Hair extensions are a great way to experiment with different looks, especially if you don’t want to worry about looking after your hair every moment of the day. Extensions are also ideal if you want to give your hair a break from wear and tear due to environmental factors, over-exposure to heat, and over-styling, which can lead to hair loss over time. As such, it's not surprising that hair extensions are more popular than ever: One report found that 34 percent of women use hair extensions as part of their beauty regime.
One hair extensions method that has been recognized as a safer and longer-lasting is Brazilian knot extensions. What exactly is this method, and is it the right one for you and your hair goals? To find out, we chatted with stylist Abbey Wilson and trichologist Shab Reslan. Read on for everything you need to know about Brazillian knot hair extensions.
Meet the Expert
- Abbey Wilson is a senior stylist for Cliphair.
- Shab Reslan is a HairClub hair health expert and trichologist.
What Are Brazilian Knot Hair Extensions?
Safe and suitable for all hair types, Brazilian knotting is a gentle method of "applying hair extensions to natural hair without the use of glue, heat, or rings," says Wilson. Brazilian knot extensions do not require any maintenance and are barely felt when applied to natural hair. To achieve the look, strands of elasticated thread are wrapped around the natural hair and extensions, attaching the two together to add length and volume. Reslan adds that the hair extensions are attached very closely to the roots of tiny sections of hair.
If you are concerned about too much tension being placed on the scalp due to Brazilian knot extensions, fear not: The elastic threads used during the application process are specifically designed to minimize hair damage. Another major benefit of Brazilian knot extensions is their ability to stand the test of time. "These extensions can last for four to six months once applied and the hair is reusable, making the method pretty cost-effective," Wilson says.
How Do They Differ From Other Hair Extensions?
Brazilian knot extensions are gaining in popularity because they are lightweight and pose a minimal risk of damage compared to other permanent extension methods. In addition to the differences in application method, the hair used for the extensions is raw, meaning it has no tip or seam. "The hair is sometimes referred to as bulk hair, which can be purchased in its natural state or produced by simply cutting the hair away from the seam of a hair weft or weave," says Wilson.
Brazilian knot extensions are less likely to cause hair breakage because no heat, glue, or clamping is used as part of the process. Heat damage can destroy the hair’s curl pattern and leave hair limp and lifeless. In extreme cases, hair can break off and fall out. Glue can irreparably damage the scalp and hair follicles. "This method is much kinder to the hair," says Wilson.
The Brazilian knot extension method also does not use heated keratin or beads, says Reslan. "Compared to other methods such as sewn-in hair weaves and tracks that similarly use tightly wound thread to attach extensions to natural hair, these extensions are a safer alternative," she says.
Who Should Get Brazilian Knot Extensions?
Although Brazilian knot extensions are ideal for all hair types, Wilson tells us that the method is mostly used for highly textured hair types. There is also a length requirement for the extensions that people need to be aware of. "Hair should have an average thickness and be at least five to six inches long," says Wilson. If a person's natural hair is shorter than the required length, the extension attachments will not be hidden discreetly. "The extensions may not blend as well into the hair, so anyone with very fine or very short hair should avoid this method," Wilson adds.
Stylists install Brazilian knot extensions throughout the hair in small sections for a better overall look. Additionally, some hair will be left out at the top and sides for a more natural look, making it easy to create your desired style or styles.
Something else to note is that the hair should be in a good condition. If you have weak or damaged hair, spend some time working on getting it back to a healthy condition before committing to hair extensions.
For an even friendlier and safer version of Brazilian knot extensions, Reslan recommends the X-Strands method created by HairClub. "This method attaches lightweight hair fibers by creating the tiniest knot to only a few strands of hair (instead of multiple hairs at a time) and provides instant volume, fullness, and density without causing hair damage," she says. The X-Strands method is ideal for anyone who is experiencing thinning at the top of the hair as the results are undetectable.
Who Should Avoid Brazilian Knot Extensions?
Anyone who has experienced hair loss recently due to heat or chemical damage should avoid the method. Most of us have some hair damage, but in extreme cases, damaged strands won't be able to take the weight of any type of hair extensions, and they may even worsen the condition of your hair.
If you tend to get an irritated scalp whenever you have extensions, you may also want to give Brazilian knot hair extensions a pass. "Brazilian knot hair extensions cause scalp soreness and you may find it difficult to rest your hair for the first few days after application, due to the unnatural tension and weight on the roots," says Reslan.
Although it is common to experience a small amount of scalp irritation when you get extensions (because your scalp is adjusting to the weight of the hair), some cases are more extreme than others. Be sure to ask your stylist not to install your extensions so tightly as to put pressure on your hair. "When extensions are tightly wound on the hair, it will weaken over time and be more prone to breakage once grown out," says Reslan.
The Final Takeaway
Generally safe and ideal for all hair types, Brazilian knot hair extensions are perfect for anyone who wants to add length and volume to their hair. When applied well, they are lightweight and provide ease for those who like to experiment with different styling options. To experience the best of what this extension method has to offer, natural hair must be of a considerable length (five to six inches) and in good condition.
Brazilian knot extensions offer a natural look, blending seamlessly with the existing hair. As with most permanent extension methods, excessive application of Brazilian knot hair extensions is not advised. "Long-term use of such a method can lead to traction alopecia (hair loss from constant pulling on the hair)," says Reslan. Going to a hair professional you can trust is important, and don't be afraid to ask questions in advance of your appointment. You may also find it helpful to have a professional assess your hair beforehand to see if it can support the extensions.
One of many reasons to have a professional with significant experience install and remove this extension method is hair health. "The removal process can cause breakage as the thread has to be cut in order to replace extensions," says Reslan.
Lastly, if you are looking for a quick fix then Brazilian knot hair extensions may not be right for you: They can take anywhere from four to six hours to install. "Even though Brazilian knot extensions may take longer because they are slightly trickier to apply, the natural-looking results are definitely worth it," says Wilson, who adds that the Brazilian knot extensions method avoids the use of harmful chemicals during application and removal. This makes them perfect for achieving gorgeous and voluminous locks without compromising hair health.