3 Types of Hair Extensions | Pros, Cons, & Favorite Brands
Previously I wrote a post about halo extensions by Hidden Crown Hair (Trying Something New: Halo Extensions by Hidden Crown Hair). In that post, I mentioned my past experiences with extensions and how I would be comparing the different types of extensions that I’ve tried over the years—which brings us to this post today!
I have been wearing hair extensions for over 12 years now. Over the years, I have learned a lot—products that work best with extensions, techniques to keep your wefts from showing, best ways to style hair, how to cut and layer extensions, which ones cause more damage than others, etc. I’ve also had a ton of times in my life where my extensions haven’t looked good at all, but that’s part of learning.
Am I a cosmetologist or a professional? Nope! But I have been around the block a few times when it comes to extensions and know quite a bit from my own personal experience.
Most of my hair extension-wearing life, I wore clip-in extensions. I’ve tried probably close to a dozen different brands and even ended up mixing extension pieces from different sets and brands to really customize my look.
Two years ago, I decided to switch gears from my clip-in extensions and switch to tape-in extensions for a more permanent look. They were super convenient and I loved them at the time.
While I had my tape-in extensions in my hair, I still was curious about the halo. After having my tape-in extensions in for a year, I finally decided to try out the halo extensions from Hidden Crown Hair that I kept seeing everywhere. I wanted to try them for years and finally got around to it last year.
Since then, I’ve been wearing the halo extensions religiously. For me, they just work best with my lifestyle, but we’ll get into that a little later in the post. Right now, I just want to share my experiences with you and give you a little break down of each type of extensions that I’ve tried so you can determine which ones are best for your lifestyle.
Because I began my hair extension journey with clip-in hair extensions, let’s start with those.
Affordable: Clip-ins are probably the most affordable type of hair extensions when you compare them with the others in this post. This is usually because of the different packages you can buy depending on how many wefts of hair you want/need.
When you’re buying clip-ins, definitely only buy the real human hair ones, not synthetic. Synthetic clip-ins will be the cheapest option, but they rarely look good and for like $30 more you can probably find a decent set of clip-ins.
Variety: Clip-ins will give you the most variety when it comes to thickness and number of wefts. A full head of clip-in extensions usually come with about 7 pieces that usually range from a variety of 2 clip to 4 clip wefts. This allows you to place them on different parts of your hair since they’re different widths. Some brands have extensions with thicker wefts, so with those you might have a full head of extensions, but only have 3-4 wefts total (this is my favorite option).
If you’re someone that has really thin hair, you can sometimes get away with buying a full-head set of extensions and making two sets out of them. For example, when I used to wear Bellami extenisons, I would buy the thicker set (220g of hair) which had 10 pieces in it, and split up the different wefts to make two sets. One of my sets would be the set I typically curled, the other would be either my back-up set or for when I straightened my hair. This is a really good way to save money on extensions if you can do this, because the typical 120g set I used to buy is $130, but the 220g set is $210…so if you can do this little hack, you can get basically two sets of extensions for $105 each.
Easy Application: Typically with clip-ins, as long as you don’t get a crazy length, you won’t really need to get them cut or layered with your actual hair. Since it comes with different wefts, you can usually play with blending by just moving them around on different parts of your head. Extensions usually always look best when they’re layered, but with these, you don’t have to.
Versatile: Clip-ins are perfect for you if you want to be able to do a variety of styles. You can wear them down, in a high ponytail, braids, etc. with ease. You can also control how natural or glamorous you want your hair to look depending on the length and thickness of your extensions.
When it comes to high ponytails, I prefer clip-in’s because they feel the most secure and comfortable (I used to clip mine in upside down!). Plus, if for whatever reason they show in a certain spot, you can take it out, and clip it in somewhere else!
Damage: When I used to wear my clip-ins for long periods of time, my hair wasn’t as healthy as it is now. There were times where I felt like the clips were pulling on my hair and if you don’t take them out section by section, you will probably damage your hair. As a disclaimer, I used to be pretty rough with my clip-ins and would unsnap all the clips, then gently pull out the wefts from my hair, so I might have caused more damage this way. I never really noticed the breakage on my hair until I switched to the other type of extensions I mention later in this post. I don’t know if this had to do with how I took them out, or the teasing I had to do to my hair to secure the clips. Either way, if you decide to go with clip-ins, just try to be extra gentle.
Application Time: Clip-in extensions can take a little bit to put in if you’re new to using them. Even after years of wearing them, it would take me about 2 minutes to snap them all in—which isn’t a long time, but having to section off my hair and tease it to get each weft in was something I didn’t love to do each time.
Tape-in extensions were the second method I’ve ever tried. I loved them while they lasted, but for me, the cons outweighed the pros.
Time Saver: Tape-in extensions are a huge time saver on a daily basis. You wake up, and your extensions are already in. You have long (if you want), thicker hair that looks super pretty and the only thing you’ll need to do is brush it, and maybe fix a piece or two. I used to curl my tape-ins so they would look like beach waves. Although I shower everyday, I don’t wash my hair everyday because it’ll get too dry and brittle. In-between washes, I used a dry shampoo to keep my hair clean and soak up any excess oil. Since the extensions and my hair hold curl well, I would be able to curl my hair one day, and have it last for several days after. I absolutely loved this—I felt like my hair was able to take a break from heat damage because I wasn’t styling it everyday.
Wear Time: When you have tape-in extensions, you have to get them moved up every 6-8 weeks. This was great because for about two months, I didn’t have to worry about taking out or putting in my extensions on a daily basis. I also found that my tape-ins didn’t shed as much as my clip-in extensions. I don’t know why this is, but part of my thought that this could be because I wasn’t having to style them as often since the tape-ins blending in with my hair.
Seamless Application: Tape-ins should really be applied by a professional. This will ensure that they’re in your hair correctly, securely, and are blended. Your hair stylist will probably cut your extensions into your hair so it looks seamless and natural. Your stylist can also blend different colors of tape-in extensions to match your color exactly—especially if you have highlights/lowlights. Once they’re installed correctly, they honestly look like your hair.
Swim-Proof: One of my favorite things about the tape-in extensions were that you could swim in them. As someone that travels to warm places semi-frequently and always wants to have cute beach waves in my hair, you know, at the actual beach, I was a huge fan of these extensions. Although it sounds like a bad idea (and it was), I tried to swim in my other extensions, and it just doesn’t work out as well. If you really want long, thick hair in the summer that you can swim in, you’ll probably love these.
Cost: Tape-in extensions are a commitment. Not only is the actual price of the hair more expensive, but you have to buy several packs to go into your hair. I have fine hair, so I could get away with only buying two packs, but other friends of mine had to put in 3-4 packs. Each pack is usually about 50g and around at least $100 per pack. If you have thicker hair, you’re looking at a minimum for $400—and that’s just for the hair. The price will also vary depending on color and length. Being blonde, my stylist charged me extra for blonde hair and told me it was significantly more because it’s blonde hair/bleached. After the cost of the hair, you’ll also have to pay to get them professionally installed and cut. Depending on your stylist, you can be looking at more than $150 (not even including the tip) for the service.
Maintenance + Cost (Again): Every 6-8 weeks when you get them moved up, you’ll also be paying for your stylist to remove and reapply them, in addition to washing and drying your hair since they have to be applied to clean, dry hair. Towards the time when you need to get your extensions moved up, sometimes the adhesive becomes less sticky, and parts of your extensions may become loose or slide out. If they become too lose, sometimes the extensions start to lay weird in your hair and end up showing.
Since tape-ins are reapplied by putting a new layer of tape over the existing layer, your stylist will probably recommend only using the extensions for 3 applications, then after that you’ll have to buy the hair all over again.
Special Products: Because tape-ins are applied with a special sort of adhesive, you’ll also need to buy special shampoo and conditioner to wash your hair and extensions with. My stylist recommended sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, which I didn’t have and needed to buy. Keep in mind that you will have to wash your hair a bit differently—it’s a weird experience the first few times, but then you get used to it.
Difficult for Colored-Treated Hair: If you’re someone that dyes your hair, when it comes to dying your outgrowth, you might have a hard time. I typically touch-up my roots every 4 weeks myself, so when it was time to dye my hair, I left my extensions in and had my mom help me dye around the tape-ins (thanks mom!). It’s not a difficult task, but it’s rather annoying. Since I moved up my extensions every 8 weeks, this meant that I had navigate dye around my tape-ins quite frequently. Keep this in mind if you have colored hair that you need to touch up frequently.
Limited Styles: Since the tape in extensions are applied basically all over your head, it can be hard to do many hairstyles other than half-up or leaving it all down. Since those are usually the only styles I do, it didn't bother me much You can play around and eventually get these into a ponytail; it can take some time to ensure that none of the tape-ins are showing on the bottom or sides of the ponytail—it’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t say it’s easy.
Damage: When I got my extensions installed, I was told that they were the least damaging type of extension. In a way, I understand why I was told that—my natural hair was sandwiched in-between two extension pieces, so any heat I used wasn’t going directly onto my actual hair—but once I took my tape-in’s out for good, my hair felt very thin. When I would get my extensions moved up, I would see a little bit of my natural hair come out with the extensions (most likely because the adhesive was still tacky);I don’t know if the removal process caused it to be thin, or if it just felt much thinner once the extensions were out in comparison to having them in. Once again, I have fine, blonde hair—this may just be because of my hair type, so if you’re considering getting them, don’t let me scare you away.
Easy Application: Putting on a halo extension is the easiest type of extension you’ll ever wear. You literally section one part of your hair up, place the halo on, and then release the section so it falls over your extensions. Brush it through a little and comb the top part of your hair, and you’re done with application. It takes less than 30 seconds—seriously.
Long-Lasting: The halo extensions that Hidden Crown Hair was so gracious enough to gift me have lasted a year so far and are still thick, smooth, and gorgeous. I’m sure they have thinned out a little bit due to shedding (very minimal), but it’s not noticeable at all, and if anything, it makes the extensions look more natural.
Less Damage: My hair has never been healthier in all of my time of wearing extensions than it is right now. I’ve been wearing halo extensions for about a year now and my hair is healthy and has significantly less damage than ever before. Since only a wire is used for application and it sits on top of your hair, it’s not pulling on your hair or restricting it from moving.
Since the halo holds curl much like my natural hair, I can curl my hair and extensions one day, and be able to put the halo in the next few days as well and have it blend with my natural hair easily—I’ll usually only have to touch up a curl or two!
Easy Maintenance: These extensions are so easy to wash—especially if you use an extension hanger. I personally clip mine to the extension hanger, hang it on something in my shower, and then wash them. You never have to worry about any pieces of wefts falling or having to wash around a clip. Afterwards, you just leave them on the hanger to dry. If you want to blow-dry them, it’s easy as well; I would recommend waiting until they’re about 75% or more dry beforehand.
Because I cut my extensions myself, I don’t like to cut them while they’re still in my hair. Halo extensions are incredibly easy to trim because you can put them on a hanger (not in your hair) and you can visually see how the hair falls and not have to worry about where various pieces will go. From there, you can cut length, add layers, etc, without fear of accidentally cutting your own hair.
Comfortable: Once you get used to wearing the halo extensions, they become very comfortable. The first few times you wear them, it might feel foreign, but once you get used to how they feel and finally get over the worry about them falling out (they won’t), you’ll fall in love!
I always get questions about if I worry that my halo extension will fall out. The answer is no, I don’t. I've worn it for over a year and that's never happened. Once you adjust and apply your halo correctly, it won’t fall out. The weight of the extension keeps it in place. As long as you’re not doing any crazy hair flips or riding rollercoasters, you should be just fine!
Cost: Halo extensions can be costly depending on which brand you get and the length. Halo extensions are made out of one thick weft of hair. You can choose the thickness of the weft, but just keep in mind that it is only one weft, so the thinner it is, the less likely it’ll blend (especially if you’re going for length).
A halo extension usually runs anywhere from $150 to about $500. However, although the upfront cost is high, it does last a long time. I have two sets of halo extensions; one is valued at $450 and the other is $400. Mine are more expensive because they’re longer, thicker, and layered. You can get more natural-looking halos for around $200.
Most halo extensions do come with an extra wire, so if your wire does break, you will have a back up to reinstall it with. Yay!
Limited Styles: Since halo extensions lay on top of your hair, it can be difficult to style them in updos unless you cut off the wire. I typically wear my hair completely down, or half up, so this doesn’t affect me much, but if you’re someone that likes to rock high ponytails, detailed braids, up-do’s, etc. this might not be the best choice for you. There are ways to style the halo so you can do different looks, but it requires much more effort and time, and isn’t something I personally would recommend doing.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I have tried close to a dozen hair extension brands, if not more. I typically like to use 100% Remy human hair, but depending on your hair texture, you might want to opt for something different.
Here are some of my top 4 favorite brands for hair extensions:
Hair extensions really come down to your lifestyle and what you’re looking for. If you’re someone that doesn’t have a lot of time and you want something more permanent, tape-ins are the way to go. Are you a new mom who wants long, thick hair but only has like 2 minutes to get ready in the morning? Halo extensions are for you. If you love putting your hair in braids, ponytails, and everything in between, order some clip-ins ASAP.
This post was solely meant to share my experiences and what I’ve learned by having each type of these extensions. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a professional by any means, I’m just a long-time user of hair extensions. I know what works best for my lifestyle, so remember that I’m just giving you my knowledge and you should decide what works best for you. I’m here if you have any questions or want any advice—I’m always available via email or on Instagram!