The Hair Extensions Clinic

hair magazine’s “hair clinic” panelist and extensions expert Inanch Emir answers all the magazine readers’ specific questions relating to hair extensions:

I’m planning to have some extensions fitted for an event in early summer and I was really hoping they would last through the season for my holidays. How long, realistically, can I expect them to last and do you have any advice or care instructions to ensure I get the most possible wear out of them?

Professionally applied hair extensions that consist of 100% natural human hair should last up to 3-4 months providing that they are looked after by the wearer. Your hair extensionist should take you through the aftercare regime which will include what products to use on your own hair and your hair extensions whilst on holiday. Firstly, before entering the pool or sea, we recommend that you tie your hair in a loose ponytail or plait to avoid your hair from matting when swimming. You should also use a good sun-protecting product such as Philip Kingsley’s Swimcap which contains UV protection for your hair. If you are planning to sit in the sun for hours, use a leave-in hair treatment that can help protect your hair whilst you’re enjoying the sun. Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer is the perfect product for this as it delivers a rush of moisture to the hair cuticle and prevents the hair from drying out and breaking. The Gold Class pH Balancer is also a great product to use whilst on holiday, especially if you have pre-bonded hair extensions. This product acts as a final rinse (after shampooing and conditioning) and helps protect the hair extension bonds agains the damaging effects of chlorine and sea salt water. Don’t forget to give your hair a good brush on a daily basis before going out in the sun. Use a soft bristle brush and brush your hair only when its dry.

My hair is naturally straight, however I’m going to have a perm. Should I get the extensions permed too? Or should I have the extensions applied and then have it permed all together?

You should never get your hair permed whilst you have hair extensions in as the perm solution will weaken the bonds and cause them to fall out. Some brands will have permed hair or naturally curly hair that you can have after you’ve permed your own hair. Your extensionist should do both a “colour and hair texture match” after perming your own hair in order to get the correct textured hair extensions for you.

I am going on holiday soon and will be doing water sports, will the chlorine/salt water affect my hair extensions? How can I maintain them?

Chlorine and salt water as well as excessive sun exposure can affect your hair extensions and cause them to dry, tangle or slip off. The best way to maintain your hair extensions whilst on holiday and participating in water sports activities is to tie them up in to a plait. This will keep the extensions compact and will stop them from tangling. Make sure you also shampoo and condition your hair extensions with moisture-rich haircare products once you get back to your hotel room. We would recommend our Gold Class moisturising shampoo and conditioner. If you have pre-bonded hair extensions, using the Gold Class pH Balancer product will help keep the bonds strong and maintain your hair extensions’ pH balance during your water sports activities. Make sure you also brush your hair with a soft bristle brush on a daily basis in order to prevent your hair extensions from tangling. Your hair extensions salon should be able to provide you with all the appropriate aftercare & maintenance products to keep your hair in great condition throughout your holiday.

Do I need to prepare my hair before having any form of extensions put in? Like a mask, treatment, and should I have it cut before they are fitted or after?

During your initial consultation, your extensionist will decide if your hair needs any pre-extensions preparation prior to your extensions application. A mask treatment is always good to apply a couple of days prior to having your extensions fitted. If your hair is quite dry and fragile due to excess colour processing, we always recommend that you have a series of treatments to get your hair in great condition prior to having extensions. This could take up to a month or even longer depending on the condition of your hair.

Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer is a great pre-extensions treatment to offer your clients both as an “in-salon” and “at-home” hair treatment and will help strengthen your hair prior to extensions.

Providing that your hair extensionist is a fully qualified hairdresser, they should cut your hair and prepare it and remove any split ends from your own hair. Once the extensions are fitted, your extensionist should also layer the extensions so that they blend in with your own hair and go completely unnoticed – the natural look!

I’m thinking of having hair extensions fitted but I am worried that they my cause damage to my own hair if I go to the wrong place. Where should I be looking and doing my research?

Hair extensions can give you that instant length which you’ve been longing for without causing any damage to your own hair. However, there are a number of important factors which you need to consider before having extensions applied. Firstly, the condition of your own hair and scalp needs to be good enough for extensions to be attached. An experienced hair extensionist should be able to assess your hair and scalp and determine if hair extensions are suitable for you. There are many hair treatments that can be prescribed to get your hair in to great shape and ready for extensions. Secondly, you should have your extensions applied by a reputable hair extensionist that has the relevant experience in both hairdressing and hair extension applications. Badly applied hair extensions are one of the main factors that can cause damage to your own hair. Do your research and seek recommendations. A good starting point will be to look on the Hair Council website to see if your hair extensionist is actually a state registered and qualified hairdresser. Thirdly, the quality of the hair used is extremely important. For the best and most natural looking results, we only apply 100% natural human hair which is “remy hair” meaning that all the cuticles are facing the same direction. Hair extensions that are not remy can cause matting and subsequently add more pressure to your scalp when brushing your hair. Although we offer several application methods including micro-rings, clip-ins, micro wefts and pre-bonded polymer tips, from our 15 years of experience in the industry we find that the pre-bonded polymer tips offer the most natural looking results causing no damage to your own hair – providing that the aftercare and maintenance advice is followed throughout the duration of your hair extensions. This leads us on to the final and most important factor – aftercare! Your hair extensionist should offer you a bespoke aftercare and maintenance programme in order to keep your hair extensions and your own natural hair in their best condition throughout the recommended period. This includes everything from how to brush your hair to what shampoos and conditioners to use. Lastly, any method of hair extensions should be “professionally” removed by a qualified hairdresser or extensionist within the recommended time period. Providing that all these factors are followed through, you will get the very best out of your hair extensions without causing any damage to your own hair.

What is the shortest length of hair you can apply extensions to? I recently had my tresses cut into a crop but I hate it. How much longer does it have to be before I can have extensions applied and will it be more expensive?

In order to get the best and most natural results, your hair should be long enough to the point where the crown area reaches the nape. If your hair is shorter than this, hair extensions can still be applied but the end result will not look as natural as the extension bonds will be visible. The shorter your hair is, the more hair extensions you will need and the more expensive the process becomes. It is best to wait for your hair to be at least 5cm-8cm long (from the nape area) before you apply hair extensions.

I colour my hair regularly, but want to have extensions. Do I colour my hair before the extensions are put in or after? And once I have them, can I continue to colour?

We always recommend that you colour your hair first and at least a week before your extensions are fitted. Your hair extensions colour-matching should also be done “after” you have coloured your hair so that your extensionist can do an exact colour-match during the consultation. You can continue to colour your hair as normal once your hair extensions are fitted BUT avoid using bleach on your hair which can dry out the hair extensions and shorten the lifespan of them.

There have been some negative stories in the media about the practices of some hair extension brands – how can I know which ones are right for me and the most ethical?

First of all it is important to check your hair extensionist is a qualified hair extensionist. Ask for their State Registration. Equally important is their extension training and reputable brands offer thorough 2 day training with certification if they pass at an acceptable level. Once you know the brand they work with you can check them out further by looking at their website showing training and the application process. This will also give you a good indication about how ethical the hair extensions are and where & how they are sourced. Most ethically sourced hair extensions come from Temples around the world and mainly Indian Temples. It is also a good idea to ask to see the extensionist’s portfolio of work to check out the transformations they have done and any customer feedback they may have on their website/social media. You can also check on the supplier’s site if this salon/extensionist is recommended. Key pointers to avoid are large bonds. Advancement in techniques means that the bonds are very small & discreet. When working the extensionist should be working neatly & methodically around your head in sections and once attached the bonds should not be pulling on your own hair or irritating. Also, try to avoid extensions that look too shiny or silky – these are full of silicone coating and will not sit well with your own hair.

I really want to get hair extensions but my hair is dry, damaged and generally in a bad condition. Are there any requirements about the heath of my hair and what criteria do you use to assess whether extensions would be appropriate?

Hair extensions should only be applied when your own hair and scalp is in good condition. Applying hair extensions on damaged or dry hair will only aggravate the issue and will cause further damage. As part of the consultation, your hair extensionist should assess the condition of your hair and scalp and determine if your hair is strong enough to withhold hair extensions. Part of the assessment should include a “hair strand and pull test” where the Extensionist checks the elasticity of your hair and condition of your scalp. There are both in-salon and at-home treatments available which can help improve the condition of your hair and scalp. The length of time required to have these hair and scalp treatments prior to having extensions will depend on the level of damage and condition of your own hair and scalp. In some cases, where there is severe damage, we advise clients not to have extensions for a long while and refer them to the Philip Kingsley Trichology clinic in London for more intensive treatments.

I’m thinking of getting hair extensions for my wedding to make my shoulder-length hair even longer and more glamorous when curled, but I don’t know which kind of fitting I would need – micro wefts, micro rings, or pre-bonded…there are so many options and

If you’re looking to have long and voluminous hair just for your big day, then clip-in hair extensions can be a good option as they are a temporary method, more cost-effective and will give you instant results without any commitment of hair extensions maintenance. Make sure you choose clip-ins that are 100% natural human hair as synthetic clip-in hair pieces will not look as natural. For the best results, visit a salon that offers “bespoke” clip-in hair pieces that are customised to your own hair colour and texture.

If you are after a longer-term option with hair extensions and planning to have them in for at least 3 months we recommend pre-bonded keratin hair extensions as these offer the most natural and undetectable results – giving you that extra length and volume for your big day. Remember that you will need to devote a little more time on maintaining your longer-term hair extensions – especially if you’re off to a hot climate for your honeymoon.

Whichever method you decide to go for, make sure that your extensionist does a thorough colour and hair texture match so that the hair extensions seamlessly blend in with your own natural hair. Allow plenty of time and have your extensions fitted at least 2-3 weeks prior to your big day so that you feel comfortable with them and that any adjustments can be made if required”.

I’ve been wearing hair extensions for five years now and I’ve noticed that my real hair is starting to fall out excessively. I also have a bald patch appearing on the underside of my hair near the nape of my neck. Are there any treatments or supplements I

This could be caused by tension from the hair extensions and the weight of the hair being applied. The hair density of the extensions should always match your own hair otherwise too much tension on your hair can cause traction alopecia (a gradual hair loss caused by pulling of the hair). There are treatments available to help with recovery of your hair and aid natural re-growth. Philip Kingsley’s new Trichotherapy treatment is a very effective solution which comes in a tablet form, a hair & scalp treatment and a protein spray. When using all these 3 products together you will start to notice a difference after 6-8 weeks. Meanwhile, it is best to have all your extensions removed and allow your hair to recover before any re-application. When you do decide to have extensions again, make sure you see a qualified and reputable extensionist who will be able to assess the condition of your own hair and apply the appropriate amount of extensions on you as well as prescribe a bespoke aftercare programme.

I’ve found out that I am pregnant – can I still have bonded hair extensions?

Yes, pregnant women can still have pre-bonded hair extensions providing that they are applied and removed by a professional hair extensionist using a reputable brand’s hair extensions and removal solutions. During the application and removal of pre-bonded extensions the bond and removal solution do not come in to direct contact with the client’s skin and is generally applied around 1cm away from the scalp. Therefore systemic absorption via this route of the chemical components would not occur. Avoid using any type of hair extensions that are directly bonded or glued on to the scalp.

I’m going on holiday to the caribbean and want to have hair extensions fitted before I go. Will they require a lot of upkeep and will I still be able to sit in the sun for hours and swim in both sea and chlorinated water every day?

It is important that you look after your hair extensions whilst on holiday. Firstly, before entering the pool or sea, we recommend that you tie your hair in a loose ponytail to avoid your hair from matting when swimming. You should also use a good sun-protecting product such as Philip Kingsley’s Swimcap which contains UV protection and protects against the drying and damaging effects of both chlorinated and salt water. If you are planning to sit in the sun for hours, use a leave-in hair treatment that can help protect your hair whilst you’re enjoying the sun. Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer is the perfect product for this as it delivers a rush of moisture to the hair cuticle and prevents the hair from drying out and breaking. Don’t forget to give your hair a good brush on a daily basis before going out in the sun. Use a soft bristle brush and brush your hair only when its dry. If you follow these basic guidelines, you should not experience any problems with your hair extensions.

What is cold fusion application and how long does it last?

Cold Fusion application is a process that uses ultrasound technology to bond the extensions to your own natural hair. The difference between the cold and heat frequency system is that cold fusion uses less heat and produces the same results while offering further protection to those with finer or heat sensitive hair. Cold fusion hair extension applications last up to 5 months which is the same as the classic heat frequency system.

I’m getting married in a couple of months and would like extensions for my wedding and honeymoon pictures, but I’ve never tried them before. How soon before the wedding should I have them fitted and what kind should I be wearing?

f you’re looking to have hair extensions for the first time, we normally advise our bridal clients to try them out first but well ahead of the wedding (around 3-4 months prior) and then to have a fresh set applied closer to their wedding date. As your wedding is in a couple of months, I recommend that you have them fitted at least 2-3 weeks prior to your big day which gives your extensionist enough time to make any adjustments, if required, so that you feel 100% comfortable and happy with them.

In our professional opinion, pre-bonded hair extensions using 100% human hair gives the most natural results with minimal maintenance although you will be required to devote some time in to looking after your extensions. Make sure that your extensionist goes through the aftercare advice in addition to doing a thorough colour and hair texture match so that the extensions blend in seamlessly with your own natural hair.