Believe it or not, hair extensions have been around for a long time. The Ancient Egyptians added extra hair to their natural manes. British Parliament would wear white wigs and Hollywood actresses would wear what would have been the origin of a lace front wig. But the modern hair extension is all due to Christina Jenkins, a black lady from America who wanted to make a more secured fitting wig.
Mrs. Jenkins began studying how sewing in hair extensions to a person’s natural hair added length and body in 1949. . Then in 1951, she invented the sew in, named it the “Hair Weev” technique, and filed a patent. She taught her weaving techniques at hair shows all across europe and the hair game has revolutionized since then.
So let’s talk about the different ways to install weaves1. Sew In
Since the late 1900’s, the sew in was the most popular way to sew in hair extensions. Usually, the stylist would braid the wearer’s hair down into corn rows or flat braids and sew on the wefted or “tracked” hair onto the hair with a needle and thread. Yep, the name says it all.
This style was very popular because, although it took about 3-4 hours to style, it offered very low maintenance to the wearer afterwards. Allowing the style to be for almost 2 months.
As the hair industry revolutionized, the sew in became seen as a less popular staple because it didn’t allow the wearer to wash the hair full, and more frequently which can cause lots of build up and breakage, causing damage to the hair. Also, sometimes curly hair can grow and cause knots in the thread which can lead to more tangles and breakage.
Usually a sew in will consist of 3 bundles and a closure or 2 bundles and a frontal. Still a go to hairstyle, but there are healthier ways and more modern ways to install your hair extensions.
All hail the clip in, a very convenient, modern, minimal, and fast transitional hair style. It allows the wearer to install as many tracks or wefts in their hair whenever they want. One can either sew in the clips on either end of the track or buy the tracked pre sewn. Installation time takes about 30 minutes or less.
Clip ins are a much healthier alternative in terms of hair maintenance. Just take them out before washing your own hair.
This is a very temporary style so make sure the clips are secure because just as easily as you can put them in, you can easily take them out. Lastly, the great thing about this type of installation is that you don’t need to buy as much hair to install. Usually one bundle of hair clipped in to your own hair gives it a more natural affect.
Arguably the most versatile type of hair installation, fusion is pre-bonded hair extension involves the process of heating in order to melt and pair it with the natural hair. It fuses with your hair and gives a very natural feeling if you were to run your hands through your hair, allowing your scalp to breath; Once applied with a special fusion connector tool, it can last from 3 to 6 months.
One con of fusion is that the glue or bonding can add more stress to the natural strands of your hair. Also, as your hair grows out, the location of the fusion bond can get caught in your brush or comb when grooming your hair and cause breakage and permanently damage your hair follicles. Another con is that the fusion can melt when in or around high temperatures like the sun or under a blowdryer and can fall out.
For natural curly hair ppl out there, it is a little more difficult to straighten your roots when you use a fusion style with straight(er) hair. And straightening hair constantly is not as healthy for natural curly hair in the long run.
It is important that you have them installed by a certified fusion technician, or someone that really has experience and be careful while grooming and maintaining your hair so as to not cause damage to your real hair. It is advised to get the bonds maintained every 4-6 weeks just in case they loosen up.
Similarly to clip ins, tape ins do not take a long time to install. You can wear your hair up or down, making it a very versatile installation. The tape is directly applied to the the top and bottom of a piece of hair shaft like a sandwich, closer to the root and usually matches the color of your hair for a seamless look. Don’t wash your hair for 24-48 hours so that the tape can adhere well for a prolonged use.
To remove hair tape extension, some people use alcohol or conditioner, but there are marketed hair tape remover extensions. For reuse of tape in extensions, you can apply a new piece of tape to the sticky part of the extension and re install.
Glue ins, glue ins glue ins…. ARE WE STILL DOING IT? This very quick alternative was one of the unhealthiest and damaging types of installations.
Although it is all the aforementioned, it still is very convenient for the installation- quick and more affordable in terms of money. But for uninstallation, it depends on what kind of glue you use.
When glue ins first hit the scene, the only glue on the market was a black glue that would stain your hands, and possibly your scalp and hair; and possibly lasted for about 2 weeks before sweat, or water got to it.
And if you were not careful when uninstalling, you could rip out your hair. One would possibly only need about one bundle of hair for a glue in, similar to the clip in… however, for hair that you would glue in just to unglue in 2 weeks time, many people would opt for a lower quality hair extensions. NEVER GLUE IN GOOD QUALITY HAIR EXTENSIONS (I repeat...now you say it again in your head).
I don’t really know what was in the original glue but I don’t suppose it was natural and therefore not really good for your skin or scalp.
Fortunately today there are better glues that don’t gunk, and there are glue removers to help for healthy uninstallation of hair. So take your time and use better tools for your hair. Ultimately, I would not recommend this type of installation.
The end all be all in my opinion is the wig. Wigs allow you some versatility in terms of style. You can take it on or off whenever you want and can install it with wig glue or a with an elastic strap to hold it down, whatever your preference. Again, glue can cause a problem depending on the type you use and how you use it, but the glue game has evolved to glue spray, wig tapes, and other unharmful adhesions that work.
With the inventions of closures, frontals, 360 pieces, silk and lace and hd transparent lace meshes, it is very possible to create a very natural look with wigs.
Wigs can last for years, especially if you take care of it like your own hair. Low maintenance, wash and condition it, and taking it off sometimes to let it breathe.
Wigs can be costly depending on the quality of your hair, how many bundles used to make it, and the length of the bundles. However, it is an investment that should last you for years.
Wigs are one of the healthiest ways to install hair, but with all these types of installations, please ask, consult, or hire a professional.
Do your research and choose what is best for you in terms of how much hair maintenance you actually want to do yourself or pay for a professional to do.