On any given day, Jessica Martinez may have long braids, wild waves or a hot pink bob.

That's one of the benefits of being the company trainer at Wigs.com. Her clothes are on one side of her closet, while her 30 hairpieces -- from hair wraps to a fall, and everything in between -- are on the other.

"I'm like a kid in a candy store," said Martinez. Martinez, whose natural curls fall to her shoulders, knows first hand how hair pieces, extensions and wigs can be used to instantly give curlyheads a different look. Whether you desire straight hair, highlights or a long curly ponytail, there's a product for you.

'Wigs are becoming more and more popular as a fashion accessory,' Martinez said. 'People aren't wearing them out of necessity. They're wearing them for fun.'

'A lot of women don't know how easy it is,' she said. 'If I had them for five minutes, they'd be sold. If you have enough hair to bring to a point at the top of your head, you have enough hair for a hairpiece.'

   

Diva in a Box

Jessica Siimpson wearing wavy

HairDo extensions.

Look of Love Clip-in Curly Extensions

 
   

Hairpieces once were considered something only for old ladies or people with medical conditions. But with new technology and a wide variety of options, they have gone mainstream.

"What's old is new again," said Karen Barrett, manager of Wigs Unlimited in Beaverton, Oregon, which has been selling wigs since the 1970s. "Things have come full circle in this business."

Barrett said the customers she sees now are much younger. They buy up the clip-on ponytails and extensions.

"Let's face it. If you want want fun, long hair to go out clubbing, you can't grow it in a week," she said.

There's a wig or hairpiece for every need and every budget. A hair wrap -- hair on a ponytail holder -- can run $20, while a fall of human hair can cost upward of $250. They are available in a wide variety of colors and textures -- from kinky to bone straight, from platinum blonde to midnight black.

Curlyheads can especially benefit from these products because they instantly create a different look they want without the damage often associated with chemical straightening. And often, the chemical process may not provide the desired results or flexibility.

"These provide a way to have the straight hair you want very easily without damaging your hair and you have the flexibility of having it curly if you want it curly,' Martinez said.

For some, a hair wrap may be the answer. The added hair can provide length and fullness quickly and easily. The claw clips and drawstring attachments also are easy to use.The claw clips -- available in short, medium and long lengths -- can be attached to hair that has been gelled back and twisted up.

"It takes five mintues to do it, and you've got a totally different look,' Barrett said. 'You don't have to straighten your hair at all.'

Three-quarter inch caps and falls are wigs that cover almost the complete head for a completely different look -- from a smooth, classic bob to waist-length ringlets. Then there are clip-in extensions -- sections of hair that can be added to add thickness, change the texture of the hair, change the color, add highlights or add length. In many cases they are human hair and can be dyed to match a person's hair. They also can be curled, flatironed, permed, blowdried, shampooed and colored like natural hair.

Unlike semi-permanent extensions, which are attached to the hair professionally and stay in for roughly three months, the clip-in extensions can be removed instantaneously.

"What makes them really versatile is you just clip them in yourself and you can change your style literally everyday by ordering different colors, textures and different lengths," said Bevla Reeves, owner of Hair Conspiracy, which does made-to-order clip-in extensions. "You're not stuck with them. You can take them out every night."


In addition to a wide variety of straight extensions, Reeves offers a full combo extension package with curly hair with enough hair to cover the entire head. It is available in wavy, tight or loose curls and sells for $250. It consists of seven pieces, ranging from 7-inches wide to 12-inches wide, with filler pieces for the front of the hair.

'I even have clients with straight hair who order curly extensions because they want curls so badly,' Reeves said.

Hair extensions are popular with all ages and ethnicities, said Michelle Allen, who sells extensions to customers from Scandinavia to Latin America through her company Nature Girl.


"All ethnic groups are wearing them now," said Allen, who sells premium quality virgin hair that is customized for each client.


Christo of Christo Fifth Avenue this summer launched a line of color extensions for curly hair to add highlights without the damage that color and bleach can cause. They last two to four months and enable people to get colors different than what they could get with their own hair.


"Everytime you want to change your color or look, there is a risk of damage," Christo said. "With highlight extensions, there's no risk at all."


And if they don't like the blond streaks or the red highlights, they can take them out.


"Instead of using color with a brush, we put colored hair into their hair," Christo explained.


Clients come in for a consultation to match the texture of the hair. It takes about a week to get the extensions from a company in California that customize the 100 percent natural hair to each individual.

"I don't want people to know it's an extension," Christo said. 'I want them to think it's their natural hair. It makes the client happy and it makes us happy.'

The extensions are connected at the roots. The highlights can be combed and blowdried, as long as the client stays away from their roots. All clients are given a lesson in how to work for their new extensions and how to care for them.

'It's not about creating length,' Christo stressed. 'It's about creating a fashion look for our clients without the damage. It's an opportunity to give the curly world more options.'


Styling tips for wigs and hair pieces from Jessica Martinez
Don't try to get every hair in place. This can end up making the finest wig look 'wiggy.'If the style you've chosen offers flexibility, don't be afraid to try different looks using a good styling comb.If you have a round or square shaped face, try to add height at the top while keeping the sides closer to your head.If you have a longer face, try to minimize the height at the top and fluff up the sides.