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Micro-ring Extensions

29 June 2011

These things are fairly new onto the hair scene, but they’ve already made a big impact on the extensions world. They’re basically what you’d expect from the name: tiny metal rings. They come in a few natural colours, usually blonde, light brown and dark brown (veggie dyes will stain the blonde ones to whatever your hair colour is though, which is brilliant until you change your hair colour). Some micro rings come with a layer of silicon inside, this makes a better bond, as the silicon is super grippy.

When it comes to installation, basically a small section of your own hair is threaded through, along with a similar amount of extension hair and then the ring is squeezed shut with small pliers to secure it all in place. To remove them, all you have to do is squeeze the ring the other way with the pliers to open it up.

You can use this method for both human and synthetic hair and the best thing about it – as I know a lot of people who are looking into extensions are concerned about – is that you can happily scratch your scalp to your heart’s content while they’re in.

What I love about micro-rings is that once you’ve got the technique down, they’re so easy to do and you can be seriously creative with them. you can add chunks of colour to an otherwise natural head of hair, you can add single extensions all over the head for highlights, you can add feathers to your hair with them (I know this is becoming popular at the moment).... basically, you’re not limited to a full install.

The usual kind of extensions used with micro rings are called I-tip extensions. These are small sections of hair bonded at the top to keep all the strands together, the rigidity of the glue also makes them super easy to push up through the rings.

You can tip your own extensions for less money using Liquid Gold hair glue. I’ve done this myself and I’ll warn that although it does save money, it’s very fiddly and time consuming, and you WILL get glue everywhere, so it might be worth paying that little bit extra for pre-tipped hair.

Tipped hair extensions

Another method would be to attach a weft of hair to your head, keeping the stitched top intact, by adding a ring about every centimetre along. this works for both human and synthetic hair.

Since synthetic hair doesn’t have cuticles like human hair, you can double it over and close the ring over the fold (assuming you’re using loose hair and not a weft). If done with human hair, the cuticles would be facing in opposite directions and the hair would just continuously matt up, seriously shortening the lifespan of the extensions.

The advantage of this folding method is that you can seriously bulk up your hair and loose synthetic hair is much cheaper than pre-tipped human hair. The disadvantage of course, is that synth hair doesn’t hold up as well to styling and it tends to be quite a bit more shiny than natural hair. So, if you’re thinking about going down the synth route, I’d recommend shapeshifter hair, because it’s manufactured to mimic matte natural hair, and it can also be heat styled (up to 400 degrees, I think). Kanekalon hair is also an option, but beware of non-kanekalon hair designed for braiding, it tends to be frizzy, fake-looking and reacts unpredictably to hot water.

If you’re going for a full install rather than streaks, I would recommend AT LEAST 150 pre-tipped extensions or at least 12ft of weft. Maybe 4-5 packets of shapeshifter hair. If your hair is thick, you need to buy more extensions, or they won’t blend in very well and you’ll get what I like to call mushroom head. I’m sure you’ve all seen people with string extensions and an obvious join where their own hair finishes.

My current install is pre-tipped human hair and it’s been in for 6 months now, so it’s getting a bit raggy and tired. I’ll reinstall one of the rings for you to show you how it works, though searching on youtube for videos may give you a better idea of how to do this.
(I apologise in advance for my hair in these photos, there’s 2 months of blonde roots coming through that make me look balding. It could do with a brush too…)

What I use here:

  • Pre-bonded human hair I-tip extensions
  • Micro ring in blonde
  • Self-made threading tool- plastic thread tied to a button (special tools are available which are like crochet hooks with hinges)
  • Small pliers

First, load a micro ring onto your threading tool.

Load a micro ring onto your threading tool

Get a small section of hair and twist it so it’s easy to work with, then pull it into your threading tool.

Pull a piece of hair through the threading tool

Slide the ring off the tool and onto your hair, then pull the tool free.

Slide the ring off the tool and onto your hair

Tada! The ring is in place.

The ring is in place

Now all that’s left is to push the tipped extension up into the ring to sit snugly next to your own hair. Then adjust the extension so that it lies flat and comfortably against your head (don’t force it so it’s really tight, leave about a centimetre between the ring and your scalp, then get the pliers and squeeze it firmly shut, then you’re done!

Adjust the ring and squeeze shut with pliers.

So, ignoring the fact that my a-line cut has grown out, making my hair a bit of a weird shape, you can see that the rings hide really well under a top layer of hair.

With the extensions applied

For overall placement of the rings, I’d say don’t put any rings more than 2 inches above your ears, otherwise they’ll be visible. For the back of the head, don’t put any rings at the top of your neck where your hair begins, these will be visible when you tie your hair back, and also direct contact with the skin might scratch and irritate it, so start the rings an inch or two away from your hairline.

When removing the rings, don’t be scared if a lot of hair comes out. This would’ve been shed naturally, but the rings kept it in place. Also, be aware that after a few months wear, your roots might start to dread. Once your rings are out, it’s best to pry your roots apart with your fingers before brushing, or it’ll just be painful.

And on a final note, sleeping may be uncomfortable for the first night of wear, but if the pain carries on for more than two nights, think about moving the rings further down, as you may have installed them too tightly. Obviously if problems persist, you should just take them out.

Comments

  • Cool, I'd wondered how you were supposed to get the hair through the rings. Does they work for dead extensions as well? Report Comment
  • I've been tempted to try this for awhile now, thanks for the article, looks simpler then I expected. And I was pondering on going with the glued ones, but I think I'll stick to the metal ones. Report Comment
  • I agree with Cid. I've been considering this, now that I see how easy it is (at least compared to how difficult I thoughttt it was), I might just have to try this out. Thanks for the article! Report Comment
  • I saw a kit for feather extensions with the micro-rings at an "as-seen-on-tv" type store in the mall a few weeks ago. I was tempted to buy it until I realized how expensive it was. I thought "Maybe I can just find those bead things somewhere and make them myself.." I am glad I waited this long, because this article was helpful, and I know I don't need some over-priced kit to do this! Report Comment
  • Just thought I'd add that it's possible to bleach your regrowth with the rings still in, as the paint covering on the rings prevents direct contact of the metal & the peroxide. Report Comment
  • I'm thinking of getting rid of my dreads and trying these...i was just wondering though, how easy is it to bleach regrowth with the rings in? I'm thinking if some hair is in the rings, and some hair isn't, is it still easy enough to section off and stuff? :) x Report Comment
  • I've done this sort of thing with feather extensions, which I loved, but usually only wear for one day since the feathers get wrecked after sleeping on them. I was just wondering... is it possible to re-use the same rings? or are they too weak after being bent with the pliers? Report Comment
  • You mentioned creating your own I-tip extensions with Liquid Gold hair glue. Can you use any extension bonding glue and how exactly do you make it? Report Comment
  • I prefer to the glued ones ,your process seems more difficult than the traditional process.I think it is easy to put on clip in hair extensions than micro loop hair extensions ! Report Comment

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