Victoria Wurdinger

Not just for length anymore, hair extensions are extending their appeal as instant volumizers and commitment-free highlights that are amazingly affordable.

Celebrities like Jessica Simpson, the name behind Hairdo clip-in extensions, are driving trends.

The New York Post recently created buzz around a woman who spent $47,000 a year on her hair—$30,000 of it for hair extensions. That’s the Hollowood-esque high end, but even salons that offer $30 clip-in extensions can make signifi cant profi ts. Thoroughly investigate every extension product, then educate yourself on attachment methods. Ask your clients: Would they buy hair extensions and what would they pay?

Advises Angelo, who owns Angelo David in NYC, “Add-on hair can add a whole new dimension to your business. Almost every woman in your chair wants either longer or thicker hair. This is not a one-size-fi ts-all business—give clients the right add-ons for them.”

Hollywood has been driving the trend for a decade, and Cyrus Bulsara, president of Professional Consultants & Resources in Plano, Texas, says the U.S. human-hair market is currently estimated at $1.7 billion. Brett Butcher, director of Great Lengths USA, says professional hair-extension service revenue is about $700-$800 million: “This represents a 15-percent annual increase since 2007.”

Points of Entry

Salons specializing in high end must invest in training to deliver the services successfully. Butcher says those most likely to succeed are known for top-tier service. “Their clients are image-aware women with expendable incomes, who seek out the most reputable salons,” he says.

When considering extension types and price points ($30 to $3,000) realize that, nationally, synthetics represent 80 percent of unit sales, while human-hair goods represent nearly 70 percent of the market’s dollar value. Trending now are feather extensions, more affordable human hair, lighter synthetics that allow iron curling and fl atironing (HairUWear’s True2Life) and easy attachment methods (Simplicity from TressAllure, Easilites from Ted Gibson).

From short to long in about half an hour. Hair by Vivienne Mackinder for Simplicity.

Opportunity for All

Temporary and semipermanent extensions represent the greatest opportunity, because they are easiest to offer and the most affordable.

“Clip-in extensions play a great role in hairdresser creativity and provide clients with the opportunity to change their hair without commitment” says Michael Kleinman, executive vice-president of HairUwear. “We are adding 100 to 200 Hairdo Clip-in Extension salons a month because they make red-carpet moments accessible to every woman.”

Okyo Sthair, senior vice-president of Aderans Hair Goods, Inc., taught hair replacement throughout the country for decades. She says clients and stylists want what’s fast, simple and safe—one of the reasons she created Simplicity semipermanent extensions, which use a patented twist-on tape method that is fast and damage-free, but lasts for weeks.

“About 70-percent of salons offer some type of extensions, because they can add at least six fi gures to their revenues,” says Sthair. “With the price of human hair increasing, reusable methods are most popular.”

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