Photo Courtesy of Freddie Harrel
Extensions are growing in popularity and much of the interest is due to versatility, variety, and price. Gone are the days of spending half a paycheck on a hairstyle. Many women are opting for the YouTube tutorials and DIY installations for their extensions. With cooler temperatures coming our way, many women are looking for viable and in expensive protective styles. This is the perfect time to see the pros and cons for various extensions when it comes to price, manageability, variety, lasting style, affecting hair health and maintenance. 

Sew-ins

A sew-in involves sewing a weft of synthetic or human hair onto small, tightly woven braids (cornrows) against the scalp. It is are an alternative to glue or using clip-ins and lasts longer. This protective style is an alternative to rocking your own hair. Lately, more women having been moving away from this technique, but before making a decision, you should weigh your options.

Pros

  • These styles last longer than other extensions, as the hair is sewn into the cornrow.
  • They look more natural than other extensions and you can wear a leave out near the front and crown for better blending.
  • All hair is braided away and protected.
  • Less manipulation on your natural hair, which aids in keeping hair healthier and adds to length retention.
  • This is an easier way to transition from relaxed to natural without having to work with two different textures.
  • Styling versatility is the biggest pro as you can rock any style, color, and texture you see fit without damaging your own hair.
  • If using human hair, hair can be reusable.

Cons

  • If left in too long, hair can lock and become damaged. They should never be left in longer than recommended, as bacteria can grow on the scalp if neglected.
  • They are horribly expensive, especially if using human hair.
  • Traction alopecia is a huge problem many women who constantly wear hair extensions too long, too tight, or too often experience.
  • The leave out can become damaged if manipulated too often, especially with heat tools.

Clip-ins

Clip-ins are a quicker and often a cheaper alternative to sew-in extensions. Clip-ins are wefts of hair attached to clips that safely attach to the hair’s root. They can add fullness to your own hair or create a full look with your own hair safely braided away.

Pros

  • Clip-ins is a quick way to add fullness or length to your own hair.
  • Clip-ins are much less expensive than sew-ins.
  • They are easy to install in the morning and remove at night.
  • Easier to wash, condition, and color without worry of damaging your own hair and scalp.
  • No heat or tools required for install.

Cons

  • There are limited textures available.
  • Clips-ins with afro-textured hair are more expensive than straight or looser textures.
  • They can cause breakage if not removed properly.
  • The clips can be hard to place inconspicuously without causing a lumpy texture along the roots.

Box braids and twists

Braids or twists are individual plaits or twists divided by small parts. Box braids, Senegalese twists, micro braids, or ropes twists are just a few popular options. Usually created on synthetic hair, this style is a cheaper alternative and the choices are endless.

Pros

  • The style can last 6-8 weeks
  • They are great protective styles, especially when transitioning to natural hair.
  • You can wear buns, updos, and other styles for versatility.
  • The accessibility to the scalp helps to keep it clean.
  • Redoing the perimeter provides little maintenance.
  • You only need to secure with a satin bonnet at night.

Cons

  • This is another style that can cause traction alopecia if the hair is installed too tight or worn too often.
  • Many are allergic to the coating on synthetic hair, causing scalp inflammation.
  • Buildup can accumulate quickly if the hair is neglected or washed improperly.
  • Install is tedious and long.
  • While the hair may be cheap, the install can be very expensive.

Crochet braids

Just as it sounds, crochet braids are hair extensions crocheted into your own cornrowed hair with a latch hook tool. They are not new, but using this technique to install afro-textured hair is.

Pros

  • Installation is quicker than a sew-in and more secure than clip-ins.
  • The installation is cheaper and much easier to do yourself.
  • Great for protective styling with less tension.
  • The variety of hair for crochet braids is endless! You can wear box braids, faux locs, Senegalese twists, and any style that’s is available, ready to crochet into your braids.

Cons

  • You may have limited updo styles without exposing the cornrows.
  • Your sections may be limited if you want to change your parts.
  • Your scalp can breed mildew if you do not ensure your hair is completely dry at the roots after washing your hair.

What are your favorite extensions for your natural hair?