Finding the right method for adding length, body or color to the hair can be a daunting task. Some methods seem the same while others are so out there that you may not be ready to take the leap of faith. Here are some methods that work for most hair types whether curly, kinky, heat straightened of chemically relaxed.
Full Weaves vs. Full Wigs
Full weaves work very well on all textures because all of the hair is protected and guarded from the natural elements. Full weaves are wefted hair sewn onto cornrows or onto a net already attached to the cornrows. If you want to avoid using glue most full weaves are finished with a bang to hide the hairline.
Full weaves may sound much better than a full wig but there are some benefits. One main concern to not having a full wig is that it is not secure. Most wigs include a band and combs. If they do not, you can sew-in your own combs for more security. You can also sew down a full wig around the perimeter of the head. Taking the wig off will be far easier than a weave. Once you can master doing this yourself, you may even take a full wig down weekly for washing instead of having to waste money at the salon and waiting for all of that hair to dry.
Partial Weaves vs. Beaded Sew-Ins
Partial weaves provide a much more natural look than full weaves but this comes at a cost. Some of the natural hair must be left out including the edges and/or the crown. While it will be easier for those with chemically or heat straightened hair to blend the texture, the constant blending can cause heat damage, split ends or dry hair. These also do not allow for as much experimentation with color unless you are willing to color your own hair in full.
If you do have curly/kinky hair, a partial weave is still an option but the texture much be matched very closely. It is important to remember to match the texture that you normally have. If it takes you hours to attain a corkscrew curl then do not install corkscrew wefted hair.
Beaded sew-in extensions were inspired by the microlinks extension methods. The stylist begins parting the hair into a small row like for a cornrow. Instead of braiding, an evem smaller section is taken and looped through a tiny beaded link. The link is then pressed closed. Each row of hair will have a few links and then the wefted hair attached link to link. This provides a braidless weave which will be smoother and flatter. The downside is that the hair is left fully out so this is only a good style for those who straighten their hair, those whose main concern was not a protective style (fullness, length), and those who have found a matching texture.
Bonded Hair Extensions
If done properly and not routinely, bonded hair extensions are not the devils they are made out to be.
Quick weaves are similar to full weaves in that most wearers are protecting all of their own hair. Using products such as Morning Glory’s Gro-Protect Solution helps in the process by creating a barrier between the hair and glue. These are weaves that are applied in a short amount of time and can even include an invisible part for a more realistic look. The downside is that since glue and Gro-Protect are water soluble, washing the hair will help to take down the weave. This is a style installed quickly and meant to stay in for a shorter amount of time.
Lace wigs whether it be lace frontals, full lace wigs or lace closures all have the seamless lace element in common for a more realistic look. The benefits of a full lace wig is free parting, updos and by request, braidless. Lace frontals and lace closures are a great bang for your buck. You can install these with traditional sew-in weaves for a natural hairline. However, updos and all over free parting is not an option. The key to lace wigs is the hairline. Some tips include tweezing, dying the knots and lace and purchasing a higher quality, multiple density wig. Your best bet is going to a qualified and well recommended stylist.
If you appreciate the benefits of braided hair but do not want a full head of visible braids there are some braided styles that give the appearance of free flowing hair.
Crochet Braids are a great at home style which most people can pick up once they have cornrowing under their belt. While curly hair works the best since the knots last longer and hold better, straight hair can be achieved by using jumbo braid hair and then straightening on low heat after install. The braids are easily accessible so that you can continue to moisturize and wash on a weekly basis. Synthetic hair also dries relatively fast.
Tree braids give an even more realistic appearance of loose hair than crochet braids but are a harder method to master at home. Going to a stylist is worth it for this long lasting style. Instead of the hair being looped and knotted around the cornrows, the braiding hair is braided with the natural hair and then left out every few centimeters. Tree braids can also be done on cornrows or individual braids which will allow for high ponytails.