Artificial hair integrations

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Artificial hair displayed on a mannequin

Artificial hair integrations, more commonly known as hair extensions, add length and/or fullness to human hair.

Hair extensions are methods of lengthening one's hair by incorporating artificial hair or natural hair collected from other individuals. Hair extensions can also be used to protect one's natural hair. These hair techniques are advanced and are used to change the hair drastically without looking unrealistic.

Methods for hair extensions[edit]

hair extension
Bonding and sealing extensions

Clip-in or clip-on hair extensions[edit]

This technique is the least permanent and can be very effective without the disadvantages such as traction alopecia associated with glue extensions. The hair weft has small toupée clips sewn onto them. Usually a set of clip-in extensions averages eight strips of human hair in varying widths from two inches to eight inches. Starting at the nape of the neck, the hair is sectioned neatly, then the weft is placed onto this section with the clips open and facing the scalp. Each clip is snapped into place. It can be helpful to lightly backcomb each section for a more secure grip. This is repeated until each clip-in weft is in place. Clip-ins can be worn for an entire day; however, they must be removed before sleeping. Some people wear clip-ins only for special occasions and other functions, while others wear them daily. This shows the versatility of this type of hair extension.

Bonding and sealing extensions[edit]

Bonding is a method of weaving that lasts for a shorter period of time in comparison to sew-in weaving. It involves the application of hair glue to a section of wefted hair then onto a person's natural hair; special hair adhesives are used in bonding to prevent damage to one's natural hair. This technique is commonly used and does not cause damage to the hair unless taken out without proper directions from a professional. It is advised that weave bonding be installed for up to 3 weeks because the glue begins to loosen up and lessens the attractiveness of the hair. There are 2 types of bonding methods: soft bond and hard bond. Soft bond is flexible and comfortable to wear and is made using latex/acrylic based adhesives. Hard bond, which is the industry term for bonding treatments whose adhesive contains cyanoacrylate, or super glue. Hard bond adhesives last longer than soft bond adhesives because it is not water based and therefore less susceptible to deterioration. Nonetheless, the hard bond adhesives are not as comfortable as the soft bond adhesive because they are rigid. These bond attachments generally last 4–6 weeks before a maintenance appointment is necessary.

Fusion[edit]

The fusion method delivers one of the most versatile and most natural-looking weaves on the market. This involves a machine similar to a hot glue gun used to attach human hair extensions to individual strands of one's natural hair of about 1/8 to 1/4 inch squared sections for a truly authentic look. Another option for fusion attachments is using hair which is pre-tipped with a keratin adhesive. A heat clamp is then used to melt the adhesive to attach the extension hair to the natural hair. Fusion weave allows washing hair frequently and the use of regular hair products such as hair gels. Nonetheless this technique is very time consuming because it takes about 3 or more hours. They need repositioning every 2–3 months as the natural hair grows. Due to various chemicals in the glue, which may cause hair loss and scalp irritation, combined with heat, this method is more damaging to natural hair.

Micro rings (or micro loops)[edit]

Micro rings or micro loop hair extensions use small metal rings (usually aluminium) lined with silicone with the extension hair attached. They are fixed to small sections of natural hair and tightened using a special tool that clamps the loop around the natural hair.

The micro loops are designed to be small enough so that they are not visible in normal use. They need repositioning every 2–3 months as the natural hair grows and the micro rings move away from the scalp.

As they do not use heat or adhesives, these hair extensions should cause less damage than some types.

Netting[edit]

The glued netting process near completion

Netting is a technique which involves braiding natural tresses under a thin, breathable net that serves as a flat surface onto which stylists can weave extensions. This method requires the use of hair net or cap to be placed over the person's hair that has been braided. Netting provides more flexibility than track placement because the stylist is not limited to sewing extensions to a braid. With netting there is the option of sewing the hair wefts onto the net or gluing. This technique is not as time-consuming when compared to the other hair techniques because it takes about 2–4 hours to complete.

Lace fronts[edit]

Section of a lace front used to close a weave(also called a lace or closure)

The most recent development in weave extensions are lace fronts. Lace fronts are made from a nylon mesh material formed into a cap that is then hand-ventilated by knotting single strands of hair into the tiny openings of the cap, giving the hair a more natural and authentic continuity than typical extensions. Furthermore,the extension units can be woven in or attached to a person's hairline with special adhesives. To ensure a proper fit, head measurements are taken into account with this type of weave. A lace frontal is best placed by a professional since more advanced weaving and hair extensions are used. This method is commonly used by women around the world because it makes it possible to have access to a certain part of their scalp and at the same time giving a natural and attractive look.

Tracking[edit]

This is one of the most commonly used methods as it is quite fast and lasts considerably longer than the other techniques. However, It does not allow for use of regular hair maintenance. Tracking involves the braiding of a person's natural hair. In order to prevent the hair from being bumpy or uneven the hair is sewn horizontally across the head from one side to the other starting from the bottom. The braided hair is then sewn down and the hair weft extensions are sewn onto the braids. A weave can consist of a few tracks, or the whole head can be braided for a full head weave. With a full head weave, the braids are sewn down or covered with a net. Extensions are then sewn to the braids. The number of tracks used depends on the desired look.[citation needed]

A hair weave is human or artificial hair utilized for the integration with one's natural hair. Weaves can alter one's appearance for long or short periods of time by adding further hair to one's natural hair or by covering the natural hair all together with human or synthetic hairpieces. Weaving additional human or synthetic pieces can enhance one's hair by giving it volume, length and adding color without the damage of chemicals or adopting a different hair texture than that of their own. However, hair loss can occur either along the front hairline or above the ears due to the wearing of specific hair styles for a prolonged period of time, such as weaves. Such hair loss in known as traction alopecia.

The idea of hair weaves and extensions first came about in the early days of Ancient Egypt, where men and women utilized extensions in their hair to portray a more elegant appearance.[1] By the late 17th century, wigs in various shapes and sizes became a latest fashion trend. Hair weaves in particular, did not grow interest until the 1950s; even during that time celebrities had been the only ones using them. When the “long, disco-haired” era evolved there started to become a widespread of hair weave. Since that era, hair weave has only become more popular.[2] Most human hair weaves come from parts of Asia and India.This is because Indian hair is easily blended with hair of women in other countries.[3]

Final product of fully installed human hair weave extensions

Most popular hair wefts[edit]

The most popular and commonly available form of hair is known as premium hair. It is sold in most beauty supply stores worldwide. The roots and tips of hairs are interwoven in premium hair which causes tangling. This is due to the opposing cuticle layers catching onto one another. However; as it is the most inexpensive type of hair, it is a best seller.

Premium hair comes in two types:

  • Regular premium hair: generally the least expensive type of hair. The cuticles are present in different directions and the hair is prone to tangling.
  • "Tangle-free" premium hair: this is obtained by chemically removing the cuticles using an acid bath. This process reduces the friction among hairs, leaving the remains tangle-free hair. In order to give the appearance of natural healthy hair, a laminate is applied to the hair to give it a shiny and silky look.

Synthetic fiber[edit]

Synthetic fibers are made of various different synthetic fibers, but actually contain no human hair. Synthetic fibers, just like human hair, come in weave (weft) and single strands (bulk) for braids. They do not last as long as human hair because they can be easily damaged by friction and heat. The quality of fibers varies greatly. Depending on quality, they may never look like human hair, as they can be stiff and move differently from human hair. Synthetic fibers are much less expensive than human hair. Heating appliances such as curling irons and straightening combs generally should never be used on most types of synthetic hair. There are some newer versions of synthetic fibers that are more resistant, human-like fibers that can be heat processed allowing for heat styling.

Futura[edit]

Futura is a type of synthetic fiber that can withstand heat up to 400°F, and can actually outlast human hair. It is very similar to human hair given it is tangle-free and has a natural sheen. It can be straightened or curled, however, it takes longer to set; but futura cannot be colored. It is sometimes sold as a human hair blend.

Human hair[edit]

With human hair the hair shaft is made up of dead, hard protein, called keratin, in three layers. The inner layer is called the medulla and may not be present. The next layer is the cortex and the outer layer is the cuticle. The cortex makes up the majority of the hair shaft. The cuticle is formed by tightly packed scales in an overlapping structure similar to roof shingles. Most hair-conditioning products attempt to affect the cuticle. There are pigment cells that are distributed throughout the cortex, giving the hair its characteristic color. The cuticle is a hard shingle-like layer of overlapping cells, some five to twelve deep, formed from dead cells that form scales which give the hair shaft strength and protect the inner structure of the hair. The hair cuticle is the first line of defense against all forms of damage; it acts as a protective barrier for the softer inner structures, including the medulla and cortex.

A packet of 10-inch premium hair

The cuticle is responsible for much of the mechanical strength of the hair fiber. A healthy cuticle is more than just a protective layer, as the cuticle also controls the water content of the fiber. Much of the shine that makes healthy hair so attractive is due to the cuticle. In the hair industry, the only way to obtain the very best hair (with cuticle intact and facing the same direction) is to use the services of "hair collectors," who cut the hair directly from people's heads, and bundle it as ponytails. This hair is called virgin cuticle hair, or just cuticle hair. Most human hair used for weaves and wigs is obtained from Asia (perhaps most often China, India, and Korea).[citation needed]

Human hair industry[edit]

The selling of human hair for weaves, wigs, and other hair styling products is an industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually and is growing as a large export economy in some Asian regions, such as India, at a rate of 10-30 percent annually.[4][5] In India, a large portion of the hair is sourced from Hindu temples where hair is donated for religious practices, particularly in honor of the Hindu God Vishnu. This hair is highly sought out for its 'virgin', untreated qualities, as well as its great length. From there the hair is cleaned and the color is removed before being re-dyed for Euro-centric style tastes.[6][7]

Color, texture and quality[edit]

Color[edit]

Manufacturers of artificial hair use a standard scale to classify the hair by color. The lower the number on the package, generally, the darker the color. 1 usually denotes darkest black, and would become ligther with increasing number value, ending at the lightest blonde, then finally white. These colors vary greatly from one manufacturer to another, and certain specialty hair suppliers also create their own signature patterns and colors.

Texture[edit]

Textures of artificial hair vary from very straight to extremely curly, or kinky. The exact names of curl patterns vary by brand, and the possibilities of curl patterns with synthetic hair are endless, but some examples of packaged textures include:

  • Silky Straight - Straight and smooth, East Asian like hair.
  • Yaki - Straight, usually mimicking the texture of relaxed Afro-Caribbean hair.
  • European - Straight European hair; less straight than Asian hair. May have a tiny amount of wave.
  • Deep Wave - While generally not a true 'wave', it can be made to look like spiral curls.
  • Loose Deep Wave or Romance Wave - Looser version of the deep wave, softer, more romantic curls.
  • Jheri Curl (sometimes colloquially known as 'nappy tracks') - Usually sold in very short lengths, it is often used to recreate the full 'afro' look.
  • Wet and Wavy, can be packaged as Spanish Wave or Indian Wave - Usually human hair is used, and is either naturally curly or permanently waved to appear so. Characterized as having soft, natural-looking curls that revert to a curly state when wet.

Hair Preparation Terminologies[edit]

  • Virgin hair is hair that hasn't been colored or processed in any way and may or may not still be growing from the head.
  • Remy is the modern spelling of the word 'remis' which was derived from the French verb 'remettre', meaning 'put back'. Its historical meaning is that all hair (human or animal) in any given bundle has been 'put back' to the original direction it grew in (i.e. there were (but are no longer) any 'upside down' (inverted) hair in any given bundle). All hair has been re-aligned root to point (tip). Over time its spelling along with its meaning has changed. Today's 'remy' meaning is that the hair was never inverted in the first place. Rather, it was cut from the donor and kept in its original grown alignment. However, this 'remy' word bears little relevance as to whether a bundle of hair is remy or not due to the majority of factories selling incorrectly labelled products. The hair gets passed on as remy due to most people, including hair professionals, being unable to detect the difference. It requires the ability to feel the cuticles which is a highly skilled and learned technique. The result is that the word 'remy' has gone wayside and if a bundle of hair is labelled as such, in reality it is likely not remy. The production of remy hair preparation requires excess labor and skill. Furthermore 'remy' hair produced in factories has all been acid treated to remove a large portion of the cuticles. This minimalises tangling leaving the western hair supplier, and eventual client, thinking that it is 'remy', never learning how to feel the cuticles and misguided in general as to the real meaning of the word.
  • Single drawn or double drawn hair may be produced from any ponytail or group of ponytails. The single drawn bundles will result in only the shortest hairs being removed from the original ponytail. The amount of shortest hairs removed depends upon the hair preparers (workers) instructions. The equipment used is a hackle and not a drawing board (or drawing mat). The single drawn hair bundle will contain a variety of different hair strand lengths, only the very shortest having been removed. It is commonplace in the hair extension industry to call any hair 'single drawn' regardless of whether it has been drawn at all. The quality of the hair itself is irrelevant to the drawing process. It is generally of a lower price bracket than double-drawn hair due to shorter hair still being contained within.
  • Double drawn indicates the manual hand process of sorting any given amount of hair into its various lengths and later retying accordingly into new bundles. The equipment used is a pair of drawing boards (or drawing mats). The result being that each new bundle formed contains only the same lengths of hair strands. The term 'double' is used because the process involves drawing (pulling out) the hair from drawing boards (or drawing mats) twice. The hair is drawn first in one direction and then afterwards in the other direction. Double drawn hair will have (nearly) as many hair strands at one end as the other and appear much thicker and not wispy at the end. This process is very laborious, and therefore makes the hair very expensive. There are not many articles available to explain this precise procedure due to industry secrecy. It is commonplace in the hair extension industry to call any hair 'double drawn', even when it isn't. It is likely that hair labeled as 'double drawn' has not been drawn at all.

Methods of integration[edit]

A young woman with multi-colored extensions braided into her hair, Brazil.

The misnomer of 'tracks' comes from the common, long-lasting method of integrating wefts, known as the 'track and sew' method. The 'tracks' are usually cornrows, braided in the direction of how the hair will fall. Toward the face or away, with or without a part, the tracks build the foundation of how the end result will look. The wefts are then sewn onto the braids, usually with a specially made, blunt-ended needle. The needle can be curved or straight. There are many different colors of specially-made thread to choose from, depending on what color of hair you will be integrating. Darker hair lends to darker thread. It should also be noted that when the hair is braided at a high level of tension, the client is at risk for traction alopecia.

Invisible Hair Weave is a long lasting method of attaching commercial hair to the natural hair. Application generally takes about an hour. It will last about 8 weeks.

Wefts may also be bonded directly to the clients hair using special bonding glue. Care must be taken not to bond the wefts directly to the scalp, as it can cause sensitivities in some clients. A patch test is frequently recommended, as per manufacturer's directions.

Clip-in wefts, also known as clip-in hair extensions, can be integrated into natural hair to add length and volume. Clip in hair extensions can be purchased for $100 – $200, depending on desired quality. The clip in hair extensions most commonly come in as a long strand of one contoured piece that can be cut into multiple layers for creating separate layers on a user's head. When the hair is purchased from a beauty supply store, it often comes with clips, which are sewn into the hair. Once the clips are sewn in, it is recommended that the user clip in the hair and visit a stylist, to help create a look that is natural. Clip-in hair extensions make for a more temporary style, and are easily removed.

Bulk hair can also be bonded to the hair, using many different methods, from clips to adhesive.

In the South East Asian Region, the practical method of lengthening-rebondage has been in use since the mid-19th century. The lengthening-rebondage method consists of two treatments. The first treatment consists of rebonding and ironing. The second treatment of lengthening-rebondage involves gentle pulling and tugging of the hair. These two treatments are highly effective in lengthening hair without causing serious damage.

Bulk hair can also be added with thread if bonding is not suitable. This may be because the wearer has excessively oily hair or because there is a need to wash hair daily. Adding hair extensions with thread means that damage to the natural hair can be avoided and that the hair extension attachment areas are not vulnerable to external elements like heat, oils and water.

Shampooing and styling of integrations[edit]

Shampooing of artificial hair integrations can be as easy as shampooing real hair, with some considerations. For instance, many manufacturers suggest using a mild shampoo, or even a wig shampoo.

Directions included with the integrations may indicate what type of shampoo to use; the methods of brushing, combing and drying that are most advisable; and what heat setting to use when drying the hair, or if it is even advisable to do so.

The same care taken when shampooing must also be used when styling artificial hair. It is often recommended that the texture of hair purchased should be the style in which the hair is worn. Using heat to straighten curly hair, or to curl straight hair, damages it. The more damage the hair sustains, the shorter the lifespan of the artificial hair.

Most human hair extensions can be treated as real hair, albeit more gently. Since human hair extensions are usually heavily processed to achieve uniform color and texture, a mild shampoo is recommended, along with a light conditioner to reduce tangling. When shampooing it is suggested that a sulfate and alcohol free product be used, since those contents cause frizz and dry out the hair. Cool water is also recommended when shampooing, to reduce or prevent matting and excessive tangling. Having to remove snarls and tangles loosens the foundation of the integrations and further damages the hair. It is best to shampoo the hair in a top down motion.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ireland, Kay (21 October 2013). "About Hair Weaves". Livestrong. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  2. ^ Ireland, Jae. "About Hair definitely making it a "staple in the beauty and glamour" industry". Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "Where Do Human Hair Weaves Come From?". Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "Alibaba has hair-raising business plans for India". Business Standard. 2013-12-07. Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  5. ^ http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13688790801971548#.UqtCpmRDvck
  6. ^ Homa Khaleeli. "The hair trade's dirty secret | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  7. ^ Name (2013-02-18). "Blog Archive » America’s Booming Market for Human Hair". Columbia News Service. Retrieved 2014-04-08. 

Further reading[edit]