How To Test for Good Quality Human Hair Extensions

Posted by Wande

A bundle of Human Hair wefts

A bundle of Human Hair wefts

 

Human hair extensions are all the rage these days. They have a better quality look and feel, and move more realistically (like human hair should) as compared to synthetic hair extensions. They tend to last much longer, can be used several times and you can do pretty much anything you can do to your own hair to them. Not to mention, they make great protective styles (when installed, worn and maintained correctly… they can be damaging otherwise).

If you’ve used great quality human hair, it’s amazing! and makes it hard to go back to synthetic and packet hair… However, with the lack of regulation and quality control in the human hair market, many of us have fallen victim to paying good money for bad human hair extensions (and that, is a gut-wrenching, tear-inducing feeling!… (or maybe it’s just my Ijebu-ness that makes it hurt so bad)). If you’ve ever been a victim to buying poor quality hair, just want to start buying human hair, or would like to learn more about good quality human hair, and how to test for it, please read this excerpt below from ‘guide to human hair extensions’:

 

About Human Hair Extensions

Human hair extensions are made from genuine human hair that is paid for and harvested from people, usually young women, all over the world.

Human hair extensions can vary broadly in quality.

On the low-medium end of the scale, hair is chemically stripped of its cuticle so that it can be machine processed without regard for direction or root-tip alignment. If the cuticle were left in but the root-tip alignment mixed up, the microscopic scales that form the cuticle would be opposed and snag on each other causing tangling. The negative effects of stripping the cuticle are brittleness, reduced protection from sunlight, dryness, salt, chlorine and pollution as well as a tendency to absorb liquids and swell or matt. It is not advisable to colour or heat-style this hair.

Remi [AKA Remy] hair refers to hair that has not had its cuticle stripped and has at least been partially hand-processed to maintain root-tip alignment. This hair is more expensive but will remain in good condition for much longer than stripped hair. It can also be heat styled and coloured. Sadly, this industry is not regulated and many manufacturers will mark as Remi or Remy, hair that has no cuticle or is even mixed with synthetic.

The other main scale of measurement of hair quality is the ‘percentage full length’ Hanks or Wefts of hair are often made of differing lengths of hair strands.

An average quality of hair that is 18 inches [45cm] long may have 20% of the strands measuring 18 inches [45cm] a further 40% measuring from 14-16 inches [35-40cm] and the other 40% measuring 6-12 inches [15-30cm]

A few of the superior grades are in fact full length, meaning each strand is exactly the stated length.

Colours of human hair are usually described by a colour scale which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer but they are available in a very wide range of natural and psychedelic colours.

Outside of these, there is a third type of hair. Virgin hair is hair that has not been chemically treated. It is harvested, sanitised and sold as bulk hair in hanks. The colour remains the same and the quality is completely dependant on the donor. Having said that, hair that is in poor condition [Split ends, chlorine/salt/UV damage etc.] rarely finds it way into this market as the buyers are quite discriminating.

 

Textures & Styles

Human hair is generally processed and sold in two textures; Silky, also called European and Yaki sometimes spelt Yaky. Silky (European) hair is pretty much exactly as it sounds, straight and silky. Yaki (Yaky) hair has more volume, it feels coarser to touch than Silky (European) hair. This effect is created by imparting a very slight crimp to the hair strands during processing. Under a microscope, one can see a wave in each strand even though they appear straight to the naked eye. Yaki (Yaky) textured hair is a good match for relaxed African hair. It is also used by people who want a fuller style. Yaki (Yaky) textured hair tends to be sold only in straight styles but Silky (European) textured hair is curled and waved into a myriad of styles of hair extensions. These are named according to their curl/wave and include styles such as: French Wave, French Refined, Italian Wave, Body Wave, Spanish Wave, Brazilian wave, French Curl, Spring Curl, Corkscrew, Afro-Kinky, Tight Curl, Deep Wave, Deep Curl, Wet Look, Natural Wave and Body Wave.

 

To test human hair for quality, perform the following;

Scrunch Test: Holding the hair by the top [tied] part, place your other hand under the tips and push the tips up until your hands meet. Rub briefly and release. Run your fingers through the hair, your fingers should slide freely through the hair. The more it snags, the lower the quality.

Grip Test (AKA Length Test): Grip the hair at the top, near the weft or band securing the hair if it is bulk hair. Slide your hand down and grip it about a quarter of the way down, repeat it for halfway and three quarters and finally grip it just before the tips. . Poor quality hair will be significantly thinner at each step of this test. Most good quality hair will be the same thickness for the first three steps only thinning in the final quarter of its length.

Great quality hair is made from hair strands that are all approximately the same length so the thickness of the hair should be the same all the way down its length. This is rare and expensive, such hair is called ‘full length’.

Dye Test: Dye a sample of the hair. If it is 100% cuticle-intact human hair it will change colour uniformly. If it develops streaks, highlights or lowlights, it has probably been mixed with low-grade human hair or even synthetic hair (usually high temperature fibre)

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Another popular and quick test is:

The Burn Test: Often a simple burn test will reveal the type of fiber in your human hair extension. It is fast and easy and you will know within minutes if you have human hair extensions or a mislabeled blend:

  • Remove single strands of hair from different areas of the questionable unit.
  • Hold a single strand with tweezers and use a lighter to keep a steady flame. Do not use matches as they will mask the odor.
  • Pay attention to the odor, ember and flame.

Human hair extension are protein fibers that burns with a small flickering flame and will not continue to burn unless you hold the flame continuously to the strand. It burns briefly with an orange flame and then chars leaving a dark ash that turns to powder when crushed. The odor is of burning hair or burning feathers.
Synthetic fibers are either nylon or polyester and each burns quite differently.

  • Nylon fibers burn rapidly but briefly and then melts. It has a sparkling flame that has a blue base and orange tip. The ash is like hard amber beads. The odor smells like boiling green vegetables (burning celery).
  • Polyester fibers melt and burn rapidly at the same time. It has an orange sputtery flame with black smoke and gives off a sweetish odor. The ash drips and is sticky to the touch before forming into hard black beads.

Remember to burn test each fiber seperately as your piece may contain a blend of both human hair and synthetic.

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