My Experience with Hand Tied Extensions

According to OKC blogger Amanda Martin, hand tied extensions make chunky braids much better!

Truth time: my hair is my favorite thing about myself. It always has been! That might be shallow, but whatever. I've been a "Becky with the Good Hair" since I was in highschool and it makes me feel beautiful. I chopped my hair off like Reece Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama when I was 12 and vowed to never have short hair again. I grew it back out and since I was 14, I've had the exact same hair cut, color and style. If it ain't broke, don't fix it...ya feel me? the last year or so my perfect blonde locks started thinning out and not growing like they used to. Maybe it is from too much heat, maybe it is from color, maybe it is a part of getting older. Whatever it is, since my hair has always been such a big part of my identity (especially on Instagram), it was causing some insecurities and frustrations. Most people would probably say it would be healthier to reinvent your identity and love your new self instead of indulging yourself....but I digress. I tried hair growth supplements, I tried expensive repairing products and nothing was working.

OKC Blogger Amanda Martin tries Hair Extensions for the first time
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Aaaaalllll the bloggers were getting hand tied extensions so I no longer had the longest prettiest hair in all the land....I never thought I wanted or needed extensions until then. I got a halo from Tiffany at T.A. Style and LOVED it and how it made my hair look. Halo extensions are not permanent or attached to your hair full time....they are basically like a row of hair attached to fishing wire that sits on your head...hints the name halo...that you put on and take off whenever you want. My halo was kind of like a gateway drug....the more I wore it, the more I wanted my hair to look like that 24/7 (without me having to put it on)! So.....I told Tiffany I was ready to take the plunge and wanted to try out hand tied extensions!

To be honest, I didn't do much research on them (or any research, oops). I knew I wanted hand tied because they looked the most natural (you can't really see where they are attached at the scalp) and they could easily be put into a ponytail or styled a million ways without the root of the extensions showing (I work out 5-6 days a week so high ponytails are a must).

I've had my extensions for six weeks now and feel like I have the hang of them. I wanted to share my experience for anyone who is interested in hand tieds! I did a questionnaire on Instagram and will be sharing my answers below as well as the positives and negatives of hand tied extensions. Here is a before and after pic so you can see the difference they made!

before and after hand tied extensions by ta style
Before & After Stella Hand Tied Extensions

Q: What exactly are hand tied extensions? What makes them different?
A: With hand tied extensions, a row of beads is installed (each bead is clamped on to a small chunk of hair) and the wefts of hair are sewn through the beads. Because they are sewn in with string and the beads are clamped onto your hair, there is no glue, tape or heat used. It makes for a really natural looking attachment that isn't noticeable and can be styled in ponies, braids, etc. without really showing that you have extensions.

Q: How long does the installation take? What does it consist of?
A: A while! Mine took about 3-4 hours for the initial installation. First they clamp on the beads, then they sew in the wefts. Then they add any custom color needed to blend the hair. Then you let the color develop, you wash, dry, cut (if needed) and style.

Q: Did it hurt to get them put in?
A: For the most part, no. Once they were completely installed and I laid my head back in the sink to wash, it wasn't exactly pleasent haha. The beads are tight on your scalp and the weight of the extensions + water is a bit of a shock at first. The beads push up against the sink and when your head is already tender from so much work, it can hurt to lay your head back and rest it down (but the weight is too much to hold it up)...but as soon as the washing is over, though, the pain is, too. The first night I had to sleep on my arm because my scalp was still tender, but it only hurt for a day or so.

Q: How many rows and what length did you get? 
A: I got 22" extension and I have three rows. One of my rows of beads has two wefts of hair.

Q: Maintenance? How often do you need to get them moved up?
A: Every 6-8 weeks depending on the person.

Q: What brand did you get? 
A: I have Stella extensions (my halo was also Stella). Stella Extensions are Tiffany at T.A. Style's very own line of extensions. They are 100% real remy human hair so they can be colored, styled, washed, etc. right along with your own hair. They offer hand tied, I tips, tape ins and more in 18 and 22" lengths. If you aren't local, you can order them online and have your hair stylist install them!

Q: How often do you need to purchase new hair? 
A: About every six months, I believe.

Q: Do they make your head hurt? 
A: Only for a day or two after installation as the beads pulled on my scalp a bit. I don't even notice them now. I thought the weight of them might give me a headache but it never did.

Q: Do the little beads damage your hair? 
A: The beads themselves are just clamped onto your hair so they aren't damaging themselves, but they can be if you have thin/weak hair. The hand tied wefts are heavy so if your hair isn't strong enough to hold them, it can be damaging. It can also be damaging if you brush roughly or don't care for them correctly. If you have thick, strong hair, you should be fine. Always ask your hair dresser what type of extensions would be best for your personal hair, though!

Q: When they grow out, are they hard to handle and style? Since it's one or more big pieces? 
A: I think they are actually easier to style when they are grown out! When they're fresh, they're pretty tight on your scalp and it can be harder to flip them upside down into a smooth pony tail if that makes sense. It is a bit harder to brush them, though, as the brush can get caught and pull the extensions if you aren't careful.

Q: Do you like better than tape? 
A: I don't know, this is my first time getting extensions! I do like that you can't see where they are attached so it's not as obvious that you have extensions.

Q: Are they damaging to your real hair? 
A: Anything unnatural that you do to your hair can cause damage (heat styling, coloring, perms, etc.). Hand tied extensions do not use any glue or heat or tape so in my opinion they are the least damaging. However, as I said above, if you have thin or weak hair it could cause some damage due to the weight of the hair.

Q: What is the cost? 
A: It depends on what type you get, who installs them, how many rows you get, if you get custom color, etc. There are lots of variables! Typically you can expect to pay $1,000 - $1,500 total but remember you get what you pay for.

Q: Do you have to buy a full head?
A: No! They are totally customizable depending on your wants or needs. You can just get them added to the sides of your head for fullness or just the back of your head for length. You can also mix in some I-tips in certain areas, if needed. I recommend making a consultation appointment with a hair stylist to see what would work best for your hair.

Oklahoma blogger Amanda's OK wearing straightened Hand Tied Extensions
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OKC blogger Amanda's OK braids her hand tied extensions
Shop This Look Here | Madison Braids Headband, use code AMANDASOK20

Oklahoma blogger Amanda Martin of Amanda's OK styles her stella extensions with a braided headband
Madison Braids Headband, use code AMANDASOK20


  • Perfect hair. Obviously! 
  • Hand tied extensions look really natural. You have to look REALLY hard to see where the extensions are attached. Mine are dyed a bit darker at the root to make it even less obvious and to make them blend in when they grow out. Mine are also custom colored to match my real hair so it blends perfectly all around. 
  • They soak up a lot of the grease your scalp produces so you don't have to wash your hair very often. Pre-extensions I washed my hair every 4-5 days or so, now I can go 6-7 (longer if I don't workout)! 
  • They hold their curl longer than my real hair. I don't have to re-curl them every day (unless they got super sweaty). 
  • Chunky braids, thick ponies, hair scarves and hats! The more hair you have, the thicker your braids and ponies will be. I have had so much fun styling my hair in new and different ways and having it look fabulous no matter what. I also feel more confident in hats because I have enough hair to stick out underneath and still look good and hair scarves are no longer overpowering. My hair stands up to them and looks amazing! 

OKC blogger Amanda Martin and Courtney Buechle attend a Dodgers Baseball Game

Oklahoma blogger Amanda Martin braids her Stella Hand Tied Extensions from TA Style


  • They itch! My biggest complaint is that my head often itches and I can't scratch underneath the beads haha. I will say the itchiness as subsided as they've grown out / as I've gotten used to them.
  • They are heavy. I workout 5-6 days a week (often in a crossfit gym which is not air conditioned) so I sweat a lot and the extensions hold in the heat and make my head sweat more. They also don't stay up in a pony tail if I'm jumping rope or running due to their weight - it takes multiple pony tail holders to keep them in place. 
  • The washing/drying/styling process is very time consuming and tedious because I have SO MUCH hair. I put it off as long as possible because it takes so long haha. It can be hard to really massage your scalp with shampoo and get the top of the wefts super clean + drying and styling takes about four times longer than it did pre-extensions. I now understand why blow dry bars are a thing! However, I will say, I spend less time on my hair on a daily basis as it looks pretty good upon waking up and holds curl/style really well. I just have to touch it up a bit and I'm good to go. If you aren't a hair perfectionist like me, you could literally wake up, brush and go without styling and be just fine! Que the "I woke up like this" caption.
  • The ends get dry. Because I don't want to wash my hair a lot, I use a ton of dry shampoo and texturizing products to keep my hair looking fresh. All the product build up causes some build up and my ends to get dry and brittle. Some underneath pieces start to look kind of clumpy or piece-y if that makes sense as they get dirty. I usually end up washing my hair to clean the ends more than I do to clean my scalp! 
  • The cost and maintenance isn't for everyone....if you want the look of extensions but not the cost or maintenance, I'd suggest looking into a halo! 

Things to Consider
  • You should use sulfate free shampoo / conditioner 
  • You should not use volumizing products 
  • You should use a wet brush when brushing and a round brush when blow drying 
  • You should sleep with your hair in a loose braid or a low pony
  • You should avoid getting them wet in a pool or ocean as it can be damaging and cause a lot of tangles
  • It's important to keep them brushed as they can tangle, especially around the base of the neck....but you can't brush from the scalp, you have to be really careful to not tug at the extensions or catch your brush where they are attached

If you're local to OKC, I can't recommend Tiffany and the girls at T.A. Style enough (they are located in the Yukon/Mustang area). They are the sweetest, they do fantastic work, they listen to what you want and they are so experienced! My extensions are blended to perfection and look really natural, even when grown out. Also, the T.A. Style salon is SO CUTE. I can't wait to go hang out with them again when I go in for my first move up next week.

Have you ever had extensions? If so, what kind? If not, would you ever want them? Let me know your thoughts!

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