Glamour, Fashion, Beauty – Hair Extensions and Additions – Then and Now!

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Hair extensions and hair additions are nothing new. Many women from the 18th and 19th centuries would save the hair that fell from their own head every day in a little jar known as a hair tidy. Hairpieces could be made from the lost hair – which of course was a perfect match. They would also form large balls of hair called rats from the fallen hair, which they could then place strategically within their hairstyle to create that big hair look we’ve all witnessed on Miss Scarlet in Gone With The Wind. You probably never thought of those as hair extensions, but that is exactly what they were. Of course, modern day hair extensions are made of human and synthetic hair in a wide variety of colors and textures – but they can still provide that big hair look – just a bit sexier for the modern woman.

Early eighteenth-century hairstyles, were rooted in European royal trends, and were characteristic for their ornate use of wigs, hair extensions, crimping, ringlets, and powdering for both men and women. Decades prior to the American Revolution, United States women of the upper class echoed the high hairstyles of their European counterparts and used pads, wigs, cushions, and wires to make their hairstyles become towers of fashion status symbols.

In the nineteenth century, ornate hairstyles progressively returned for women. Chignons, curls, and braids were all styles of the day, and women used wigs or hair extensions frequently to achieve their fashionable hairstyles. Between 1859 and 1860, $1 million worth of hair was imported into the United States for wig making! By the end of the century, hair extensions were commonly used for a top-knotted style that became known as “the Gibson girl.”

In the twentieth century, hairstyles were less ornate, for the most part, and easier to maintain than they had been in previous centuries. The 1950s’ and 1960s’ bouffant and beehive styles, which required ridiculous amounts of hair spray, hair extensions, and padding, were noteworthy exceptions to the rule and somewhat reflected the towering hairstyles of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Of course, wigs have been around as long as records have been kept in ancient times.  For information about the hair addition practices of ancient Egyptians, go to

Currently Hair Additions have become wildly popular in the United States and very lucrative for the hairstylist who has a flair for the practice. Many beauty schools do not include training in the art of hair additions, but don’t despair – State boards won’t normally require knowledge in this area. However, once you have your license – find someone to instruct you in this lucrative specialty and take off in your new career with flair!

Book: eXtensions: The Official Guide to Hair Extensions (Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority/Thomson Learning)

Below find some hair extension/addition definitions:

Bonding: to attach wefted hair to the natural hair with a latex or surgical type adhesive.

Braid: to weave strands of hair together.

Bulk Hair: term for loose commercial hair. This hair is used for creating wefts or for services like fusion.

Commercial Hair: hair that is used in the weave/extension process. Commercial hair is sold in wefts or in bulk (loose).

Cornrow: term used to describe an on-the-scalp braid. These braids can be used to form a track for the cornrow weaving method.

Euro-Lock Technique: a track is formed along the scalp by a rolling technique with a lock stitch. Wefted hair is attached to this track.

Extensions: the process of extending someone’s natural hair by attaching human hair in individual strands rather than rows (as in weaving). Popular methods are Braiding and Fusion.

Fusion: the process of attaching small pieces of human hair with a special adhesive and a thermal gun – a hair-to-hair process, no tracks are required. This method allows for free movement of hair extensions. Fusion is a tedious procedure. Problems can occur with any fusing method if it is not done on very clean hair. Hair must be clean and free of greasiness or conditioners. Extension removal is best done in the salon where fusion remover and tools can be used to first soften then crack the glue bond.

Hair Additions: any method of attaching hair that is not your own to your head.

Hair Textures:

European: Processed in straight, wavy or curly. Fine and smooth.

Ethnic Textures: Processed in straight, wavy or curly. More coarse than European.

Hair weft clips: to attach hair wefts by clips. Clips are places in the hair and snapped close. Wefts are held securely in place.

Heat Clamp: a heat gun that is used to seal synthetic hair. Used for creating warlocks and other styles.

Integration: a crocheted web with attached hair. The loose web allows the user’s hair to be pulled through and “integrated” with the hair piece.

Kinky: tightly curled hair.

Micro-Linking Technique: the process of attaching hair wefts without braids. The links are sewn on to the wefted hair. The user’s natural hair is pulled through and locked secure. This system is highly recommended for natural hair that is too fine or soft to hold other weave techniques.

Mini Links: Mini links or locks are applied a bit like gimps which are used to hold beads or pearls on wire floater necklaces. The client’s own hair is pulled through the mini link with a special needle similar to a knitting machine needle. Then the extension strand is pulled through the mini link easily. The mini link is then pressed firmly with a pliers type tool and this locks in the hair into the mini links. No glue is used, so glue damage is avoided and the links lie flat to the head. This method is often combined with braided hair extensions.

Off the scalp braiding: is used for traditional braiding styles and various methods adding extensions such as Warlocks.

On the scalp braiding: is used to form a base or track to sew on a commercial weft. This is the cornrow technique.

Pressed Hair: hair that is thermally treated for a temporary straightening with a heated comb or iron.

Pre Tipped Hair Extension Strands: The pre tipped strands have a protein glue on the end which melts with heat. These pre tipped extension strands are bonded in much the same way with a heated hair connector tool that fuses the pre tipped glue onto a selected strand of the client’s natural hair. Some people think this method is superior because being pre-measured, less glue is used, so there is less to crack and chip away leaving hair better bonded.

Processed Hair: hair that has been chemically treated, natural or commercial.

Relaxed Hair: hair that has been treated to remove all curls and waves.

Remi or Remy Hair: hair that has cuticles aligned in a uniform direction. This typically applies to cuticle or minimally processed hair.

Shrinkies: Shrinkies are either clear plastic or dark plastic of about 1cm length. Heat is used to tighten up the shrinkie on the hair and the extension to stop the hair escaping. They are removed by cutting up the length of the shrinkie.

Synthetic Hair: hair that is made from chemicals. Artificial Hair.

Tension: stress created by stretching, winding, weaving, or braiding the hair firmly. Excessive tightness.

Track: parting or a cornrow that establishes the placement pattern of wefts or strand additions.

Warlocks: process of adding synthetic hair by using a box braid (four-strand braid). The hair is parted in very small sections and only a small amount of extension hair is used at one time. The box braid extends about ¼ inch from the scalp and sealed with a heat clamp. Braided hair is interspersed with loose natural hair. Hair is left loose at the hairline to cover braid based.

Weaving: the process of forming a base (or track) along the scalp to attach wefted hair. This process is not limited to the cornrow method. Several other popular methods are the Euro-Lock, Microlinking, and Bonding.

Weaving Machine: used to make wefts or form tracks.

Weave Needles: needles used in the weave process to sew wefted hair to tracks. Needles are curved or straight and very dull.

Weaving Poles: Used by experts for the process of making hand made wefts.

Weft: Commercial hair sewn on a fine base and used in the process of hair weaving. Hair is referred to as wefted.

Wet and Wavy / French Refined Weave: Versatile texture that appears straight when purchased. When the hair is wetted, waves appear. It can be worn wavy, blown dry to straight or styled with rollers.

Yaki (or Yaky) Hair: a relaxed texture for ethnic weave styles. It has a crimped, coarse look.

My Best Beauty School List is coming soon!  I am currently working on the last 14 states of the long awaited Beauty School List of only the Very BEST Beauty Schools in the United States!  That means I am 75% there.  Since I began working on this project in February, 2009 – I am estimating that this Big list of schools will go live in approximately 2 months if all goes according to plan.  That is not written in stone, however – so be sure to join my mailing list so that you will be one of the first to know when all the new pages go live.  Click here:

Next week’s article:  Financial Aid for Beauty / Cosmetology School

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