Friday, September 3, 2010

Weaves and hair extensions - flexibility for your crowning glory

Select the texture, length and color extension...Image by whatsnextonline via Flickr
Today, women are enjoying the fun and flexibility that comes with wearing weaves and hair extensions. No longer does a woman have to wait years for her hair to grow out. And, with each passing day, technology is delivering newer and more realistic techniques to give the most natural look possible; in the blink of an eye, a woman can go from a short and sassy,closely cropped style by day to sizzling, shoulder length flowing tresses that would make you look twice at that mirror. How is this possible? Let's see.

First, let's take a look at the different types of hair on the market.

Types of hair

There are two types of hair on the market today: 100% human hair which includes remy and synthetic.

Remy hair is the top quality product that has the cuticle intact. The cuticle is the outer most layer of the hair that looks somewhat like roof shingles or fish scales. When the cuticle is intact the hair is less likely to tangle and become matted. The cuticle also gives the hair its natural look and soft shine. This product, with proper care, can last up to one year.
Human hair is popular because heated appliances can be used providing versatility in styling.
Synthetic hair can be made from a variety of man made products. Synthetic does not look as natural as human and is easily damaged by the sun. Often times, synthetic hair takes on the appearance of overly shiny, plastic looking doll's hair. It does not last as long as remy, but, with care can last several months.
Another drawback to the synthetic product is that can not have heat applied to it as it will melt quickly. The price therefore, it less expensive than human or remy. The styles therefore, are also limited.
Yaki hair was initially manufactured from the yak (a bovine type animal). Nowadays it refers to hair has been processed to look like relaxed or permed Afro-American texture hair.
Indian hair is thin and silky. It is highly processed with color initially stripped then added to again to the end product. This hair is very popular and is chemically processed to come in a number of textures and colors.
European hair is often imported from China or other parts of Asia. It is very silky and usually comes in longer lengths.

Lastly, is a synthetic blend which is a mix of human and synthetic - approximately 70% synthetic to 30% human hair. Of course, not the quality of remy. I've noted that this type of hair is less likely to tangle and holds up fairly well with braids when purchased in bulk.

Track (weft) Weaving techniques

Now, after having reviewed the different types of hair for extension use, let's take a look at the methods of how it is attached for the natural look.

Weaves or weft hair is sewn onto tracks. The stylist will cornrow the customer's hair and sew the track onto the cornrow. This is extremely popular. This may last up to eight weeks depending upon new growth at which time tightening or re-braiding the client's hair would be done. There is some room for ingenuity depending upon the technique used in sewing. A side part style can be achieved with the braids placed leaving a part on the side, or a pony-tail style can be achieved with the braids placed higher up on the client's head leaving her own hair out so as to cover the tracks. Weaves can be purchased in any of the above types of hair.
This technique has many benefits. The client can allow her hair to rest. By avoiding the undo stresses of blow drying, chemicals and relaxers, her own tresses can grow in healthy and strong. It is however imperative to care for the scalp and underlying braids by regularly washing and conditioning. Also, important is that the cornrow not be too tight, nor should the sewn-in hair be too heavy as this will cause hair loss.


Weave hair can also be glued or bonded in. This is probably the least recommended. This is for a very temporary special look for one night or so.

The downside is that the glues can cause allergic reactions in some people. Also, when removing the glue or bonding substance, there is a tendency to pull some of the client's hair out. Although there are remover solutions, I know from experience that you can still pull your own hair out.

Braiding hair

Bulk hair is used for braided styles. This comes in human and synthetic. A recent newbie to the market is kinky hair is being used to deliver the dread look.

For the long, beautiful and intricate braids, such as the goddess, box braids or fish tails there are many techniques whereby the hairdresser incorporates the hair into the client's hair.Color ranges are almost infinite - I have even seen maroon and blue colored braids. Again, synthetic or human hair maybe used. In either case though, the style will last two to three months depending upon the new growth.

One major downfall in this that I have seen through the years is that most stylists braid the hair too tight! That is why many women experience premature receding hair lines that are often irreversible.

There are many products on the market that will allow care of the hair and scalp such as braid sprays which usually contain conditioners and softeners, shampoos and moisturizer/conditioner.


This is probably the most expensive and time consuming technique as the hair is generally glued strand by strand. However, this probably offers the most versatility. Of course, regular shampooing is important as well as periodic maintenance with the stylist.

Clip ons

These are great for a one night look. The hair is attached to combs or tracks. The wearer simply decides how much, what color and where the clip ons will go.

Lace wigs

This is the rage! The stars have been wearing them for years. The look is impeccably realistic and versatile. For real human hair though, they are prohibitively expensive. But, the look is unforgettable. The lace is applied under the edges of the wig and cut to the individual's head. The result is fabulous

Glue can be used or they can be put on and worn without glue. In the case of using glue however, the wig should not be worn more than two weeks.

For more information about weaves and achieving your own personalized look, click here to see MANELADY'S new Book.
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