From Janet Jackson and Lisa Bonet to Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks, women have been wearing hair extensions for decades now. And in the 1990s, hair extensions became more affordable, meaning they were no longer just for celebrities and the wealthy.
The hair extensions industry has since exploded. Now, it’s average consumers who are driving the market’s growth.
Yet, it’s difficult to dig up hair extensions industry statistics and facts online. That’s why we created this guide.
If you’re searching for the most up-to-date information about hair extensions, you’ve come to the right place. Browse our key takeaways below for the most important points from our research, or check out the table of contents to skip to the stats you’ve been searching for.
- Hair extensions can be temporary or semi-permanent and made of real human or synthetic hair. Temporary hair extensions include clip-ins and ponytail extensions. Semi-permanent hair extensions include halo extensions, tape-ins, fusion extensions, wefts, weave, and micro link extensions.
- 49% of women wear semi-permanent hair products and 40% use temporary clip-ins.
- The average US woman only keeps her extensions in place for 4 months.
- The “invisible part” weave is the latest extension technology to hit the market. These extensions can hide their tracks without leaving the wearer’s natural hair exposed on top.
- In 2020, the hair extensions market was worth $3.6B. Experts project the market will grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2% to $4.9B by 2028
- Google search queries for “hair extensions” hit an all-time high in July 2011.
- Since 2004, the highest search volume for “hair extensions” has come from residents in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Louisiana, and West Virginia, respectively.
- Experts project that the combined global market for extensions and wigs will hit $10B in 2023.
- 43.9% of the world’s hair extensions are synthetic.
- Keratin fusion extensions are the most expensive type of extensions, with a full set usually coming in at $900. In comparison, a full set of micro link or tap-in extensions only cost about $800 or $700, respectively.
- At $60–$85, synthetic hair extensions cost less than real hair extensions, which may cost anywhere from $100 to over $500.
- The hair extensions services industry in the US was worth $364M in 2020.
- A high-end salon may charge over $4000 for hair extensions, while some budget salons charge as little as $100 for a full installation.
- Asia exports 84% of the world’s hair extensions.
- People who wear hair products fall into one of three categories: those suffering from long-term hair loss, short-term hair loss, or no hair loss. Among hair product consumers who have no hair loss, the majority prefer extensions.
- When polled, 13% of women say they currently wear extensions. Meanwhile, 93% of women say they would consider wearing hair extensions in the near future.
- In 2014, a study found that 90% of women who wore extensions kept them a secret. In 2021, women are less likely to keep hair extensions a secret because social media has made them trendy.
- Raw Society Hair recently introduced the world’s first compostable braided hair extensions made from banana fiber.
Who Invented Hair Extensions?
Ever wondered where hair extensions originate from? We did too, which is why we looked it up. Here’s what we learned about the invention of hair extensions and more historical facts you need to know.
- The first documented use of hair extensions was in 3400 BC Egypt. Ancient Egyptians wore wigs, weaves, and braided extensions that they made from human hair and, sometimes, sheep’s wool. These products came in blue, red, gold, and black and ancient hairstylists would adhere them to the scalp using resin and beeswax.
- It’s reported that Cleopatra’s favorite color hair extensions were peacock blue.
- Human hair extensions re-emerged in popularity in the 19th century with the Pompadour hairstyle. At the time, British wig and extension makers imported 100 tons of hair to meet annual demand.
- At the beginning of the 20th century, the “Switch” weave became popular. A real human hair Switch could cost from $0.95 to $25. Today, the Switch weave is better known as the clip-in extension.
- Other popular extensions of the 1900s were frizettes and plaits.
- Christina Jenkins invented the HairWeeve in 1952, and it was the modern predecessor of today’s weaves.
- Big hair was “in” in the 1960s, giving rise to the popularity of Beehive wigs and hair extensions.
- Hair weave became increasingly common in the ‘80s, especially among black American women.
What Are the Different Types of Hair Extensions?
Not all hair extensions are created equal. Some are made of real hair and others synthetic; some hair extensions will last you months, while others are just temporary.
There’s a lot to learn about the types of hair extensions and which hair extensions are best for you. That’s why we’re breaking down the different types of hair extensions next.
- Hair product manufacturers categorize extensions based on usage, application, and material.
- Hair extensions can be either temporary or semi-permanent.
- Temporary hair extensions include clip-ins and ponytail extensions.
- Semi-permanent hair extensions include halo extensions, tape-ins, fusion extensions, wefts, weave, and micro link extensions.
- Hair extensions can be made of natural or synthetic hair.
- You can dye, tone, curl, and straighten 100% Remy human hair extensions like normal hair.
- Like processing and coloring normal hair, processing and coloring extensions will weaken the quality of each hair strand.
- Using hot tools and bleach on synthetic hair extensions can ruin them. When going synthetic, choose your desired curl type and color from the beginning because you won’t be able to change them.
- You only have to wash real hair extensions every 15–20 wears since they don’t receive oils from the scalp like natural hair does.
- Always remove your extensions before swimming. Chlorine, saltwater, and dirty water can all do damage to extensions, whether they’re made of real or synthetic hair.
- Bonded, glued, and threaded hair extensions can cause damage to natural hair. Clip-in extensions are the least damaging type of extensions.
- Clip-in extensions can take as few as 10 minutes to install at home.
Human Hair Extensions by Type
Real human hair extensions can further be broken down into the type of human hair used. What are the different types of human hair extensions and how long do they last? Here’s what our research revealed:
- Remy hair extensions are made of human hair with the cuticle intact. Remy hair extensions can be curled, straightened, colored, and styled just like natural human hair.
- Virgin hair extensions are made of hair that has never been dyed, permed, bleached, or otherwise chemically processed.
- Non-Remy hair extensions are made of human hair that doesn’t have the cuticle intact. Non-Remy hair is widely available and comes at a lower price point than Remy or virgin hair.
- 100% human hair extensions are made of human hair collected from brushes or the floors of hair salons. These extensions may also be known as non-Remy hair extensions.
- The average US woman keeps her extensions in place for 4 months.
- Only 2% of US women wear permanent wigs or extensions. Meanwhile, 49% of US women wear semi-permanent hair pieces and 40% use temporary or clip-in wigs and extensions.
- Permanent hair extensions can last for several months without replacement.
- Semi-permanent hair extensions can last for 6–8 weeks.
- Temporary hair extensions are also known as clip-ins. You can install and remove clip-ins as often as you want.
- Slavik hair extensions tend to last longer than Remy hair from China and India because it’s less processed. Slavik hair can last up to one year, while Remy hair sourced from China and India lasts 3–6 months on average.
Hair Extensions by Installation Method
We’ve mentioned how hair extensions vary by application. But exactly what are the different methods of installing hair extensions? We’ve compiled all the facts you need to know about hair extension techniques below.
- Extensions of the 1980s were installed using the “pinchbraid” method. Stylists would tie locks of extension hair onto the natural hair using strong threads.
- Micro link extensions are semi-permanent. A hairstylist will attach them to your hair via color-matched cylindrical links.
- Micro link extensions are also known as micro ring, micro bead, or micro loop extensions. Hairstylists install these extensions using aluminum rings, beads, or loops.
- Sew-in hair extensions are also known as weaves. Weaves tend to be more permanent than micro links and are thought to be less harmful to natural hair.
- Netting and tracking are two methods for installing weaves. With netting, the stylist installs a thin net over braided hair and weaves the extensions onto the surface of the net. Tracking means the stylist braids the hair and weaves the extensions directly into the braids.
- Tape-in extensions are arguably the most natural-looking extensions and last 4–8 weeks.
- When it comes to tape-in extensions, there are two bonding methods: soft and hard. Soft bond uses a latex- or acrylic-based adhesive, while hard bond uses super glue. As the name suggests, hard bond lasts longer than soft bond, usually 4–6 weeks, although hard bond extensions can be damaging to the natural hair.
- Pre-bonded extensions (AKA fusion extensions) are similar to tape-ins because they adhere to the scalp, making them more permanent.
- Pre-bonded extensions or fusion extensions are attached to the scalp via hot glue or a keratin adhesive.
- The latest extension technology is the “invisible part” weave. These extensions are layered to reveal the natural scalp while hiding the tracks, even if you don’t want to leave your own hair out to cover the weave.
How Big Is the Hair Extension Market in 2021?
The global hair extensions market is worth billions of dollars in 2021. Exactly how many billions are we talking? Here are the facts you need to know:
- The hair extension market was worth $3,561.7M ($3.6B) in 2020.
- Experts project that the hair extension market will hit $4,929.13M ($4.9B) by 2028, growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2%.
- Growing at a 4.2% CAGR, the hair extension market will hit $3,711.29M ($3.7B) by the end of 2021.
- Growing at a 4.2% CAGR, the hair extension market will reach $3,867.17M ($3.9B) in 2022, $4,029.59M ($4.0B) in 2023, $4,198.83M ($4.2B) in 2024, $4,375.18M ($4.4B) in 2025, $4,558.94M ($4.6B) in 2026, and $4,750.41M ($4.8B) in 2027.
- Google searches for hair extensions hit an all-time high in July 2011.
- The highest search volume for hair extensions comes from residents in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Louisiana, and West Virginia.
- Among cities, citizens of Odessa-Midland, TX, Las Vegas, NV, Bakersfield, VA, Salt Lake City, UT, and Wheeling, WV-Steubenville, OH run the most searches for hair extensions.
- The majority (43.92%) of hair extensions on the market are made of synthetic hair.
- Human hair extensions were the second most popular type of hair extension on the market in 2020.
- Animal hair extensions made up the smallest share of the global hair extension market in 2020.
- The global human hair industry is worth over $7B, including the market for wigs, weaves, and extensions as well as the markets for calligraphy brushes, furniture, calligraphy brushes, and more.
- In 2019 alone, over 1,000 businesses contributed to the global hair extensions market.
- In 2020, the US hair extensions market employed around 3,000 people.
- In the US alone, hair extension revenues reached $346M in 2017.
- In the UK, the entire hair market, which includes extensions, was worth $612.9M in 2019. Experts have projected that the market will grow at a CAGR of 11.7% from 2021 to 2027, or to $1,185.1M ($1.2B) by 2027.
- The total global market for hair wigs and extensions combined is projected to reach $10B by 2023.
Hair Extensions Cost
How much do hair extensions cost? The answer to that question depends on the type of hair they’re made of, installation method, and much more. Following are some of the main factors that determine hair extension price in 2021.
- The price of extensions varies by type. In general, Keratin Fusion extensions are the most expensive type of extensions.
- A full set of Fusion extensions usually costs $900, while a full set of Micro Link and Tape-in extensions cost $800 and $700, respectively.
- A partial set of Fusion extensions usually costs $700, compared to $600 and $500 for Micro Link and Tape-in extensions, respectively.
- A quarter set of Fusion extensions typically costs $500, a quarter set of Micro Link extensions costs $400, and a quarter set of Tape-in extensions costs $300.
- Real human hair extensions are usually more expensive but last longer than synthetic extensions.
- Synthetic hair extensions tend to cost $60–$85. Real human hair extensions can cost anywhere from $100 to over $500.
- Remy human hair extensions can cost $129 to over $209, depending on weight.
- The highest quality keratin fusion extensions can cost up to $1400, while clip-ins can cost as little as $100–$200.
- High-end human hair extension prices vary based on supply and the cost of fuel.
- Other factors that determine hair extension price include sourcing, manufacturing, processing, and transportation.
- Labor costs contribute significantly to the high-end price tag of many handwoven wigs and extensions.
Hair Extension Services
When you’re considering the total cost of hair extensions, it’s also important to know the answer to this question: how much are hair extensions at a salon? Unless you’re an extensions expert already or are using clip-ins, odds are you’ll have to see a professional.
So, we uncovered just how much professional hair extensions installation can cost and compiled our findings below.
- The median hourly wage for hairdressers and hairstylists was estimated at $13.16 in 2020.
- Barbers generally take higher hourly rates than hairstylists and hairdressers, bringing in a median of $15.61 per hour, which is 18.6% higher than the median wage for hairstylists and hairdressers alone.
- When considering hairdressers, hairstylists, and barbers combined, the median wage jumps to $13.28 per hour.
- US hair extensions services made up a $364M market in 2020.
- In 2020, there were 4702 US hair extensions services businesses that employed 6744 US hair extensions professionals.
- The hair extensions services industry experienced low demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, declining 16.1% in 2020 alone.
- From 2015 to 2020, industry revenues saw a 0.2% annualized decrease to $363.7M.
- High-end hair extensions service providers can charge as much as $4000 to install hair extensions, while less expensive service providers charge less than $100 for a full installation.
- Hair extensions industry professionals in the US make an annual median wage of only $23,000.
- Job opportunities for hair extensions service providers are expected to increase by 13% by 2027, which is above-average growth compared to other occupations.
- The bottom 10% of US hairdressers, including hair extensions professionals, earned less than $9.06 per hour in 2020. Meanwhile, the top 10% of US hairdressers earned over $25.68 per hour.
- Experts expect hairstylist employment to grow 19% from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average 10-year growth for all occupations.
- Each year, there are 85,300 job openings for hairstylists, barbers, and cosmetologists in the US.
Where Do Hair Extensions Come From?
Synthetic hair extensions are made in a factory. But where do brands get the raw materials for real human hair extensions? Learn the truth about the source of your human hair extensions next.
- Asia is the world’s major exporter of hair extensions, making up 84% of the market.
- Europe follows Asia with 6% of hair extension export share.
- North America is the third-largest exporter of hair extensions at only 2%.
- The remaining 8% of hair extensions come from other countries outside of North America, Europe, and Asia.
- Wig and hair extensions sales declined around the globe during COVID-19 lockdowns because hair suppliers slowed production.
- Hair extensions industry suppliers export around $1B worth of human hair annually.
- Hong Kong is the world’s largest exporter of the human hair used in extensions, holding 51.9% of the market, followed by India with 32.5% of the market.
- Hong Kong and India are the first- and second-largest suppliers of Virgin Remy human hair used in extensions, respectively.
- Europe’s Slavik regions export the third-largest share of human hair used in extensions in the world.
- Each year, the US exports 3300 tons of hair for use in hair extensions. Experts estimate US exports create $14.7M in value for the hair extensions industry.
- In 2011, suppliers exported more than 16,000 tons of human and animal hair for use in extensions, which was 4000 tons (33.33%) higher than in 2010.
Who Is the Target Market for Hair Extensions?
It’s estimated that 50% of black women wear hair products, including extensions. But black women aren’t the only target market for hair extensions.
Here are the facts about hair extensions industry consumers and some of the top reasons people report wearing extensions.
- Hair extension customers fall into three categories: people with long-term hair loss, short-term hair loss, and no hair loss.
- Long-term hair loss can come from conditions including complete baldness, lupus, and folliculitis decalvans.
- Short-term hair loss can come from temporary and reversible conditions including telogen effluvium and trichotillomania.
- Among hair product consumers with no hair loss, the majority report using extensions.
- The most common types of hair products after extensions are weaves and full wigs.
- The majority of hair product consumers with no hair loss wear products made of human hair.
- In a poll, 13% of women said they currently wore extensions, while 93% of women said they would consider wearing hair extensions.
- In another study, 34% of women said they used hair extensions regularly. 87% of these same women said they don’t tell others they wear extensions.
- 76% of women say they wear extensions to add volume to their natural hair.
- 40% of women experience hair thinning by age 35.
- From 2015 to 2020, the hair extensions industry has expanded its customer base. Hair extensions customers now range from 20 to 64 years of age.
Hair Extension Trends 2021
One of the most exciting things about hair extensions is the many different ways they can be worn. This feature is exemplified by the new hair extensions trends popping up this year. Stay trendy with these top hair extension trends that should be on your radar in 2021.
- In 2014, 90% of women who wore extensions kept them a secret.
- Today, research shows that Instagram and Snapchat have driven the trend of feeling less embarrassed about one’s hair extensions.
- Feather hair extensions are a major trend in 2021. Salons offer semi-permanent feather extensions and many brands sell clip-in feather extensions.
- Voluminous, lengthy extensions with soft, natural waves are trending this year.
- Ultra-long, butt-grazing extensions styled wavy or stick-straight are trending in 2021.
- High ponytail extensions and hair pieces featuring defined curls and all-over curls are “in” for 2021, especially when they mimic your natural hair texture.
- In 2021, loose and natural-looking beach hair is trendy. Choose long, wavy extensions with natural ends and soft layers for the ultimate beachy look.
- Braided extensions are trendy this year, whether you wear them half up-half down, in a ponytail, or a braid.
- The first-ever 100% compostable braided hair extensions came out this year from sustainable brand Raw Society Hair. The company’s extensions are made from banana fibers and definitely check the sustainability trend box.