Ask the Experts: Extensions 101
Hair extensions aren’t just about adding length and volume—in fact, results achieved through adding hair extensions are limitless: create a hair cut, correct a hair cut, add chemical-free highlights or texture, cover a scar or alopecia or even fill in a fringe. Having skills in extensions not only opens the door to new service offerings for your clients, but it also brings major earnings potential.
How do you introduce extensions to a possible first-time client?
“Women who are self-conscious about their thinning hair can be very stressed about it and are looking for something to make them feel better but often they have formed a bad impression of hair extensions,” says stylist Mohammad Rahebi who uses Simplicity Extensions in his Encino, California salon, Identity. “Many first time extension clients have seen over-obvious extension work so they are very concerned that it will look fake. They are also worried that it will damage their hair. Since most have thin hair precisely because it is damaged, they really don’t want to make things worse.
“I start slowly and educate them. I show them the hair; I let them hold it and really see the quality, see how soft and natural it feels, and then I show them they can curl it, straighten it. I explain the application process, that there is no glue involved, and that even the removal is easy and gentle. Some have heard that extensions will take three hours and they would never consider that but I can do a full head in 30 minutes. This surprises and reassures them. And after they see themselves, there is so much joy.”
How can you use extensions to help “create” or “correct” a hair cut?
“I don’t think it matters how long you have been behind the chair, we have all been in the situation where a client sits down and pulls out a picture and, well, expects ‘magic to happen.’ Five years ago I made a decision to take my career to another level and got certified in Great Lengths. It changed everything. I now have the ability to give that client the hair cut or image she wants to see,” says Nicole Marea Misero, Great Lengths USA Educator.
“Extensions are not strictly about making hair long, the options are endless. I have been able to correct the hair cut that had too much bulk removed, fix the perimeter that might have been cut uneven, extend a bang during the ‘grow out period’ or fill in a receded hairline. These things all make it more manageable for the client. During the consultation you may even find that she is looking for an entirely new look and wants to add that impossible color while altering her cut. It has been the best investment in my career, making the impossible possible with extensions.”
How can you best match extensions to your client’s existing color?
“The key to matching extensions lies in the desired outcome. First, you need to decide on the client’s hair color. Are you changing it or simply touching up? For a change, it’s best to choose a combination of colors from the extension assortment and color the client’s hair to match,” says Sonya Dove, Hairdreams Ambassador. “Or, you may be just matching the client’s current color. In this case, match the base color, highlights and lowlights. For blondes, use three to six tones and brunettes one to three. When coloring extensions, always choose a color one shade lighter than the desired target shade because when coloring, the rules for porous hair still applies. Always mist the hair extensions with water to even out the porosity.
“A final demi/semi toning after extensions are applied is also a fantastic way to blend everything. When customizing your extension colors always color extensions before you apply them to control results.”
How can extensions be used as an alternative to hair color?
“Extensions are the perfect alternative to coloring a client’s hair as you can achieve the same results without the use of chemicals,” says Ron Cardillo, Sr., president of SHE by SO.CAP.USA.
“For example, SHE by SO.CAP.USA extensions are available in more than 90 colors making it possible for clients to obtain any hair color change they may want, either permanently with bonded extensions or for a quick change using clip-in extensions. With a variety of colors, color combinations, including the popular ombre style, and three different textures, you can modify a woman’s look without the commitment. Using clip-in extensions as an alternative is the perfect way for women to try out a new color, and if they are not in love with the way it looks, they can take out the extensions, and don’t have to worry about waiting for their hair to grow out or having to pay more money to have it colored back.”
How can hair additions amp up a client’s look for a special event?
“Create an elegant up-do using extensions!” says celebrity stylist Ken Paves. “Here’s an example using two Hairdo 18Ë Beach Curl Pony Tails to take everyday hair to event-worthy hair. First pull hair back into two ponytails, one on top of the other. Next, wrap a Beach Curl Pony around each pony tail and secure with pins. Braid each ponytail loosely and secure with a clear band. To finish, roll each braid up and tuck into a bun. Secure with pins. Fine-tune the look by adding hair pins where needed.”
How can stylists talk to bridal clientele about extensions?
“Temporary extensions are perfect for brides who want to have fuller hair and look camera-ready on their special day,” says Kimberly Clarke, HaloCouture Extensions events planner and sales. “Also, encourage bridal clients to consider temporary extensions as a great gift for the entire bridal party. Not only will the bridal party look stunning on the day of the wedding, temporary extensions are so simple, they will be able to enjoy them for other future special events, or for everyday use when in need of a fabulous hair day.
“With HaloCouture Extensions, it’s fast, easy and effective to give your bride the voluminous, sexy wedding day hair she desires. Whether it be up, down, or a simple sophisticated braid to the side, the extension piece goes on in a matter of seconds by positioning it on your client’s head like a halo. Then, pull some of the natural hair over the top to conceal the ‘miracle wire’ and lock it securely into place. There are no bonds, clips or glue.”
How can the extensionist create the best experience for a first-time client?
“It all comes down to trust,” says Tina McIntosh, national educator, Ultratress Hair Extensions. “Virtually all new guests have something about their hair they are willing to pay big money to correct or enhance. Always start by sitting down somewhere quiet, ask questions and listen. Give the idea back to them by describing to the client your understanding of her expectations and continue until the look has been agreed upon. Pictures help solidify the idea. Show your own before and after photos, people want to see results that you’ve achieved. Next, make the maintenance straightforward. Important questions to answer: How do I clean my new hair? When do I return and why?
“Ultratress Extensions offer care sheets and support products for you and your clients. Having everything disclosed in writing, and sending your client home with a home maintenance kit gives that first time client confidence that they have chosen a professional. Another great tip is a followup consultation. Invite your guest back into the salon to show you how they have done after they have recreated their look at home. Even 15 to 30 minutes of your time lets them know that you are there for them even after the installation is complete.”
How can you use extensions to help clients with thinning hair?
“Not all extensions are appropriate for women suffering from weak and thinning hair. The obvious and most glaring issue is where and how traditional extensions are secured to hair that’s already challenged,” says Cleve McMillan, director of education for Luxhair by Tabatha Coffey. “The Luxhair How Top-Head Extensions by Tabatha Coffey are a non-intrusive alternative for those not blessed with thick, flowing, gorgeous hair. These new style of extensions are secured with two very delicate clips that cause no damage to the hair itself. We all know the tension, and additional weight of traditional extensions on soft thinning hair is a major cause of breakage and worse yet, traction alopecia.
“With Top-Head Extensions, choose from a fringe, short-top, mid-top or long-top extension. They come in 20 shades and can be styled curly or straight managing heat up to 320°F and look and feel completely natural. Unlike other extensions, you have full control over where the oomph is needed. Place it horizontally or vertically anywhere on the top for volume and lift or, anywhere at the back for extra length and fullness.”
How can you use extensions for clients with textured hair?
“Clients with textured hair can absolutely wear extensions—the most important part is selecting the proper texture, as not all textures are created equal,” says Natalia Sprenger, Short2Long owner.
“For example, Short2Long extensions offer four textures that are ideal for textured clients in both I-Tip Extensions and Tape In Extensions— including Natural Wave (slight soft wave), Italian Wave (strong wave going into a curl), Deep Curl (a very tight spiral curl) and Relaxed Texture (a relaxed straight texture).
“There are also other things to consider—if your client is using a relaxer/perm on their hair, only some methods of extensions will allow for touchups while wearing extensions. Short2Long I-Tip Extensions are not only reusable but you can use a relaxer/perm and color for touchups while wearing their extensions.”