Microlinks are a more natural alternative to the wigs and weaves we’re used to, but they’re often an overlooked option.
Why is that?
Well, a lot of black women are under the impression that because traditional extension types like clip-ins, tape-ins, and now microlinks, are often the go-to for women with straighter hair, that they aren’t suitable for our kinky-curly textured.
That couldn’t be further from the truth!
In fact, this particular type of hair extension is absolutely worth the hype.
They’re versatile, a good way to add both length and volume to your hair, and the best part? They are relatively cost effective and easy to maintain! I know you’re probably ready to run out and get your own install, but before you do, check out a black woman’s guide to microlinks.
What Are Microlinks?
Micolinks are an extension method were extra strands of hair are added using silicone or copper microbeads, tubes, or loops. Unlike wigs and weaves, microlink extensions don’t require braids, nets, caps, or adhesives to be properly installed.
Instead, they are attached near the roots of loose hair so that there can be a seamless blend, or fusion, of your hair with the extensions. Think of it like a cross between crochet and clip-ins because yes, it needs to be attached near the roots of your hair to be done correctly, but your hair must be exposed for it to work.
The only thing to keep in mind is that microlink extensions are installed row by row, not randomly placed! this means that they have to be strategically placed so that the beads or loops aren’t super insanely visible once your look is complete.
And that’s it! Pretty simple, huh? You would never know by just looking at it, but microlinks are incredibly easy to install and maintain compared to other forms of extensions such as lace wigs, crochet, and even traditional sew-ins and quick weaves.
Do Microlinks Damage Your Hair?
No, microlinks aren’t inherently damaging. In fact, they are less likely to cause damage than other hair extensions because they don’t require braiding, sewing, glue, the use of heat, or any chemicals to achieve the hairstyle. All you need is your own hair, hair extensions attached to a micro ring or bead, and a small clamping tool to secure the extensions in place.
However, don’t let the simplicity of the process make you think damaging your hair is rare or even impossible with microlinks because that’s also not true! If you currently have weak or damaged hair, microlink extensions are not a good idea.
Clamping rings or beads near the roots of your hair while it’s at its weakest may cause breakage, shedding, and unsightly thinning throughout your hair. Additionally, make sure you wear mostly low-manipulation hairstyles that won’t cause you to tug and pull on the extensions. This will also help you avoid damage via poor styling and maintenance.
So in short, the best way to avoid damage caused by microlinks is to simply focus on your overall hair health! If your hair isn’t strong enough for a sew in, box braids, or clip ins, then it probably isn’t strong enough for a full set of microlinks, either.
How Often Do Microlinks Need Maintenance?
Because the micro rings, beads, and tubes on the extensions have the ability to slip and slide down, the frequency of touch-ups solely depends on 1) how often you manipulate your hair and 2) how fast your hair grows.
For example, people who tend to do their hair in versatile styles like buns, braids, and ponytails may have to touch up their extensions more often than people who just leave their hair alone because the more you move your hair around, the more likely you are to experience your extensions sliding away from the root of your hair strands.
On the other hand, microlinks will naturally shift and move out of place as our hair grows. Because in-salon microlink maintenance is pretty much unavoidable, the general consensus is that you should get a touch-up on your extensions every 6 weeks or completely take the install down after 8 weeks.
Which Is Better: Tape-In Extensions or Microlinks?
All extensions have the same goal—to add length and fullness to your hair—so it’s easy to want to compare them, especially when they have similar installation processes. One method that is often compared to microlinks is the tape-in extension.
Tape-ins are exactly what they sound like, wide weft of hair that is secured at the top with a sticky, adhesive tab that is used to attach the extension to your hair. You simply part your hair and place the sticky weft about 1/4 inch a way from your scalp, fitting 3 or 4 wefts on one row of hair. Then, you just part a new row and repeat until you have a full head of extensions.
As you can see, the process is just as simple as microlinking. So then, what makes one better than the other? To be honest, nothing! They are both high-quality extension methods, and which on you get really comes down to preference. So let’s explore:
Cost. Mictolink extensions typically run between $300 and $1000 to install, while tape-ins stay within the $200 to $700 range. This, of course, depends on the hair and stylist you choose. Better quality hair and service will likely be on the higher end.
Timing. Microlinks undoubtedly have the longer installation. They take 2 to 3 hours, while tape-in extensions only take an hour. These times may be a little longer if you include washing, drying, and straightening your hair.
Longevity. Both microlinks and tape-in extensions last between 6-8 weeks, 4-5 weeks if you plan on washing your hair on a weekly basis.
Versatility. Microlink and tape-in extensions are equally versatile! You can wear in a bun, ponytail, and whatever else without the extensions showing. They key difference here is that microlinks create fullness while tape-ins create volume. So if you’re looking for full, natural-looking styles, opt for microlinks. For big, sexy hair, try tape-ins.
How Much Do Microlinks Usually Cost?
How much is the stylist charging? Where are you buying hair extensions from? Do you plan on maintaining them yourself or visiting the salon for touch-ups? The cost of your microlink extensions install and maintenance depends on how you answer these questions. I mean, it genuinely makes the difference between spending $300 on your hairstyle and $1000.
Let’s take a more in-depth look into how the cost of microlink installs may add up:
Purchasing the extensions. Buying microlinks is very similar to buying bundles in the sense that you buy them by the pack and the cost is typically determined by length. 2 packs are enough to give you a full head install, but you could opt for 3 packs if you’d like a fuller look. Sometimes you’ll be able to buy a full microlink kit that includes hair, replacement beads or rings, and a clamp tool for install. The average cost is $300.
Choosing a stylist. If you plan to learn microlinking by yourself, then that’s great! Like wigs and sew-ins, there are tons of YouTube videos and other learning materials to teach you how to install them at home, and it’s completely free! On the other hand, if you plan to go to a stylist, know that the prices will vary. Some stylists may charge as little as $100 while others are aiming for $1000. Don’t be discouraged if the first stylist you ask is on the expensive side! Just keep looking.
Deciding on maintenance. Touch-ups are a requirement for microlink extensions because they need to be readjusted, especially if they slip out of place due to new growth. Decide if you want them touched up for an extra $100 every 6 weeks, or you’d simply like to take them out, do a different style, and have them reinstalled later.
Hair longevity. The best part about microlinks is that the hair can be saved and reused! This means you don’t have to buy new packs of extensions every time you’d like an install, which saves you a ton of money. Depending on the quality of your hair, microlink extensions can be saved up to 4 years.
Long story very short, microlinks are the key to natural and versatile looks without breaking the bank, unnecessary hair damage, or a complicated install. Sounds like a serious win to me!
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