Hello, I'm Hannah, and I LOVE extensions! I used to have tape-in extensions (from Donna Bella Hair), which I really loved.
Tape-in extensions are ones that tape onto tiny sections of your hair (taping on both sides to kind of sandwich a piece of your hair). You need to get them professionally installed (my roommate was a hairdresser, so I was in luck there), and it probably takes at least an hour because there are a bunch of individual pieces to put in. They're supposed to last about two to three months before you'll want to take them out because of regrowth. You can usually reuse them a couple of times, depending on the quality!
I like Donna Bella because in comparison with other brands, they were cheaper, and I still found their hair to be great quality.
However, there were a few reasons I stopped using my extensions. First of all, I kind of ruined them.
Second of all, I wanted to try something other than tape-in extensions because a) my hairdresser roommate moved out, and b) tape-in extensions are a bit difficult to wear up, and it was kind of frustrating to work out with them in.
I wanted to try something I could install quickly by myself for temporary use — meaning I wouldn't have to wear them to sleep or the gym. The options for temporary hair extensions are either halo extensions or clip-ins.
Clip-in extensions have these little baby clips that work like normal hair clips that are also kind of combs. You basically just lift your hair up and start clipping the pieces on the various under-lengths of your hair all around, kind of brushing the clip slightly through your hair, then clipping it down. I do the placement kind of haphazardly, but you can watch a great video on how to do it here.
Halo extensions, by contrast, are basically just one big clump of hair on one side and an elastic on the other. You put it over your head like a crown, then pull all the hair behind the elastic through.
To get a fuller experience, I decided to try both halo and clip-in extensions. I didn't want to spend a ton of money, so I went with cheap extensions from Amazon, trying three different extensions at different price points under $100.
First impressions from putting these in without styling them or my hair: These things were super shiny and felt a bit fake. The curls were also very Old Hollywood and unnatural.
I decided these extensions would probably be less shiny and easier to style if I washed them first — I also wanted to tone them with some purple shampoo. I did so, then left them to dry overnight. And y'all...it dried EXACTLY THE WAY IT HAD BEEN BEFORE.
This was really weird, but I decided to go ahead and try to make them work. I put them in again, cut them (they were way too long), then sort of straightened them (they didn't totally straighten), and then tried to curl them again into more modern curls. The hair did NOT want to work with the heat, but eventually I was able to create the curls I wanted.
The hair still looked too blunt, so I followed this tutorial to sort of haphazardly trim pieces and layer the hair. In the end, it definitely looked passable for wearing out to a bar or club, but I would NEVER have worn it in daylight. Mostly because the color match wasn't exact, but also because it still looked a little too thick and unnatural.
I clipped them all around my head, then curled them, and I was IN LOVE. They match my hair color almost exactly (not at the root, but they're covered up there anyways), and they looked really natural to me.
However, I definitely have some tips if you want to make them look good or even lower-maintenance.
The under-lengths of my hair have the tendency to curl and frizz up easily, especially when it's hot and I'm sweating. I saw a video that recommended clipping up that part of your hair below the extensions, especially because seeing shorter hair underneath longer hair looks a bit unnatural (compared with shorter hair on top of extensions). This definitely helped!
My only complaint is that with clip-ins, they take a bit longer to place, and I always have the fear that they'll fall out. Also, some of the places that I like to clip them in are a bit hard to cover with the hair above it. A lot of times, I have to clip a few pieces back just to make sure every clip is covered and the bumps the clips are creating are covered.
Now, I understand there's a big price difference between $15 and almost $100, so I decided to try one last brand: WindTouch. It was $45.99 for the 18-inch extensions, and I got them in the color #18p613, Mixed Bleach Blonde.
Right off the bat, the extensions looked and felt almost identical to the more expensive ones. Like, to the point where I was wondering if they used the same manufacturer.
Upon closer inspection, I did notice some slight differences. The lowlight color was ever so slightly darker on the cheaper extensions. They were also slightly thinner, and a tiny bit shorter than the more expensive extensions.
Because these extensions seemed a bit thinner than the more expensive ones, I was really curious to see how they looked on. Here's how they looked before styling.
I was really hoping that the stringiness was just because they weren't styled...turns out it was not. Here's how my hair looked after I quickly styled them.
Honestly? The midrange ones ended up being my least favorite extensions. I didn't find them wearable at all. For almost $50, that was a bit annoying, especially considering that the $15 extensions were better!
After all this, I suppose it's not surprising that the most expensive extensions were best. But honestly — super-cheap, synthetic halo hair extensions can be fun if you're just wearing them to a bar or club where the lighting's not great. They're also the easiest to put in!
If you want something for day wear, I definitely recommend going with human hair — but tbh, for clip-ins you only plan to wear occasionally, Amazon options are GREAT. However, it's definitely worth shelling out the extra money to get a better option.
TL;DR: if you're looking for everyday extensions or tape-ins, I'd still recommend finding a tried-and-true brand just to get the thickness and longevity you're looking for (let me just give one last shoutout to Donna Bella). But if you're a casual extension wearer, like me — head to Amazon!!