How Do Hair Extensions Work?

When you hear the word hair extensions, one thing comes to mind: long, fabulous locks that add lots of volume and bounce. Sounds great, right? But are hair extensions magical fairies that make your hair dreams come true? Naw. They actually have a precise way of working, depending on the type of hair extension application method you choose.

For the most part, hair extensions work by being installed to your natural mane by means of clips, tape, heat, or another application method. The faux strands hanging from the bonds are strategically placed to blend with your natural locks, creating beautifully long and thick tresses.

Are you itching to find out how hair extensions work? You’re not alone – and I’m here to help you. This article shares how hair extensions work, whether you want to know about clips, tapes, or other popular application methods. It’s a basic rundown you’re sure to enjoy!

Let’s talk about how hair extensions work!

How Do Hair Extensions Work?

The main goal of every type of hair extension is to add volume, length, color, or all three. They’re strategically installed, so they’re discreet and blended with your real mane, creating a fabulous appearance. 

However, not all application methods are the same. While they have the same “goal,” they “work” a little differently. 

1. Clip-In Hair Extensions

Clip-in hair extensions are undeniably one of the top temporary solutions for hairstyle shake-ups. They’re attached to your existing hair strands using a clip. They’re best placed close to the root for comfort and security.

Clip-in hair extensions are temporary hair extensions, which means they’ll need to be installed and removed in the same day. Don’t worry, though – they’re super easy to install; it can be done in a matter of seconds.

Speaking of clip-ins, we should also mention temporary bun and ponytail extensions. These may have different application methods, but for the most part, they’ll wrap around or clip to your natural hair to create a fuller appearance. 

2. Halo Hair Extensions

Another temporary hair extension is known as a halo hair extension

These hair extensions come with a small wire with hair attached to it. The wire is easily positioned on the top of your head like a “halo,” which is where these handy temp hair extensions got their name. Then, the hair is styled however you please.

3. Tape-In Hair Extensions

Are you looking for something a little bit more long-term? Then tape-in hair extensions may be the right choice for you. 

Tape-ins are attached similarly to clip-ins. Of course, the big difference here is that clip-ins utilize clips while tape-ins use, well, tape.

The hair is sectioned off, just like you would do for clip-in hair extensions. Then, a small section of your natural hair is “sandwiched” between two pieces of tape with hair attached.

Because the tape is so thin and hardly noticeable, tape-ins are an excellent option for gals that want something longer-lasting while still being comfortable and invisible – even when they put their hair up.

4. Micro-Link Hair Extensions

Micro-link hair extensions have recently soared to the top of the hair extension popularity charts. That’s because they’re long-lasting (up to six months with proper maintenance), require minimal maintenance, and blend seamlessly.

How do they work, though? Well, a hairstylist will start by sectioning your hair off. Then, they’ll thread your natural strands through a bead and clamp the bead using professional hair pliers to create a bond. Some hairstylists use small sections of hair, while others opt for tracks.

5. Keratin Hair Extensions

While keratin hair extensions are called many different names (hot fusion, k-tip, pre-bonded, to name a few), most people (myself included) simply refer to them as “keratin extensions.”

Keratin extensions have been around forever and are a definite tried-and-true method of installing faux hair. 

Keratin extensions are pre-bonded, which means the hair is grouped with a keratin tip. During application, a professional will melt the keratin tip to your natural strands, creating a solid bond that requires little maintenance – yet they can last up to six months.

These are the only extensions that work by using heat – so it’s recommended to have them applied by a professional. Otherwise, you may accidentally end up damaging your natural hair.

6. Sew-In Hair Extensions

Last but certainly not least, we have sew-in hair extensions. These work by literally “sewing” the faux hair into a braid plaited beforehand by your hairstylist. 

Sew-in hair extensions are another “old-school” method that offers impeccable security and longevity, which is why they remain a very popular application method for specific hair types.


Now you know how hair extensions work! Not too complicated, right? Don’t hit the “X” just yet, though, folks! I have a few frequently asked questions that might pique your interest. Let’s take a look!

How long do hair extensions usually last?

How long hair extensions usually last depends largely on the type of hair extensions you have. For instance, synthetic clip-ins won’t last nearly as long as Remy U-tip hair extensions

Can you shower with hair extensions?

You can only shower with permanent hair extensions, such as tape-ins, micro-links, and keratin hair extensions. Temporary solutions, like clip-in or halo hair extensions, should not be worn in the shower (or to bed, for that matter).

Do hair extensions damage existing hair?

Hair extensions are not inherently damaging. However, if they are installed or removed improperly, they can cause damage to existing hair. That’s why it’s always best to have your extensions installed and removed by a professional and experienced hairstylist.

There Are Many Great Hair Extension Options!

Although hair extensions share the same goal, they all work differently. For instance, clip-ins are temporary hair extensions that can be clipped in and worn throughout the day, while sew-ins must be “sewn” into a plait and can be worn for several months.

Which hair application method do you prefer? Do you have anything to add to this comprehensive list? Let’s hear it! Sound off in the comment section!

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