Micro-links, clip-ins and tape-ins: let’s discuss type 3 and type 4 hair extensions

Written by Nateisha Scott

Looking to add length or enhance texture? Here’s the low down on the best extensions for type 3 and type 4 hair.

Hair styling for type 3 and type 4 hair has always been a creative playground. The artistry rooted in textured hair history is unique there’s endless room for innovation, and between wigs, braids, natural hairstyles, weaves and silk presses, there isn’t a style or technique that hasn’t been experimented with.

So, it comes as no surprise when you either scroll through TikTok or stumble across stories on Instagram to see hair extensions as a hairstyle of choice. Moving past extensions that don’t have a seamless, natural-looking blend, we’re talking about versatile, texture-enhancing micro links, tape-ins and clip-ins that vary in length and colour, allowing us to play with our natural hair. 

“Typically, protective styles such as wigs and weaves have dominated the extension hair world. But, that’s all changed with lots of variety, choices and options now being readily available when it comes to extensions,” says Talisha Cox, founder of Elite Hair Lounge and afro hair specialist.

But with so many different methods and different hair types to play with, what option or style is best? Below is a guide to understanding the varied extension styles, how to take care of them between salon sessions and what you need to consider before an install.

The best extensions for type 3 and type 4 hair

  • Micro-link extensions

    Micro-links have become something of a social sensation for their near-invisibility in the hair. They don’t require threading, braids or thick bonds with glue used for tape-ins; instead, there are two methods to consider. I-tips use tiny tubes of copper or aluminium – with or without non-slip rubber silicone – to link to the root of small sections of hair before being pressed together with a clamping tool. Another method, beaded wefts, doesn’t follow the strand-by-strand process. Instead, sections of the hair are bonded with tubes made from silicone before sewing wefts of hair between each row.

    Micro-link extensions are known for their versatility with textured hair, especially if you enjoy having your natural hair out (and not in a protective style) plus they’re relatively easy to style without having to use excess heat. And while micro-link extensions now come in an array of textures to suit many hair types, as Cox explains, there are some factors you should consider, including:

    • Avoid micro-link extensions if you have fine or thin hair because the tension can cause breakage
    • Micro-links are not a DIY hair install – you can risk damaging, matting or tangling your hair
    • Listen to your hairstylist on their suggestion for touch-ups. Maintenance is usually recommended between four to eight weeks to avoid any damage
  • Tape-In extensions

    Some people prefer tape-in extensions for their styling and hair needs. “Tape-ins use a flat tape that is essentially glued to the natural hair and dried into place,” says Talisha. They come in various textures to match type 3 and 4 hair and, like any extensions, quality and texture matter, especially when considering hair growth, styling and longevity.

    Tape-ins aren’t recommended for those with dry scalps because the additional oil or moisture that your hair and scalp need to stay hydrated (and avoid damage), will soften the glue of the tape-ins, causing them to slip out quicker. Try clip-ins or micro-links instead.

    Maintaining your tape-ins is essential for their longevity. For Cox, reaching for an alcohol-free shampoo with natural ingredients is best, and for anyone that works out, drying your hair in a cool setting to reduce sweat and moisture will help retain the extensions.

    If you’re keen to try tape-ins as your next hairstyle venture, try brands such as Bellami Hair, Ruka and Studio Techilo for high-quality, texture-considered extensions.

  • Clip-in extensions

    The beauty of clip-ins is in their easy installation and removal. If you’re not ready for the commitment that comes with micro-links and tape-in extensions or can’t be bothered with the effort of a weave, this may be the solution. Varying in length and style as available in human and synthetic hair forms, you have many options to choose from. They’re also a more affordable option for extensions and don’t require a professional stylist to install them – simply part and section your hair, then slot and secure using the clip at each end of the weft.

    When shopping for clip-in extensions, hair quality is critical, and brands like Ruka have made the search easy and accessible. The brand’s Press’d Clip-ins or Think Silk Clip-ins work to match natural hair patterns, whether afro-textured, relaxed or pressed. “Just make sure you’re washing them with a great quality conditioner and detangling while you wash,” says Ugo Agbai, co-founder of Ruka. 

    As far as styling goes, Agbai recommends applying a heat protectant and making sure to remove them before you sleep to avoid tangling. Keeping clip-ins conditioned will help their longevity, so using your favourite conditioner or moisturising treatment on them is recommended whenever they feel dry. 

  • Main image: Ruka Hair

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