Bad news: Most hair extensions sold in the U.S. and U.K. are very low quality and shamefully over priced.
Good news: A handful of companies sell a high-quality product, and one at a reasonable price, at least for now…
Women of African descent in the U.S. and U.K. spend close to three billion dollars (1.96 billion pounds) each year on their hair. The average woman spends well over $1000 annually. Hair extension prices range from $20 to more than $200 for a typical 3.5oz (100g) bundle. Knowing what to buy and from where can be hard so we decided to do some research. What we found will surprise you.
We purchased hair from several sources:
6 popular online vendors
2 local stylists
2 beauty supply stores
We found drastic differences in price, quality and service.
We visited two typical neighborhood beauty supply stores. Hair from both stores was marketed as “human hair”, but melted as soon as heat over 400 degrees was applied clearly indicating this was synthetic hair.
After our wash test, it immediately tangled. This hair was priced at $149 per bundle and the owners of both stores couldn’t tell us anything useful about their products. When we went back to question them about the quality of the hair, they refused to comment other than to say “no refunds“. I had the distinct impression they relay this message often.
For purposes of this article, we would suggest you avoid any & all “beauty supply stores”, there are definitely better places to buy your hair!
The hair we purchased from stylists we later learned was purchased online. One stylist had marked the hair up $80 per pack and the other $50 per pack. When you are buying a typical three packs for a sew-in, these add-on prices can add up! We concluded buying online or from a boutique are your two best options. While we love our stylists, they are effectively “middle-men” in the sales process and add unnecessary cost to the hair.
Here are the final companies we decided to evaluate in-depth:
We evaluated these vendors based on six important criteria: shedding, tangling, how well it colors, industry reputation, and customer support. We also graded the quality of the hair for weight, softness, volume, ease of styling (how well it held a curl). There were vast differences in our findings and as such, the value for your dollar. Two companies consistently scored very well, two were “so-so” and two scored unacceptably low. We also included their REAL PRICE PER OUNCE. The prices we have listed are all for 18″ bundles.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Three of these companies market their bundle weight as FOUR OUNCES (4oz) but in fact ALL BUT ONE actually sends a 4oz bundle. Scroll down to see which companies are false advertising below.
To determine the quality of the hair we looked at the following factors:
We thoroughly washed and conditioned each bundle with a sulfate free shampoo and argon oil conditioner. Next we opened the bundle and allowed the hair to air dry for four hours (so it was still slighly damp). Finally we used a bead-tip brush to brush through the hair. We scored the hair based on how easy it was to brush out the hair and the number of tangles we encountered. All of the vendors did fairly well with only two having minor issues.
Shedding is one of the biggest issues with hair extensions. Watching your investment come out strand by strand in your brush, shower, sink, pillow, etc. can be very frustrating and often embarrassing!
For this test we ensured the hair was completely tangle free then proceeded to run the brush through each bundle 100 times. The hair from Essence and Indique shed far too much, but the other vendors were all within an acceptable range.
The vendors that scored in the top four all are very well known throughout the hair world. Celebrities can be found wearing Extensions Plus, Bella, Her Imports and Sassy Mitchell, however we decided to see who the top stylists in the country are turning to more often. Once again the same two companies topped the chart.
Check out Hello Beautiful’s rundown of the top stylists to watch
Looking at Hello Beautiful’s top selections, all of these stylists have hair from Her Imports noted in their pictures.
Mimi Faust (Love and Hip Hop)
Porsha Stewart (House Wive’s of Atlanta)
Tamar Braxton (Recording Artist)
Amiyah Scott (Socialite & celebrity hair model)
Lauren London (BET’s The Game)
We have also spotted Her Imports being used frequently by Tymothy Wallace & Schacle Powell. Tym is the on-set stylist for several VH1 shows and personal hair stylist for Kimberly Michelle (recording artist). Tym has also styled super-star Brandy. Schacle is easily one of the fastest growing celebrity stylists in the country (@schacle on Instagram – *it appears she also resells Her Imports hair).
See Chris Brown’s love interest sporting Her Imports “99J” merlot colored hair on hip hop hollywood..
Extensions plus scores on top as the de facto hair supplier for most of Hollywood. They have been in L.A. For years and are well known for their quality product …those prices though… and truth be told, we did not notice a significant difference in quality between EP and Her Imports.
(how well does it color, hold a curl, flat iron, etc.)
The most important number on our score card is the hair quality.
First we tested each bundle by straightening a section with a flat iron set to 350 degrees. With Essence and Indique hair we immediately noticed strands of “hair” melting just like the synthetic beauty supply store bundles. This indicates they are using fake hair as filler. Bella Dream hair and Sassy Mitchell hair had no issues with melting, but after straightening we did notice the hair felt considerable dryer and was not as manageable.
Yet again, Extensions Plus and Her Imports came out on top. Just to see what would happen, we set the iron on maximum heat (ours said 450 degrees) and straightened another section of hair. The hair stayed as soft as it was originally and when we later re-wet the hair the original wave pattern came right back.
Lets face it, at some level we are emotionally attached to our hair! And rightly so. This is a big purchase for most of us and our hair plays a big role in our personal “signature style”. So while quality & price are important, we also took into consideration the customer service experience.
Our friends at Sassy and Extensions Plus were easy to reach, and shipped quickly. They were also honest about the weight of the hair and offer exchanges with some limitations. Bella, Indique & Essence were less “consumer friendly” and most notably, they shipped us hair that was SIGNIFICANTLY UNDERWEIGHT. While we were told the bundles would be 4oz, they were in fact 3.5oz and in the case of Indique, the hair was ONLY 3oz! This is a big difference and ads up to hundreds of lost dollars when you factor three or more bundles. We were definitely MOST PLEASED WITH HER IMPORTS. Their bundles weighed 3.5oz, but they market them as 3.5oz! We give them top marks in this category not only for their honesty in marketing, but they were very easy to reach by phone & email and even though we paid for standard shipping, our Her Imports package arrived within 24 hours!
Her Imports is a reputable quality virgin hair supplier with a wide selection, first-rate customer service and extremely competitive pricing. They offer online purchase as well as in-store (locations listed on their website). Extensions Plus also offers a quality product however their prices are somewhat outdated and they need to bring them in-line with todays more competitive market. Both of these companies have the VirginReview stamp of approval!