Why Hair-Extension Brands Are Focusing on What's Underneath Your Bundles Now

When it comes to hair extensions, the online options offering "pure virgin hair" are, well, extensive. Just look at your Instagram. You probably even get a couple of new (likely unwanted) “try my virgin hair” page followers every day. With the boom of e-commerce and social media, hair extension seller- and entrepreneurship has skyrocketed, and companies using this marketing technique are seeing massive success in what is now believed to bring in around $9 billion U.S. dollars annually, a fraction of the $87.73 billion-dollar global hair-care market.

Indeed, the hair-extension industry continues to grow, even as there is an uptick in black women (who are believed to account for around 70 percent of the business) embracing their natural hair and eschewing chemical straighteners and texturizers. Healthy, dutifully cared-for hair is a must, even for those who choose to wear their natural texture under hair pieces. With this in mind, hair extension companies are starting to come up with new consulting services to accommodate these types of customers.

"Many of our clients are eager to know how to properly care for their natural hair under their extensions,” says Ericka Dotson, co-founder and creative director of Indique Hair. “The beauty industry is constantly evolving,” Dotson explains. “It's important to stay with the trends and address concerns. So having a hair-care analysis system is key to our business.” Indique Hair recently collaborated with Myavana, a beauty technology company that specializes in healthy hair-care science. The company uses nanotechnology and high-powered microscopes to analyze individual hair strands. Together, they launched Indique ID, a platform that creates personalized hair-care plans for those looking to maintain the hair underneath their pieces.

“[This partnership] has allowed us to embark on an innovative way to care for your hair through science and digital automation,” says Dotson. “Aside from many companies in the hair extension industry, Indique has always been an advocate for overall healthy hair care. Indique ID, powered by Myavana, will help support our cause by servicing our clients with goal-driven and rewarding healthy-hair results.”

The hair-care analysis includes product recommendations, styling tutorials, hair-care regimens, and even stylist recommendations. “We test the texture, type, and condition of the hair strand to reveal the porosity and elasticity levels, as well as the condition of the hair shaft. The results indicate what ingredients and product types are needed," Candace Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of Myavana explains. "It is nanotechnology and our own proprietary methodology used to conduct this analysis. The products [we suggest] include a cleanser, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, or deep conditioner based on the results.”

Although Indique seems to be ahead of the pack now, Dotson agrees that the future of the hair extensions industry will incorporate technology into their business model. “Through technological advances, companies will be able to prescribe the right hair extensions, protective styling options, products, and stylists directly to the client.”

Many who choose to indulge wear extensions as a protective style, a way to give their natural hair a break. “To me, extensions are a luxury,” says Porsche Waldo, hairstylist to Chanel Iman and Mary J. Blige, and consultant to The Extension Gallery in Vauxhall, New Jersey. However, don't call it a hair salon. It's a virgin hair studio, according to CEO Ebony Garris. "The reason we call it a hair studio is because we do way more than sell hair, and we’re more than a boutique,” she explains. “We do private consultations and we do our regular walk-in consultations, which are free of charge.”

Since the boom in hair extension buying habits, new obstacles have presented themselves for naturals: Hair extensions are very low maintenance, while natural hair, for some, can indeed be quite high maintenance. “The one thing about extensions is it kind of makes you lazy when it comes to doing your own hair,” says Waldo. "[Your hair] is almost perfect without you doing anything to it, so it makes you less likely to focus on it. That’s the whole point of why people get extensions. It’s because they want low maintenance. But low maintenance can sometimes turn into 'no maintenance' and maintenance is required for natural hair." The new hair analysis and consultation services help reconcile just that.

Mitchell shares some of her tips for easy care of your natural hair. “Women should prioritize taking care of their scalp with a detoxing or clarifying shampoo, which also helps eliminate product buildup," she says. "You should also use steam therapy to keep [natural hair] hydrated. Dryness is the leading cause of breakage, which is the number one challenge for [women with natural hair]. Keep your ends trimmed to maintain length retention. A hair analysis should be done twice a year.”

Indique ID is currently offered at their Atlanta boutique where you can get an in-person hair and scalp analysis. During the hour-long appointment, the consultant assesses the condition of your hair and what you may be dealing with (thinning, hair loss, any scalp conditions, etc.). You discuss your hair goals and get your recommendations instantly.

If you are not located in Atlanta, you’re in luck because Indique ID also offers an online kit, which involves mailing your hair strands in to the Myavana Hair Lab for testing. So no matter where you are, you can take advantage of this growing trend in the hair extensions industry.

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