Hair Fashion

Curly Hairstyle

New Options for Curly Hairstyles

Extensions, wigs, wraps and falls

Jessica Martinez has shoulder-length curls. But on any given day, she may have long braids, wild waves or a hot-pink bob. When she's feeling especially wild, she might have five styles of hair at once.

That's one of the benefits of being the company trainer at, which sells wigs, hairpieces and extensions. Her clothes are on one side of her closet; her 30 hairpieces, from hair wraps to a fall, are on the other.

"I'm like a kid in a candy store," says Martinez. "Some days I have long hair, some days I have short hair."

Girls with curls have more options these days, thanks to the variety of temporary extensions and hairpieces that can instantly give them a different look without spending a lot of money.

"They are so easy you can do them yourself," says curly-hair stylist Dana Kaplan of M Salon in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Hairpieces were once considered something for old ladies or people with medical conditions. But with the new technology and a wide variety of options, they've gone mainstream. Whether you desire straight hair, highlights or a long curly ponytail, there's a product for you.

Curly heads can especially benefit from these products, because making changes to curly hair often results in damage. (Blow-dryer anyone?) Hairpieces instantly create different looks without any heat or chemicals. "These provide a way to have the straight hair you want very easily without damaging your hair, and you have the flexibility of having it curly if you want it curly," Martinez says.

Karen Barrett, manager of Wigs Unlimited in Beaverton, Oregon, says, "What's old is new again." Wigs Unlimited has been in business since the 1970s.

These days, says Barrett, the customers are much younger. They buy the clip-on ponytails and extensions. "Let's face it. If you want fun long hair to go out clubbing, you can't grow it in a week."

There's a wig or hairpiece for every need and every budget. A hair wrap - synthetic hair on a ponytail holder - can run $20, while a fall of human hair can cost upward of $250. These are available in a wide variety of colors and textures, from kinky to bone straight, from platinum blonde to midnight black.

For some, a hair wrap may be the answer. The added hair can provide length and fullness quickly and easily. Claw clips and drawstring attachments also are easy to use. These clips - available in short, medium and long- can be attached to hair that has been gelled and twisted up.

"It takes five minutes to do it, and you've got a totally different look," Barrett says. "You don't have to straighten your hair at all."

Then there are clip-on extensions - sections of hair that can add thickness, change the texture of the hair, change the color, add highlights or add length. If you choose a hairpiece made with human hair, it can be dyed to match your hair. Hairpieces can also be curled, flatironed, permed and blow-dried.

Unlike semipermanent extensions, which are attached to the hair professionally and stay in for roughly three months, the clip-in extensions can be removed instantaneously. "What makes them really versatile is you just clip them in yourself, and you can change your style literally every day by ordering different colors, textures and lengths," says Bevla Reeves, owner of Hair Conspiracy, which does made-to-order clip-in extensions. "You're not stuck with them. You can take them out every night."

In addition to a wide variety of straight extensions, Reeves offers a full combo extension package with curly hair, which includes enough hair to cover the entire head. It is available in wavy, tight or loose curls and sells for $250. "I even have clients with straight hair who order curly extensions because they want curls so badly," Reeves says.

Hair extensions are popular with all ages and ethnicities, according to Michelle Allen, who sells extensions to customers from Scandinavia to Latin America through her company Nature Girl. "All ethnic groups are wearing them now," says Allen, who sells premium-quality hair that is customized for each client.

Last summer, Christo of Christo Fifth Avenue launched a line of color extensions for curly hair, to add highlights without the damage that color and bleach can cause. They last two to four months and enable people to get colors different from what they could get with their own hair.

"Every time you want to change your color or look, there is a risk of damage," says Christo. "With highlight extensions, there's no risk at all." And if you don't like the blonde streaks or the red highlights, you can take them out.

Clients come in for a consultation to match the texture of their hair. It takes about a week to get the extensions from a company in California that customizes the 100-percent-natural hair to each individual.

"I don't want people to know it's an extension," Christo says. "I want them to think it's their natural hair. It makes the client happy, and it makes us happy."

Styling tips from Jessica Martinez of If you're using hairpieces or extensions:

  • Don't try to get every hair in place. It can end up looking too "wiggy."
  • If the style you've chosen offers flexibility, don't be afraid to try different looks using a good styling comb.
  • If you have a round or square-shaped face, try to add height at the top while keeping the sides closer to your head.
  • If you have a longer face, minimize height at the top and fluff out the sides.
  • To hold the style in place, use a good wig spray or styling cream for synthetic hair.

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