Have you always dreamt of having Disney-princess hair? Fancy adding some length to your short locks? Or do you feel like your hair needs to look thicker? Perhaps you need a bit of extra help with hair extensions - they can make the world of difference. Now, in the past, hair extensions have had a bad rep - we're talking visible bonds, matted, and fake-looking My Little Pony-style hair. And don't get us started on the horror stories of people left with serious damage to their scalp after they were taken out - ouch.
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Nowadays though, there are so many excellent and realistic types on the market that can help you get the look of really healthy hair - instantly. We tracked down Sarah McKenna from London's leading extension salon, Vixen & Blush, to get the low down on exactly what's on offer…
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Who are extensions for?
"Anyone that is looking to enhance their hair," said Sarah. "It can be as subtle as just adding a small amount of volume just for thickness and to fill out. Or someone who is looking to have a big change, who might want to add lots of length and volume".
Is there anyone who shouldn't get extensions?
"Usually there is always a method to suit all hair types. That’s why we always recommend a consultation before your appointment to assess your hair and guide you in the right direction. For clients that are suffering from hair loss, we would recommend waiting until the hair is stable before getting them".
YouTuber Zoe Sugg had her hair lengthened with The London Hair Lab
What types of extensions are available?
"There are many types of hair extensions out there and the product has come on hugely in design over the last five years. Permanent extensions traditionally come in the form of a weave which can be bonded by glue (not something we'd ever advise as this can cause balding if not taken care of properly) or braided in. However, nowadays there are many more options to choose from.
"We offer two types of permanent individual extensions. Micro rings and micro bonds that last for up-to three months. A semi-permanent method using invisible tapes that lasts between six to eight weeks. And a temporary method, the completely seamless clip-ins. You have to take these out each evening and we recommend wearing them on average three to four times a week."
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How do you know which extensions to select?
The best extension for your hair can only really be selected after a consultation, so wherever you go - pop into the salon before hand to speak to a stylist who can guide you on the best and most suitable method for your hair.
Should you always wear human hair?
"Human hair will always look and feel the best and it will last longer. It will also act like your own hair and be a lot easier to wash, style and maintain", says Sarah. Another reason for opting for it is that you can use heat styling tools on it which you can't with man-made.
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What's the best way to get extensions if you're on a budget?
Many companies offer payment plans so you can part-pay over a number of months.
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Do extensions need to be dyed to your hair colour?
"I would not recommend dying your hair extensions. Instead the salon should colour blend your hair extensions to match your hair. This is the best way to ensure a perfect colour match and the best quality of your hair extensions", says Sarah.
Ariana Grande has worn extensions for years to achieve her thick, long locks
Can you have extensions with a balayage?
Yes, many salons can tailor your extensions to create a balayage look.
Do extensions cause hair damage?
The good news is, extensions do not damage your hair if you follow the maintenance advice and wear them for the correct length of time specified. You just need to be stringent about not keeping them in too long.
Do extensions make your hair fall out if it's thin?
"No! As long as you have a consultation before hand and decide on the right method and amount for your hair you shouldn't have any problems," reassures Sarah. "We offer a range of method for this reason and would recommend a smaller amount like a half head to add less weight".
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How much do hair extensions cost?
Prices vary on the method, amount and length you decide to have but they can typically start from around £185 to £700 in high-end salons.
How should you care for extensions?
"The top three things I recommend are to use a volume or clarify shampoo", says Sarah. "Wear hair in a mid to low ponytail not to wear any high buns or ponytails as over direction isn’t safe for your own hair. And always rough dry your hair with your hands to around 80% before styling with a brush."
Do extensions work in all hair types?
"Different methods work better for different hair types. For example, if someone has very curly hair, the micro ring method is great as they sit very flat to the head and heat can be applied very close to the root. Your stylist should talk you through which is best for you."
Billie Faiers has had her hair thickened with extensions in the past
How do you take extensions out?
The method you have will determine how they are removed but you should always get them removed by a specialist so that you don't damage the roots.
How do you care for your hair after you've had extensions out?
"Just like you did before! Nothing will change", says Sarah. "If you have worn your extensions for a couple of months you may want to have a trim of your ends as you would normally, however".
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Is it fine to have extensions removed and put straight back in or should you give your hair a break?
"If you look after them there is no need to have a break", says Sarah. "We have had clients coming to us for seven years now that have never had a break and they all say how much better their hair is."
What are the best products to care for hair with extensions?
It's important to stay clear of harsh chemicals and opt for products that will nourish and protect your hair, both real and synthetic. Use a moisturising mask with a gentle formula at least once a week to keep your tresses looking their best. We love the Easilocks product range, which is specifically designed to help prevent breakage in hair with extensions.
Easilocks Macadamia Masque, £17.99, LookFantastic
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