Different Types of Hair Extensions & Methods

In this article, we take a deep-dive into the different types of hair extensions such as Clip-in and Tape-in hair extensions, Micro-Link and Cold Fusion hair extensions, Pre-Bonded hair extensions using Hot-Fusion methods and Sew-In hair extensions.

We explain the pros and cons for each of the different types of hair extensions, so you can decide which method is best for you.

Wanting to change your hairstyle and can’t decide which type of hair extension is right for you?

If you are new to hair extensions, you can be easily confused about the many different hair extension methods available.

All semi-permanent hair extensions should be 100% Remy, human hair; you can heat, style, and wash the hair as you would your natural hair. The longevity of your extensions will depend on how often you wear them and the aftercare that you use. High-quality Remy human hair extensions should last between 3-12 months.

We have put together a guide on the different types of hair extension methods to choose from. You can identify which method is most suitable for your hair type and the aftercare that suits your lifestyle.

Clip-in Hair Extensions

What are they?

Clip-in hair extensions are a perfect temporary hair extension method, which can be easily applied and removed. They are the safest and quickest system to obtain longer, thicker hair without the commitment of permanent extensions.

Clip-in hair extensions are generally attached to a base weft with readily sewn clips. Clip-in’s require the least commitment compared to all other hair extension techniques. If you are looking to promote the healthy growth of your natural hair, clip-ins are the perfect method of extensions. 

Application and Aftercare

You are able to apply and remove clip-in’s yourself, at home. Depending on the number of wefts attached to your natural hair, clip-in hair extensions take less than 10 minutes to apply and require no heat, glue or chemicals.

If you are wearing clip-in hair extensions regularly, we would recommend using only 100% Remy human hair extensions. You will be able to heat and style human hair extensions as you would your natural hair; ensure you are using a heat protectant spray when curling, straightening or waving the extensions.

As they do not produce natural hair oils, clip-in's require very little maintenance and do not need to be washed regularly. See our top tips for maintaining your clip-in extensions here.

If you are using synthetic hairpieces, you cannot heat-style them as you would with human hair; these should only be worn on an occasional basis.

Tape-in Hair Extensions

What are they?

Tape-in hair extensions are a semi-permanent method of hair extensions. After clip-in’s, tapes are the quickest and easiest hair extension method to apply and remove. Unlike clip-in's you must have a trained, professional stylist to apply this method of temporary hair extension.

Tapes are typically around 1inch in width and are secured to the hair using adhesive glue. As tape-in extensions are applied to a vast amount of hair, they do not cause as much tension and breakage to the natural hair as other permanent extension methods. 

Tape-ins are the most popular semi-permanent method used by celebrities and top stylists; they are the quickest to apply and remove with the most natural and discrete finish. Stylists often use tape extensions as a method to thicken a short bob around the front of the hair, creating a blunt frame to the face.

Tape-ins are perfect for most hair types; once applied correctly, they are known to give the least long term damage to your natural hair

Application and Aftercare

Tapes take around an hour to be applied to the hair and a similar timing to be removed. This method of hair extension involves ‘sandwiching’ the natural hair between two tapes; then fastened to the hair using a low-heated tool or professional hairdressing pliers. Your natural hair will then be cut to blend into the extensions discreetly.

The removal of this method involves using a solvent spray to the root of the extensions which will melt the adhesive and enable the extensions to be safely removed. You are able to re-use your tape-in extensions, but the roots will have to be re-taped, and often the length will be shortened each time. You must have your tapes re-applied every 6-8 weeks to avoid matting or the glue becoming too difficult to remove.

Like most semi-permanent hair extension methods, you have to be particularly careful when washing and drying the hair. You must ensure you don’t use conditioner or any oil-based products at the root of the hair as this can cause your tapes to slip. We would also recommend avoiding heat styling the root of the hair and using a lower temperature when blowdrying your extensions to avoid melting the tape adhesive. 

Micro-Link/Cold Fusion Hair Extension Methods

What are they?

Often referred to as I-tips/Nano beads/Micro rings; each method requires the same aftercare and technique to fit the extensions to the natural hair.

Micro-link extensions are individual tips of hair extensions attached to tiny wefts of hair. Each individual tip is clamped to the hair using a micro-ring or nano-bead with a specialist hair plier. The tips are patterned in neat rows around the head and the beads are coloured to match your natural hair. This method of application will not use any heat or adhesive glue to bond the extension to the hair and can be a very safe and discrete method when applied correctly.

Nano beads are typically copper beads and more suitable for those who have thicker hair. They are around 90% smaller than micro rings and therefore the most concealed method of hair extension. Although they are larger, micro rings are a discrete method that can often be quicker to apply and remove. Whichever method you use, it is recommended to only use silicone-lined beads or rings, the silicone will prevent damage to the natural hair and avoid slipping.

If you often wear your hair tied up, individual tips would be recommended for you as your hair is able to move around more freely with individual bonds. 

Application and Aftercare

As the natural hair expands post-colouring, you must wait at least 48 hours after having your hair coloured to have individual micro links applied or you risk the extensions becoming loose. Depending on the number of tips used, they can take anywhere between 2-4 hours for application.

Similar to most semi-permeant hair extension methods, you can wash your micro-link extensions the same as your natural hair. However, you have to be particularly careful if you have individual extensions as you can pull the strands from the scalp whilst brushing, washing, or styling. It is advised to frequently brush your extensions throughout the day to avoid matting using a specialised extension brush; our recommended brush would be The Ultimate Finish Tangle Teezer. You must also sleep with your hair tied in a secure plait and it is recommended to use a silk or satin pillowcase to avoid friction and matting overnight.

Micro link extensions are considered a high-maintenance extension method. Beaded extensions require removal and reapplication every 6-10 weeks to avoid excessive matting from re-growth; anything over 12 weeks and you risk seriously damaging your natural hair. To remove the extensions, the bead is unclamped or broken using removal pliers and slid off the ends of the hair. You may notice a lot of hair fallout at this stage due to the natural shedding of your hair.

Pre-Bonded/ Hot-Fusion Hair Extension Methods

What are they?

Fusion bonds or keratin bond extensions are attached to your hair using a pre-adhesive extension tip; the tip is fused to small sections of hair using a heated clamp. Pre-bonded hair extension methods are often a better option for those with finer hair; they will not cause as much strain to the root of your natural hair as other permanent hair extension methods. If your hair is damaged from over-processing or heat styling, your hairdresser may advise against fusion bonds; hot-fusion will risk further damage to your natural hair and discourage healthy hair growth.

Application and Aftercare

Similar to the cold-fusion method, the application time for pre-bonded extensions can take between 2-4 hours for a full-head.

You will need to have your bonded extensions removed and re-positioned every 8-12 weeks, depending on your natural hair growth. To be removed, your stylist will crush the bond to break down the keratin, then apply a bond removal solution to remove the extension from the hair.

Bonded extensions are often more expensive to maintain. If you require the hair to be re-used after the initial application, your hairdresser will have to cut the existing tip from the hair and re-apply another adhesive tip to the extension which can be a costly process.

As this method involves glue, you must also have a patch test prior to your appointment to avoid a reaction or excessive scalp irritation.

Sew-In Hair Extension Methods

What are they?

Sewn-in hair extensions or ‘Weaves’ are typically applied using the L.A. Weave or Micro-ring method.

Weaves are a long weft of hair, similar to a clip-in extension, sewn to layers of your natural hair. The hair is either braided and sewn using a needle and thread or it involves a micro-ring method of application. 

This hair extension method is only suitable for those with thicker hair; weaves can often cause too much tension to hair that is fine or previously damaged. If you have thick or heavily textured hair, weaves are a great option for your extension choice. 

Application and Aftercare

Weaves take around 1-2 hours to apply, depending on the number of rows you require. A full head of weft hair extensions will generally require 3 rows. Depending on your natural hair growth, you will need to have your weave re-positioned every 8-10 weeks. You must have a trained professional stylist to remove your weave to avoid cutting or damaging your own hair. Without matting, it takes around 30 minutes to remove a weave from the hair. 

Post-application, a weave can feel the most uncomfortable hair extension method as it requires your natural hairs to be strained at the scalp; the pain and discomfort should subside within 24 hours and will soon feel like your natural hair.