3 Beauty

The Great Hair Extension Debate: Tape-In VS Hand-Tied

Hair Extensions: Tape-Ins VS Hand Tied

This post has been about a month in the making, but I’ve received SO MANY questions on my hair extensions over the past year and a half!  For those who don’t know, I started going to Strand Salon & Store in Glastonbury, CT in early 2018.  In addition to working with Jen (the owner and my favorite hair guru) for color, she convinced me to add some fullness/length to my hair using tape-in extensions!  I was still growing out my lob haircut that I got in 2015 and the extensions helped add a little length (& even out the choppiness near the bottom), but also helped give my real hair a break from heat styling — which in turn, would help my real hair grow faster!  I was hooked.  Once my hair got to the desired length, I loved them so much that I decided to keep them in, and got the tape-in extensions “moved up” about every 3 months.

If you follow any hair accounts (or any other bloggers) on Instagram, you might have noticed that all the rage right now is “hand-tied extensions” so this summer, Strand Salon started offering this extension method in addition to the tape-in method!  They asked if I could try them out to help review them, and I jumped at the chance — I love switching things up and being able to try something new!  After about a month with them in, I’m ready to share all about the new process, compare both options, and answer all the questions I’ve received on both!

Tape In Extensions FAQ

What are tape-in extensions?

Tape in hair extensions are thin wefts that get “taped-in” in between your own hair in “sandwich” like bonds.  The wefts are about 1 inch wide of 100% human hair and come with a thin piece of adhesive up on the top.  Think of single pieces of clip-in extensions but with tape on the top instead of the clip.  This method is 100% natural since it requires no tools or chemicals.

What is the installation like?  How long does it take?

Strand Salon requires a consultation for any hair extensions prior to installation — including tape-ins.  You’ll meet with one of the extension specialists on a separate day to discuss hair color and length options (to order the actual hair wefts) and the pricing breakdown (more on that below).  On the day on installation, you’ll go through the normal hair color process (if you’re getting color done as well) and your hair will be washed and dried.  Once the hair is dry, your extension specialist will begin to section off your hair and will strategically place each 1 inch weft throughout your head.  I went through about 5 rounds of this process with Strand Salon over the last year and a half and would estimate that the installation of the extensions takes about 30 minutes.  Getting highlights/color the same day as the extension installation adds a ton more time — but if you’re doing extensions only, it’s an extremely quick process!  You can watch the process from start to finish from last summer HERE.

What does a touch-up look like?

This is referred to as a “push-up” — it’s essentially the same exact process as the initial installation but you will need your extensions removed at the beginning of your hair appointment.  An adhesive breakdown solution is sprayed onto the hair wefts where the tape is and your extension specialist will work to remove them.  If you’re using the same hair (more on that below), the hair will be washed and dried, with new tape applied to the top so they are ready for installation.

How often do you have to get them done?

It 100% depends on how fast your hair grows and the shape you keep the extensions in.  I typically stretch my visits since I get highlights and color done the same day.  I feel I’m ready for a visit/touchup after about 10 weeks, but usually try to stretch it to about 12 weeks so I can keep myself on a consistent schedule with color.  The average push-up is about 6-8 weeks.

How long does the hair last?

I was actually able to get 3 rounds of push-ups in before needing to replace the actual hair extensions with new hair, but I’m also extremely careful and take care really great care of them!  I believe on average, they say you should switch them every 6-9 months, but it will totally depend on each person.

How do you care for them?  Can you wash and dry your hair as normal?  How about styling?

Like I mentioned above, I am extremely careful with my extensions as I consider them an investment, and I want to stretch my investment for as long as possible.  You do wash and dry your hair as normal, but imagine washing your hair with clip-in extensions in — you wouldn’t want to tug at the extensions or go rough on them at all.  Washing my scalp, I have to really work around the wefts since they are placed throughout my head.  I condition as normal and only focus on the bottom of my hair (from the ears down).  As for drying my hair, I always dry as least the top of my hair with tape-in extensions, but could let the rest air dry if I wanted to.  It is recommended to at least dry the adhesive part (or the top of your hair by your scalp) as water breaks down the adhesive which would cause the hair to slip out.  To style my hair, the tape-ins blend so well into my natural hair that everything gets curled/straightened/whatever together — it feels just like my normal hair — you just have to be a little more careful when brushing your scalp!  I actually found that styling the extension hair held SO WELL that I wouldn’t have to do as many touch-ups and could stretch my hair styling for about 3 days.

Can you wear your hair up?

This part got a little tricky.  For the first week, the top of your hair could feel a little tight, since the extensions are placed right on the root.  I wouldn’t really wear my hair up for the first week just out of mild discomfort.  After that, you definitely CAN wear your hair up, but once the wefts start growing out a little, it’s requires a little strategy to hide the tape.  I’ll usually gather my hair up in a pony tail and then pull my own natural root hair over the tape so everything is hidden.  Sometimes I would have to bobby pin my hair to hold over the tape!

What is the price point for tape-in extensions?

At Strand Salon, the cost for the actual hair is around $130-200 per pack.  Typically, clients looking for fullness only will need 1 pack, but clients looking to add length and fullness could need 2-2.5 packs.  For extreme length (someone with a bob/lob wanting mermaid hair), 3 or more packs could be required.  I was able to get away with 2 packs and we always ordered 2 different colors so we could blend the colors together for very natural looking highlights.

For installation, the cost at Strand Salon is $150 per pack.  Every extension install also requires a haircut to ensure the taped-in hair blends with your own hair — that cost is $40.

A push-up is required every 6-10 weeks and costs $75 for the removal, plus $150 for 1 pack and 2 packs and $225 for 3 packs of hair. Push-up appointments also consist of a scalp massage, the extensions and your real hair will be washed and blown out, and your hair will be styled after the extensions have been installed.

My personal PRO/CON list for Tape-In Extensions:


  • The fullness/length added looks so insanely natural.  Since the tape is flat against your head, you barely feel or see it.  I rarely get people asking if I have extensions and people usually would say, “YOU DO?!” when I would volunteer that information.  Personally, if you have thin or fine hair, I think this is the best option since they could easily be hidden!
  • The installation is super quick — especially if you don’t need to color your hair!
  • I love that you can easily blend two packs of hair together that are different colors — this helped give my hair a very natural highlight feel.
  • The cost is relatively low compared to other hair extension methods.


  • Not being able to quickly throw my hair up in a pony tail or top knot is really annoying.  It requires a mirror and a little strategy after 3-4 weeks for me, so it felt like styling my hair on days I just wanted a break.
  • The grow out can feel slightly uncomfortable — once the taped part leaves the closeness of your scalp, you can start to feel it lift and sometimes it shows through the hair.  This could definitely be avoided by more frequent push-ups, but that could be expensive and time consuming.
  • Washing your hair takes some getting used to.  I used to look forward to push-up appointment so the extensions would be out and I could really get a good scalp wash.


Here’s a video of the installation of tape-in extensions done by Strand Salon.


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Hand Tied Hair Extensions FAQ

What are hand-tied extensions?

It’s actually the oldest hair extension method — but is quickly making a comeback.  Hand-tied extensions are a type of weft that is sewn together, or weaved by hand.  There is no glue, heat or tape involved in this process and the extensions are sewn in to your hair.

What is the installation like?  How long does it take?

I put together another video showing the start-to-finish method used for hand-tied extensions.  I will preface by saying that this extension method takes a lot longer than tape-ins.  Hair is sectioned off and a row of small beads are applied to the top of the hair as close to the scalp as possible.  These beads acts an anchor points for the string that will be woven through from one side of the hair to the other.  From there, the wefts are sewn into that line and are flat against the head.  They are sewn in larger pieces than the tape-ins which are about 1 inch each.  The weft rows of hand-tied extensions are much larger and wider and could stretch ear to ear if desired.  Think of clip-in extensions that have multiple clips and stretch across the back of your head.

We used 2 rows of wefts this time around, so the bead process and sewing process was repeated twice.  From start-to-finish, the entire process took over an hour and a half, over double the amount of time that the tape-in extensions take.  It could take as long as 3 hours if you do 3+ wefts.

How often do you have to get them done?

The average reinstall is about 6-8 weeks. I’m about 6 weeks in and this is my first round with these type of extensions, and will likely need a salon visit a little sooner than my typical 10-12 weeks.  I’m probably going to go in for a reinstall between 8-10 weeks this time around.  The reason being, I feel like the rows are a bit heavier and I don’t want the extra weight to pull on my natural hair.

How long does the hair last?

The hair life expectancy is similar to the tape-in hair — it should last 6 or so months, although I’m aiming to stretch it to 9 months by taking extra great care of it!

How do you care for them?  Can you wash and dry your hair as normal?  How about styling?

Caring for them has been easier than tape-in extensions.  First off, washing my hair is a little easier.  Since the hair is in rows, it’s a little easier to work around the rows (as opposed to the tape-ins where they are placed throughout the hair).  The top part of my head is actually extension free and the first extension row starts about an inch above my ears.  This leaves the top part of my scalp completely open for a good scrub after a few days without washing!  And since there is zero adhesive required for these extensions, you do not need to dry them at all like you do with the tape-ins.  I’m able to brush my hair normally (again, since the top of my head is extension free) and I can blow dry and style as normal.  Overall, I have found them to require a little less maintenance.

Can you wear your hair up?

This is where I notice a huge difference.  I can wear my hair up without any issues or worrying about the extensions peeking through!  Again, because these are rows of hair instead of a bunch of 1 inch pieces, it’s easier to deal with.

What is the price point for hand-tied extensions?

Be prepared to spend a pretty penny on these.  These extensions are much more expensive — mostly due to labor costs, since the extensions require a bit more technique to install and the installation is a lot longer.  The price of the hair is more as well, but the price of the hair is also built into the cost as well as a haircut and special shampoo/conditioner and a brush.  One row of hair for fullness only costs $695+, two rows will provide fullness and length and costs $1,135+ and 3 rows costs $1,800+.  Again, an initial consultation at Strand Salon is required for extensions and the exact amount can be determined at that time.

Re-install appointments are more expensive as well but include a fresh blowout and style.  1 row re-install is $350, 2 rows $615 and 3 rows $1,000+.

My personal PRO/CON list for Hand-Tied Extensions:


  • The fullness/length added with these extensions is much more intense — I have SO much hair with these and feel like it looks noticeably thicker and longer.  Coming from someone with relatively thin/fine hair, I loooove it!
  • Being able throw my hair up without thinking is a game-changer.  I missed this so much with my other extensions!
  • Grow out doesn’t seem as noticeable, since the hair is in a row as opposed to scattered throughout my head.
  • I love having the option of air drying my hair completely if I wanted to — this would be insanely helpful on vacation when swimming, etc.


  • The installation is much more time consuming and seems like it’s going to require me visiting the salon earlier than the tape-ins.
  • This is a much more expensive extension method.
  • Personally, I feel like it looks a little less natural than the tape-ins, because the hair is SO thick and long.  I feel like I LOOK like I have extensions — not in a bad way, but in a “there’s no way that’s her real hair” sort of way!  I haven’t been called out per say, but the amount of compliments and inquires about my hair right now is HIGH, so I feel like everyone knows! 😉
  • Overall, they feel a little heavier than the tape-ins do.  It took me about a week to get used to the weight — likely because it’s concentrated in one part of my head (the back) and not spread out.
  • Although, they lay flat against my head in a row, if you run your hand over the back of my head, you can feel the weave.  Not a big deal for me, but if I was going out on dates, I might be a little self conscious about that!

Personally after 6+ weeks, I still cannot decide which one of the two I like better, I’m sorry! — they really are so different and it really depends on what your goals are, what your budget is, and how much time you have to commit.  Just like with eyelash extensions, nail appointments, regular hair color, etc. — if you don’t have the time, patience to get used to something new or don’t want to worry about maintenance… extensions aren’t for you.  I find it extremely irritating when someone comments on how much time/money it costs to keep up with something — NO ONE IS FORCING YOU and everyone is entitled to choose what they want to spend their time and money on.

I will say, that after having extensions consistently since early 2018 — my real hair is in the BEST SHAPE it’s been in since I chopped it off back in 2015.  I know that might seem odd — but think about this for a second.  If you have other hair added into the mix that actually STAYS when you curl/style it, there’s less styling touch-ups required and less washing required.  I feel like the extension hair is taking the brunt of the styling and lets my other hair “be in the background” — which allows it to breathe, relax and grow.  When I take my extensions out for push-ups/re-installs, I am absolutely amazed at the growth, and also the condition of my hair.  I’ve never seen it healthier in 30+ years… and that’s the honest truth!

If you’re in the CT area, I cannot recommend my friends over at Strand Salon enough — you can call them and mention either Oh So Glam or Christina Tarabishy to let them know I sent you!  They will take care of you and pamper the crap out of you — you won’t want to leave.  If you’re outside of the CT area, make sure to do as much research on extensions as possible.  I’ve heard multiple people claim that extensions have damaged their hair — and all we have to say is… you’re either going to the wrong place or YOU aren’t taking care of them.  They are supposed to do the opposite!

Here’s a video of the installation of hand-tied extensions done by Strand Salon.

Would love to hear if you ladies have any thoughts on either or any other questions — you can leave them below!

Please note that while Strand Salon provides my color/extension services free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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  • Reply
    September 22, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    Great post!

    Carina | https://carinazz.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    Victoria S Osullivan
    June 1, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    It looks amazing

  • Reply
    October 5, 2020 at 12:52 am

    I have used hand-tied extensions in the past. 6 months back, I was introduced to tape-in extensions from ZALA (https://zalahair.co), and I’ve found them so easy to use. You can’t even compare the end result! Now, I definitely prefer tape-in over hand-tied.

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