There are several different types of professional hair extensions, each suitable for different types of hair. Depending on how well they are cared for, bonded extensions tend to last the longest. Tube extensions, whether metal or plastic, tend to work best with thicker hair and can handle a fair amount of heat styling. Sewn hair extensions, often referred to as weaves, are also popular, and clip-in hair extensions can be a good way to have a temporary change in hair style.
Professional hair extensions, whether in single strands or wefts, are often bonded with either protein or glue. Protein bonded extensions can last for up to eight months; they use keratin bonds and ultrasonic vibrations to attach. As this style uses no heat, it tends to be less damaging than other types, and the keratin bond will not melt when heat styling is used.
Glue bonded extensions utilize a special glue that is either already on the extension or applied to the extension. When the extensions are placed on the hair, the glue is heated up and allowed to cool, thereby sealing them in place. The heat can be damaging, and glue bonded professional hair extensions are often not suitable to excessive heat styling.
Metal tube extensions are attached by threading tubes into the existing hair and then threading the professional hair extensions into the tubes. Once the hair is in place, clamps are used to flatten the metal, thus holding the new hair in place. Plastic tubes may also be used; these are applied in the same way, except heat is used to shrink each tube down to half its size, holding the new hair in place. Due to bulk, these types of extensions tend to work best with medium to thick hair; thin hair makes it difficult to hide the extensions. In most cases, those with blonde or light brown hair should opt for plastic tubes because the metal variety can leave green marks on the hair when removed.
Sewn hair extensions are also applied in strands or small wefts. The real hair underneath the crown is braided tightly to the head, and the professional hair extensions are sewn into the braid. As there is no heat or glue used with these types of extensions, they are typically less damaging than glue bonds or plastic tubes as long as they are taken out by a professional stylist. Despite this, they tend to require the most maintenance; the braid and extensions typically need to be tightened every six to eight weeks.
Clip-on extensions are often used in high end salons for more glamorous hair styles. These types of extensions are easy to place and remove and can provide extra volume, length, or even bangs to an existing style. Each of these types of hair extensions can be made with real or synthetic hair; in most instances, longer lasting extensions are made from real hair so that they can be washed and styled along with the natural hair.