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So Long

Before you choose a line of extensions, it's important to know as much as you can about what's on the market and how to work with them. We asked Shiela Stotts, a pioneer in the hair extension industry and one of the most sought-after stylists in Hollywood, for some advice. Having a real mastery of your craft is the only way to achieve success, says Stotts, who has teamed up with Paul Mitchell Schools, where students will learn how to properly work with extensions and benefit from working with a range of tools developed by Stotts after years of perfecting her skills. "Any person wanting to get into hair extensions can use my tools," Stotts says.

Great Lengths extensions from Hair U Wear
Great Lengths extensions from Hair U Wear

Here, we take a look at some of the companies offering hair extensions today.

Hair U Wear is an industry leader with high standards for everything from the hair it uses to the application method. The company offers a line of extensions called Great Lengths and only uses 100-percent Remi (the cuticle layers all face in the same direction) Indian temple hair. "The only thing Great Lengths does to the hair is to use our de-pigmentation and coloring process so that we can offer a wide color palette," says Brett Butcher, Great Length's national program director. "Our process of removing natural color is done via osmosis, where the whole color molecule is completely removed and replaced without any toxic chemicals."

There are three different Great Lengths applicator machines available, none of which use glue guns or wax melting pots. The 3200 Thermal System has a tong that is heated on one side. The temperature, which is approximately the same temperature as the lowest setting on a standard curling iron, softens the bond so it can be molded to the natural hair. The Ultrasonic 5000 uses a cold fusion method that generates heat within the bond itself via ultrasonic wave, leaving the application tool completely cool throughout the procedure. New from Great Lengths is the Air Pressure System, which allows you to complete a full head of extensions in less than one hour. It has a tiny built-in air compressor with a specially designed application arm that, once activated, simultaneously applies seven to 10 strands in just 20 seconds. "This method is not a replacement for the other two methods," Butcher says. "It should be viewed more as a hair design tool rather than an extension tool."

Great Lengths also offers three-day training programs on how to apply its products. "Great Lengths USA operates with selective salon distribution with certification requirements for all methods," Butcher says. "Our policies are designed to enhance the professional image of those representing the brand, and the policies are ultimately in the consumer's best interest."

DIRECTORY
DIRECTORY

Also available from Hair U Wear are Hairdo extensions from Jessica Simpson and Ken Paves. The Hairdo Clip-in Extension System consists of one multilevel, contoured piece that creates stylish results without having to work with several individual wefts. What's more, the extensions are available in both 100-percent human hair and Kanekalon Vibralite modacrylic fiber, which is the finest quality synthetic fiber available.

Videos that demonstrate how to clip on the different types of extensions are available on the Hairdo Web site. You can also sign up to become a Hairdo salon.

SO.CAP.USA was one of the first companies to develop 100-percent keratin protein tips, which ensure a strong, healthy bond that lasts anywhere from three to six months.

New micro-grafts were expressly designed to create extra fullness and thickness, especially for chemotherapy patients and men. The company also has a new Flat Ice bonding machine, which utilizes heat-free bonding to crystallize the keratin bond, forming a strong, invisible and long-lasting hold.

There are more than 81 haircolor options in three textures: straight, wavy and curly. SO.CAP.USA also offers clip-in extensions, wigs and hair wefts, according to President Ron Cardillo Sr. Education is available for both the warm- and cold-fusion techniques.

Scientists at Cinderella Hair have developed an organic protein-bonding agent for their 100-percent human Remi hair. The bond is flexible, which gives a natural-looking extension, removes easily, will not burn or stick to your fingers when you roll it, and bonds at a low temperature to protect hair. "Because the bonds don't need much heat, stylists can choose the heat that's best for their clients," says Irvin Krauledis, director of education.

Extensions come in bundles of 25 strands of hair in a wide variety of colors, textures and styles. Krauledis estimates that you would need five to eight bundles of hair to give the average client a full head of extensions. However, Krauledis points out that it's not always necessary to do a whole head of extensions. "Something that has become very popular is doing highlights and lowlights," he says. "So you would only need one bundle rather than seven or eight."

Sobeautyfull distributes Button/Willow extensions with U-shaped bonds for fusion application, as well as I-tips for micro-link application. The U-shaped bond is shaped like a small fingernail and can be applied effectively with the personalized bonding iron, as well as many other standardized irons. The I-tip bonds are pressed into place using specialized micro-link pliers. This technique allows for a more flexible application and removal method, so that hair can be reapplied several times.

Starter kits are available that offer hair, all the necessary tools and educational DVDs. The company also offers classes and certification across the continental United States.

There are a variety of different methods, services and products to choose from at His & Her Hair Goods. All hair is 100-percent human hair and available in four different types: Regular; 50- or 100-percent Italian Mink, which is softer, finer and lasts longer than Regular; and His & Her Cuticle, which has all of the cuticles removed to prevent tangling and help the extensions last longer.

The company sells products for a variety of methods, including weaving, braiding, fusion, bonding, U-tip and I-tip. Extensions are available in a multitude of colors in both human and synthetic hair. Clip-in extensions are also available.

Short2Long from the National Hair Center doesn't use a weave or any heat, glue, chemicals, wax or polymers, but rather a simple application method using soft crimping links.

Extensions are applied away from hairlines for natural volume and can be permed, colored, highlighted and styled like natural hair. The Short2Long extensions are also reusable. Training and starter kits are available.

None of the seven different hair extension methods available from Lisha Coleman require glue, braids or cornrows. Instead, Coleman uses various methods of attaching the extensions, including unique sewing techniques and micro-linking. The company also offers educational DVDs and videos through its Web site, as well as five-day training seminars in Houston and Los Angeles.

All of the 100-percent human hair extensions from Super Hair Factory are handpicked strand-by-strand to ensure that all cuticles are aligned in the same direction so no tangling occurs. The company estimates that you will need six to eight ounces of its hair extensions to do a full head. Visit the company's Web site to purchase an instructional video or find information about its one-day training seminar.

A less costly solution for clients who may want to try extensions without spending an arm or a leg is offered by Simplicity Hair Extensions. The extensions use a specialized liner tape that you can attach to your clients' hair in a simple three-step process that takes only 30 minutes. Simplicity uses only 100-percent human hair and comes in a variety of colors and textures, which are carefully selected to match the client's own color, highlights and texture. The company offers training and lists workshop dates on its Web site.

Advice From a Seasoned Pro

Sheila Stotts, Hollywood's go-to girl for extensions, sounds off.

1. Precise Application Applying extensions can often be a tedious task, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be precise. "Many hair extensionists just grab a chunk of hair here or there," Stotts says. "Instead, you need to figure out the dimensions and curves of the person's head to properly apply extensions."

Sheila Stotts
Sheila Stotts

2. Organization "Cross contamination is a huge problem," Stotts says. That's why Stotts color-coordinates all of her products—application products are black and removal products are red. "I also invented the clippette, which can literally hold one strand of hair or a whole quarter of a subsection," Stotts says. "They all have fine points on the end so you don't need a rattail comb, which eliminates hand-to-mouth syndrome."

3. Matting "Matting is when there's an inch or two of hair where the cuticle goes in the opposite direction," says Stotts, who suggests loosening the mat by poking it and flicking cuticles toward the head. "Fifteen years ago, I used a diaper pin that was attached to a pencil. Now we've turned the tail of the rattail comb into that tool."

4. Painless Removal According to Stotts, 75 percent of damage to hair from extensions comes from removal, which is why she designed a tool that has removal solvent in the handle. "The solvent goes right where I need it to, which is a lot more comfortable for the client," Stotts says. "Removing extensions only takes 20 or 30 minutes instead of four hours, and they don't have to beg for Tylenol." sheilastotts.com

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About the Author

Rachel Aguiar

Rachel Aguiar