A Beginner’s Guide to Hair Extensions and Weaves

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Whether you love trying out a different look or you just want to add volume to your hair, hair extensions and weaves will give you amazing results!

Hair extensions are layers of hair in various lengths and widths. They are used to add more length or body to the hair. They are also used to create various looks. The extension is usually clipped on real hair.

On the other hand, a weave consists of hair tracks woven into the hair by a professional. Just like hair extension, a weave is used to add length or volume to the hair. Usually, a weave is applied on black women. The process itself is a long one. It’s also pricey. In addition, a weave made with natural hair is more expensive than a weave made with synthetic hair. You can easily spend several hundred dollars on a weave. While the process is long, the weave won’t budge even when pulled.

Weave and Hair Extension Terms

If you’re getting hair extensions or a weave for the first time, it’s important to know more about the process. Below are terms often used to add hair extensions or a weave:

Virgin Hair: This refers to the untreated, natural state of the hair. The hair is cut with the cuticles going in the same direction. This prevents tangles. Hair extensions or weaves made with virgin hair are the most expensive because supplies are always scarce.

Remy/Remi Hair: Just like virgin hair, Remy or Remi hair is cut with the cuticles going in the same direction to prevent tangles. But the hair itself is chemically treated. It could be colored, permed, curled, etc.

Weft: This is the fine thread that hold the hair together. A weft can be made by hand or through a machine. The machine-made weft is just as good as hand-made weft, but the latter is more expensive. The hand-made weft is also more natural-looking than the machine-made weft.

Pre-Bonded Extensions: The hair is bonded at the ends with a bonding agent – usually keratin. There are two types of pre-bonded extensions: U-tipped and I-tipped. U-tipped pre-bonded extensions require heat for application. I-Tipped pre-bonded extensions require a special tool to apply. But the tool itself does not use heat.

Types of Hair Extension/Weave Application

It’s equally important to learn how hair extensions or weave are applied. Check out the types of hair extension and weave applications to consider:

Sew-In Method

The hair extension is applied by being braided into the hair with a thread and needle. The weft is literally sewn on through the braids. If you’re getting a weave or hair extension for the first time, this will hurt a bit. The hair extension will feel tight too, causing a mild headache. If you’re uncomfortable with the pressure, let your stylist know.

Net Weave Sew-In Method

Instead of being weaved into a tight braid, the weave or hair extension is sewed into a net then over the braids. This is less painful than the sew-in method. However, because the net is in the way, you can’t care for your real hair. This is best for women with thinner hair.

Glue In or Hair Bonding

The hair is sectioned and then the weave or hair extension is attached to the hair near the scalp with a bonding agent. The bonding agent will not damage the hair, but it can cause a skin reaction. The bonding agent can hold the hair up to 2 months as long as you maintain your weave.

Fusion Method

Natural hair is sectioned then, the weave is attached strand by strand using a wax. This is the most expensive of all hair extension/weave process. It’s also the most natural-looking because the bonds are less noticeable. The wax will hold the extensions for up to 6 months.


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