Hair Extension 101 - A Clip for All Occasions

If I ask you to imagine clip-in extensions, I have no doubt the image that comes to mind is one of an ill-fitting, ratty hair piece, hanging out the head of an orange-coloured WAG wannabe. Close?

Unfortunately, this DIY method of applying hair extensions leaves itself very open to ridicule as girls attempt to put them in with very little knowledge of how to do it correctly. And it’s not only the placement of the hair extensions that are key to making them look good;

Imagine the scene.

You’ve walked into your local hair shop the size of a small warehouse and you look around to see rows upon rows of hanging hair extension packets. Different brands, different lengths and different colours.

You ask the moody girl with shitty hair behind the counter if she can recommend some hair for your colour for clip-in extensions. She tells you in-between chomping on her gum that your colour will be difficult to match with all the 'different colours' in it but ‘this one’ should be the closest. Also you’ll need to buy some clips and go home to sew the clips on yourself. Good luck, next customer please.

Even flat-pack furniture comes with comprehensive instructions! I find the service in these places not unlike taking your vehicle into an unfamiliar car garage. You feel out of place walking in, they blind you with industry jargon and you hand over your money without the vaguest idea of what you’re paying for.

The need for customisation in this growing area of hair extension consumption is overwhelming. I for one treat every client for clip-ins with just as much vigour as I do for my weaving clients. There is no ‘one size fits all’ for hair extensions and that includes those worn for temporary use.

“Custom Made for all head sizes”

You may be familiar with the hair extension wefts commonly used for both weaving and clip-ins. A typical bundle of hair will come on a long, continuous weft that you’ll have to often double over and cut to size in order to achieve the layers needed for a set of clip-ins.

This can be real unfamiliar territory for most people, like being given a Rubik’s Cube to solve.  How long should each piece be? What covers a full head? How does it all fit together? A customised fit means a full head is measured to your head and cut accordingly, taking into account the thickness of your own hair and therefore how many pieces needed to ensure a natural integration.

“Colour-blended for exact tones”

Just like home box dyes, hair extension packets often come in one solid colour or a highlighted colour. But what happens if for example you have, a highlighted blonde T-section and a natural brown underneath? Or you are a dark brown with naturally lighter tones running through? Buying one bog standard colour can make even the better quality hair extensions look obvious if they aren’t a good match for all the tones in your hair.

By blending two, three, even four tones together in your customised set of clip-ins can fool even the most well-trained eye into thinking your locks are real. The attention to detail, however slight, will add a new layer of authenticity.

“The importance of hair extension styling”

As any stylist will tell you, it’s important to style your hair extensions before they are applied onto the head. The ideal styling technique is to curly blow dry them using a round brush and pin them until they are ready to all go in. The size of the round brush, as well as how long you leave them pinned, will create different final looks.

“Placement is key”

This can often be the most baffling step of the clip-in experience and the bit that requires a bit of practice. Just as the size of the pieces will differ from head to head, so will the placement of them.

However, there are some rules of thumb to remember for general clip-in application. This includes; never placing the pieces at the back of the head higher than the top of your ears to avoid the crown where they can be seen. Also ensure you have smaller pieces to build up the sides and place diagonally into the face to again, avoid the crown.

Putting in hair extensions for yourself at home can be a daunting task and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. They can often be a worthwhile investment for special occasions and parties but if you don’t have the know-how they’ll simply live at the back of the wardrobe with the jeans that don’t fit you anymore. And if you’re not confident on how to customise them yourself, don’t buy from someone who doesn’t know how to!