Hair extensions offer so much versatility. You can try different lengths, hair colors, and styles at the drop of a bundle. Aside from varying hair options, there are also many different techniques used to install extensions. Some of the most common practices are clip-ins and sew-ins, but another popular method hairstylists are using in salons is hand-tied extensions. If you're fascinated by intricate beauty techniques, you may have already spent some time scrolling through videos to see the satisfying hand-tied extension technique.
This method might also be brand new to you. If you're thinking about trying hair extensions, this process could be of interest if you're looking for an extension installation process that keeps hair healthy by preventing breakage while adding length and fullness (when properly applied, of course).
To learn the basics of hand-tied extensions and how they differ from tape-in extensions, we chatted with cosmetologist Brittany Johnson.
What Are Hand-Tied Extensions?
"Hand-tied extensions are a method where a stylist attaches beads onto a row of a client's natural hair, similar to the beaded weft method," explains Johnson. The detailed process is ideal for those looking to add more volume and length that looks natural without putting too much tension on the scalp or hair.
Hair wefts are a grouping of hair strands woven into a fine strip of cloth and can vary in width.
The difference in the two techniques is in their names, which Johnson helps break down for us. "The difference [in hand-tied hair extensions] is that the stylist attaches wefts onto the row of beads by hand-tying the wefts in with cotton or nylon thread," Johnson explains. "The number of rows and wefts used depends on the client's hair density, length, and overall desired end result. They differ from tape-ins because tape-ins use a medical-grade tape adhesive to 'sandwich' pieces of a client's natural hair in between two pieces of extensions. The two tape tabs attach and create the section of the tape-in, and is repeated throughout the head."
Like hand-tied extensions, the number of tape-in packs used will vary depending on the client's hair density and the client's hair goals. Aside from the technical differences, the two processes differ in time. Ultimately, how much time you spend in the chair will depend on your hair's unique qualities, but you can generally expect a hand-tied session to take between two and two and half hours, while tape-in appointments can last up to an hour and a half.
How Much Do They Cost?
Hand-tied installation costs will vary depending on your location and hair goals, but the price typically starts at $200. This cost does not include the value of the hair. Generally, you'll need between 4-8 wefts if your objective is volume, and those with finer hair types can expect to use up to 10 wefts (meaning you'll likely need to purchase two packs of hair). Upkeep is typically less of an investment over time, starting at $100 to push up (aka tighten) one row, and the price increases depending on the number of rows that need adjusting.
As for the cost of hair, you have options. Glam Seamless offers eight individual wefted 20-inch hand-tied weft bundles, starting at $399. Dallas-based Lustro Hair also offers hand-tied bundles in a variety of lengths, starting at $145. If you're unsure about what hair to invest in, talk with your stylist. They can offer guidance and even provide the hair for your appointment.
Do Hand-Tied Extensions Work Well With All Hair Types?
Johnson recommends hand-tied extensions for people with straight to wavy hair types because the beads will lay flatter against the scalp, and detangling can be done closer to the root, just below the beads. Tape-ins also work well with straight to wavy hair types and offer natural-looking results. For curlier hair textures, she recommends sewn-in wefts.
How Are They Installed?
Unlike clip-ins, it is in your best interest to see a professional if you're interested in the hand-tied technique. Says Johnson, "Although you might be able to figure it out at home, it's best to leave hand-tied extensions to a pro," she advises. "A stylist that is certified in this method will understand how to properly blend your hair, how many wefts you'll need, and the right takedown method. Leaving it to a pro will ensure that they not only look good and last longer, but it'll keep your hair healthier by having them done the right way."
How Long Do They Last?
The longevity of your style will depend on how you care for your hair post-appointment. "Generally, hand-tied extensions can last for about 6-9 weeks before needing to be redone," says Johnson. But, she also says the time between appointments depends on how fast your hair grows and if you're taking the time to care for your hair properly. "The hair extensions themselves should last longer if they are being properly cared for, and can generally be reused for about 6-8 months."
You'll also want to ensure you're scheduling proper maintenance appointments to reduce tension on the scalp. "Having them moved up and removed in the right time frame will help make sure that there's not too much tension on your hair as they grow out," says Johnson. Even with extensions, she encourages properly detangling, cleansing, and moisturizing your own hair even while wearing extensions.
When you're on the hunt for products to keep your extensions looking their best, many of the tried-and-true hair "dos" apply, especially when it comes to your shampoo and conditioner: Stay away from sulfates, and when heat styling, Johnson says to apply a heat protectant to prevent damaging your hair and causing split ends on your extensions (yes, extensions can develop split ends too).