When you're in the market for hair extensions, your search for added length and fullness could be a cinch should you decide to test-drive the latest non-damaging method for making epic hair flips possible: Micro Link extensions, a technique that hair extensions maven Tatiana Karelina and her team are pumping out from Karelina's eponymous boutique salons in Los Angeles, London, and Manchester. Ahead, Karelina covers all the bases for determining whether or not Micro Link Extensions are for you, why they're healthier for your hair than glue-on or sew-in hair extensions, how much they cost, and more.
What They Are
Micro Link (micro ring, micro bead) Hair Extensions are the smallest and most undetectable non-glue hair extensions technique available, which combines the strands of natural hair with the extension strand using tiny metal tubes. The tubes (micro links) are made of either aluminum or copper, with or without a thin non-slip silicone layer inside them for cushioning and better grip. At Tatiana Karelina we have been specialising in micro link system for over a decade. I personally have learned and practiced a few different extensions techniques before that but found that the micro link method is the best and the safest by far.
Micro Links vs. Micro Looplets: What's the Difference?
There are various types of Micro links available, different colours to match different hair tones, and different sizes to fit different areas and hair thickness. Our approach in hair extensions application is to use various sizes of the links on the same head. For the back of the head we would normally use regular size links which fit bigger hair strands, for the sides or top of the head smaller links or looplets. They fit smaller extensions strands and appear more flat and generally less noticeable.
Why They're Healthier for Hair
Once the micro link is placed on the strand of the hair, the hair extension strand is inserted into the micro link and gets closed flat with special pliers. It’s a glue-free, mess-free application process which is relatively quick and most importantly very safe and non-damaging for your natural hair.
A client's decision on which technique to adopt may depend on several factors, specifically damage. The Micro Ring technique is generally considered to be the safest way of attaching the extension hair because there is no glue and no harsh chemical needed to remove the attachments. If extensions are applied correctly (clean sectioning and even weight distribution), micro link extensions allow a client's natural hair to grow healthily under. Additionally, there is the bonus of the opportunity to re-use the same hair (given the hair is amazing quality) after wearing the micro link extensions.
Why They're More Discreet
One of the first questions we ask our clients before we start the application process is about their lifestyle and preferred hair styles. If they mention top knots and high ponytails, we start sectioning and applying extensions further away from the hairline, placing smallest loops around the edges. In the end, we scoop the hair up in a high ponytail once again to make sure none of the attachments are showing.
How Long It Takes to Apply
Application takes anywhere from 1-5 hours depending on how many extensions need to be applied to achieve the desired look.
How Long They Last
We encourage every client to come back for maintenance every 2-3 months and not over wear extensions. Naturally we shed hair every single day and when we wear hair extensions we can’t brush these strands out. During maintenance appointments we open the links, brush out all shedded hair and then re-attach extensions to a new, clean section of natural hair using new micro links. The lifespan of the same set of extensions depends on the quality of the hair used in the first place and clients' aftercare regime. Our record clients manage to re-use the same set of our Russian hair for a couple years.
How to Wash Them
Micro links application doesn’t involve using any sort of glue or adhesive so one thing you must do is to try and keep the roots clean and oil free, hence washing properly and regularly is very important. As often as you wish, properly massage shampoo in between the attachments followed by a thorough rinse. Use shampoos that don’t contain sulphates, parabens, oils, or silicone. Conditioning sprays and oils on the ends only are great to keep your hair healthy, glossy and moisturized. It's important to care for your extensions and use conditioner after washing. However, conditioner, masks or treatments should be applied on the length of the hair and on the ends to avoid the roots. Oily products applied on the roots could trigger hair extensions slippage.
How to Brush Them
Brushing extensions and keeping them tangle-free is an important part of aftercare. Any soft bristle brush without little bubbles on top of the bristles is great and can be used from top to bottom even on the attachments. A comb can be used below the attachments.
How to Style Them
You can use your blow dryer on them, but like with everything, we have a little trick. Before starting to blow-dry the hair with the round brush – rough dry the roots first. When the hair is wet, it's slippery, and when we dry the roots first we make hair extensions less vulnerable therefore less likely to slip.
They're NOT for You If...
There are no restrictions as such, but we definitely consider customization and take an individual approach. If the client's hair is fine or weakened by bleach, we use smaller micro links and apply extensions on bigger sections of their hair to weight distribute in a more sensible way. The one restriction is the hair length. If someone's hair is shorter than four inches long, we recommend them to wait a couple months and let their hair grow.
The Price Tag
The prices for extensions vary depending on the amount of hair and the length of hair needed to achieve your dream look. Often it's about tweaking and enhancing our hair, making it look healthy. We have a lot of clients going for just a few extensions around the face for volume while others go for extreme length and thickness. Micro link extensions cost anywhere from $500-2,500.
Forgoing the extensions? Fake thicker hair with these chic haircuts