This is the one foolproof way of knowing for sure whether the hair is real or synthetic; Pull a couple of long strands of hair out and hold them above a flame – make sure you use a lighter or an unscented candle. If the hair singes and burns upwards while smelling like burnt hair – it is real. If it sort of melts into a ball and smells like burning plastic – it is fake.
However, it is not always possible to do this (for instance, when you’re in a salon or buying online), so here are a few questions you can ask to help you figure out if your hair is real or fake.
How much do they cost?
Real hair is much more expensive than synthetic hair and if you are getting your extensions fitted at a hair salon, you will also be paying for the skills of your stylist.
As a general guide, a quarter head of real hair extensions should cost at least £200. If you are being charged much less than this, it is safe to assume that you are not getting the real thing.
Where did they come from?
Your stylist or supplier should be able to tell you exactly what sort of hair you are buying. Ask them outright where the hair was sourced – the most expensive hair comes from Russia, but Brazilian and Indian hair is also considered to be good quality. For consistency, you want to make sure that all the hair you are buying comes from the same source.
It is also a good idea to ask your stylist about the ethical practices of the salon. Most places will be proud to tell you how they maintain ethical standards when sourcing their hair. If not, go somewhere else.
How were the strands mixed?
If you are dealing with a reputable salon, they will spend a considerable amount of time hand-making each strand of the real hair extensions in order to create the most natural look. Vixen and Blush believe that hand-making the strands is the ONLY way to get a perfectly bespoke colour match.
If the hair is fake, your salon won’t have an answer to this question.
Can I look at the original hair package?
Before the extensions are applied to your hair, ask to see the package of the hair that you will be using. It should be shiny, strong, de-tangled and either tied into a ponytail or laid out in a special vacuum sealed bag. You will probably be able to tell by running your hands through the hair whether it is synthetic or fake, but to be totally sure – check these details:
The ends should be slightly uneven – if the hair ends in an unnaturally straight line it could be a sign that it has been used before, or that it is a fake.
The colour should be natural – if the hair appears to have been bleached or highlighted it is of an inferior quality and will not wear well.
The cuticle should be undamaged – this is the outer coating which is on every strand of hair. It should be shiny, and all cuticles should be pointing in the same direction. You can see this more clearly if you shine a light on the hair.
Is it safe to apply heat to my extensions?
A good stylist will be more than happy to talk to you about how to maintain your new hair. Human hair extensions can be treated more or less as you would treat your original hair, but you should be extra careful not to damage or loosen the bonds. Your stylist should be able to recommend some heat-resistant products and tools which are suitable for extensions, and they should make sure you know how to use them.
It is perfectly safe to apply heat to natural hair, as long as you take the usual measures to protect against dryness. Synthetic hair, on the other hand, will melt into your real hair if you apply too much heat to it. This can be dangerous, traumatic and unsightly and your stylist has a responsibility to warn you about this. If you are told to avoid heat styling, be concerned. You are either dealing with an inexperienced stylist or your extensions are fake.
The Salon is located at: 6 RATHBONE SQ, LONDON W1T 1EB
Having your hair extensions fitted in a reputable salon that specify the type of hair they use will always be your best bet in ensuring you’re receiving a good quality, trustworthy service. Hair Extensions are an investment, they boost confidence and will improve your hair. At Vixen & Blush we understand how important this is, and pride ourselves on our abilities. If you would like some further guidance, or want to put some of these tips to good use, come in and see us for a free consultation!
Sarah McKenna is the founder of Vixen & Blush and The London Hair Lab. Sarah graduated as a research biochemist in 2005 and started a career within the pharmaceutical industry, before becoming a hair extensions expert. In 2010, Sarah gained insight into the hair extensions industry and could see that clients had a very poor value/quality proposition. At that time, poor-quality hair extensions were available, at prohibitively high prices. Sarah left her initial career and set out on a mission to improve the hair extensions industry in the UK, using her research and development skills.
Spending 3 years securing a high-quality and sustainable supply of human hair, Sarah then developed new products and fitting techniques to allow long-term refits of the same hair. In this way, Sarah was able to offer hair extensions services at a more affordable price to clients, while improving the quality of the service for her clients.
With Vixen & Blush starting in 2012 as a 1 chair salon in London, Sarah quickly grew the business to what it is today, a team of more than 20 hair professionals working together as London’s leading hair extensions specialists.
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