Many of us have looked at our Instagram and see pictures of hair extensions. Some of them are perfectly compositioned and look picture percent. Others look too fake to fool even the most oblivious eye. So what's the difference? What is it about hair extensions that really makes them look so fake? Well much of it lies in the quality of the hair. For years now the hair extension industry has lowered our expectations about what to expect from what they call human hair. This ambiguous term is used to label hair at every price point. And since the industry is unregulated, you can never really be sure it's all actually human hair in that bundle. Reality TV shows such as TOWIE (The only way is Essex) and more recently Love Island, have brought hair extensions to a mainstream audience. They've helped to make them more accessible as we see them wear them; day in, day out. A quick check of their Instagram and we can usually see where they've had them done. Popular hair extension brands are quick to offer influencers free hair extensions in order to leverage their impressionable young fans. Although generally speaking hair extensions are still a niche, it's a rapidly growing industry that operates in mass production with the vast majority of its material coming from Asia.
But Why So Fake Looking?
Imagine if you will you applied a mass production model to colouring or highlighting your hair. And instead of placing your foils in according to your Individual style your hairdresser followed a very strict pattern on everyone with no deviation. You'd probably end up with colour in the wrong places and maybe the colour wouldn't be right. The pigment in your hair will be different to someone else's. The same applies for hair extensions. Without an element of bespoke adaptation for placement, density and colour, your hair extensions won't quite integrate exactly how they should.
It's not always enough to choose a colour from a colour wheel and hope for the best. Here are a few simply truths about hair extensions and how they look so fake on some of most well-known celebrities and personalities;
The Tone Doesn't Match
If you only have a colour wheel to go by, it's very difficult to match the complex panoply of tone in your own hair. What appears to be a match in the salon when it's all perfectly styled under artificial lights, simply won't stand up against the harsh reality of daylight. Your unstyled hair on a day-to-day basis will most likely have unnatural stripes of colour where they shouldn't be. Even to the untrained eye, the colour difference will be detectable.
The Texture Is Unnatural
Here's the cold hard truth. Processed hair, even if it's 100% human hair, doesn't hold the same characteristics as it did when it was natural. The processing of human hair strips away the cuticle. This means the hair is coarse, doesn't retain any natural shine and is susceptible to breakage just like any damaged hair would be.
The Wrong Hair Extension Method
This one is a very common mishap that unfortunately as a client is often out of your control. Many stylists and salons have a preferred method of hair extension application. If your hair doesn't suit the method they offer you may find that even from the outset your hair extensions don't look quite right. Or perhaps it does in the salon but when you wash it yourself it just doesn't seem to sit right.
A good hair extension technician will be able to advise or the methods or combination of them which will enable you to achieve your desired look.
So How Can You Avoid The Traps?
Start with a bespoke service approach. If you want hair that mirrors the same tone and texture of your own hair, you'll need virgin. Not coloured, not permed and not processed in any way. Every processing weakens the hair and your hair will reject it like an alien donor. If you're going to fool the public, your friends and even your own hair. You'll need to get an exact match. In every single way. A great set of hair extensions shouldn't look like a set of hair extensions. It should look like a great hairstyle.