Study of Long Hair Extensions
Long hair extensions are not only the most difficult to harvest and manufacture but also to keep in prime condition throughout the life of the hair extension. Most clients that invest hundreds of dollars on a head of hair extensions that are from 20″ to 26″ lengths want the hair to last up to a year if possible. Keeping a head of any length of hair extensions lasting more than 4-6 months takes time and effort for both the stylist and client. At Hair & Compounds, we have a research lab that is often utilized to help our production methods but also our customers in understanding hair properties. We recently completed a brief study on hair samples submitted to our lab to study the difference between level 3 brown and level 10 blond long hair extensions. For this research study, we were asked to identify and report on the exact differences between the two hair colors types.
Sample history of the long hair extensions samples
There are a few very important points that most people do not think about when ordering long hair extensions. How many years it took the donor to grow this length of hair and that every head of hair is different in density, wave pattern and health condition. When harvesting raw human hair for 20″ to 26″ lengths for long hair extensions, we must usually purchase 24″ to 30″ lengths and trim at least 4″-6″ off the ends before we even begin production. After which nearly 70% of the hair quantity is reduced by removing the shorter lengths. The only way to increase the quantity to make a single head of long hair extensions is to blend together several heads of raw hair to create the final appearance of a single batch.
Common knowledge could easily discern the differences between the two hair types. Both hair colors had been bleached and dyed yet it is obvious the darker color would not only be stronger and thicker but would also last the longest. The aim of this study was to expand on this basic knowledge with definite numbers so that later a hair conditioner could be formulated to bring both hair types to the same condition in tensile strength and moisture content. To begin, we requested the long hair extension samples submitted for the study be of the same batch BEFORE the hair was bleached and dyed. This would set the base line and keep the differences between the two hair types to just the chemical and mechanical processing applications.
Lab equipment best used for the long hair extensions study
In this study we elected to use the Tensile Strain tester to measure the strength and elasticity of the long hair extensions and the Moisture Content analyzer to establish their moisture content. Samples were pulled from each group of hair measuring several different lots from root to tip. The following results summarize the studies performed.
Average normal hair contains 10-12% moisture content and has a tensile ratio range of 110-130. When measuring the strength and elasticity of hair we must first measure the breaking stress, then the breaking elongation and use these figures to determine the ratio between the two numbers.
The level 3 brown hair had very good results for breaking stress and elongation resulting in a ratio of 112, which is very close to perfect. The moisture content resulted in an average reading of 10.22% which is also very good.
The level 10 blond hair had very poor results for both measurements resulting in a ratio of 214, which means the hair is like linguini – far too elastic. The moisture content had an average reading of 9.1% which is below average.
Considering the very positive results of the brown hair and very poor results of the blond hair, this client is going to have a very difficult time formulating one single conditioning product that will give the same results for both types of long hair extensions. We recommended they not only consider a second conditioner just for their blond hair extensions, but consider adjusting the processing methods to reduce the incredible amount of damage. With some tests done at each stage and each day the blond hair is processed, it would be simple to determine at what point the long hair extensions begins to dramatically lose its integrity. Perhaps by reducing the amount of time spent per day soaking in the bleaching chemical or to reduce the high heat applied during the bleaching process they could greatly improve the hair’s elasticity and moisture content.