Deciding to try hair extensions for the first time is a big commitment, not only are they expensive, but if things go wrong extensions can take a toll on your natural hair. I spoke to Extension Expert, Bradley King, to find out his five top tips if you're considering longer locks. From how to find the right salon, to taking care of your new hair, here's what you need to know before booking...
1. Consult the best expert
Hair extensions are expensive, it’s no secret, but if you’re going to invest in extensions it’s worth consulting with someone who know their stuff. If you're based in London, it's well worth checking out Bradley King, based in Harrod’s Urban Retreat (a super spa/hair salon/beauty boutique). Bradley takes into account everything from the length of your hair, texture, and shade, to bring you extensions that blend seamlessly with your own hair.
If you aren’t based in London be sure to do your research before booking in to a salon, check reviews on Google, Facebook and Treatwell before parting with any money.
2. Opt for the highest quality hair
Bradley advised me that one of the best brands for quality and ethicality, was Gold Fever. Having never heard of the them I took his word for it and I’m oh-so glad I did. Not only are the protein-infused bonds so small that they’re practically invisible, but the hair is insanely soft and easy to style. Gold Fever hair extensions vary in price depending on the natural hair texture and length and the desired length and thickness you are aiming for, but the prices start from around £250.[instagram]https://www.instagram.com/p/BRs2_migxe7/[/instagram]
Other great brands he recommends are Great Lengths and Beauty Works.
3. Work out the right application process
There are so many different ways to wear hair extensions and most of the time it depends on your hair type, length, and how long you'd like them to last. These are a few of the most popular according to Bradley:
There's the instant option - clip-ins, which brands like Beauty Works and Hershesons specialise in.
Then there are tape-in extensions which have a line of adhesive along the top of the strip of hair which is bonded to your roots. Tape-in extensions can last around 4-6 weeks and brands like Great Lengths specialise in them.
Micro-rings (or micro-bead), are when small clusters of hair extensions are clamped onto your strands with a tiny bead or metal ring near the roots, they last for around 3-months, depending on how fast your hair grows out. The pros of this method is that there's no glue or heat involved in the application process, but on the reverse, over time the ring can damage hair, especially if gets hot when blow-drying or styling.
Another method is a weave, which is perfect for thick, coarse hair types. Your natural hair is tightly braided and then the extension weft is sewn to the braid. It's best to check in with your stylist every 2 months to check if the braids are still in tact or need tightening up.
Finally, there are bonds (aka, keratin bonds, pre-bonded). These extensions have a bonding agent attached to top of hair extensions, this is usually keratin or protein infused - to help protect the natural hair it is applied to. The stylist uses a hot tool to fuse the bond to the root of your hair, et voila, you're good for 3-4 months.
4. Be smart about styling
I cannot stress this enough. Taking care of your hair extensions will ensure they stay soft and silky, slack off, and chances are they'll end up dry, frizzy and straw-like.
Start by taking a look at your haircare routine, unlike regular hair, extensions need even more moisture so opt for nourishing formulas like Alterna's Caviar Repair X Instant Recovery Shampoo and Conditioner. For an intense hit of hydration try Bleach London's Reincarnation Mask - the stuff is designed to bring mega-dry, bleached hair back to life, and it really works.
5. Look after your new locks
- It may sound obvious, but brush your hair from the bottom up, working out any tangles lower down to avoid tugging at the roots.
- Try to sleep with your hair in a single loose plait, it'll give hair a subtle wave whilst also protecting the strands from getting knotted throughout the night.
- A silk pillowcase is a wise investment for many reasons, but one of the main benefits is that it's way kinder on your hair than a standard cotton case.