We tested out four of Hollywood's most popular hair extension brands

By Emily Strohm
July 27, 2020 04:55 PM
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For years, hair extensions have been a not-so-secret weapon used by celebrities (and their hairstylists) to switch up their tresses and magically add length. It’s how Kylie Jenner goes from a chin-length bob to waist-long waves in just a few hours.

While there’s plenty of semi-permanent options out there to change length and volume including tape-ins, sew-ins, hand-tied, bonded and beaded extensions (all of which require installation by a pro), those can be very pricey and time-consuming. That's why I enlisted the help of celebrity hair and makeup artist Tim MacKay to learn all about clip-in extensions instead.

What it is: I found that if you don't want to commit to a permanent length just yet, these four quick clip-in options (from HaloCouture, Glam Seamless Halo, Hidden Crown and Bellami) can be put in and removed in a matter of minutes, and kept my natural hair strong and healthy. In the video, above, watch MacKay as he shows step-by-step instructions for applying them perfectly and painlessly, and read on, below, for a break down of each brand and extension type.

Who tested it: Emily Strohm, PEOPLE senior writer

Brand: HaloCouture

Brittany Talarico

Celeb Fans: Melissa McCarthy, Hayden Panettiere, Real Housewives

Details: The Ponytail

100% Remy human hair

Available in 16 inches, 23 colors

Price: $300

Review: If you want a fuller pony but don’t have the hair for it, this clip-in is perfect. From start to finish it takes just minutes and installing is super easy. The top clip hooks right into your own ponytail and is secured with a wraparound section of hair that attaches with Velcro and a bobby pin.

One trick that makes a big difference is doubling up on your rubber bands. If you have fine hair, use two thick fabric bands to secure your own hair first, then attach the clip-in ponytail. (The more hair the clip can anchor to, the better it will hold.) Wash is recommended every few weeks (dependent on use) and styling the extensions can be done the same you would your own hair.

Where to get them: Available for purchase through authorized salons.

STEP-BY-STEP

  1. Secure your hair in a ponytail with an elastic band. (If you have very fine hair, use two thick hair ties.)
  2. Clip the small built-in comb into your ponytail so that it slides under your elastic.
  3. Take the small section of hair and wrap around your ponytail to conceal the hair tie.
  4. Secure it in place with a bobby pin.
  5. Spray any fly-aways with hairspray.

Brand: Glam Seamless Halo

Celeb Fans: Kim Kardashian West, Paris Hilton, Ashley Graham, JWoww

Details: Glam Band

100% Remy Human Hair

Available in 16, 20, and 22-inch lengths, 37 colors

Price: $239.99- 269.99

Review: This is without a doubt the easiest and fastest way to completely transform your hair in under a minute. If you don’t like the fuss of clipping in individual extensions one-by-one, this is the perfect piece. The soft plastic clear band is super easy to conceal and blends in with natural hair. Plus, if you’re the kind of person that prefers to flip your part back and forth all day and night, (like me) the Glam Band allows you to switch it up nonstop without ruining the style. Optional clips attached to the band also help secure the hair in place so there’s no worrying about it suddenly coming off.

Bonus: If you live close to a location, you can make an appt for Full Clip-in, Bangs, or Glam Band Halo Installation with Blend and Style — where a stylist will blend it to your natural hair. I highly recommend the hour-long appointment which includes shampoo, condition, custom blend cut, blow dry and style.

Where to get them: Available online or in stores

STEP-BY-STEP

  1. Start by measuring two fingers from your hair line and clip hair into a half-pony.
  2. Use the loop and hooks on each side to adjust the band to fit your head comfortably. You want it snug, but not tight.
  3. Place the band over your parted hairline.
  4. Take your tail comb (included with purchase) and pull the hair through the part to blend.
  5. Style as desired.

Brand: Hidden Crown

Brittany Talarico

Celeb Fans: Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba, Sofia Richie, Tori Spelling, Fran Drescher

Details: Bungee Pony

100% Remy human hair

Available in 18" length, 33 colors

Price: $199.00

Review: This patent pending style is secured with two small metal hooks on each side of your ponytail. So no Velcro and no designated wrap-around hair piece. You just grab the amount of hair you want to conceal the extension. I found that this style makes the piece feel super lightweight, yet still gives the look of a full, long, shiny pony. If you don’t feel like wrapping hair around, a scrunchie also works great too. It's incredibly easy to put in and takeout (and I love that none of my own hair gets caught when removing it). It also comes in a ton of color options.

Where to get them: Available online 

STEP-BY-STEP

  1. Secure your hair in a high, tight ponytail with an elastic band. (If you have very fine hair, use two thick hair ties.)
  2. Roll the bungee material down and away from the center hook.
  3. Hook the center clip into the top of your hair tie.
  4. Take each of the side hooks and wrap them under your ponytail, clipping one on each side.
  5. Take a small piece of hair and wrap around your ponytail to conceal the hair tie.
  6. Secure it in place with a bobby pin.

Brand: Bellami

Brittany Talarico

Celeb Fans: The Kardashians, Dove Cameron, Lilly Ghalichi, Laverne Cox

Details: Bellami Guy Tang Balayage Clip In Ombre Set

100% Remy human hair

Available in 20” and 22” length, 7 Colors

Price: $249.99- 309.99

Review: As far as temporary extensions go, these clip-ins require a bit more time and effort. Still, from start to finish, it’s only a 5 to 10 minute job for a total transformation and natural look. (In my opinion, well worth the extra few minutes.) I love that you can customize where and how much hair you put in with the individual clips. So, if you’re wearing a certain style, or have it parted to one side, you can customize your clip-in to work best for your look.

Where to get them: Available online or in stores

STEP-BY-STEP

  1. Section your hair starting just above the ears and around the back.
  2. Tease section of hair at the root where you will clip in extension. Teasing creates a better hold for clip-ins.
  3. Clip in extension.
  4. Repeat steps. Section hair, tease and layer clip ins up the back of your head and on the sides.
  5. Blend and style as desired.

Bellami hair expert Juliette Gomez shares her own tips for best results.

  1. Applying dry shampoo at the root can also help with hold.
  2. Washing is super important. You do not need to wash the extensions every time you wear them but once they start to feel rough give them a wash.
  3. If you wear them for an event and use a lot of hair spray and product to achieve a glamorous look you should wash them after to removal all the product before re-styling them.
  4. Use a heat protecting spray when styling, this will help them last longer.
  5. After washing, let your extensions air dry. No need to blow them out to eliminate heat damage and make them last longer.
  6. Always keep in mind your hair thickness when matching to extensions, pay attention to the weight of the set you a purchasing.
  7. Match to your ends when matching to extensions. Your extensions are a continuation of your natural hair.

Bellami beauty bar locations offer custom cuts, styling and installation for semi permanent and permanent extensions. According to Kat Lewis, Head of Education at Bellami, "Although they can look beautiful as is, take the time to get you new hair shaped and framed to work with your natural length and layers you have in your hair. Once you have gotten them cut, mark the clips on the inside to remember which ones came from where for easy reapplication the next time.”