Microlinks Are the Hair Extensions You'll Forget You Have In
Back in 1999, TLC sang "you can buy your hair if it don't grow" for their hit record "Unpretty." And now in 2021, we've got more hair extension options than ever.
Whether you want to do a sew-in, clip-ins, or go with the OG method: glue, there's a way to take your hair to new heights and lengths in just one sitting. However, one type of extension that isn't talked about nearly enough are microlinks — so we're changing that.
Formerly known as fusion extensions, and popularized by women like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears back in the early '00s, microlinks are a lightweight alternative to weaves and blend in perfectly with your own natural hair. The best part is that they require no braiding beforehand, and if installed correctly, are so comfortable that you may even forget you have them in.
To give us the nitty gritty on these innovative hair extensions, we tapped celebrity hairstylist Monae Everett to tell us everything we need to know.
How Are Microlinks Installed?
Since microlinks are attached to loose hair, there's no need to prep by braiding. Your stylist will just need to go section by section to do a proper installation, and make sure to have the right tools on deck.
"Microlinks generally can be done two different ways. One way adds loose or I-tip hair extensions to small sections of the clients hair," explains Everett. "They are attached through the small rubber coated or silicone-coated metal microlinks. The hair is pulled through the microlink, then closed with a plier. Another way includes using wefted hair. Small pieces of the hair above and below the weft are pulled through the microlink and closed with pliers."
Are Microlinks Suitable for All Hair Types and Textures?
Yes, nearly everyone. And they can also make styling (or experimenting with different styles i.e. highlights) a lot easier as well.
"Many times the final look is blown-out or straightened," says Everett. "Stylists achieve this on very curly and coily hair through keratin treatments like the Naked by Essations Assuage Thermal Smoothing Complex. This helps the curly or coily hair to blend better with the extensions, straighten easier, and allows the style to last longer."
Microlinks can also be blended in with curly and coily hair as well. Just make sure to buy hair that looks similar to your own texture.
According to the celebrity hairstylist, the only people who should avoid microlinks are those with very fine or thinning hair. "If your scalp is very visible, other options such as sewn-in tracks or sewn-in wigs may be a better option," Everett says. "The best microlink applications allow the client's hair to cover the base of the extensions."
Will Microlinks Blend Well With My Natural Hair?
The long and short answer is yes. Plus, unlike with other type of extensions, microlinks allow your own hair to still move freely in its natural stance. So you won't have cut back on versatile styling options.
"Many people find that microlinks appear more realistic because so much of the client's natural hair is blended into the extensions," says Everett. "Since the base of the microlink extensions are usually fairly flat, this allows the client to be able to pulled up into a ponytail, or the ever popular, half-up style."
The stylist also adds that you can still use your hot tools as usual, and your wash day routine shouldn't change that much. Just be mindful not to pull along your roots. "You should be able to properly detangle your hair when it's wet," she shares.
Are Microlinks Comfortable?
So long as they are installed properly by a licensed hairstylist, you shouldn't have to worry about any pulling, rubbing, or snagging. In fact, you may even forget you have them in until you need to scratch your head.
"The rubber-coated or silicone-coated metal links must be close enough to your scalp that the hair appears to be growing from the scalp, but far enough away that the microlinks don't rub on the scalp," says Everett. "For wefted microlinks, make sure that the hair is not being pulled into the microlink or pulled too tightly around the weft."
However, keep in mind that since the installation process is quite meticulous, you may want to carve out a few hours of your day to spend at the salon.
How Long Should I Keep My Microlinks In?
No longer than two months tops. As your natural hair begins to grow out, you'll need to get them reinstalled to avoid any damage and breakage.
"Any hair extension process can damage your hair if the extensions are not put in properly or properly cared for," explains Everett. That said, it's important to keep up with your regular wash day routine while the extensions are in, which includes weekly treatments and detangling.
And when the time comes to remove them, make sure to go back to the salon, as your stylist will need to use special pliers to take the extensions down.
How Much Do Microlinks Cost?
We're not going to lie to you, microlinks are definitely not cheap. Of course, price will vary based on location and the stylist that you're working with, but on average, a set of microlink extensions will set you back anywhere from $1200 to $1800, according to Everett.
While this is definitely a service you shouldn't cheap out on, if spending over a G on your hair is out of the question, we totally get it. Thankfully, there are a plethora of other hair extension options out there that won't break the bank.