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Types of Hair Extensions and Hairpieces for Men Guide
10-10-2015, 08:05 AM
Post: #1
Types of Hair Extensions and Hairpieces for Men Guide
I know that the topic of hair extensions for guys isn't very common, so I wanted to post this guide on hair extensions and hairpieces for men's hair. It includes how to make the hair extensions too.

These are the types of loose hair extensions for men:
  • Heat-sealed synthetic extensions (the 'Dome' method)
  • Pinch-braided synthetic extensions (the 'Hair-police' method)
  • The microrings system
  • Temporary loose extensions
  • General extensions information - wear and care, etc
  • Weaves and tracks
  • A word about gluing
  • Where and how much
Heat-sealed synthetic extensions (the 'Dome' method):

Putting them in: Loose heat-sealed synthetic hair extensions are usually attached to your own hair in the following way as described below.

Your own hair is braided in with synthetic hair for about half an inch with a 4-way 'box' braid. A small amount of spirit gum is applied to the outside of the braid - this part is not essential, but it holds things in place before you apply the heat - and then a small section of the synthetic hair is wrapped round and round the braid and is melted into place with a heat-clamp. The small section that you use for wrapping round the 4-way braid can be left out of the box braid from the start, and wrapped round the braid working away from the scalp (see the example in the 4-way section). Alternatively (and I think, slightly easier), you can use about a third of one of the pieces of synthetic hair you've been braiding with, and wrap it round the 4-way braid, working back towards the scalp.

The heat is enough to melt the synthetic hair, but it doesn't damage your own hair beneath. It also only melts the small piece of synthetic hair that has been wrapped round the braid, thus forming a hard plastic 'seal' on the outside. Inside, is an easy-to-remove unmelted braid. The spirit gum doesn't do any damage because it washes out over the course of the few months that the extensions are in.

You can do heat-sealed extensions at home, provided you can get friends to help. Four-way 'box' braids hold the best, but this takes two pairs of hands. You can still use a normal 3-way braid if you've only got one person putting in the extensions; that will still hold very well. One of the biggest battles with loose extensions is sectioning your own hair evenly and neatly, so that you don't get wispy bits from other parts of your head trapped in the seals - this is where having friends around can be extremely useful.

The best tool for heat sealing is a Dome or Prostyles C2 heat clamp, but they're a bit pricey at around £150/$250 each. Alternatives to this are the corner edge of some flat-plate hair straighteners/crimpers, or the middle section of a braid sealing tool. I've even heard of people using a hot curling iron - anything that can applied concentrated heat to a small area will work on the synthetic hair, but you need to practice a bit with these bigger, imprecise tools so that you don't singe peoples' heads!

Taking them out: Taking heat-sealed extensions out will probably take at least twice as long as it did to put them in. They are quite easy to remove - you "simply" pick the melted plastic off the outside of the small braid at the top of each extension. I've seen (and heard) it said that you can break the plastic seal just by twisting it, but I never had much luck - You just have to kiss goodbye to whatever fingernails you have, and pick-pick-pick away at the plastic seal. After that, the braid can be quickly unravelled and slid out of the hair. This is the easy part.

The difficult bit is getting all the knots and dreadlocks out of your hair at the top, where the hair has been sat in a braid for a few months. It's generally greasy, and unpleasant and takes a long time and a lot of patience. I find the easiest way to get the knots out is to apply the larger part of a bottle of cheap conditioner to your hair, and try to work them out gently. When you've broken the larger knots up, you can try to tease the smaller knots apart. Don't be too alarmed if you seem to be shedding a lots of hair - don't forget that we shed about 100 hairs a day, and while your hair is in extensions it just accumulates amongst the extensions and cannot 'fall ' as it normally would.

Pinch-braided synthetic extensions (the 'Hair-police' method):

Putting them in: The pinch-braid (or string) method of attaching hair extensions is similar to the 'Dome' method, but uses no spirit gum and no heat. Instead, a single length of thread or string is incorporated into the 4-way plait at the top of the hair (usually by braiding it in alongside either the synthetic or the real strands of hair), the hair is braided for about an inch, and then the loose ends of the thread are knotted firmly around the bottom of the braid to hold the extension in place.

It takes a little bit of practice to get the hang of pinch-braiding, and you may need to try a few different types of thread or yarn to see what you find easiest to use. You could just tie off the bottom of the braid with a piece of thread and not involve the thread in the braiding at all. The threads, however, actually tighten the braid and pull the synthetic hair closer to the scalp as you do the braid, so it's not, as it appears, just a way to tie off the hair - it actually keeps the extensions firmly in place.

This method allows re-use of the extension hair, provided it isn't in too much of a bad state, which means that the extensions can be re-tightened as your hair grows (which is not possible with heat-sealed extensions). It also has the advantage of needing no fancy equipment - just hair, and thread.

Taking them out: The process is a bit quicker than with heat-sealed extensions - just un-snip the thread and undo the braid. There's still the hell of getting the little dreadlocks out though.
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10-10-2015, 08:40 AM
Post: #2
RE: Types of Hair Extensions and Hairpieces for Men Guide
The Micro-rings/Microlinks system for loose extensions:

I confess I haven't tried this system out myself yet, but it seems to be quite easy to use and doesn't require lots of expensive equipment - just takes a bit of practice!

The system basically involves using tiny metal rings to clamp the extension hair onto small sections of the real hair, near the root. The hair is pulled into the ring with a latchook tool, and clamped into place using fine pliers. The placement is similar to other loose extension types, and can be used to do a full head of hair, or just a few streaks.

People who have used this system to install extensions report that it works best using synthetic hair rather than human hair, because human hair tends to shrink when it gets wet, and then can slip out of the microring. A small amount of glue can be used to bond the human hair to each ring to prevent this happening. People who have worn microring extensions say they are comfortable and the hair stays put until you remove it. To take the hair out, you just crimp the ring open again with the pliers and remove it.

Temporary loose extensions, and adding streaks of colour with extensions:

If you like the look of loose extensions, but don't want the cost and the hassle, you can easily attach loose hair to your own head, for an evening or a few days. It takes a couple of hours to do, but takes only a couple of minutes to remove and lets you play about with styles more easily than you can with hairpieces. All you do is braid small sections of your own hair with synthetic hair, just for an inch or so at the base, then secure with a small elastic band, snag-free elastic or loop of sewing elastic.

There's no need to do your whole head: just the top, and round the sides, where your hairline will show if you pull it up into bunches. Atropa uses monofilament extension hair in very small sections fixed with small loops of sewing elastic, and has found that she can leave it in for weeks at a time, just like heat-sealed extensions.

If you don't want to do a while headfull, you can just add a few sections in a contrasting colour to add streaks to your hair.Far easier than messing about with bleach and bits of tinfoil!

Information that applies to all of the above types of extensions:

Loose hair extensions usually require quite fine, very straight synthetic hair, usually described as 'monofilament'. Dome, Trimco, Prostyles, Hair Raiser and Stargazer are typical brand names for this type of hair. It melts nicely and is less prone to getting knotty than cheaper, thicker types of hair (and my own personal favourite pro: it doesn't smell like barbie doll hair!). If you plan to try to do this in any way at home, do not try to use anything less fine than silky monofibre hair. Experiments with 'Yaky' hair will leave you with a gnarled mess after a few days, unfortunately. If you want them to last and look good, you have to use more expensive hair in your extensions.

The way the extensions are arranged depends on your stylist and the thickness of your hair, -and- how natural a look you are going for. They may attach extensions to alternating sections of hair, so that your own hair covers the roots, or they may do every hair on your head! It's fairly common for them to leave your natural hair extension-free around the hairline and along any partings you may have, which helps to hide the extension hair at the roots.

For the first week or so, your extensions will probably feel very tight and a bit uncomfortable. As the small plaits settle and your own hair grows, this will ease up. I would only take out really 'pully' extensions at this point if you can see that your hair is getting pulled out (yes, this can happen sometimes. Don't worry - it'll grow back). They generally last 3-4 months, after which time, your own hair will have started to get very knotty at the roots and it's in your own best interests to take them out! (unless you can have them re-tightened). You can dye your roots as normal while your extensions are in.

I was advised to spend a few minutes each days running my fingers through the extensions at the roots, to keep each extension section separate from all the other sections. They do tend to stick together. If you take the time to do this, you will have fewer knots and dreads to pick out at the end.

Taking care of hair extensions:

You can wash and brush loose extensions like real hair, although it's a good idea to lay off the heavy conditioners, which may just give you greasy roots and will do bugger-all for your plastic hair. As stupid as it sounds, rinsing through your extensions with a dilute mixture of fabric softener will make them look and feel much better. If you get an itchy head, washing your hair does help.

To keep your hair tangle-free, it's best to brush your hair every day, as tedious as that might be. Otherwise it'll start looking skanky pretty quickly. Any silicon-based shine sprays are ideal for helping keep the tangles at bay - just give your hair a liberal dowsing and brush it through. This might get expensive, though, so have a look through your local yellow pages for salons in your area which deal with Dome, who make a spray specifically for loose monofilament hair.

Alternatively, look in any ethnic/afro hair shops, and you'll probably find that their braid sprays are very much the same as shine sprays, and a lot cheaper too.

Even the best cared-for extensions will get tatty at the ends. You can restore them to their original shiny state by blow-drying the ends around a bristle hairbrush. Keep the hair and the heat moving to avoid melting the hair into a single lump!

On looking after extensions, here's some advice that I got: "It took me years to figure out how to blow dry the ends "neatly" again. A girl at Ad Hoc in London told me once, but I missed the part about brushing it properly first and pulling it straight with a brush while blow drying, so it had no effect. Done right it can really work wonders on worn out and frayed ends and make the hair almost look new again. This is a bit tricky to do by yourself (especially if you have really long extensions) so it's best to ask someone else to do it for you."
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10-10-2015, 08:51 AM
Post: #3
RE: Types of Hair Extensions and Hairpieces for Men Guide
Weaves and tracks:

I've decided not to bother covering weaves and tracks much in this guide, for the simple reason that you can't really recreate the great big multi-coloured hairstyles like those in the gallery above particularly well, using weaves and tracks. You can do it more easily with pinch-braiding or Dome-style heat-sealed extensions.

You can't generally wear weaves up in bunches, for starters, and it isn't easy to find very long, brightly coloured hair on a track. Weaves are popular amongst people going for a more 'natural' look where they don't want extensions to look like fake hair.

They're cheaper and faster to put in than other methods, but usually need a lot of TLC to keep them looking nice, and they have to be replaced more often than other types of extensions, so I'm not convinced there's any advantage over other methods. Glued-in tracks are very temporary indeed - the glue (and therefore the hair) tends to start peeling off after a few days.

The basic technique involves braiding your natural hair, usually in 'cornrows' (rows of braid that run along the scalp) or a continual spiralling braid that runs right round the head. The track of human hair is then stitched to the braided natural hair in rows and layers, or glued near the scalp between the braids. This method is primarily used on afro hair, but can be adapted to thick caucasian hair.

A word about gluing:

It is possible to have loose extensions by gluing individual sections of hair (human or synthetic) into your own, but it's not very easy to remove and is generally more expensive than pinch braided or heat-sealed extensions, when done in a salon. Some people find the glue damages their own hair. Many salons offer this as a method (Monkey Barz, Great Lengths or Dome human extensions are added this way). Done by a professional, on you, they can look great. However, it requires experience with hair extensions to get it right and is not something to be taken on lightly at home.

The basic technique is to take a small section of loose hair, dip the end of the section into glue, then roll this around a small section of your own hair at the root until the glue sets. Don't use latex hair glue to put small sections of hair in; it'll be very hard to get out afterwards because rubber hair glue doesn't dissolve very easily at all.

There are other types of hair glue that can be used more successfully at home. Do a search for 'Fusion' extensions, which can be bought as a kit containing a little hot glue gun, glue sticks and hair. Get help with it. I imagine there will be tears if you gloop a big blob of red-hot glue onto your scalp, and the rock-hard lump of glue attaching the hair isn't easy to remove if you put too much on, or put it in the wrong place. Lots of picking!

Most glues have a remover of sorts, but these don't magically dissolve the glue altogether - they just make it a bit easier to break the glue up. You still have to work the bits out of your hair. I would hate for anyone to burn themselves or end up ripping bits of hair out to remove stubborn glue. Be careful! If you really want to try this, get a friend to help, and maybe even try a few streaks for a couple of weeks, and see if you can remove them easily, before taking the plunge with a headful.

Where and how much:

There's no getting around it - extensions will always cost money. Lots of it. It takes hours, it takes two people.. and it takes expensive hair too. You probably won't find anyone who can do them for less than £100/$150, and it will usually cost at least twice this amount.

Expect a quote for £250/$400, and anything less than that is a real bargain. You'll also find that stylists won't actually give you a quote without seeing your hair first, because the time and amount of hair needed varies greatly with each client.
  • Look in local phone directories - salons which specialise in extensions tend to like to advertise the fact.
  • Do a Google search in for hair salons and especially ethnic hair salons in your area.
  • I'm sure some of the other hairstylists, hairdressers and barbers in this forum will know of places where you can get the right hair extension for you.
Of course, you can get the look of extensions without the physical and financial pain with hairpieces and other alternatives.

Do it yourself:

If you have only one pair of hands (i.e. Yours) to make your own hair extension, then the easiest way to do DIY loose extensions is by trying the 'temporary' method above, where you just plait small sections of hair into your own, and secure with an elastic or loop of sewing elastic, or even tie off with thread.

If you can get a friend or two to help, then pinch-braiding is the next easiest thing to try. Heat-sealing is the most difficult method to get the hang of, but produces good results once you master it.

Well I hope that this guide has helped you to some extent if you're interested in getting or making hair extensions or hairpieces. Most of clientele desiring hair extensions at my hair salon are female but this same advice can be applied to men and men's hair. If you have any questions then I can answer then too! Smile
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