Long & luscious: Tape-in versus hand-tied extensions and deciding which are best for you

As I sit here writing this blog post, my extensions are currently going on 12 weeks after my last maintenance appointment.

I have had hair extensions since October 2018 and although when I got them I definitely didn’t need them (I mean, I still technically don’t need them since my hair is long anyways), that initial install started my love affair with having them.

I started my extension journey with the Philocaly tape-in extensions, which I did a blog post about here.  I did enjoy having the tape-ins, but they definitely had a lot of pros and cons, which having now switched over to hand-tieds, I would say that the cons outweigh the pros. I think that tape-ins are a great gateway into having hair extensions, however, if you are looking to invest in extensions, I would definitely do your research first about which method may be best for you.

Before and after with Philocaly tape-in extensions

Like I said, I have pretty long hair to begin with and started my extensions journey with long hair as well.  When I first got them installed, the extensions were actually a touch longer than my natural hair, so they added a bit of length, as well as fullness. The tapes work by sandwiching together two tabs of hair between a thin layer of your natural hair. Since they are a few inches, the placement of these are totally customizable to each person depending on where you need the hair. I have only dealt with Philocaly Hair extensions, which are a Canadian company based in Saskatchewan and only sells Russian remy hair (I’ll get into this more in a bit), and their packages contain 30 tabs and 50 grams of hair (16-18 inch) or 60 grams of hair (18-20 inch). They recommend one package of tape-ins for added thickness and two to three packs for full application (honestly though I think two will probably do – I ended up with eight tabs left over from each pack – so 16 total). They also are billed to last eight-to-12 months with proper care.

Now tape-ins are less expensive then hand-tieds, but overall, you will get more bang for your buck with the hand-tied versions.  I say this because although you can take out the tapes, re-tab them (which is just adding on a new strip of adhesive), and put them back in, after a year or so, the tab part at the top starts to breakdown and you’ll need to purchase new hair.

Philocaly Hand-Tied Extensions

So what are hand-tied extensions? Hand-tied extensions is a weft that is sewn together at the top by hand.  You install this in your hair by a track which is a row of beads that is clamped onto your real hair with a thread connecting them. The hand-tied weft is then sewn onto the track.  Because the hair is sewn in, as long as you take good care of the hair itself, you could theoretically have these for multiple years since there isn’t really any breakdown on the weft itself. These are more money to buy upfront, but will last you longer over time, so realistically you will be saving money in the long run.

When it comes to application, although the hand-tied process takes way longer to install and maintain, I do prefer this method more than the tapes. Your stylist removes the tapes by spraying an adhesive remover on the tab and then pulling apart the two pieces.  I’m not going to lie, this can be very painful depending on how tight they are stuck together.  I also found that you tend to lose hair by doing this.  Of course your stylist tries to be very careful when removing them, but honestly it’s inevitable that some hair will come out when they are removing the tapes.

Installing hand-tied extensions, beaded track Sewn in weft on hand-tied extensions by Philocaly at Fifth Winnipeg

The hand-tied process is a lot less painful since the row grows out, so all they do is just loosen the beads, cut the string that was sewn between the track and the hair, and then slide out the hair. I do find the maintenance time to be a lot longer though since the hair has to be hand sewn back onto your head. I have two rows and it typically takes over two hours for them to do this.

In addition to price, I find the hand-tieds to be more comfortable to wear in general and are just better suited to my lifestyle. I work out a lot, so I’m putting my hair up everyday. With tapes, depending on the placement, you run the risk of seeing the tape when your hair is up. With the hand tieds, they camouflage into your natural hair so you can do pretty much any style without the risk of seeing the weft (I do have trouble doing half-up, half-down styles, but that’s pretty much the only time I would see the weft).

The hand-tieds are also more comfortable to wear since depending on where the row is you have a lot more real estate on your scalp.  With the tape-ins, they are placed all over your head, whereas with the hand-tieds, depending on where they are placed, will leave the top of your scalp free (again, depending on where it’s placed. If you have short hair, they may do a row at the top). Not only is this more comfortable, but it’s also easier to wash since the extensions don’t get in the way.

Hair in ponytail with hand-tied extensions by Philocaly

As I mentioned, Philocaly extensions are the only ones I have tried and I love them for so many different reasons.  They originally started out with just clip ins and the tapes and now they offer hand-tieds and machine wefts, which is similar to the hand-tieds but instead of sewing them by hand, they use a sewing machine, which allows them to actually put more hair in the weft.  These are more money than hand-tieds but since they are thicker, you’ll need less wefts.

Okay, so about the actual extensions themselves, the hair is real remy Russian hair, which if you aren’t familiar with hair extension lingo, that means that the hair comes from a single-donor Russian person (meaning that each package of their extensions is collected from one woman, not multiple women, so the hair flows better) and the cuticle is going in the same direction. If you get cheap extensions that aren’t remy that means that the cuticle could be at the bottom and the top, which usually means lots of matting and – for lack of a better term – nasty-looking extensions. These are also ethically sourced, meaning that the hair comes from women who willingly sold their hair for a fair trade price, and the cuticle is intact, which makes the hair more durable. They also also virtually double drawn, so the short hairs are removed to give thickness from root to end, and they don’t contain any silicones or chemicals, which means that they will feel softer longer.

Like I said, I’ve had extensions in the past, but they were usually sourced from Asian or Indian women. Being caucasian, my hair type doesn’t really match those found in Asian or Indian hair, since it’s typically thicker. If you are caucasian like me, then I would look into Russian extensions since it’s finer hair, similar to my own natural texture. To sum it up, these extensions are no joke.

Philocaly hand-tied hair extensions

Okay, so how to decide which method is the best for you? I really like the hand-tieds and find they are the best choice for me and my lifestyle.  They are more pricey than the tape-ins, however, they will last you a lot longer than the tapes since they won’t break down as fast.

When it comes down to it though, there are so many factors that go into deciding what method is best for you and although I wish I could tell you what would be best, it really is up to your stylist.  There are so many things to think about when it comes to extensions, including the length of your hair, the thickness of it, and most of all, budget. Sure, the extensions will be a big cost upfront (anywhere from $300 and up), but really it’s the maintenance cost that is the biggest factor.

With tapes, I would get them moved up every eight to 10 weeks; with hand-tieds I can go 12 weeks and up (like right now, although I really need them moved up soon but just look at my hair you wouldn’t be able to tell that they are grown out so much). Maintenance alone will cost anywhere from $125 to over $300 per session, depending on your stylist and the type of extension it is, so make sure to factor that into your budget as well. I see Alison at Fifth Winnipeg and she is a hair extension queen. If you live in Winnipeg, I highly recommend her!

Let me know if you have any questions about extensions. I would love to answer them for you!

Do you have hair extensions?

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