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Hair extensions 101 and Health > Hair Weave 101

17 Jan 2005

Celebrities, like Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, whose film and television roles call for many different head-turning styles may wear hair extensions to prevent damage and to take the styling pressure off their own locks. Bonding is a popular temporary weaving method and a great way to add volume or vibrant streaks of color to your natural hair. Tracks of hair are glued to the roots of your own hair with a special adhesive. To prevent damage to your natural hair, tracks shouldn't be left in longer than a week or two. Experts recommend removing extensions carefully by soaking hair with a bond remover or oil sheen for a few minutes to prevent damage to your natural hair follicles. Prices can range from $10 to $15 per track.

If you want a show-stopping new look, like City High's Claudette Ortiz, check out the track method. First, natural tresses are braided around the head in concentric circles. The braids are sewn down, then extensions are sewn to the braids. Eight to fifteen tracks are needed for a full head. Gray recommends replacing this weave every two months or every time you get a relaxer, since it will loosen up as your hair grows out. Care for this style as you would your natural hair, washing at least once a week. Prices range from about $15 to $35 per track.

If you've got a cute Toni Braxton look and want to go from a closely cropped cut to free-flowing tresses, the fusion method delivers one of the most versatile and believable weaves on the market. With this technique, a machine similar to a hot glue gun is used to adhere human hair extensions to individual strands of your natural hair (about the same size as a micro braid) for a truly authentic look. With a fusion weave, you can wash your hair every week and use products like gels and mousse to style. This is one of the most time-consuming (8 to 16 hours) and expensive methods (prices range from about $800 to $1,800).

If you want flowing locks like Trina and Kelly Price, ask your stylist about netting. This technique involves braiding natural tresses under a thin, breathable net that serves as a flat surface onto which stylists can weave extensions. Netting provides more flexibility than track placement because the stylist is not limited to sewing extensions to a braid. This style can last for up to three months if properly maintained. To care for your hair, wash it once a week and invest in a hooded hair dryer or heated cap for at-home maintenance. "You want to make sure your hair is completely dry so it will not mildew under the net," advises hair experts from around the world. Prices range from $150 to $350.

Maintenance Tips
Don't let your good weave go bad:

  • Start with good-quality human hair. It is best to choose tresses that most closely match the length, color and texture of a client's natural hair. Synthetic hair melts if it's styled with a curling iron or a blow dryer.

  • Maintain hair with a detangling shampoo like KeraCare Hydrating Detangling Shampoo and a moisturizing conditioner such as KeraCare Dry & Itchy Scalp Moisturizing Conditioner.

  • When it's time to remove your weave, seek out a professional to prevent damage to your natural hair. Also, visit your stylist to get the weave tightened and to ensure your hair is growing properly.

  • Before sleeping, cover your hair with a satin scarf.