Let’s talk I-tip extensions

There are a lot of different kinds of hair extensions out there, and they all have their pros and cons. After my research I had decided on I-tip extensions as my first certification for a few reasons I’ll dive into shortly, but the quick version is that they were the best bang for the buck for both me as the stylist and you as the guest.

The details

I-tip extensions are individual bundles of hair sealed together with a keratin bond and attached to your natural hair with a silicone lined bead that gets clamped shut. They’re also available in a micro version to help fill out areas closer to the hairline.

The installation of individual pieces means that you have a more natural fall of the installed hair and an easier time styling like normal. You’ll also have a longer wear time out of them than many other styles, and the hair can be reused a few times. Typically you’ll be able to get 8 weeks out of a single installation, and as many as 12. When that time is up the extensions are removed and can be reinstalled with new beads.

Freshly installed rows on a mannequin head.
Slightly out of focus photo of the peekaboos I installed on myself.

Another great thing about I-tip extensions is the ability to add them as a peekaboo for a pop of color without the commitment. While a full head of extensions is a time consuming process, adding a handful takes less than 20 minutes.

What are the downsides? Mostly the initial investment of time and money. For a full head, the hair can cost a few hundred dollars or more, but since they can be reused a few times that purchase only needs to be made if the hair has reached the end of its lifespan or if you’re wanting to make a big change from what you have. Full installation will also take a few hours at the very least, and don’t forget to plan the time that any color touch ups might take.

Want to read some hands on feedback?

Thoughts after having my peekaboos in for a week: I keep catching the part of my hair by my scalp with my hands and comb, because I’m used to being able to run my fingers through all of my usually thin hair. A few times I’ve freaked myself out thinking I had a huge scab on my scalp because I could feel the bead as I was playing with my hair. The texture is slightly different from my own, and I feel like they don’t behave the same as my natural hair does, which totally makes sense because they aren’t the same as my natural hair.

After 2 weeks of doing nothing more special than my regular routine, which is usually shampoo/conditioner/Tonik/blowdry, they’re still comfortable. I don’t have the same problem with feeling like there’s a scab, but I do still catch them while playing with my hair. The texture difference feels more noticeable to me now, but the extent of the difference might be mostly in my head.

By mid January, because I put them in myself at a weird angle (not something that would happen when I install them on you), I have one that I catch more often than not when I brush my hair or run my fingers through it. Overall I’ve had minimal issues with trying to maintain them.

I made it almost 8 weeks. Purely because of the fact that it’s hard to install them properly on yourself, I had extra space to begin with and by 7 weeks in they were starting to drive me crazy. I also felt like the hair itself was starting to get really tangly and dry feeling, but I also didn’t do anything to it that I didn’t do to my natural hair which has a finer texture than the extensions and doesn’t need as much intense moisture. My friend who had her few ones installed the same day that I did made it about 6 weeks with hers. When I removed them I found I had a few mats that took me a little while to comb out. Seeing the hair that comes out from them can be disconcerting, but do keep in mind that the secure bond of the bead, extension, and your natural hair hold everything in place. That means that the hair that would have naturally shed from your scalp while you were wearing the extensions is all still there and coming out when the extensions are removed.

Hands on feedback from a full install

While my main thought process behind this certification was instant peekaboos, it would be silly to limit myself if I thought the service would be beneficial to someone. Cue my lovely friend who’s always up for new experiences and can give me thorough feedback. She’s currently growing out a pixie and really missing her long hair, so on her we did a full installation of full size and micro tip extensions on February 4, 2021.

We discussed everything thoroughly beforehand and knew that we would rather sacrifice length for a better blend, but that at the same time there would be some possible blending issues because of how short her hair was starting out. Overall we were both pretty happy with how it turned out the day of.

The process for her involved custom coloring a set of extensions to match the fashion color she had used previously before installation. She used a color from a line I don’t carry but was happy with the results, so I chose to purchase that specific one to use on her extensions and touch up.

The first thing I did in the line of services was a partial highlight to break up the outgrowth line she had and create a better blend as it grew out, followed by an application and processing of the touchup of the blue. That in and of itself is usually a multi hour service that we chose to combine into one really long service with the extension installation. Once the hair is dried and prepped the installation can begin!

Before and after.

As mentioned earlier, she was awesome enough to give me detailed feedback as she had updates for me. After the installation on February 4, she sent me an update on February 6:

  • I put some argon oil on mids to ends and after one time everything feels softer and looks healthier, next time I wash I’m gonna do a deep hydration treatment and I’ll let you know how that goes
  • the ones at the nape of my neck are very itchy, it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for my scalp to get used to them
  • my right side falls beautifully and everything blends easily, my left side is being a bit more difficult because of all my bangs but I’m gonna play with styling a bit more today and see what works better
  • Everyone LOVES it!

A few days later on February 8 she told me:

  • I did a deep hydration mask and it made everything SUPER soft and very manageable, they don’t feel so tangly when i touch them
  • the itchiness is almost completely gone (I did wear my hair in a ponytail almost all day but idk if that has anything to do with it lol)
  • still trying to figure out how to style my bangs so that it falls a bit more naturally
  • Doing great!

She was also kind enough to give me permission to share some of her selfies as we go along, and to keep giving me updates on how they feel for her!

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