How to choose the best hair extension method based on your hair type

May 13, 2024

No matter your hair type, there’s a hair extension method for you

If you’re dreaming of extra volume or length, and growth products just aren’t cutting it, hair extensions might be the answer. But not all hair extensions are created equal! Just like choosing the perfect pair of shoes, finding the right hair extension method requires a bit of know-how, especially when it comes to matching it to your unique hair type. The perfect extension method is tailored specifically to your locks, whether you have big curls, poker-straight strands, Rapunzel-like length, or a chin-grazing bob. 

From clip-ins to tape-ins, our guide below breaks down the pros and cons of each method, revealing which ones play nice with your hair type and lifestyle. After all, your hair extensions should feel like a seamless addition to your beauty routine, not a tangled mess waiting to happen.


The best hair extension methods for long hair

If you’ve already got long hair, adding hair extensions is icing on the cake. If you’re not after more length, maybe volume is the goal. Whatever your aim, there is a set of extensions and an application method that suits everyone. 

Tape-in extensions will seamlessly blend into your natural hair, creating a flawless, lightweight finish. Sew-in extensions are also great for adding both length and volume long-term, and they’re super versatile—keep them straight and sleek or curl them for more volume.

If you're not quite ready to commit to semi-permanent extensions, clip-ins are your new best friend. These temporary tress-transformers allow you to switch up your look in a snap, giving you the freedom to channel your inner goddess whenever the mood strikes. Long hair today, short hair tomorrow—the world is your oyster.


What to avoid

First on the chopping block: synthetic extensions. While they might seem like a quick fix, synthetic extensions are the equivalent of putting cheap plastic flowers in a bouquet of fresh roses. Not only do they look less natural than their human hair counterparts, but they also have a tendency to tangle faster.

Steer clear of one-size-fits-all solutions, too, and opt for a method that's tailored specifically to your hair type and lifestyle. Even if your lifestyle includes a little DIY, don’t take that approach with your hair extensions. While it might be tempting to take matters into your own hands and slap on some extensions in the comfort of your own bathroom, resist the urge. Leave it to the professionals.


Top tips for adding hair extensions to long hair

There are some essential care tips to bear in mind no matter which route you go. 

Detangle with patience: Long hair, especially when extended, can be prone to tangling. Prior to brushing, use a wide-tooth comb or start with just your fingers to gently detangle from the ends, gradually working your way up to the roots. This prevents breakage and preserves the integrity of both your natural hair and extensions.

Minimize heat styling: Limit the use of heat styling tools to protect your natural hair and extensions from damage. If heat styling is necessary, apply a heat protectant spray beforehand and use tools on low to medium heat settings. Consider air-drying your hair whenever possible to minimize that heat exposure.

Opt for protective styles: Again, because long hair is more prone to tangling and breakage, opt for protective hairstyles to minimize damage. Braids, buns, and ponytails can keep your hair secure and reduce friction throughout the day. Experiment with different styles to find what works best for your hair type and lifestyle.

Trim regularly: Schedule regular trims to maintain the health and appearance of your extensions. Trimming the ends helps prevent split ends and ensures that your hair remains looking fresh and vibrant. Consult with your stylist to determine the appropriate frequency for trims based on your hair growth and maintenance needs.

Woman with a blunt bob. Credit: Pexels, cottonbro studio.

The best hair extension methods for short hair

On to short hair! There’s no reason you can’t have that chin-length bob one day and super long, mermaid-worthy locks the next. With extensions, nearly anything is possible. 

Tape-in extensions are ideal if your hair is short. They’re ultra-versatile and perfect for blending seamlessly into cropped hair, giving you that extra length and volume without anyone being the wiser. 

Clip-in extensions are also a great choice, and they can turn your short hair into a long, voluminous mane in a matter of minutes. Simply clip them in, and style to your heart's content.


What to avoid

If you’ve considered fusion or micro-link extensions, they aren’t the best for shorter tresses. While these methods are great for longer hair, they need more hair to anchor onto, which can be tricky when you're working with less real estate. The same goes for any other bulky or heavy extension methods. When you're working with short hair, the last thing you want is to add unnecessary weight. 

No matter your hair type, it’s important to avoid a one-size-fits-all solution, and don’t try to pull something off yourself that should be handled by a professional. Particularly for shorter cuts, because you’ve got less hair to work with, it’s not worth the damage, and proper upkeep is important here, too (more on that in a minute).


Top tips for adding hair extensions to short hair

Here are some essential tips for keeping your extensions looking fierce and fabulous when adding them to shorter hair.

Blend like a pro: Achieving a seamless blend between your natural hair and extensions is crucial for a flawless finish, especially with short hair. Opt for extensions that match your hair color and texture perfectly, and consider having them customized or layered by a professional stylist to blend perfectly with your chopped locks.

Mindful washing: When washing your hair, be gentle, and use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner to keep your extensions looking their best. Focus on cleansing the scalp and roots while avoiding the attachment points of the extensions. Rinse thoroughly, and avoid rubbing or twisting your hair. This will help you prevent tangling!

Visit a pro: Keep up with regular maintenance appointments to ensure that your extensions stay in top condition. Your stylist can check for any signs of damage, adjust the placement of the extensions if necessary, and provide personalized care recommendations to keep your hair looking its best.


The best hair extension methods for curly hair

Before we get into it, you first have to determine your curl pattern. You might have loose waves, bouncy curls, or tight coils, and if you’re not 100% sure, check a curl pattern chart. You want to start with this step is because, no matter what hair extension method you choose, you’ll need to match them to your curl pattern. Many brands offer extensions in a variety of curl types, from 2A to 4C, so your opportunity to find a perfect match is high! 

Once you know your curl pattern and what to look for, you’re onto searching for the ideal hair extension method, and a great curly girl method is tape-ins. The lightweight nature of tape-in extensions means they won't weigh down your curls, allowing them to bounce and coil to their heart's content. 

Crochet extensions are also a great choice. With these, the curly hair extension is looped through your natural hair using a crochet hook. You can mix in different curl patterns and textures with this method to achieve different looks. 


What to avoid

Pass on those fusion or micro-link extensions. While these methods might work wonders for straight hair, they can be a nightmare for curls. The heat and pressure used during installation can disrupt your natural curl pattern, leaving you with a frizzy mess.

Steer clear of excessive chemical treatments, too. While it might be tempting to chemically straighten or relax your curls to make them more manageable for extensions, resist the urge. 


Woman with curly hair sitting in front of a door. Credit: Pexels, Tima Miroshnichenko


Top tips for adding hair extensions to curly hair

There are some essential tips to bear in mind for keeping those gorgeous curly locks and hair extensions looking their best. 

Hydration is key: Curly hair tends to be on the drier side, so keep both your natural curls and extensions hydrated with regular deep conditioning treatments. Look for products specifically formulated for curly or dry hair to provide maximum moisture and nourishment.

Choose styling products that enhance and define your natural curls while staying gentle on your extensions, too. 

Sleep smart: To prevent tangling and matting while you sleep, consider wrapping your hair in a silk or satin scarf or using a silk pillowcase. These smooth materials reduce friction and help preserve your curls and extensions overnight.

Regular maintenance: Schedule regular appointments with your stylist to check on the condition of your extensions and address any issues promptly. Trimming the ends of your extensions can help prevent split ends and maintain a healthy appearance.


The best hair extension method for straight hair

For those flaunting sleek, straight locks, certain hair extension methods seamlessly blend in for a flawless finish.

Micro-bead extensions, also referred to as micro-link or micro-ring extensions, involve attaching small sections of hair extensions to natural hair using tiny beads or rings. Micro-bead extensions are suitable for straight hair as they provide a discreet and secure attachment without the need for heat or glue. They also offer flexibility in styling and maintenance.

Fusion extensions involve bonding small strands of extensions to natural hair using keratin adhesive. While this method is versatile and suitable for all hair types, it requires heat for attachment, making it ideal for straight hair that can handle heat styling. Fusion extensions provide long-lasting results with a natural appearance when applied by a skilled stylist.


What to avoid

For those with straight hair, certain hair extension methods may not be the best fit for a variety of reasons.

Weft extensions involve attaching a track of hair extensions to natural hair using braids, tape, or glue. While this method can provide volume and length, the bulky nature of wefts may be more noticeable in straight hair, particularly if the hair is fine or thin. 

Clip-in extensions are popular for their convenience and versatility, but those with straight hair should avoid extensions with heavy clips. Heavy clips can weigh down fine strands and may cause discomfort or damage when worn for extended periods. Opt for lightweight clip-in extensions to minimize stress on the hair.


Top tips for adding hair extensions to straight hair

For people with sleek, pin straight hair, here are some essential tips to keep your extensions looking flawless. 

Detangle gently: Even though straight hair extensions may tangle less than curly ones, it's still important to handle them with care. Use a wide-tooth comb or a specialized extension brush to gently detangle your hair, starting from the ends and working your way up to the roots. This prevents breakage and maintains the integrity of both your natural hair and extensions.

Use lightweight products: Choose styling products that are lightweight and won't weigh down your hair or leave it looking greasy. Avoid heavy serums or oils, as they can make your hair appear limp and lifeless. Instead, opt for volumizing powders or texturizing sprays to add body and movement to your locks.

Handle with care: Treat your extensions gently, and avoid any rough handling or pulling. It’s key to be mindful when brushing, washing, and styling your hair to minimize stress and prevent damage. With proper care and maintenance, your straight hair extensions will stay beautiful for as long as you wear them.


Go forth and love your new hair extensions

Finding the perfect hair extensions for your hair type is like discovering the ultimate accessory to elevate your style and confidence. Understanding the unique characteristics of your hair, whether it's straight, curly, short, or long, is the first step towards choosing the right extension method that seamlessly blends with your natural locks.

Regardless of your hair type, it's crucial to consider other factors like attachment method, maintenance requirements, and potential damage to ensure a seamless and natural-looking result. Consulting with a professional stylist can provide valuable insights and recommendations tailored to your individual needs and preferences.

With the right hair extensions, you can unleash your creativity, try out new styles, and enhance your natural beauty. Whether you're looking to add length, volume, or a touch of glamour, hair extensions can open up so many new possibilities.