A Complete Guide to Hair Extensions

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Hair extensions can open up a world of possibilities. They allow you to temporarily switch up your look whenever you're itching for a change. You can play with the length, add volume, or change up your color without using any dye. "The benefits of hair extensions are endless," says Raphael Roque, senior stylist at Rob Peetoom Williamsburg.

There are tons of different types of extensions out there, explains Pekela Riley, celebrity hairstylist and founder of the extension line True + Pure Texture. "Hair extensions are typically attached to natural hair using various methods, such as clips, gentle bonds, heat fusion, micro-links, or sewing," says Riley. "These extensions should blend with your natural hair, creating a seamless look."

Related: How to Wash Hair Extensions, According to a Stylist

To figure out which type of hair extension is best for you, we break down some of the most common options below.


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Fast Facts

  • Low commitment.

  • Must come out before bed.

  • Hair is reusable.

  • Not super easy to put in updos.

  • Manageable to install yourself.

"Clip-ins are great for anyone who wants to try out extensions but doesn’t want to be tied to committing to the maintenance," says Kevin Kelly, hairstylist and founder of Kevin Kelly Luxe extensions. You can't sleep in them, so to rock them for multiple days, you have to take them in and out. Riley adds that the hair itself can last for months or even years with proper care. She recommends regular gentle detangling and storing them properly in a satin drawstring bag when not in use.

Related: The 8 Best Clip-In Hair Extensions of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Clip-ins look best when a pro installs them, but they are possible to DIY. I recommend going to someone for the initial install so they can get them perfect and do any necessary trimming. Once you're done for the day, take them out from top to bottom, keeping note of what went where (ex: the top row includes two three-clip wefts). Use a hand mirror with your back to a big mirror so you can see the back of your head as you go.

Draw-String Ponytail

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Fast Facts

  • Low commitment.

  • Must come out before bed.

  • Hair is reusable.

  • Easy to install yourself.

"A drawstring ponytail is a hairpiece that is designed to be attached to your natural hair using a drawstring or a comb attachment," says Riley. "It creates the illusion of a long, full ponytail without requiring any additional styling or manipulation of your natural hair. The drawstring ponytail is lightweight and easy to use, making it a popular choice for those who want to quickly add length and volume to their hairstyle. It can be attached at different heights on the head, allowing for versatility in styling. The drawstring can be adjusted to secure the ponytail tightly and ensure a secure fit. Overall, it's a convenient and temporary option for achieving a glamorous ponytail look."


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Fast Facts

  • Adhered with glue.

  • Can be put into updos depending on how its installed.

  • You have to avoid putting heat over the tape-ins.

  • Hair is reusable.

  • Lasts five to eight weeks.

Tape-in extensions are attached to your hair using medical-grade glue. Although "tape" sounds pretty harmless, it's not something you want to attempt to install yourself. "Tape-in extension can we reused/retapped about every five to eight weeks," says Kelly.

If you have curly/kinky hair and want to wear your hair pin-straight, Roque explains that tape-ins aren't the best choice as you risk melting the glue if you go over it to try and silk press your roots. However, if you find a texture that matches yours and want to wear it naturally, they're perfect. (Hot tip: True & Pure texture has gorgeous options for type 4 girlies.)


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Fast Facts

  • Relatively quick install (two-ish hours).

  • Lasts for six to eight weeks.

  • You can reuse the hair.

  • Can be put into updos depending on how its installed.

  • Can be bulky.

For a sew-in, your hair is braided into cornrows and the extension wefts are sewn onto the braids using a curved needle. "This keeps the hair underneath protected," says Tatiana Ramos, hairstylist and national artist and educator for Pureology. "Typically, there is one area of the client's hair around their part that is left out for a seamless blend." This section is known as the leave-out.

Because the hair is attached over braids, it can seem tricky to care for your scalp, but Riley notes that it's super important to do. Be sure to regularly wash and condition your hair and really get in there to ensure the braids are getting clean.

Related: How to Properly Cleanse Your Scalp While You Have Extensions


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Fast Facts

  • Lie flat against the head.

  • Easy to put into different updos.

  • Hair is reusable.

  • Last four to six months with maintenance.

"I-tip extensions are individual strands with a small loop at the top. They are attached to natural hair using micro-links or beads," says Riley. "These extensions can last around four months with regular maintenance. Care tips include avoiding tugging on the extension beads and being mindful of excessive heat exposure when blending and styling."

Ramos adds that as your hair grows out, you should go into the salon for move-ups to get the extensions back up toward your root.


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Fast Facts

  • Bonded with heat.

  • Virtually invisible.

  • Easy to put into different up-dos.

  • Hair is not reusable.

  • Lasts three to six months with maintenance.

"K tip, or keratin-bond hair extensions, are bonded to the hair with keratin using heat," says Roque. "It's a versatile hairstyle, but it requires maintenance in between." For example, when Roque installs K-tips, he'll take half of them out after a few months and reinstall them. Beyond the in-salon maintenance, avoid excessive heat styling and use sulfate-free and paraben-free products to preserve the bond.

Kelly adds that they're great because the application method is super seamless. "They're very discrete, and you can do any hairstyle, such as a slick bun or pony," says Kelly. However, you must take into account that the hair isn't reusable. "The pro is you get new hair every time, but the con is you have to replace them every time," says Kelly, noting it can get expensive.


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Fast Facts

  • Sewn on to beads that are attached to the hair.

  • Super discrete and flat.

  • Easy to put into different up-dos.

  • Hair is reusable.

  • Lasts six to 12 months with maintenance.

"Hand-tied is a method of weft hair where each hair strand is hand-tied and knotted to the weft," says Ramos. Picture a sew-in without the braids. "Typically, the wefts are a lot thinner and lighter for the person to wear. For the install, the wefts are usually sewn onto small beads around the head."

Riley adds that "care tips include using gentle products, avoiding excessive heat, and regular maintenance to prevent matting."

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