So, half the reason I have a website is so I can share information with pretty much anyone that will listen.
Like, no joke, I have a lot to talk about - you should see my drafts list (lol not funny)
Over the years that I've seriously gotten into hair extensions, there have been a handful of things that I've learned that I wish I would have known years ago. I'm talking about the few factors that are SO important but so overlooked in extension wear.
I could have saved myself a whole lot of headache with my own hair had I grasped the importance of even just one factor in depth when I received any extension training initially.
And today I wanted to talk with you about one of those factors.... and it's density.
So what the heck is density?
Density refers to the varying degrees of thickness in a person's hair and is described most commonly in terms of very fine, fine, medium, and thick.
Densities for both your natural hair and the extension hair play a huge role in the outcome of your extension experience overall - in fact, they must work in tandem to be compatible enough to be worn in the first place.
The ability to customize density in an extension application plays a major part in not only the application, but also the length of time you are able to wear the extensions, and the resulting condition of your natural hair after extension wear. Aside from the material of the attachment and the experience of the extension artist, density is the foundation of everything in your extension wear.
especially when it comes to fine hair.
The thing is, most extension methods do not allow for the density of the extensions to be customized. This simply means that what you get, is what you get, and there is not a way for the extension artist to match the extension weight to the weight of your natural hair.
Why is this important?
SO... with a majority of people, including you, you'll find that you have varying densities of hair throughout different areas of your head. Meaning: some parts of your hair are thicker or thinner than others. It's crucial to accommodate these variances in your hair because the failure to do so is where those horror stories come from in extension wear.
One of my mantras in this regard comes down to the classic human nature of exposing the negatives versus praising the positives. Trust me, there are lots of good extensions out there - however, you'll hardly ever see it. Everybody knows bad extensions, but nobody knows good extensions. (Get what I mean here?)
Look at it this way:
Every extension company markets their extensions as having the ability to be worn by nearly everyone. This means that these companies also teach their stylists this methodology as well - and a majority of the time stylists do believe that the company they are certified with can work for just about everyone.
I can speak on this personally because I've been in those classes, and have been taught this mindset myself in my earlier days of extension practice. In reality, they are in business to market and sell their product - just like any other company that markets to consumers does as well.
In a perfect world...
... every extension method would work for every hair type. However - this will never be the case because no two heads of hair are the same, and even if two people have very similar hair types - there are a handful of other factors that determine their best fit for extension wear.
There are thousands of extension companies out there and each one is pitted against the other in coming up with the next thing, the next trend, or the healthiest method. If you simply start Googling various extension companies, you'll find that on each website a handful of the following keywords:
- Remi hair, healthy, attachment, easy to apply, comfortable, seamless, micro, thick, cuticle intact, virgin, virgin remi, grams, keratin, etc. (to name a few)
It's marketing, consumerism, and the psychology of appeal.
It's kind of like wearing shoes that don't fit - you might be able to get away with it for a little while, but at the end of the night your feet are killing you. The same goes for hair extensions - you might be able to get away with a method that isn't in the best interest of your hair for a little while, but over time the effects on your hair can be quite damaging. For some people and certain hair types, just one ill-fitting extension application can be detrimental to the integrity of a person's hair. Just because it's possible, doesn't always mean that it's be the best choice.
When the density of extensions is not compatible with a person's natural density:
- The weight of the extensions causes excess strain on the natural hair
- Excess strain causes pulling, tension, and breakage at or near the scalp
- a bad combination of weight and tension essentially places strain on the hair follicles, which are stretched to a point that the hair can actually break off or fall out. Repetitive use of extensions that aren't applied properly and are too heavy for the natural hair can cause areas of balding, patches of missing hair (traction alopecia)
- The extensions can slide out of the hair - some will find that it is difficult to wear certain methods such as tape-in's, etc or will find that they feel very heavy to wear (note: sliding out can be for many reasons along with the "heavy feeling)
- the extensions will actually feel heavy and can give some people headaches, general discomfort
- the extensions look fake, heavy, and unnatural
As a fine-haired lady on the never-ending quest for more hair - you can trust me when I tell you that I've worn just about every extension method out there - from full on sew-in's to micro links to tape-ins and everything in between.
So, back to the density of your natural hair:
Whether the difference is subtle or obvious - you'll find that you do have varying degrees of density throughout your head. Density plays into more than just extension wear, too - and can be a deciding factor as to why you prefer your hair parted one way or the other, or have a hard time wearing a blunt or other types of haircuts - *or* it simply won't grow in the way you want. (think about it - if you part your hair on the side that has more hair, you're able to "give" more hair to the side that is lacking)
Considering that 80% of our hair resides behind our ears as it is, this is a cruel joke of nature to have even less or a finer density of hair on the sides of our heads - the area where most people with finer hair density will have far less hair.
For me, personally; my hair is baby fine on the sides and around the majority of my hairline, I have a little more hair in the back of my head, and the rest of my hair remains on the top of my head where it has the most density. (for this I am grateful, yes - but it does come with its woes.)
Are you starting to get the feeling that density is pretty darn important? I hope so!
And you know what took the way too long for me to figure out?
If I want to keep the hair on my head, I can't be willy-nilly with the extensions I wear.
- Clip-ins are way too heavy in my hair, plus fine hair + metal = no good anyways. I really can't be troubled with putting in extensions on a daily basis. (Permanent extensions are a time-saving thing for me)
- Most tape-ins are too heavy (plus the maintenance is consuming, aside from styling limitations)
- ... and don't even get me started on micro links or wefts.
So yes, I've made the mistakes (so you don't have to) and my hair definitely paid for it the hard way.
How does this happen to a hairdresser, you ask?
Lack of knowledge on my part, and I didn't fully understand the "getting what you pay for" thing - and all of those combined elements was no bueno for my fine hair.
So what does the expert wear?
I wear an extension method that allows for total density customization. Each strand of hair I wear is custom sized to match my natural density - creating a literal extension of my own hair. And yep, it's Great Lengths.
- This causes the "you're wearing extensions?!" factor
- They look completely natural (the goal of extension wear, of course)
- No fear of a weft slipping out or being too heavy for my natural hair
- No weird glue or tape residue, no metal, and no links
- And I'll tell you that the styling versatility is UNREAL. High ponies, half-knots, braids - you name it, I can wear it.
- Did I mention I can wear my hair for like, 3-4 months at a time? I know, right - unreal.
All in all, it's super important to know what you're getting into when it comes to extension wear. I'll be sharing some more information about extension wear as the blog grows, and I hope you receive value from this information. I'm happy to talk extensions any time, so please don't hesitate to reach out!
Have you worn extensions before? Have you ever had a bad experience? Were you aware of the importance in density prior to reading this? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.