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Artificial hair integrations: Wikis

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Artificial hair displayed on a mannequin

Artificial hair integrations add length to human hair.

Hair Extension or Integration are methods of adding commercial hair to natural hair. These methods are used to conceal thinning or hair loss in concentrated areas.

Invisible Hair Weave is a new method of extension that uses no braids or glue to attach the commercial hair to the natural hair.

Contents

Types of hair fibers

Hair extensions are made from a range of human and synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers include Kanekalon and Toyokalon, and can differ from brand to brand. Synthetic hair in general is far less expensive than human hair, and is available in a wide array of colors and textures, from natural to extraordinary. However when considering hair extensions you must keep in mind that synthetic hair is just that synthetic and can not withstand hot temperatures so straightening and curling the hair is not an option as it will singe. Human hair is available in many different grades, and may be advertised by ethnic origin; India, mainland China and other countries in continental Asia are the top suppliers for 'virgin', or unprocessed hair.

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Color, texture and quality

Color

Manufacturers of artificial hair use a standard scale to classify the hair by color. The lower the number on the package, generally, the darker the color. 1 usually denotes darkest black. These colors vary greatly from one manufacturer to another, and certain specialty hair suppliers also create their own signature patterns and colors.

Texture

Textures of artificial hair vary from pin-straight to extremely curly or kinky. The exact names of curl patterns vary by brand, and the possibilities of curl patterns with synthetic hair are endless, but some examples of packaged textures include:

  • Silky Straight - Straight and smooth, East Asian like hair.
  • Yaki - Straight, usually mimicking the texture of relaxed Afro-Caribbean hair.
  • European - Straight European hair; less straight than Asian hair. May have a tiny amount of wave.
  • Deep Wave - While generally not a true 'wave', it can be made to look like spiral curls.
  • Loose Deep Wave or Romance Wave - Looser version of the deep wave, softer, more romantic curls.
  • Jheri Curl (sometimes colloquially known as 'nappy tracks') - Usually sold in very short lengths, it is often used to recreate the full 'afro' look.
  • Wet and Wavy , can be packaged as Spanish Wave or Indian Wave - Usually human hair is used, and is either naturally curly or permanently waved to appear so. Characterized as having soft, natural-looking curls that revert back to a curly state when wet.

Quality

The quality of the hair is often specified.

  • Virgin hair indicates that the hair hasn't been colored or processed in any way. The "virgin hair" is collected by tying off the hair to maintain the direction of the cuticle and then cut. After the hair is cut and collected it can be sewn on a weft, pre-bonded, made into wigs or left in bulk form.
  • Remy is a term used when all of the hair is human plus when 'close to' all of the strands (eg. in one weft) are strictly organised with the roots in one direction and the tip to the opposite end. Remy hair in general last much longer than non-remi and tends to stay shiny and "tangle free" longer. This is based on the fact that every strand of hair is biologically keratinized skin cells organized in layers overlapping one another.

Methods of integration

The misnomer of 'tracks' comes from the common, long-lasting method of integrating wefts, known as the 'track and sew' method. The 'tracks' are usually cornrows, braided in the direction of how the hair will fall. Toward the face or away, with or without a part, the tracks build the foundation of how the end result will look. The wefts are then sewn onto the braids, usually with a specially made, blunt-ended needle. The needle can be curved or straight. There are many different colors of specially-made thread to choose from, depending on what color of hair you will be integrating. Darker hair lends to darker thread. It should also be noted that when the hair is braided at a high level of tension, the client is at risk for traction alopecia.

Invisible Hair Weave is a long lasting method of attaching commercial hair to the natural hair. Application generally takes about an hour. It will last about 8 weeks.

Wefts may also be bonded directly to the clients hair using special bonding glue. Care must be taken not to bond the wefts directly to the scalp, as it can cause sensitivities in some clients. A patch test is frequently recommended, as per manufacturer's directions.

Infrequently, wefts may be clipped in, with specially made clips sewn to the wefts themselves. This makes for a more temporary style, and is easily removed. Clipped-in wefts may add temporary color, length or fullness perhaps for a single event, such as a prom or wedding.

Bulk hair can also be bonded to the hair, using many different methods, from clips to adhesive.

Shampooing and styling of integrations

Shampooing of artificial hair integrations can be as easy as shampooing real hair, with some considerations. For instance, many manufacturers suggest using a mild shampoo, or even a wig shampoo.

Directions included with the integrations may indicate what type of shampoo to use; the methods of brushing, combing and drying that are most advisable; and what heat setting to use when drying the hair, or if it is even advisable to do so.

Most human hair extensions can be treated as real hair, albeit more gently. Since human hair extensions are usually heavily processed to achieve uniform color and texture, a mild shampoo is recommended, along with a light conditioner to reduce tangling. Cool water is recommended when shampooing, to reduce or prevent matting and excessive tangling. Having to remove snarls and tangles loosens the foundation of the integrations and further damages the hair.

The same care taken when shampooing must also be used when styling artificial hair. It's often recommended that the texture of hair purchased should be the style in which the hair is worn. Using heat to straighten curly hair, or to curl straight hair, damages it. The more damage the hair sustains, the shorter the lifespan of the artificial hair.

Synthetic hair, and blends of synthetic hair and human hair, should be treated extremely gently when it comes to heat styling. Many times it is completely inadvisable. Depending on the type of synthetic fiber, heat processing is possible at an extremely low heat. However, most synthetics will melt, burn or warp when subjected to the heat of a curling iron, flat iron, or blow-dryer. Some companies do manufacture more resistant, human-like hair that can be heat processed.

Sources

  • Alpert, Arlene; Milady Publishing Company (2002). Milady's Standard Cosmetology. Milady Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1562538798.  

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