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Loose Hair Extensions and Braids

The very basic idea: Attach loose hair to your natural hair to extend the length, add texture (braids), or add colorful streaks.

What are the methods for attaching loose hair?

There are many, many methods of attaching loose hair onto your natural hair. I will cover the major ways below. This list is loosely organized from what my experience and research has told me is least invasive to most invasive.

Clip In Extensions: Examples here. Lengths of weft hair with clips sewn on to be attached to the natural hair. The length of the weft is dependent upon where the clip in will be attached to the head, with the widest being at the back of the head. To remove, simply unclip. Here is a tutorial on how to make and install Clip Ins, and here is a tutorial about how to install them, Part 1 and Part 2.

Pony Falls: Example here. Long hair falls mounted to hair ties or a clip to mimic a long pony tail or pigtails. To remove, simply unclip or undo the hair tie. Silky Kanekalon, Toyokalon, or Microfiber hair is all acceptable for this hair piece. Here is a video about how to make pony falls on hair ties. Here is a tutorial about how to install pony falls.

Pinch Braiding Loose Extensions with String Method: This is a method of braiding synthetic hair in with your own natural hair to create loose streaks or extend the hair length. A piece of string is also incorporated into the braid with the natural and synthetic. After braiding for only an inch or so, the string is picked out of the natural and synthetic hair, wrapped around, and tied off. You can use a variety of synthetic hair to braid in, but it all depends on how long you want the extensions to last. For short term extensions (1 night to 1 week) you can use Silky KK or Toyokalon. For longer lasting extensions (2-6 weeks) using a higher grade Microfiber synthetic hair is suggested. The best brand on the market currently is called "Shape Shifter." Remember Silky KK and Toyokalon are very heat reactive so only use very low heat to style your hair while attached. To remove, simply snip the stringe and undo the braid.

Pinch Braiding: This is a method of braiding synthetic hair in with your own natural hair to create braids longer than your natural hair. Because this hair will not hang loose and will be braided its entire length, KK Jumbo Braid or PP Jumbo Braid is an excellent choice. At the end of the braid, you can use heat to melt the synthetic hair, a rubberband to secure it, or string to secure it. To remove, simply undo the ends by cutting, then unbraid.

Micro Rings / Linkies Strands: Examples here. A micro ring or linkie is a small ring of wire covered in plastic. Your natural hair is passed through the micro ring, then extension hair is pushed in through the bottom. Using pliers, the micro ring is clamped closed. To remove, use pliers to squeeze open the micro ring. See this tutorial on how to install. The type of hair used, again, depends on how long you plan to wear the extensions. Silky KK or Toyokalon can be used for short time spans (1 night to 1 week). Whereas Microfiber or Human Hair should be used for longer amounts of time. Remember Silky KK and Toyokalon are very heat reactive so only use very low heat to style your hair while attached. Also, your extension hair should be I-tipped; you can buy hair pre-done this way, or save a lot of money and do it yourself with this tutorial.

Micro Rings / Linkies Wefts: Instead of attaching single pieces of hair, micro rings with this method are used to attach Wefts. First, a track similar to a cornrow is made using natural hair and micro rings. Once that is done, weft is stitched onto the track. For this, you will need hair on a weft. Human hair is widely available on wefts, whereas synthetic hair is less common.

Sew in Wefts with Cornrows: First, you need to be able to cornrow; watch this excellent tutorial on how to do this. After laying down a horizontal cornrow, weft hair is sewn onto the cornrow. To see this, watch this tutorial; to see it in more realistic high speed, watch this video. For this, you will need hair on a weft. Human hair is widely available on wefts, whereas synthetic hair is less common.

Shrinkies: Examples here. Small cylindrical tubes lined with glue. Natural hair and extension hair are passed through the tube, then heat is applied to the tube. The tube shrinks while also bonding the glue to the hair. For removal the shrinkie is reheated and pulled away; glue residue is removed with acetone. See this video for a basic how to.

Cold Bonding: The use of unheated glues to attach extension hair to natural hair either strand by strand or weft. Liquid Gold (acrylic based) and Latex glues are two examples of cold bonding glues. These bonds are removed with specific dissolving lotions.

Fusion Bonding: The use of glue and heat to attach extension hair to natural hair either strand by strand or weft. Most heated glues are keratin based and must be removed with acetone.

What else do I need?

Some of the above methods really require a licensed extensionist to be done; I strongly suggest seeing a professional for fusion bonding, cold bonding, sew in weft with cornrows, and micro ring wefts. These methods can last up to three months, but they are quite expensive especially when using human hair. Also, it is important that your extensionist has done the methods before and is comfortable with them. The other methods, clip ins, pinch braiding, and micro rings, can be done alone or more easily with a friend.

How do I care for my Loose Extensions/Braids?

The method for caring for your extensions depends on two things: 1 is the hair synth or human? 2 what installation method was used?

1 Is the hair synthetic or human?

As stated above, Kanekalon and Toyokalon hair should only be used for short installs and with low styling heat. Therefor, the only care they may need is some silicone sprayed or rubbed onto the length of the synthetic hair to prevent tangling. It is suggested to throw away the Kanekalon or Toyokalon when finished with the install. If Kanekalon or Toyokalon is used for clip in extensions, simply use them until they look too tattered. Clip in Kanekalon or Toyokalon extensions can be washed in warm water with a mild shampoo with no fear of running dye since the hair is synthetic.

Microfiber hair also needs some silicone sprayed or rubbed onto it occasionally to help keep it from tangling. Because of the high quality of this hair, it can be used multiple times for installs. The most vulnerable part are the ends, which may become tattered. Should this happen, a large round brush and hair dryer can help bring the ends back together. Alternatively, the hair can be trimmed. Clip in Microfiber extensions can be washed in warm water with a mild shampoo with no fear of running dye since the hair is synthetic.

Human Hair should be the least tangly of them all, but the hair can fade from its original color and have split ends just like your natural hair. To avoid color fade, apply as little heat as possible to the hair and avoid sun exposure. Color fade is especially prominent in wefts hand dyed after manufacturing with vegetable dyes, such as Stargazer and Manic Panic. For split ends, the round brush hair dryer method is again suggested or trimming. Clip in human hair extensions can be washed in cool water with mild shampoo. Again, if the hair is dyed with a vegetable dye, wash as infrequently as possible. Human hair can be reused again and again for extensions.

2 What installation method was used?

For clip in extensions, it is always suggested to remove the clip ins before washing your natural hair. The clip ins can then be washed by themselves according to hair type above.

For loose hair pinchbraided, microringed, bonded, or fusioned in, simply shampoo as usual, being sure to rinse the attachment very well. Your normal conditioner can be applied, though it is suggested not to get conditioner on the attachment. Do not tug on the extension hair while washing.

For pinch braids, try to only shampoo the scalp, being sure to rinse the entire scalp and all braids very thoroughly. Conditioner is not suggested. Try to wash less frequently than usual. The braids may be heavy after the shower; to dry, it is suggested to lay the braids on a towel while laying down or prop the braids up on the back of a couch with a towel under them.

For wefted hair attached with corn rows, micro rings, bonding or fusion, special care must be taken to make sure the attachment is rinsed very, very well of all shampoo. Do not tug on the hair extensions while washing. A deep conditioner is recommended on human hair extensions or regular conditioner with synthetic extensions. Again, try not to get conditioner on the attachment.