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Artificial hair integrations, more commonly known as hair extensions (rarely referred to as a hair hat), 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, especially in the African American community. These hair techniques are advanced and are used to change the hair drastically without looking unrealistic.
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 toupee 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 all day and all night; however, they must be removed before sleeping. Some people wear clip-ins just for night life, while others wear them every day to work. This shows the versatility of this type of hair extension.
Bonding is an approach to hair weave that lasts for a shorter period of time in comparison to sew-in weave. 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.
The fusion method delivers one of the most versatile and most natural-looking weaves on the market. With this technique a machine similar to a hot glue gun is 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.Because of the glue and the heat this method is more damaging hair than other methods.
Hair Infusion Extensions are the trademarked hair extensions technique of Rodolfo Valentin hair stylist of New York City. Hair Infusion Extensions are known for providing safety to the natural hair since this technique does not uses heat or any other appliances to be linked to the natural hair other than a keratin based adhesive. Hair infusion is only a reusable hair extension technique.
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 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 around 2–4 hours to complete.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
The most popular and commonly available form of hair is known as premium hair. It is sold in the majority of 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:
Synthetic hair is made of a wide array of different [synthetic fibers]. Synthetic hair, just like human hair, comes in weave (weft) and single strands (bulk) for braids. Synthetic hair does not last as long as human hair because it gets quickly damaged by friction and heat. The quality of hair varies greatly. Depending on quality, it may never look like human hair, as it can be stiff and move differently from human hair. Synthetic hair is 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 hair that are more resistant, human-like hair that can be heat processed allowing for heat styling.
Futura is a type of synthetic fiber that can withstand heat up to 400 degrees 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. 
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.
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).
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. 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.
In Esther R Berry's research paper, The Zombie Commodity: Hair and the Politics of its Globalization, ideas and concepts related to first and third world identity structures, as well as the concepts of 'ethnic hair' and grotesque beauty ideals are discussed in great detail.
See also the Grotesque.
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. Then from there it would become lighter and lighter. These colors vary greatly from one manufacturer to another, and certain specialty hair suppliers also create their own signature patterns and colors. The highest number is the lightest color, which is white or a very light colored blond.
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:
The quality of the hair is often specified.
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 your head. When you purchase the hair at a beauty supply store, you also have to purchase the clips and sew them on. Once the clips are sewn in, it is recommended that you 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 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's 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.
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