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hair extensions 101

What to know before you go faux.

Choose a Type

Human hair: If you’re looking for all-over length or an elaborate style, you are better off going with human hair—it’s expensive but looks much more natural. But the big question remains: Whose natural hair it is?

Synthetic hair It’s economical, but can be hard to match. Most types can’t be heat-styled (they would melt!), and can be reflective, which shows up in flash photography.

Choose a Process

Clip-in pieces: If you are just looking for a single piece (say to add volume to a bun), you can opt for hairpieces that clip in—HairUWear.com offers both human hair and artificial options in a variety of sizes and colors.

Full-head extensions This is a more permanent process involving a stylist bonding hair in rows over your entire head, which lasts three to five months. A popular option is Great Lengths (GreatLengths.net).

Save Up

The prices vary and really depend on how much hair you’re looking to add—and what you’re looking to have done to it.

Clip-in pieces For a single weft, it’s possible to find prices that are under $20. More natural colors and textures are going to cost more.

Full-head extensions Ones like those offered by Great Lengths cost an average of around $2,200—but again, you’re looking at a full head’s worth of human hair.

The Verdict

If you’re just looking to fill in a style (for example, to fill out a bouffant), choose artificial hair in a color that matches yours, and have your stylist use it as the base for your style, wrapping your real hair around it. For a full head, go for human hair.

Source: Brett Butcher of Great Lengths (GreatLengths.net).


Wedding Hairstyles: Wedding Hair Type Tips


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Find the perfect wedding hairstyle whether your locks are fine or thick, straight or curly.

Photo: Laura Doss

Wedding day hair is, for many brides, as important a decision as the dress. The most obvious place to begin: Think about your hair. Though stylists today often seem like they can spin straw into gold -- just look at how quickly celebs change up their locks -- it’s more sensible to try to work with the hair you’ve got. Or to work with what’s most important to your bridal beauty look (chandelier earrings, a cascade veil, an über-formal style). Follow these tips to enhance your hair’s best qualities for your bridal style.

Curly Hair

It’s best not to fight what nature gave you. If you have supercurly hair and it’s August, you can flat-iron it straight, but within an hour those curls will come back.

Style Tips: Instead of ditching the curls, play them up -- and whether it’s summer or winter, look for styling products with humidity-fighting ingredients to help keep frizz at bay. (We love Frizz-Ease by John Frieda Moisture Barrier Firm Hold Hair-Spray, $5, Ulta.com.) And befriend the bobby pin. Since you want to maintain a touchable curl, well-placed pins let your stylist ease up on product.

Straight Hair

Similar to curly hair, you can’t fight your natural texture -- tight curls may fall by the end of the ceremony. Either keep curls big and loose, or go for an updated sleek style like a low bun to one side or bowlike French twist to show off your hair’s fabulously smooth texture.

Style Tips: If you want to keep your hair down (without weighing it down) on your wedding day, amp up your natural shine with a product like Alberto VO5 Dazzling Shine! Ultra Light Shine Spray ($4, Drugstore.com).

Fine Hair

If your hair is very fine or thin, keep the look simple. “If you choose to wear your hair up, you don’t have to worry about it going limp on you,” says celebrity stylist Brian Magallones. Go for an updo that’s anything but everyday: Think about adding in twists, loops, baby braids, and hair accessories.

Style Tips: Fine hair should be slightly dirty for updos -- just-washed hair is too soft to hold pins. Magallones recommends adding texture and fullness with Garnier Fructis Style Fiber Gum Putty ($5, Drugstore.com).

Thick Hair

Show off lush locks with a twisted half-updo -- braided and twisted styles are more formal than simply wearing your hair down. If you do want to wear it down, plan for extra time at the salon to first straighten your thick hair and then curl for extra control.

Style Tips: A dime-size drop of pomade raked through with your fingertips gives hair height and texture while preventing flyaways. Try Robert Kree Structure ($18, RobertKree.com)

Oily Hair

If your hair is grease-prone, you might want to think twice about wearing your hair down. Magallones says, “Your hair will get greasier as you dance the night away.” A low-maintenance updo will keep you from touching your hair, which encourages oil production.

Style Tips: Keep your roots looking clean and dry all night with Stila Crème Bouquet Hair Refresher (which gives your hair a subtle scent, while absorbing oil -- $28, Sephora.com) or even a pinch of baby powder -- be sure to pat it in until you can’t see any white.


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