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The Hidden Secret to Achieving Thicker Looking Hair From Home — In Seconds

It will save you hundreds of dollars compared to in-salon alternatives

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Sometimes, the hair we have in reality doesn’t match our vision for the hair we have in our hearts. Perfect example? You want to don a full, lush ponytail that sways gorgeously in the back with each step you take, but the end result of pulling your hair back resembles more wisps-in-the-wind than wow. And all the serums, potions and supplements won’t help your thin hair look thicker right this minute. Enter: Hair extension styles, specifically the clip-in varieties. Not only are they affordable, but they add oomph to any ‘do, let you experiment with new looks and work for all hair lengths — no trip to the salon needed. To learn all you need to know about these hair add-ons, we turned to New York City-based hairstylists and extension specialists Stephanie Angelone with RPZL and Paul Labrecque, founder of Paul Labrecque Salon where Rihanna, Kate Hudson and Michelle Obama have all had their hair done. Keep scrolling for the hair extension styles that will work wonders for you and your hair.

(Click through for more ways to combat thinning hair.)

The benefits of hair extension styles

Curled clip in hair extensions flat
toloren/Getty

1. They allow you to switch up your look, damage-free

“Many people may be intimidated by hair extensions because they assume they are damaging or heavy,” she explains. “But if done correctly, you can create any style you want from short full bobs to long luscious locks, without any damage.”

2. There are a variety of styles to choose from

“There are so many different types of hair extension styles you can apply to change your look, like a clip-in bang or a volumizer piece that will add height and fullness to your hair without a full head of extensions,” says Angelone.

3. They make hair look thicker and longer instantly

Extensions create “length, fullness or both instantly without waiting for hair to grow,” says Labrecque. “So many times, people with fine hair bring in celebrity pictures from a red carpet and are so excited when I say extensions can give you that same drama.” Plus, adds Angelone, “you can change your look in the matter of an hour.”

4. They look natural

“Most of the time you wouldn’t even realize extensions are in someone’s head unless they opt for a dramatic transformation,” says Labrecque. That’s because the hair extension styles of today come in many hair-matching shades and in both human and non-human hair that seamlessly blend in with the hair on your head.

5. They can keep hair healthy

“Clip-ins can help protect your natural hair from any further heat damage or chemical damage — hair coloring, keratin, etc.,” says Labrecque.

The most flattering hair extension styles for women over 45

Here, the best hair extension styles that beautify strands of any length in a snap.

1. Hair extension styles: A ponytail or bun piece

Fran Drescher with a ponytail hair extension styles
Fran Drescher, 66Getty
Lynn Whitfield with a bun hair extension styles
Lynn Whitfield, 70Getty

You can use clip-in extensions to create updos that look more full and dramatic for an event or everyday, says Angelone. Two popular hair extension styles that create an elegant updo in under a minute are a clip-in pony or bun piece.

These styles of extensions come with anti-aging perks, adds Angelone, since they keep the focus on hair and off of aging facial flaws. Plus, they can beef up hair that isn’t long enough to actually form a ponytail or bun.

Two that we love: Zala Clip-In Ponytail 16″ (Buy from Zala, $39.99) and Glam Seamless Express Synthetic Hair Bun 14″ (Buy from Glam Seamless, $19.99). Bonus? A ponytail piece that’s made with tinsel, like RPZL Tinsel Pony (Buy from RPZL, $29.99) adds a touch of sophisticated sparkle to a fun party look.

2. Hair extension styles: A braided headband

Kristin Chenoweth wearing a braided headband, one of the hair extension styles
Kristin Chenoweth, 55Getty

Another budget-friendly hair extension style is a braided headband, which adds feminine flair to hair of any length, no actual braiding required! These headbands, like Wigyy Luna Two Stand Braids (Buy from Wigyy, $24.99), look just like real hair and give strands added depth and dimension. For a sturdier headband that also appears au-natural, try RPZL Hard Headband (Buy from RPZL, $40).

3. Hair extension styles: Clip-in bangs

Penelope Cruz with clip-in bangs, one of the hair extension styles
Penelope Cruz, 49Getty

Clip-on bangs can elevate your look without committing to a cut and having to learn how to re-style your hair, says Labrecque. “On a short style, I can add bangs by placing and cutting extensions to the person’s liking or face shape,” he explains. “For people who are on a budget and don’t want to deal with the upkeep of new layers or bangs, the Halo Bang from Halo Couture is a perfect option and clips in and out, lasting virtually forever.” Another clip-on style that we like is Hairdo Clip In Bangs (Buy from The Wig Company, $30.50).

4. Hair extension styles: Halo extensions

Jessica Chastain wearing hair extensions
Jessica Chastain, 46Getty

What gives these extension hair styles their name is that the hair lies on a wire band that goes around the head (but it’s easily concealed by hair) to create the illusion of a fuller, longer mane. Halo extensions are Labrecque’s go-to for those who just want a nw look for a day or an evening, whereas tape-ins and keratin extensions last for months. “They’re the most cost-effective change when you want it and come in a variety of lengths.”

And an added perk is that “they’re also flexible and can be used to make ponytails thicker, an elegant updo more full and of course add length where requested,” he notes. One we like: Zala Halo 16″ (Buy from Zala, $69.99).

5. Hair extension styles: Clip-on layers

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren, 78Getty

If you think extensions come in just long lengths, think again. “You can buy clip-in extensions that are the same length of your hair just to add fullness and hold,” says Angelone. This provides a more natural look for those with shorter strands and can be placed wherever you want to add some fullness. A style we love is Reecho 5″ Hair Topper (Buy from Reecho, $14.99).

How to color match hair extensions

Hair extension color swatches
Tolimir/Getty

Curious about how to determine your best color match when selecting hair extension styles? “Always match from the ends of your hair, which will result in a seamless finish where there’s no obvious line from where your natural hair ends and the extensions begin,” says Angelone.

Matching the color is a must even when you have ombre hair meaning the root should match the root even when you want the ends lighter, adds Labreque. “I line up from a color ring to the root area of the client and gauge from there,” he says. “Sometimes if the color isn’t quite right, we’ll custom dye the extensions to the client’s hair while they’re in the chair.”

Some brands, like Hidden Crown, offer free swatches of their shade range along with color matching services like a virtual consultation to ensure you find your perfect shade. And for more tricks on color-matching hair extensions, check out the video below from YouTuber and hair colorist @ellebangs.

Pro tips for applying clip-in hair extensions

It can take some time to get used to applying extensions, which is why Angelone says practice makes perfect. But to start, section hair starting at the nape of the neck and work your way up the back of the head. And at the root area of each section apply a texturizing product, like RPZL x Stephanie Angelone Volumizing Powder (Buy from RPZL, $24.99). This will “add some texture to your hair beforehand, especially if you have fine hair, as this will help the extensions blend,” she says.

After applying the product of your choice, lightly tease hair in the section with a comb at the roots. Then, clip the hair in and lock it in with the attached combs or clips. Repeat this process in a few more sections until you’ve reached your desired look.

If you just want to add a few clip-ins for fullness, Labrecque says to place extensions below the parietal ridge. This is the widest area of the head and starts at the temples and ends at the bottom of the crown. Placing extensions here pushes up hair at the root for an overall fuller look.

To add more hair-volumizing texture, you can curl extensions, but Angelone says to do so after they are placed on the head. “This will create a seamless finish and perfect blend.” And when it’s time to remove extensions “just release the clip, slip the hair out and brush out the tease gently,” she says.

For more tips on applying clip-in hair extension styles, check out the below video from @meganlorson on YouTube.

How to ensure your hair extensions last

  1. Don’t sleep in the clip-ons: Angelone advises always taking out extensions before going to bed since they can get damaged and tangled while sleeping.
  2. Brush and detangle: You’ll also want to brush and detangle them after removal.
  3. Store them *this* way: “Store them in a silk bag to prevent breakage,” she suggests. Labrecque agrees and says it’s also great to store your clip-ins in a drawer and lay them straight folded into a towel. “They will stay good forever,” he adds. But one caution from Labrecque, “never store [extensions] in plastic — it can breed mold and moisture.”
  4. Keep them clean: It’s best to wash clip-in extensions every 10-15 wears. Angelone says. This will get rid of any product buildup and ensure the faux hair stays healthy. “And when you do wash, shampoo and condition, add a heat protector and air dry overnight.”

For a tutorial on how to properly wash hair extensions, watch the below video from YouTuber Hannah Benjamin.

First For Women aims to feature only the best products and services. We update when possible, but deals expire and prices can change. If you buy something via one of our links, we may earn a commission. Questions? Reach us at shop@firstforwomen.com


For more hair styling tips, click through these stories:

Dazzling *Hair Jewelry* Trend Makes It So Easy to Create Stunning Styles — Here’s How

Pro Stylists’ Tricks for Curls That Last and Last So Hair Stays Lush + Voluminous All Day

Celebrity Colorists: These 10 At-Home Hair Colors Make Your Hair Look Thicker Instantly

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