nakhoda, General Physician
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