One of the main topics of conversation here at Hair on the Brain, is celebrities and their extensions. Everyone from Katie Holmes to Nicole Richie to Lindsay Lohan to Ashlee Simpson has been weave-checked here at HOTB. But being an extension newbie myself, I had a zillion questions about the process.
Jordana Lorraine was sweet enough to let me pick her brain about Brazilian Blowouts, and now she’s back to answer all my questions about extensions. Jordana works at Lorraine Colour Bar in Santa Monica and is an expert on extensions, Brazilian Blowouts and other straightening treatments. Check out our interview and find out how to get good extensions ala Katie Holmes, not scary bad ones (looking at you, Britney.) And don’t forget to take a peak at the photos of Jordana’s extension work at the end!
Hair on the Brain: There seem to be so many different types of extensions. Can you give us an overview of the most popular types?
Jordana Lorraine : The most popular extensions are 1.) Individual bonds, which are keratin and nylons tabs melted onto the hair using a hot iron. Some top brand names are Hairdreams and Great Lengths. 2.) Microtubes, which are tiny metal tubes that clamp the extension onto the hair. A top brand name is Hairlocs. 3.) My personal favorite is the newest technology, a heat-free keratin bonding method. It provides even flatter bonds than microtubes, without the risks of introducing metal or heat to attach the extensions. It’s stronger and longer-lasting. The bond is made of a similar material to the traditional bond, but it is harder and stronger, and is applied using ultra-sonic vibration, like the one used in dental technology. [Examples A, B and C below used heat-free keratin bonding.]
HOTB: How do you match extensions to your natural hair color and texture?
Jordana: I always custom order hair for each client. During the consultation, we discuss her needs while I analyze her hair. I get hair from multiple sources, and keep color swatches in the salon for matching. One of the reasons self-chosen hair rarely looks real is that most hair (even if not colored) does contain different tones, so it is important to use multiple colors on each client.
HOTB: How long does your hair need to be to get extensions?
Jordana: For the types of extensions I do, it is recommended that the shortest layer from the crown reach the middle of the neck. Bangs are OK, but too many short layers around the face can be prohibitive. There are options, but it depends on the investment and maintenance you are willing to put in. The best thing to do is schedule a consultation, which is usually free.
Jordana cont.: There is a special piece that can be used if very short hair needs to made long, to avoid the Britney Spears look a la 2007 VMAs. It’s essentially a partial wig, containing a “part” with long hair, so it covers the awkward top region. However, it is high-maintenance, if used full-time, and more likely to be visible when extending very short hair. So it may be better to choose a full set of clip-ins. If it is important enough to you, though, short to long can be done! [Check out Examples G and H below.]
More of my interview with Jordanna Lorraine and lots of great before & after pics, after the jump.
HOTB: How are extensions applied?
Jordana: There are so many ways! Individual extensions can be keratin-bonded with or without heat, microtubes are plastic tubes connected to extension hair that shrink around your real hair when heated. Some are just tied in with thread. Wefts can be clipped, taped, glued, sewn (woven), or “hung” in. It is not uncommon to use multiple types on one client. [The client in Example D below has both microtubes and heat-free keratin bonds.]. The right type(s) for your hair and lifestyle should be determined by your stylist.
HOTB: In terms of the health of your hair, what’s the best type of extensions?
Jordana: It does depend somewhat on your hair type. In most cases, the heat-free keratin bonds are best for your hair because they don’t require an iron to apply, nor do they cause breakage as microtubes can. They are also heat-resistant, in other words they won’t melt or get gummy from blow-drying or regular styling.
HOTB: How long does the procedure take?
Jordana: Depending on the technique and amount of hair being added, most take anywhere from two to four hours. Some techniques, such as braiding and weaving, can take far longer.
HOTB: How much does it cost?
Jordana: Synthetic clip-ins, which are good for one to five uses, can cost as little as $75, but they don’t look or feel like real hair. A good set of custom clip-ins (high-grade human hair, professionally colored or color-matched, and cut to blend with your haircut) are good for 20+ uses and usually cost $400 – $650. Hanging or sewn-in wefts can be $400 – $750. Individual bonded or taped-in wefts (for thickness) usually cost $600 – $800. Individual bonded or taped-in wefts (for length and thickness) usually cost $1,000 – $1,600, depending on the type, amount and length of hair.
HOTB: If it’s your first time getting extensions, is there anything you should know to do beforehand?
Jordana: Ask to see hair samples and photos of the stylist’s work. This is a big investment and you should really love it!
CARING FOR EXTENSIONS
HOTB: When caring for your extensions, what type of products should you use with your extensions? Can they be curled, flat ironed or dyed?
Jordana: It is important to use a shampoo that is not oily or creamy, and to keep conditioners and shine-enhancing products off of the attachment point because they can cause extensions to slip down the hair shaft, and eventually to fall out too soon. Natural hair extensions can be blow-dried, curled and ironed just as you would your own. Although, some attachments points are heat-sensitive, so you should ask your stylist. Extensions can be toned within one shade darker, or highlighted if done carefully. It is better to settle on a color you like, and then get extensions to match.
HOTB: How should you brush your extensions? Is there a special brush you should use?
Jordana: Hairdreams makes my favorite extension brush. But a natural-bristle brush will work similarly if you cannot find a salon that carries them. The root areas of individual extensions should be brushed daily, to prevent tangling around the attachment point. The extensions themselves can be brush and blow-dried as usual, with any type of brush. I find a paddle brush and/or metal-barrel round brush to be most effective. However, the roots area should only be brushed with the special extension (or natural bristle) brush, and never combed. If you have classic keratin bonds, you should use extreme caution with heat-styling around the bonds, as they can melt or get sticky. An additional measure of protection would be to pull individual extensions apart at least twice a week; just sift through them, almost as if you were counting them, and pull apart any that are clumping together. The matting at the roots is what can cause pain and damage when they are removed. Your stylist should also provide maintenance to the attachment points a few times in-between services.
HOTB: Can you swim in the ocean or pool with extensions?
Jordana: Absolutely! But it is important to pull hair back into a braid (think Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider), to prevent extensions from tangling.
HOTB: Will the extensions damage your hair? And does your hair keep growing while you have extensions?
Jordana: If applied properly and well cared for, extensions are safe for most hair types. If your hair is fine or weak, special precautions should be taken, so discuss your concerns with your stylist.
HOTB: Will people be able to tell you have extensions?
Jordana: Good extensions are not visible when hair is worn down. Ponytails can be tricky, depending on the type of extensions, so if you wear your hair up a lot, be sure to mention that in your consultation. Pigtails and half-up styles are the riskiest, and must be styled carefully to avoid exposing the attachment points. The heat-free bonds and taped-in wefts are flat so they cannot be felt if you’re running your hand over your hair, but any other type will be felt if hands are run through the hair.
HOTB: How long can you keep your extensions in? And how do you remove them?
Jordana: Some techniques will last three to six months, while other need to be “tightened” periodically. Some hair can be re-used, while other kinds are single-use. Your needs and maintenance should be discussed before deciding on an extension method.
HOTB: Can you keep getting extensions, or do you need to give your hair a break?
Jordana: It is a good idea to give your hair a breathing period and conditioning treatment in between extension services. It doesn’t need to be every time, but fine hair especially should be given a rest now and then.
HOTB: Anything else you would like to add about extensions?
Jordana: While they are super-glamorous and gorgeous, extensions are high-maintenance. They must be brushed, cared for and replaced regularly to protect your natural hair. Also, blow-drying will take longer because you will have a lot more hair than you’re used to. If you’re up for the commitment, extensions can give you the volume, thickness and length you’ve always wished for!
Example A, client before heat-free keratin extensions.
Example B, client after heat-free keratin extensions.
Example C, another example of hair with heat-free keratin extensions, the newest technology in hair extensions.
Example D, it is not uncommon to use multiple types of extensions on one client. This client received both microtubes and heat-free keratin bond extensions.
Example E, Jordana with clip-in extensions.
Example F, an example of less detectable extension, a client with classic keratin bonds.
Example G, client with short hair, before extensions.
Example H, client went from short to super long!