If you've ever wondered about hair extensions today is your lucky day! Katie and I are teaming up today to share all about our experiences with fake hair (well, it's real hair—just not OUR real hair). We realize hair extensions are not for everyone. I chose to get my first pair when I was growing my hair out five years ago. I had a great experience with them as they helped me bridge the gap while I was growing my hair. My hair grows very slowly. It's taken my seven years to get the length that I have now.The very first time I tried hair extensions I tried the glue on kind. My friend, Vanessa, did them for me at home. This was not a good experience. Showering with fake hair glued to my scalp kinda grossed me out. They did not stay adhered for very long. Within a week I pulled them out (ouch!) and began searching for other options.
Next, I tried clips (pictured above). My clip on extensions were a much better experience! Because they clip on and off I never had to shower with them or wear them to bed (SO. MUCH. BETTER.) My first pair lasted for a long time. Since I had shoulder length hair at that time I had my extensions layered to look more natural. During this phase my hair looked more natural in curls than straight. I wore it in low ponytails and pigtails often and I liked how they looked with hats.These photos are from last year. (ish?) In the first photo you can see how long my hair was without extensions. It was pretty long at this point but I still wanted a little extra length. This time I had my extensions dyed and cut by my stylist. I loved them, but some time last year I decided that my hair was already long enough, and I really didn't need them anymore.
Q + A Time:
How/where did you get your first pair of extensions?
Elsie: I bought my first extensions at Sally's. I bought %100 human hair in the closest match I could find to my current hair color (just never darker). I have always dyed my hair and my extensions to match. This, obviously, works best if you don't change your hair color often. I have sewn in my own clips in the past. It's easy and saves a little money. You can also buy them with the clips already attached.
Katie: Ebay. I feel kind of weird saying that I buy my hair off of Ebay, but if you know what you are looking for, it's a really affordable place to get hair extensions. I search for "human hair extensions" in a color that matches my natural hair color (dark blonde).
What kind of extensions do you use?
Elsie: I have only had good experiences with clip in extensions, so that's what I recommend. You can buy them from a lot of places, but I always recommend having your stylist dye and cut them with your hair to get the most natural look possible!
Katie: I also use clip-in extensions. My dear friend/hairstylist recommended the clip-in extensions, and I trust her so that's what I use.
How do you get the color to match?
Elsie: I always take my new extensions to my stylist and have them dye them along with my hair.
Katie: Buying extensions in my natural hair color and having my stylist color them helps ensure that the extensions are almost the perfect matching shade of red. I once tried buying a set that looked close to my red and when they arrived they were completely different and not at all wearable. Now I always use this process.
How do you care for your extensions?
Elsie: Extensions can get heat damage, just like natural hair. Because of this it's important to not overstyle them and to always use a heat protection spray. I wore mine curly and straight. I would usually curl or straighten them before putting them on. When they were straight I didn't have to style them every time I wore them. I would just quickly comb them before putting them on.
Katie: Because red changes drastically over the course of a month, I typically wash and condition them once a week so they stay close to my most current red. I use a special shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair and let them air dry.
Random tips and tricks:
Elsie: Unless your hair is platinum blonde or jet black you probably will need to dye your extensions. Color matching is nearly impossible when you are shopping online or at a local shop with limited choices. As your hair grows out you may need to replace your extensions of get them re-trimmed to look natural with your longer hair.
I highly recommend working with your stylist, even with clip on extensions. They will be able to give you advice and help make your extensions look more natural, which is always the goal. If you choose to do them at home I recommend using an all over hair color on both your natural hair and extensions and having them cut when they are clipped on with your hair.
Katie: If you are buying extensions (especially online), make sure you are getting "real" (human) hair. Synthetic extensions will melt if you try to curl or straighten them!Here is an example of how clip on extensions look before you put them on. The pieces in the middle can be wider, and the pieces on the sides should be about 1-2 inches across. This photo also represents how the extensions will look once they are clipped onto your head. You will clip them on the bottom of your scalp, under your hair.
Depending on how thick your hair is you may need more extensions. The thicker your natural hair is, the more fake hair you will need.
Here is an example of how to put them on:Make sure that the longer pieces are attached flush to your head, without too much of a gap. Try to attach them as low on your scalp as you can. This will help them to stay hidden and also to appear longer under your real hair. 🙂
Let us know if you have any other questions about extensions! There is some trial and error to DIYing your perfect pair, but we hope that this information gives you a good starting point if you are considering investing in a pair! xoxo. Elsie + Katie
I love your blog, you always post great content that makes people stop and think for a minute.
I do hair every single day and enjoy leaning about the industry by reading your posts.
Thanks for sharing this amazing article. Really worth reading.
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My sister wants her hair to look longer and more full for her wedding and thinks that hair extensions are a good idea. It is good to learn that one will most likely have to dye and cut hair extensions to get them to look as natural as possible. It is good to know that this works best if you do not change your hair color often. I will be sure to inform my sister.
All the ideas which are shared about use of hair extensions are very helpful. Know the type and styles for further ideas. I really appreciate the work done by you.
Ya backcombing a little helps a ton! I’ve tried all kinds of hair extensions and I like clip-ins cause you can take them out. But if you’re looking for permanent extensions, Great Lengths is the best I’ve ever used. The hair is natural and looks so good…and there’s a special brush that allows you to brush your hair all the way to the scalp, which is SO nice with extensions!
Thanks for sharing your tips I now have an idea on types, style and setting up of hair extensions. BTW love your hair extensions at the 2nd picture, you look wonderful :).
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I got my extensions done at Sensa Salon in Seattle and they were sweet enough to answer all of my questions before I took the plunge! I don’t know why, but having something attached to my hair like that made me a little nervous t first. I know you’re supposed to play them off like they’re your real hair, but I’ve pretty much been bragging about them all over 🙂 www.sensasalon.com
My daughter is just beginning to find her sense of style. This would be an awesome way to encourage her creativity and give her a new style after she finishes growing it to donate for the second time. Thanks for a cool giveaway!
I truly love your blog and admire you almost more than I can write in words. I read your share every day, and find you truly unique and special in a way I have never seen with anyone else. The things you make and do and just your way of spreading love is beautiful. You inspire me and fill me up with joy and happiness, and you give my mind and heart and soul some hope in my everyday-life! I think you are absolutely amazing. But, this post makes me both sad and disappointed. I understand that everyone has freedom to do as they please, and that I under no circumstances am in a position to judge people around me, which I do not do. But, I do not understand how the ugly truth of the hair extension industry is to be justified and applauded for in any way at all, or by anyone. This is a very selfish and unethical way of supporting an industry suppressing innocent and poor women, and taking advantage of their difficult situation..
It is good to know your random tips and tricks about hair extensions. It will definitely help me in my profession.
I just recently watched a few YouTube videos about hair extensions & very curious about them! I cut my hair above my shoulders last April & have kept it that short since then. I also miss my longer hair & thought it would be fun to have extensions to fill that void! I am worried about a line of where my hair is to how long I would like the extensions. I will have to talk to my stylist & visit Sally’s. Thanks for posting this! Jana
I have the straightest, thinnest hair ever. Do you think the clip on hair will still work with very thin hair? Or do you think that the clips will end up showing or creating a bump?
I’ve enjoyed reading your blog daily for the past few years but unfortunately I am disheartened by this post.
Along with a couple previous commenters, I too am very concerned about the controversy surrounding sales of human hair. From my understanding, much of the human hair extensions sold in the U.S. come from developing countries. In Russia and Vietnam, poor women are paid very small amounts to cut off their hair. The largest source of human hair is India, where women cut their hair as a sacrifice for prayer. There have even been reports of violence in some countries when women were attacked for their hair so it could be sold to international markets.
I hope you take this opportunity to educate readers. Maybe you could test out some different synthetic extension brands and recommend a more ethical alternative to human hair.
Clip on extensions should not pull your hair at all. I do recommend working with your stylist, though, they can cut/dye them for you and teach you to style and care for them! 🙂
This is a really great article, I’ve been wanting extensions for years, but I have really fine hair and I’m worried DIY clip-in extensions will pull out my hair. Should I go to a hairdresser and get it done there?
What brands do you use and how long were the extensions?
I have tried this before and my hair grows slowly. it takes me 5 years to have the length that i have now.
Q: I do have a question about these clip on ones – how often do you keep them in? Do you sleep & shower with them in?
A: The cool thing about clip ins is that you don’t have to wear them to bed or in the shower. This makes them last longer & stay in better shape. They are also easier to care for.
This article was great! I’ve always wondered about this, my hair is taking sooo long to grow out this time around.. I may have to get some extensions! I do have a question about these clip on ones – how often do you keep them in? Do you sleep & shower with them in?