The Most Natural-Looking Extensions for Thin Hair, According to an Expert

Plus, everything you need to know about maintenance

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Dasha Burobina for PureWow

Storytime: In the ninth grade, I was obsessed with the idea of growing out my hair naturally. I tried everything from coconut oil to peppermint oil to scalp serums—and I even resorted to using specialized shampoo for horses. (Admittedly, that was a low point, but YouTube convinced me it would work!) Then one day, my friend Sommer walked into English class and everything changed. Her hair had seemingly grown five inches overnight. After pestering her to tell me her secret, she lifted up the first layer of her hair to reveal a thick weft of clip-in extensions. That day after school, I raced to Sally Beauty, per Sommer’s recommendation and found the highest-quality clip-ins on the market. Two hours and $280 for an 18-inch pack later, I was set. I wore the extensions for the rest of the year, feeling a new sense of confidence every time I clipped them in. 

Fast forward to the following year. After daily use, I realized that this habit was becoming more costly than I’d anticipated. I had to replace the extensions every two months and I needed my hairdresser to cut and layer them into my locks every time I got a new set. Also, the clip-ins were taking a toll on my fine hair. I started developing bald spots from the weight of the wefts. They’d dig into my scalp, making them itchy and uncomfortable during extended wear. Eventually, sad as I was to part ways with my extra length, I decided to ditch my wefts in favor of returning to natural hair growth remedies. That is, until I was introduced to K-tip extensions. 

Unlike the clip-ins I was familiar with, these were individual strands that were bonded to my natural hair, making them feel weightless. Even better, they were semi-permanent, so I didn’t need to worry about styling them every day (or fear that they’d come flying out during a spin class). And while they can last for up to five months, they’re far more expensive than clip-ins. And by that, I mean K-tips typically start at $1,000—and the price increases depending on how many strands you need. Several thousands of dollars later, I had to wonder: Are these really the best extensions for thin hair? And are there more affordable options out there that could still make my hair look naturally longer and thicker (and not cheap)? I tapped an extension specialist for some answers.

The 6 Different Types of Hair Extensions You Can Get for a Lengthier Mane

Meet The Expert

Nicolette Rauchut is a master extension specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. She graduated from the Aveda Institute before training with top stylists at Warren Tricomi, including extension specialist Jasmine Galazka and salon owner Edward Tricomi himself. Today, she is the extension specialist at LRN Beauty in New York and the founder of You Look Stella, which is a blog that educates clients on the latest hair extension research.

What Are the Best Extensions for Thin Hair?

According to Rauchut, keratin attachments ( K-tips) and hand-tied wefts are the best options for those with finer hair. This is because they’re attached in a way that expands and contracts with your natural hair. It not only puts less tension on your scalp, meaning less long-term damage to your strands, but removing them is easy and gentle on fine hair. That said, while wefts are the more affordable option, Rauchut says keratin attachments are the absolute best option if getting a natural look is your priority. And if you’re someone who’s on the fence about semi-permanent extensions, she recommends trying a temporary Halo Couture hair piece as a jumping-off point.

Most Natural

1. Keratin Attachments 


  • most customizable for a natural look
  • can be used for length or volume
  • creates dimension and texture 
  • easy removal that doesn’t damage hair


  • expensive
  • strands fall out with hair shedding
  • takes hours to install

As mentioned above, Keratin attachments (K-tips) are the absolute best option if you’re looking for natural-looking extensions that blend seamlessly with fine hair. This is because the individualized strands are less visible from the top and the semi-permanent application lasts up to five months with proper care. As is the case with most extensions, you can use these to add length and/or volume, but you can also use them to fill in bald spots or create dimension with color-treated hair. In my case (see above), I wanted extensions for volume (not length), and I have a full head of highlights. As a result, Rauchut installed just three rows of Great Lengths K-tips—so they didn’t feel heavy on my head—and placed them in different shades to match the varying hues from my highlights. Some of the K-tips were lighter, some were darker, and the final result looked exactly like my hair before (just more of it). 

As for styling, another thing that’s great about Keratin attachments is that they expand and contract with heat and water, mimicking the feel of your natural hair cuticles. They’re easy to blow-dry and air-dry, and they don’t put too much strain on the natural strands they’re attached to. The only downside is that installation takes anywhere between two to five hours and it’s the priciest option, starting at $700 and increasing in price per gram (determined by your stylist). It’s also worth mentioning that they fall out from time to time, since they’re attached to your natural hair, which sheds from brushing and styling.

Fast Facts

  • Cost: can range from $1,000 to $2,000+ depending on how many grams you need
  • Application: a 1/4-inch section of natural hair is attached to an individual extension strand, based on density. The stylist then places a shield over it (so no stray hairs get into the section) and secures the bond with a cold fusion tool.
  • Duration: 3-5 months

Most Affordable

2. Hand-Tied Wefts


  • ultra-durable for active lifestyles
  • installation is delicate on fine hair 
  • resistant to moisture and build-up over time
  • affordable semi-permanent option


  • less customizable than individual strands 
  • requires a move-up every 6 to 8 weeks at the salon

While there are many sewn-in extensions to choose from, Rauchut says hand-tied wefts are best for fine hair (specifically ones from Bellami). This is because they’re literally tied to your natural strands in beaded rows—no machines or bonding required—so they’re undetectable on thin hair. The application, which lasts anywhere from 8-12 weeks, is also the best option if you’re highly active or if you live somewhere warm where you’re always in the water. While the beads are made with silicone tubing inside to provide a cushion for the hair to expand and contract, the weft is placed at the same angle that your hair grows in naturally. Meaning, it provides the least amount of tension or pulling on the scalp over time (see an installation video here). The removal is also simple, as the stylist can simply cut the thread and loosen the beads. 

It’s also worth noting that hand-tied wefts are just as durable as they are flexible. They make it easy for you to throw your hair into a ponytail during the day and style it with heat after showering at night. This is thanks to the nylon thread they’re tied with, which is antimicrobial and resistant to moisture and build-up. The price is also a selling point, as they’re far less expensive than K-tips. According to Rauchut, weft extensions are typically $350 per row, which means the total cost will likely stay under $700 for fine hair. The only downside is that they need to be moved up as your hair grows out, which usually costs a $200+ salon visit every six to eight weeks.

Fast Facts

  • Cost: $350 per weft 
  • Application: a beaded weft is hand-tied into the crown with a nylon thread. The stylist will indicate how many rows you need for your hair texture, which will ultimately determine the final cost. A salon visit is then required every six to eight weeks to move up the wefts as your hair grows out.
  • Duration: Over six months with regular move-ups

Best Temporary

3. Halo Couture


  • non-permanent and removable  
  • doesn’t clip into the scalp
  • prevents bald spots and promotes natural growth 


  • still expensive compared to other human hair options 
  • might be difficult to style while wearing

Halo Couture

Finally, a non-permanent option for anyone who’s wary about committing: clip-ins. Yes, clip-ins can cause damage to your hair over time, which can hinder hair growth (more on that below), but there are ways around this. Rauchut recommends Halo couture extensions to all of her non-permanent extension clients. With a weft connected to a clear line at the crown, this extension lays like a veil under the top layer of your hair. It’s essentially a one-step installation that requires you to lift the top portion of your hair and slide it underneath, before clipping it into place. And since it's just one piece, it’s easy to maintain and brush out. 

The major selling point of halo, however, is how long it lasts. Rauchut says a halo can be your best friend for three to five years, depending on how you care for it and how much heat you put on it. It’s a perfect go-to for special events (like weddings), where you can pump up your look without putting in too much effort. To that end, she recommends investing in an extension buddy or a hanger with two clips to help hold the weft in place as you cleanse, blow dry or style it with a hot tool. This will keep it looking fresh and prevent tangling between uses.

Fast Facts

  • Cost: $350
  • Application: simply lift the top layer of the hair and place the halo underneath
  • Duration: Five+ years with proper maintenance 

What Type of Hair Extensions Should People with Thin Hair Avoid?

If we’re talking about semi-permanent options, it’s best to avoid tape-in extensions for thin hair. The installation process—which involves taking two panels of extensions, removing the adhesive tape from each and sandwiching them between your natural hair—adds double the weight. For thicker textures, this is a great option because it offers the most bang for your buck with each panel. But for fine hair, this could end up putting too much tension at the roots. Plus, just like the hand-tied wefts, tape-ins require move-up visits every six to eight weeks and can be more expensive, costing anywhere between $150 to $700 per move-up depending on the salon. 

And of course, it’s best to avoid clip-in extensions if you’re planning on wearing them frequently. As I mentioned at the top of this article, I experienced tons of hair loss from the strain these clip-ins had on my natural hair. For temporary options, it’s better to go with something like Halo Couture that won’t damage hair in the long run. 

The Bottom Line

K-tips are the absolute most natural-looking option for fine hair. Hand-tied wefts are a close second, but they’re less customizable but more durable and easier on the wallet. Halo Couture clip-ins are a great option for anyone interested in temporary extensions—and they can last you up to five years with proper care. 

7 Hair Extension Tips to Know

  • Do not wash your hair for two days after the initial application. Then, when it’s time to shower, always wash your hair with your head tilted backward, not forward.
  • Don’t towel dry too aggressively. Instead, gently wrap a microfiber towel to absorb water and lightly pat dry. 
  • Wear your hair in a loose, low ponytail or braid when sleeping. It would also be a good idea to invest in a silk pillowcase to help prevent tangles and knots at night.
  • Always dry your roots on a low heat setting. Curling irons, flat irons, hot rollers and any other hot tools may also be used, but only on low to medium heat. When using a hot tool, keep it about two inches away from the bond and attachment.
  • Only use a soft natural bristle brush. The most expensive, salon-worthy brushes to invest in are Mason Pearson’s loop brush or Balmain’s luxury spa brush. Otherwise, you want to find a brush that uses natural boar bristles, like this one from Denman, that won’t pull the hair too much when you run it through.   
  • Brush daily to prevent matting and shedding. Some extension hair loss is normal. The average person loses 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. Brush your hair gently three times daily, row by row, to prevent this as much as possible. Always start at the nape of the neck and work your way down from the mid-shaft to the ends. If you have curly hair, brush once in the morning and once in the evening. You can also use a wide-tooth comb to gently remove tangles from mid-lengths to ends only.
  • Avoid submerging your hair under water for long periods of time. Wearing your hair up is recommended if you’re swimming and this applies to saunas as well. Leaving your hair wet for too long can weaken the bonds. Also be sure to dry roots with a towel or on medium heat immediately after washing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Are Hair Extensions?

K-Tips can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500+ depending on how many grams are needed to match the density of your hair. Hand-tied wefts, on the other hand, are less expensive at $350 per weft (again, the number of total wefts you’ll need will depend on your hair texture). These can be more expensive in the long run, however, because they require move-up appointments at the salon every six to eight weeks. Tape-ins can also become expensive in the long run, costing $150 to $200 per panel, plus move-up visits that require special treatment to the hair. The highest-quality, affordable option for thin hair is Halo Couture extensions, which start at $350. 

How Long Do Hair Extensions Last?

K-Tips: three to five months 
Wefts and Tape-ins: six+ months with move-ups 
Temporary Hair Pieces: up to five months

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Associate Editor

Sydney Meister is PureWow's Associate Editor, covering everything from dating trends and relationship advice (here's looking at you, 'soonicorns') to interior design, beauty...