How Long Does Hair Have to Be for Extensions?

by Laura Dos Santos

Woman running hands through long hair.

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Hair extensions are a quick way to add volume and length to most hairstyles. However, blending long hair extensions with your short, natural hair can be challenging.

Types

Sew-in, clip-in and glue-in are the application methods for hair extensions. Sew-in and glue-in extensions can be done at home, but it can be a tedious process. Clip-in extensions are by far the easiest method of do-it-yourself hair extensions, but they do have limitations. You can purchase human or synthetic hair extensions in every color and length.

Considerations

If you're planning on do-it-yourself extensions, they are easiest to blend if your natural hair is at least shoulder length. A gap is created between your natural hair and the hair extensions; this gap is particularly unsightly for hair that is shorter than shoulder length. While professional hairstylists are able to work extensions into very short hair, it is extremely costly.

Prevention/Solution

If your hair is not quite long enough to bridge the gap between your natural hair and the extensions, there are a few ways to deal with this. Having hair extensions professionally attached eliminates the problem of trying to get them to blend. However, if you choose to attach your own hair extensions, you may find it challenging to achieve a natural look. You'll need a high-quality ceramic hair straightener and a smoothing serum to blend your hair with the extensions. Apply the extensions first, to avoid wasting time on straightening hair in places that don't matter. Apply the serum, starting from the roots. Use small amounts of serum at a time, as it may make your hair greasy. Use the straightener over the top layer of your hair that falls on top of the extensions. The following can only be done if you are using human hair extensions: once your natural hair is sufficiently sleek, separate hair into roughly six equal parts (you may need fewer separations if your hair is particularly thin). Take each section (your natural hair and the extension) and run the hair straightener over the place where your natural hair and the extension meet. You may need to repeat this process several times before it looks well-blended.

Cost

Human hair extensions are considerably more expensive than synthetic hair extensions, with prices ranging up to $500 for a set as of October 2009. This does not include the cost of having the hair extensions professionally applied, which varies depending on the salon but has been reported to cost up to thousands of dollars.

Warning

Synthetic hair will melt when exposed to a hair straightener or blow dyer. Therefore synthetic hair should not be used if you need to blend the extensions with your natural hair using hot styling tools. Hair products do not have the same effect on synthetic hair, and it may be difficult to rid the synthetic hair of residue, even after you wash it.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Laura Dos Santos is a marketing manager, culture blogger and social-media maven. Living in Orlando, Fla. since 2004, she has written for a variety of publications and blogs on topics ranging from health and beauty to business.