Everything you need to know about tape hair extensions: from their lifespan to cost

Ok, I admit it, I wore hair extensions for about eight years – but the pandemic hit and I wasn’t ready to learn how to put the hair back in myself. Two years ago I passed by tapes and thought I was perfectly fine without them.

Now, after trying some new mini strips, which promise to be virtually undetectable even on ultra-fine hair, I’m back in the middle of a love affair with the extra length and thickness they offer. . In all honesty, I decided to try out these new tapes in an effort to see if they were any better than the original tapes, so it was really to test out the essential beauty.

If you want to know more about these mini strips – including cost, application time and end results – keep reading, because I spoke with hair extension Olja Catz, founder of London’s The Extensionist Loungeto get all the info…

Mini tape extensions are designed to transform the look of your hair

First of all, what makes mini strips different from normal strip extenders?

“They are about 20% smaller than traditional tapes, which makes them much less visible on the scalp,” says Olja. “If you’re looking to add volume and thickness for an event where you’ll be wearing a bun, the smaller size of these also work better for ponytails and half-up looks.”

As with the regular strips, these mini versions also come in a mix of longer and shorter lengths to suit the look you’re going for, ranging from 14 inches (although, if your hair is shorter, this length may be cut) up to a long 24 inches.

How are they applied?

“A thin section of your hair is sandwiched between two strips, which stick together using double-sided glue strips. Your hair sits between these two layers of fake hair, which means it blends in easily with the new length,” says Olja.

A thin section of your hair is sandwiched between two strips of fake hair
A thin section of your hair is sandwiched between two strips of fake hair

How long does it take to apply, and will I need to be colored in advance?

“They are very quick to apply, around 45 minutes. If you need to dissolve old strips – we use a special oil for this – and then reapply them, it will take about an hour and a half,” says Olja. “We offer a free in-person zoom or color-matching session before the hair appointment, but as a rule, we stock most hair shades in the salon.”

Olja also notes that for the most durable tapes, wearers should make sure not to use heavy conditioning oils on the scalp or shampoos containing oils, as these can cause the extensions to slip.

How long do they last before I have to re-record them?

“We recommend booking a maintenance appointment at eight weeks, otherwise the strips can grow in and cause your natural hairline to twist and knot,” advises Olja.

Make an appointment for a maintenance appointment every eight weeks
Make an appointment for a maintenance appointment every eight weeks

Will they damage my hair?

“If you take care of it properly, then no,” says Olja. “We recommend making sure you keep hair brushed and tangle-free, and booking regular maintenance appointments to ensure your natural hair doesn’t get knotted at the roots.

How much do mini strips cost?

“A lot of people will get away with just half a head of strips, if that’s the thickness they’re looking for. We charge from £400 for this which includes washing and styling. It’s from £550 for a full head. The hair we use is also real and of very good quality,” says Olja.

“Maintenance appointments using the same hair, which can be re-bonded and readjusted for up to a year before needing new hair, cost from £200,” she adds.

What do the results of a head full of mini strips look like?

Here’s what Zoe thought of her extra-long hair transformation…

Like I said, I’ve had some cassettes before, but I’m new to these mini cassettes. Do I prefer them to larger bands? Absolutely. I have very fine hair, so anything less visible on my scalp is a definite bonus. I also love how The Extensionist rooted (or swept up) the blonde hair, because the issue I’ve had before with the strips is that their light color really shows on my dark roots.

Left, Zoe before having the mini-strips installed at The Extensionist, and right, after having them installed
Left, Zoe before having the mini-strips installed at The Extensionist, and right, after having them installed

The whole process of installing the mini strips was also incredibly quick; I was in and out in about an hour, and that included getting my hair done. A lunchtime beauty appointment, indeed. My natural hair is also very long, so Olja gave me a hair length of 22 inches. I had a real Gisele Bünchen moment in that chair.

As for the results, I think my before and after photos speak for themselves. Although my hair is beautiful, I am told that I have a lot of it. But what my own hair doesn’t do is hold any style. I have big events coming up this month, including my best friend’s wedding, so I wanted a look that would hold a curl all night long. The curls Olja created for me in the salon lasted almost five days, which is so impressive.

I’m not going to lie to you, it takes time and care to take care of extensions. I’ve switched to oil-free and sulfate-free formulas, and constantly brush my lengths to make sure there are no tangles. But the compliments I’ve received about my hair are so worth it.

Will I have them in my hair forever? No, but I would 100% return to the mini cassettes anytime I need a little help for a special occasion.

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David R. Brewer