Why Heat Fusion is ‘The Best’ Hair Extensions Application Method
Most modern, fashionable women have experimented with hair extensions. If you’re a stylist or a cosmetology professional, I’m sure most of your clients at one time or another have probably asked your opinion about which type of application method or style is the best. After all, choosing a hair extension method can be overwhelming. There are so many different options available on the market: tape-in, glue-in, clip-on, heat fusion, weave – and different types of each style. How do you know which to choose?
There are several factors that go into deciding which method is ‘best’ (hair type, purpose, lifestyle, budget). But I think it is safe to say that the quickest, most versatile style are clip-ins and the best, most professional style is heat fusion. Here is a quick look at the main hair extension application methods and some of their advantages and disadvantages.
CLIP-IN or TEMPORARY Hair Extensions
Clip-ins are temporary hair extensions that attach using small pressure sensitive clips. They are a great option for those who do not want to commit to wearing extensions every day. They are perfect for someone who wants the instant gratification of a unique hairdo for special occasions.
Clip-ins come in many different sizes and take a very short time to place around the head, underneath the wearer’s natural hair. They can add length and volume in just about every texture, color, and price range. Halos are another temporary alternative to clip-ins which are good for anyone with hair that cannot handle the stress of the clips. Halos have an undetectable wire connected to the weft of the hair.
Most suitable for special occasions or events when extensions can be removed before bedtime. Temporary hair extensions have great versatility because you just wear them whenever you want and take them out when you don’t. Non-commitment means you can change your hair color or style often. Plus, they can be attached and removed by the wearer without having to go to a professional cosmetologist.
The downside to clip-in hair extensions is that they cannot be worn for long periods of time and must be removed before bedtime. They are not great for thin, fine hair as the clips can be too bulky. They typically look the most fake and can not be styled like real hair. Also, even if properly maintained clip-in extensions usually only last a few months.
TAPE-IN Hair Extensions
Tape in hair extensions are applied using polyurethane tape. They can sometimes be used to add length, but perform best when used to add volume and thickness.
One big benefit of tape-in extensions is that they install very quickly for a semi-permanent application method. Volume applications only take 20-30 minutes and full-length application 45-60 minutes. No heat or tools are required and with proper care an installation can last between 6-8 weeks. Tape-in extensions are also re-usable.
Some of the issues with tape-in extensions are that they can cause some discomfort, they can get tangled as your own hair starts to grow, and you have to be careful with using heavy conditioners or oils because they can weaken the adhesive and cause the panels to slip.
MICRO-LINK or COLD-FUSION Hair Extensions
Small sections of your natural hair are pulled through a small bead or lock and clamped to a hair extension weft with a special tool. Micro-links are also called micro beads or locks, they are gentle to put in and easy to take out. Links are used to add both length and volume.
Advantages of micro-link extensions include quick application time (60 minutes or less) and require no heat, tape, or glue. The links protect natural hair from damage and when properly maintained can last about four months.
On the down side, beads or locks can be visible if used in thin hair or not placed appropriately. Micro-link extensions slip more easily than other methods and some wearers complain of a headache after application. Micro-link extensions also can not be worn in a high ponytail and usually need to be retightened every couple of months.
SEW-IN or BRAIDED Hair Extensions
Also referred to as a weave, the wearer’s natural hair is braided to create a base for the extensions and the wefts are sewn into the braids using a needle and thread. No heat or glue is required for this application and the wearer can shampoo, blow-dry, and otherwise treat the extensions as they would their natural hair
Sew-ins are affordable, easy to care for, and fairly simple to remove. However, salon visits are usually necessary every six to eight weeks to tighten the extensions.
The drawbacks of sew-in hair extensions are that the application can take several hours and may be uncomfortable for a time after application. The wearer has limited hair styling options and needs to avoid over-styling, which can cause the extensions to come loose.
Hot Fusion or Keratin Bond:
Heat fusion is the gold standard in hair extensions. It is the most professional, long-term installation method – and the technique that the A-list Hollywood elite use when they wear hair extensions. Keratin bonds are attached to the wearer’s natural hair using a heating element that melts the bond to the hair. A silicone lining in the bond creates a barrier to protect the natural hair. The bonds are attached close to the scalp but with enough space to allow the hair and extensions to move naturally.
Fusion extensions are perfect for adding both length and volume with little extra maintenance. They can basically be treated and styled like natural hair. This method also gives the most realistic, natural, and believable look and movement to the wearer’s hair. With proper care, fused extensions can last up to 6 months with no additional salon visits or professional maintenance.
The negatives to this style of hair extensions has traditionally been length of application process (average application can take 6-8 hours), cost, and potential damage to natural hair from excessive heat and improper application. However, recent innovations to hot fusion products and technology have decreased or eliminated most of these concerns.
High efficiency, digital temperature control hair extension fusion machines now exist. These machines use a double-edged heat technology that allows a more effective melt of the keratin using a sensor to activate the emission of the heat waves only when required. This allows a quicker, easier, and more secure application of the hair extensions and can cut the average application time down to 2-3 hours.
Which Are THE BEST HAIR EXTENSIONS?
So, you can have a lot of fun and do some experimenting with different hairdos and highlights using temporary clip-on extensions – but for beautiful, natural looking, believable, and realistic hair with added volume and length there is no substitute for heat fused hair extensions.
Each of the other extension methods has its place, depending mostly on your purpose, budget, and how long you plan to wear the extensions – and as you can see, some styles work better with certain types of hair. Regardless of the application method you choose for yourself or your client – the best way to get outstanding results is to use high-quality, real human hair extensions.
See this great infographic from Hair Extension Magazine to help you compare hair extension application methods.