The 9 Least Damaging Hair Extensions, According To Celeb Stylists
Lots of body, none of the breakage.
Do-it-yourself hair extensions are an easy, wallet-friendly way to add length and volume, but it’s important to make sure you pick a set that will minimize the impact on your own hair. To help prevent breakage, the least damaging hair extensions are clip-in, halo-style, or ponytail pieces, with a texture that’s similar to your own hair and a lightweight feel that won’t tug.
Andrew Fitzsimons is an Irish-born celebrity hairstylist whose work has been featured in publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle. Following his training in Paris, Fitzsimons brought his passion and professionalism to New York City and Los Angeles, where his clients include Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, and Megan Fox.
Sophie Harris is the hair extension specialist and advocate stylist at Josh Wood Colour based in London, England. She has over 15 years of in-salon experience in London, where she is certified in Great Lengths and Beauty Works hair extensions.
Which Hair Extensions Are The Least Damaging?
First things first: Hair extension specialist Sophie Harris only recommends clip-in extensions, halo pieces, or ponytails for at-home use. Here’s what you should know about each of these:
“Generally speaking, clip-ins are the best type of hair extensions because they are easy to install and remove, and they are proven to be the least damaging to hair,” explains celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons. These attach to your roots at the back of the head and near the neck with a series of comb-like clips, and sets include different lengths and thicknesses, which makes it “easy to blend and style them alongside your natural hair,” according to Fitzsimons. However, you’ll want to make sure you don’t place too many wefts in your hair at once, as this can weigh down your strands and cause potential damage.
These pieces stay securely in place thanks to a flexible wire that’s concealed by your own top layer of hair. These clip-free extensions are a great damage-minimizing option, because they don’t tug at or weigh down your strands. However, you’ll have to take some time to style your hair over the wire so it blends in seamlessly — and for this reason, they’re not the best hair extensions for thin hair on top, as the wire might be more visible.
Ponytail extensions can be attached via comb clips or claws — but comb clips can offer a more secure fit as they’re designed with a drawstring or Velcro closure that wraps around your own hair. They’re the best type of hair extensions if you’re looking for something hassle-free, but offer less versatility than other hair pieces.
Human Hair Versus Synthetic Hair
Human hair extensions tend to look more natural, and they can be dyed or heat styled just like your own hair. They’re more of a financial investment, but can last up to seven months with daily use, or longer with more occasional wear. Pieces made with Remy hair — i.e., hair that’s collected with the cuticles intact and roots and tips going in the same direction — last longer than pieces made with non-Remy hair, which tends to become brittle more quickly. Remy hair will also have a more natural look, as it’s minimally processed to help preserve the integrity of the cuticles.
On the other hand, synthetic extensions are made of pre-styled artificial strands, and generally, they aren’t as malleable as human hair extensions. Some pieces can withstand gentle heat styling, but too much can cause burning or even melting. They’re a less spendy option than human hair pieces, but typically only last up to three months with daily wear (or up to six months with less frequent use).
Texture & Weight
Look for extensions that are similar to your own hair’s texture — “If you have fine, thin hair and you add heavy and thick extensions into your hair, this will hurt the scalp,” explains Fitzsimons. On that note, keep in mind that some brands mention how many grams their extensions weigh; to keep the wefts from tugging on your own hair (and potentially causing breakage), you may want to opt for more lightweight options, but just keep in mind they’ll offer a little less body and volume.
Additional Tips To Prevent Damage
“If you’re using clip-ins, give your hair a nice wash and blow dry, [and] section the hair starting from the nape,” says Harris. “Secure the top of your hair out of the way and apply some soft back combing to the root where you wish to apply the extension. Then you have a strong base to clip into.”
If you opt for human hair extensions, Fitzsimons recommends washing them with a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner to get them to bounce back to their natural texture before applying. As far as maintenance goes, Fitzsimons advises minimizing heat damage (i.e., use a good heat protectant) and brushing extensions “with more care than you would your natural hair as they are typically more fragile.”
Ready to add to amp up the volume and length without dealing with a ton of breakage? These are the least damaging hair extensions on Amazon.
Shop The Least Damaging Hair Extensions:
In a hurry? These are the least damaging hair extensions:
- The Best Human Hair Clip-In Extensions: GOO GOO Clip-In Human Hair Extensions
- The Best Synthetic Hair Clip-In Extensions: NAYOO Synthetic Hair Extensions
- The Best Textured Hair Clip-In Extensions: Pobokix Human Hair Extensions
- The Best Human Hair Ponytail Extension: Lacerhair Human Hair Ponytail Extension
- The Best Synthetic Hair Ponytail Extension: Rosooi Drawstring Ponytail Extension
- The Best Textured Ponytail Extension: Youthfee Curly Ponytail Extension
- The Best Human Hair Halo Piece: DOORES Human Hair Wire Extensions
- The Best Synthetic Hair Halo Piece: NANNAN Invisible Wavy Hair Extensions
- These Best Clip-In Highlights That Come In Vibrant Hues: YaFex Colorful Clip-In Hair Extensions
1. The Best Human Hair Clip-In Extensions
If you’re willing to spend some money for a natural look that will blend in with your own hair, these Remy hair clip-in extensions are a great pick. You get seven pieces in this set, in a variety of different lengths, and you can dye, curl, and straighten them just as you would your own hair. They attach via stainless steel clips that stay securely in place, and multiple reviewers were pleased that they don’t “pull” or “tug” on strands. There are several length options to choose from, as well as a wide array of dynamic blonde, brunette, copper, and even lavender and burgundy shades. While these extensions may be on the pricier side, their overall quality and longevity make them worth the investment.
According to a reviewer: “I bought a few from different hair extensions from different companies to see what they were like. I’ve never used hair extensions before so didn’t know what to compare them to. Loved how healthy and shiny the hair was, other companies had breakage in their extensions, this [...] was in pristine condition. Easy to curl like my own hair. Felt like my own hair.”
- Available lengths: 14 inches — 26 inches
- Available colors: 21
Hair type: Human Remy | Secures with: Stainless steel clips | Available lengths: 14 inches — 26 inches | Available colors: 21
2. The Best Synthetic Hair Clip-In Extensions
If you’re looking for a wallet-friendly alternative, check out these synthetic clip-in hair extensions. The set comes with six wavy pieces of varying thicknesses, including a pair of face-framing extensions you can secure at the top of the scalp with the sturdy stainless steel clips. Although they’re made of artificial fibers, the brand notes that they’re heat resistant — just be sure you’re using your styling tool’s lowest temperature setting.
While they only come in one length option — 20 inches — you can pick from several brown, blonde, black, and red hues. Just keep in mind the synthetic strands have the potential to look a little less natural and aren’t likely to last as long as human hair. That said, these are a great buy if you’re looking to stick to a budget.
According to a reviewer: “First off, the value for your money is amazing! These look and feel so real!! I liked that they came with instructions, a comb, and a hair clip to help put them in. I've gotten so many compliments on how "gorgeous" my hair looks already -from friends, family, and even random strangers at the store. The color is right on point! They are easy to affix and stay put for hours. Really, for me the only downside is that they get tangled fairly easily (due to the fact that it's synthetic hair), so I have to be careful, especially on a windy day.”
Hair type: Synthetic | Secures with: Stainless steel clips | Available lengths: 20 inches | Available colors: 15
3. The Best Textured Hair Clip-In Extensions
These textured clip-in extensions are made of 100% Remy human hair, and they’re perfect for adding extra length and body to unprocessed strands — but you can also opt for straight or wavy extensions if that’s more your speed. You can choose from a range of lengths, and the eight-piece set comes with steel clips to hold the wefts in place. Reviewers reported being pleased with the natural appearance and lightweight feel, and like with the first pick, you can heat style and dye these pieces to achieve your desired look.
According to a reviewer: “The hair is very soft and true to length. It takes on heat well. I was able to straighten, curl it, and just generally bring it to life. If you’re desiring a thicker look, I would recommend purchasing two packs of hair. I wanted it to resemble my natural hair more, so I only bought one. The clips aren’t damaging to my hair either. If you remove them carefully and properly, your hair will not break off in the process. Patience is key!”
Hair type: Human Remy | Secures with: Stainless steel clips | Available lengths: 12 inches — 30 inches | Available colors: 3
4. The Best Human Hair Ponytail Extension
You’ll find much to love about this human hair ponytail extension — the 100% Remy hair is easy to curl, straighten, and dye to your liking. Unlike a claw clip extension, this piece attaches to your hair with a stainless steel comb clip and a concealed Velcro closure. Whether you’re in the market for a multi-faceted blonde shade or a rich chestnut brown, there are plenty of natural-looking colors available. Choose from several different lengths, ranging from 14 inches to 22 inches.
According to a reviewer: “This hair is so nice! I love the pony tail extensions because they don't do as much damage to your hair as some of the other types! This hair is definitely human hair, is very well put together and is so soft! It does have one clip on it for added support and features a velcro wrap around enclosure with an additional weft to wrap around the velcro and hide it.”
Hair type: Human Remy | Secures with: Stainless steel comb clip, Velcro | Available lengths: 14 inches — 22 inches | Available colors: 17
5. The Best Synthetic Hair Ponytail Extension
Securing to your head with a drawstring closure and a built-in comb clip, this synthetic ponytail extension is a budget-friendly buy that’s easy to take on and off. Three layers of hair add a full-bodied look, while the wavy texture adds instant volume. The brand cites that this extension is heat resistant, but as a precaution, make sure to only use styling tools on the lowest temperature with this pick. Choose from three lengths — 22 inches, 26 inches, and 30 inches — as well as over a dozen shades of blonde, brunette, red, and black.
According to a reviewer: “It’s a major win in every way. The hair itself is gorgeous and not too shiny: it’s like wavy mermaid hair and it doesn’t tangle easily. I love the installation with it being a drawstring. So basically you secure the comb at the top, pull your ponytail through, and drawstring it tight. I’ve had many ponytail extensions and this is by far my favorite!”
Hair type: Synthetic | Secures with: Comb clip | Available lengths: 22 inches — 30 inches | Available colors: 16
6. The Best Textured Hair Ponytail Extension
Featuring layers of tightly wound curls, this textured ponytail extension adds some serious body and lift to your hairstyle. It’s made of a blend of 70% synthetic fibers and 30% human hair, creating a natural look that’s still lightweight and bouncy. The 27-inch-long piece attaches to your head with a drawstring closure, with the addition of stainless steel clips for added security. There are seven colors to pick from, in shades of black, brown, and red. Multiple reviewers did note that this piece tends to tangle a bit easily with consistent use, so keep in mind that you may have to dedicate more time to keeping knots at bay.
According to a reviewer: “do yourself a favor and get this ponytail! It's super lightweight, but also REALLY full/dense and voluminous. The curls themselves are soft and not fake shiny like other synthetic hair. I've worn it twice, each time for about 8+ hours, and have not experienced any shedding or tangles.”
Hair type: Synthetic and human | Secures with: Stainless steel clips and drawstring | Available lengths: 27 inches | Available colors: 7
7. The Best Human Hair Halo Piece
For those who prefer the feel of a halo piece, this wire extension made from 100% Remy hair offer long-lasting quality. The invisible fishing wire headband can be adjusted to fit your head, while the built-in clips keep the wefts secure at the nape of your neck. Once the piece is in place, simply style the top layer of your hair over the wire to create a seamless look. It comes in quite a few lengths and colors, including some options with multi-faceted highlights. With this human hair, you can curl, straighten, and dye the piece to your desired look.
According to a reviewer: “The band and everything about this style of extension is extremely comfortable. From the back, the hair really is dispersed properly so it gives a truly natural look and feel. I advise for a more voluminous look and easier blending use more than one pack. However if this is just to add more to your natural look then one pack should make all the difference. The biggest pro for me is it doesn't damage my hair the way other extensions do. Def recommend.”
Hair type: Human Remy | Secures with: Halo band | Available lengths: 12 inches — 20 inches | Available colors: 14
8. The Best Synthetic Hair Halo Piece
At such a wallet-friendly price, this synthetic halo piece is a great way to test wire hair extensions to see if they’re right for you. The strands have a gentle wave to them and are available in several shades of blonde, brown, black, and copper. Note that these extensions are not designed to be used with heat styling products, so they’re best for those looking for a wavy texture. They come in two lengths — 20 inches and 24 inches — both of which can be trimmed to blend in with your hair.
According to a reviewer: “The halo feature is so useful, and the band is nearly invisible for a truly seamless look. The color I picked matched my hair so well! I can’t wait to wear these out for special occasions, though they are so easy to use they could be for everyday wear as well.”
Hair type: Synthetic | Secures with: Halo band | Available lengths: 20 inches, 24 inches | Available colors: 9
9. The Best Clip-In Highlights That Come In Vibrant Hues
Whether your hair is already dyed a vibrant shade or you just want to add some non-committal highlights, these colorful clip-in extensions are easy to use and tons of fun, according to reviewers. You get 14 pieces in a set, each with its own metal comb clip. The brand describes the synthetic material as heat resistant, so you can even curl each piece to add extra body (as long as you’re using a low heat setting on your curling iron). Perfect for themed parties and special occasions, the extensions come in a bright palette of teal, lavender, hot pink, and dark green.
According to a reviewer: “These are rad!! I was expecting them to be cheap and fake looking. But they are super high quality, well-made, and actually look very real. Everyone at the 90s themed event thought I went all out and got highlights just for the occasion. I was so impressed.”
Hair type: Synthetic | Secures with: Metal comb clips | Available lengths: 22 inches | Available multipacks: 11
Andrew Fitzsimons, celebrity hairstylist and founder of Andrew Fitzsimons Hair.
Sophie Harris, hair extension specialist and advocate stylist at Josh Wood Colour in London.