Everything You Need to Know About Hair Extensions

Bobs and pixie cuts may have their moment, but full, flowing locks never go out of style. While red carpet superstars and Victoria’s Secret Angels make it seem easy and effortless, many of these ladies’ perfect manes are not just a result of great genes – most get a little (or a lot of) help from hair extensions.

"Everyone wants the gorgeous 'celebrity hair' they see on TV, and that’s exactly what extensions provide," says Bianca Arussi, Co-Owner of J'Adore Salon in Beverly Hills and Certified Great Lengths Extension Expert. "When they're done right, they blend seamlessly into your natural hair and look beautiful and believable."  

Below, find Arussi's tips on all things hair extensions so that you can tackle any question a client throws your way!

What makes hair extensions so popular among celebrities?

Celebrities love extensions because they always want to look their best, while having the flexibility to change up their style. Extensions can be used for fullness, for length, or both. For example, those with shorter hairstyles can use extensions to get a fuller, nicer-looking bob. Those who want long hair without waiting months or years for their natural hair to grow out opt for extensions to get beautiful, sexy long hair in just one day.

What are some tell-tale signs of a bad extensions job, and how to avoid them?

First, color-matching is extremely important. If the extension hair doesn't match the color of your client's natural hair, it's a dead giveaway that it's fake. Second is the cut. If extensions are not cut properly to blend in with your client's layers, it won't look natural. If I have a client come in for extensions, I always do the haircut AFTER the extensions. Third is the quality of the hair. Normally, if the extension hair is too shiny, then it most likely has synthetic hair mixed in with natural. This can look fake against natural hair, because natural hair has a completely different shine to it. Also, synthetic hair is harder to manage and tangles more easily. Fourth, a lot of stylists out there place the extensions too close to the root of the hair, causing tension which results in hair loss in round patches in each spot where the extension was placed. And lastly, some stylists place the extensions too high on the top of the head, or too close to the face, where they can be easily seen. A good extension job should never be visually detectable!!

How can we assure that clients will receive nothing but the best extensions?

If you aren't already, think about becoming a certified extension expert. It's also helpful to spread the word by encouraging pleased clients to write reviews on popular sites like Yelp or Facebook. Clients typically do their research or go to someone who's been directly referred by a friend, family member or co-worker, so make sure to get your name out there!

How often should we advise clients to wash their hair with extensions in?  Why?

Extensions hair is just like natural hair, in that it should be washed in the same way. It's never good for anyone to wash their hair every day –  I recommend every three to four days. Clients can rely on dry shampoo in between washes.

What products should clients use to prolong the life and look of extensions?

I recommend getting a treatment every month to give hair moisture and keep it healthy. Moroccan Oil is also good – it helps detangle. It's always good to apply product before brushing to avoid pulling, and use a special extensions brush. Recommend a good quality brush to your client, and demonstrate proper brushing techniques.

What about styling? Any do's and don'ts when it comes to heat?

Blow drying extensions is totally different than blow drying natural hair. You want to be careful to avoid pulling with the brush. First, apply your favorite product and dry through all the extensions with your hands. After it's dry, you can proceed to style with the brush and blow dryer (or curling iron or flat iron) as you prefer. Remember, if your client has really curly hair you can leave the top part of the head with 70% moisture because there's no extensions there, and you can pull that area as much as you want while drying or styling.

How often should clients replace extensions? Why?

Time varies with each individual person. Some people can go 3 months, some 4 months and some 5 months, depending on how fast their hair grows. Extensions should never grow out enough that they start tangling at the root.

Any additional tips and tricks?

Advise your client to never leave her hair wet. She should always dry her locks completely because keratin expands just like hair expands when it's wet, and this can cause her to loose pieces over time. Furthermore, your client should use an extension brush and no combs! A good trick your client can easily do herself is to braid her hair at night. This keeps it nice for the next day and she'll wake up with beautiful beach waves!

[Image: Thinkstock]

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