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Hair Extension 101

I am So excited about today’s post, as it is something very near and dear to my heart. So if you have been following for some time, you KNOW my hair is always full of secrets. I have the most baby fine hair in all of America, so my never-ending quest for glorious hair has been extensive, and has cost me a small fortune. But never fear, my misfortunes are to your benefit friends, because I truly feel I have amassed quiet the wealth of knowledge on the subject. So here today, I shall share with you all the info you will ever need to know on my experience with extensions.

Jessica Simpson “Hairdo” ($$)

My journey started about ten years ago, with the Jessica Simpson “Hairdo” that she was reppin’ with Ken Paves, anybody remember those?? It was pretty much like a synthetic toupee that you clipped in, and voila, Bombshell. It was like my eyes were opened for the first time. I too can have Jessica Simpson hair? You betcha. The downfall? The hair was synthetic, so not heat could be used on them, and the blend was less than ideal. I could really only wear it in an updo, which I thought was quite clever at the time. They still make them apparently, I actually found some on Amazon here.

PROS: Cost effective and useful if you just need for a Halloween Costume, or will only use once.

CONS: Synthetic hair, so you can’t use heat, the colors are limited, and the synthetic hair is super shiny, so looks unnatural.

Clip-in Extensions ($$$)

Once I graduated from my JSimps do, I discovered clip-in extensions. These were my main staple for years, I mean years. They are real human hair, so you can wash and put heat on them. There are all different kinds now, ranging from basic sets that you can find from Sally’s to more expensive options online. Some of my favorites that I have seen are Bellami, they are really pretty and you can get them much thicker than the ones you can find in local stores.

PROS: They are still affordable ($150-$400+), reusable and washable, and can withstand heat styling. They clip easily in and out for those afraid of commitment. I always recommend clip-in extensions to my bridal clients who just want extra va-va-voom on wedding days.

CONS: If you want to wear them all the time, clipping them in and out can be annoying. Also the clips can be painful after long periods of time. Ensuring they blend can be a full-time job, so get ready to check your hair in the mirror often.

Hidden Crown Halo Style Extensions ($$$)

I next discovered the Hidden Crown Halo Style extensions. I have this one, and really enjoyed it actually. You place it on your head like a headband, and then pull your hair through and over the extensions.

PROS: There are many color options, and they are easy to put in and take out. No clips pulling your hair, they tend to be thicker than clip ins, so you get a better blend. It is also really funny to put on your niece, so that is a bonus.

CONS: it kinda feels like you are wearing a wig, and it is hard to move. I always felt like I had a neck injury and couldn’t turn my head too fast, for fear my wig would fall off, lol. If you are around water, this option is not ideal, because you won’t be able to swim in them or anything like that.

Tape In Extensions ($$$+)

My next bright idea was to try tape in extensions. Let me preface this with saying that I have seen some tap ins done really well, and some done not so well. Mine fell in the “not so well done” category. Generally tape in extensions range from $500-$1000. You have them installed, and then moved up every 6-8 weeks. You can keep the hair for several installations, replacing as necessary when it starts to become too damaged.

PROS: you have long/full hair all the time, no hassle with putting extensions in and out on the daily. You can wash them, dry them, put heat on them etc. I know Anna-Katherine Raines (one of my little insty friends!) does BEAUTIFUL Bellami tape in’s in South Carolina, and I am always amazed at how good her clients look.

CONS: the tape can be damaging if not done correctly. I also found that you could see them easily on fine thin hair like mine. Brushing them was also challenging, and my hair got knotted easily.

Natural Beaded Row Extensions ($$$$)

Now for my favorite part, enter NRB. NBR (Natural Beaded Rows) were created by Danielle White (DKW Styling) in Laguna Beach and they save lives, really. I first discovered NBR when my sweet little bride Maddie Duff (OtteStyle) had them done for her wedding. I was in sheer awe at how amazing they looked. You couldn’t even see them!! I said to myself, Allison, you gotta get those girl. I went to the same gal that did Maddie’s, Diana the owner of Mane Alley Color and Extension Bar in New Albany IN (about an hour from where I live). NBR extensions are the least damaging, most natural looking extensions I have seen. The extensions are attached with minimal contact points, making them the least damaging out there. About 8-10 Beads are attached in a row, a thread is threaded through the beads, and then the extension wefts are sewn onto the thread. So they really only touch your  hair in these teeny tiny points of attachment. The weight is distributed evenly, so they don’t pull like I experienced with tape-ins. The actual wefts of hair are hand tied, so they are much thinner than typical wefts on clip-ins. It is hard to understand without a visual, but if you go to Diana’s Instagram, and click on her “the process” highlight, you can easily see how it is done. So let’s talk color. Diana custom colors your hair AND the extension hair, so it is all seamlessly blended. It is amazing!! I am 100% obsessed and don’t think I will ever go back. I never knew my hair could look like this! I have two rows,  6 wefts each row,  18-inch extensions. I was a little worried they were too long at first, but after living in them I think they are absolutely perfect!

Here is my before and after, I mean… are you just amazed? I am!

PROS: They look amazing, and so natural. I can’t even feel them! The color is to die for, I love the more melted beige blonde look that I have happening. I only have to wash my hair about once a week, which is so nice. I still work out almost daily, I just use dry shampoo, and blow dry out the sweat (I know it sounds gross, I swear I still shower!!) You can wash more often, it is just so nice not to have too. I curl my hair about every 3 days, it holds so well. The blend is so seamless, I can easily pull it up into a ponytail, or half up, and not even have to worry about anything being exposed. They are easy to shampoo around, I feel like I can easily get between the two rows. So magical. I just love them, can’t say enough positive things!!

CONS: I truly don’t have any. I guess the price could be a con, because they are an investment. The initial installation ranges from $1,000-1,500 depending on how many rows you need, and the length you want. They were a little heavy the first time I washed them, but I quickly got use to them. Also dry time, holy moly. I was use to drying my hair in under a minute, but now I don’t even bother trying. I just blow-dry my real hair on top, and let the extensions air dry.

Maintenance and Care

I only wash mine once a week, in hopes to maintain the hair for longer. I also use this spray conditioner, this deep conditioning masque, and I use this U oil every night before bed, brushing through with a wet brush. I actually found all three in a starter pack, which honestly would be great for any type of hair.

I usually sleep with my extensions in a high bun in a scrunchie on top of my head, I just like them out of my way. The scrunchie keeps it from kinking, and pulls less. I only curl every couple of days, they stay curled really well. I will touch up curl spots on top as needed. I will go back every 6-8 weeks for color, and to move the extensions up ($300-$500 depending on needs). I should only have to replace the hair once or twice a year, depending on how well I take care of them. I will keep you updated on this!

Luckily there are so many options out there for us fine haired gals, and what works best for me might not work best for you. I do feel like I have found my best hair in NBR extensions by Diana!! She is a true artist, and I could not be happier with my hair transformation.

You can book with Diana here! If you are not local and are looking for an NBR certified artist in your area, you can find one here!

Let me know if there is anything I did not cover, happy to answer!!

(I got this top last year, but I linked a similar one here, and the bralette here! Earrings are from Peplum Lexington)

  1. tyler says:

    ok, so you look like a mermaid and now I’m finding a place that will give me lovely lady locks.

  2. Kare says:

    Omg.. I remember and embarrassingly enough owned those Jessica Simpson ones!! Great run through of all of them!

  3. Candice says:

    You totally just made me want to get certified for NBR extensions!!! Off to figure this out!!!

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