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LOUISE MOON, hairstylist and extension specialist at Sally Herschberger Salon, LA

Hair extensions are a serious option for getting longer, thicker hair with very natural-looking results. Extensions were used by the Egyptians as early as 3400 B.C.
Wigs and extensions were made of human hair or even sheep’s wool. During the mid-eighteenth century, hairstyles were massive, requiring added-on human hair.

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Wigs, hairpieces, and extensions made a comeback again in the twentieth century thanks to the silent movie queen Mary “America’s Sweetheart” Pickford, who made long ringlets very fashionable for young ladies in the 1920s. Hairpieces and extensions were used through every decade, but 1960s hairstyles really boosted extensions into fashion: big hairpieces and extensions were placed under and on top of the hair to get fuller, thicker, and more massive hairstyles. Remember Jane Fonda in Barbarella and the hairpieces and extensions she wore! In the 1980s, Antenna
Salon in London created the new extension culture for pop stars such as Bananarama, Boy George, and Marilyn. And the rest of the world followed: Cyndi Lauper and Madonna.

The types of attachments vary, depending on your budget, hair quality, the reason for adding hair, and comfort. There are different textures, colors, densities, qualities, and attachments. There are individual bonds, which can be applied anywhere on the head to add volume, length, or color. They are very comfortable and can be moved easily to put the hair up or back. The attachment can be the size of half a baby’s fingernail, or even finer. There are pre-tipped bond attachments and plastic and metal bead attachments for braiding your own hair into the extension hair. Another option is a weft. This is a long roll of hair, cut to whatever width you need.

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This is a less costly option that can add a lot of hair very quickly. There are wefts that you sew into your braided “track” hair. There are also wefts that you can clip into your hair to wear for the day and wefts that you use a special tape to attach the hair, which lasts a while.

Are there any reasons extensions can’t be used? If you are losing hair for whatever reason, adding extensions will only aggravate the loss.
If your hair is very fine, it may not have the strength to hold the weight of the attached hair or will not be able to conceal the attachment. Brittle hair is a problem as well.

What is the minimum length for hair to take extensions?
You need at least 3½ to 4 inches of hair to conceal the attachment.

How long do extensions last, and how often should I see a stylist to treat my roots?
It depends on what type of extensions you have and how fast your hair grows. Do not go longer than the stylist tells you, to avoid breakage of your own hair. Wefts can last anywhere from one to two months maximum. Individual pre tips can last three to five months, depending on how thick the bond is.

Can extensions be dyed or highlighted?
Yes, but you really need to be aware of the quality of the hair and how well it will respond to the color.

How about using a curling iron or blow-drying?
You can; just be careful not to put heat on the attachment base if it is a bond attachment, and also pay attention to how much tension you are putting on the hair while blow-drying.

How about sleeping with extensions; don’t they get messy?
Well, it can be a “nightmare” if you go to bed with wet hair! Never do that. Long hair can be more of a problem than short. I suggest a scrunchie to pull your dry hair into a low ponytail, or you can plait your hair into two braids. Also, a satin responds to the color.

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