5 Zero-Commitment Ways to Change Your Hair

Wendy Rodewald
Clip-in hair extensions

Balmain clip-in hair extensions in action at Michael Angelo’s Wonderland Beauty Parlor. (Photo: Courtesy of Wonderland)

Looking for the ultimate, non-permanent makeover for your hair? If you haven’t tried clip-in hair extensions, you’re missing out — seriously. Growing numbers of salons these days are offering these add-on pieces, which attach to hair with a barrette-like fastener and (unlike extensions that are sewn or glued) can be removed and reattached easily. The pieces can also be cut, styled and colored to create a variety of looks with top-notch results.

“Fun and glamourous” is how Michael Angelo, founder and creative director of Michael Angelo’s Wonderland Beauty Parlor in New York, describes the service, which the salon recently added to its menu using high-quality Balmain Hair+ clip-ins ($36 and up, wonderlandbeautyparlor.com). “It’s about everybody saying, ‘Your hair’s never looked better,” not adding obvious length, he explains. Think red carpet, not Real Housewives.

So what can you do with the pieces? The possibilities are pretty much endless. Here are a few worth trying:

1. Tweak your haircut
Extensions can do so much more than take hair from short to long. In fact, adding too much length can look fake, so think of clip-in hair as a subtle way to tweak your current haircut, not a shortcut to butt-length locks. If your hair is all one length, use extensions to add layers; or transform a bob into a shaggy, shoulder-skimming style. Your best bet here is to see your stylist, who can shape the add-on pieces so they blend into your natural hair.

2. Test drive ombré color
It’s easy to lighten up your ends with zero commitment: Just add clip-in extensions that are a couple shades lighter than the rest of your hair. Salons can custom tint hair pieces to your desired shade. Angelo recommends you go to a pro who does both cuts and color; this way he or she can advise you on both your shape and shade.

3. Rock colorful streaks
Want to go a step edgier than ombré, but can’t show up to work with pink hair? Start with platinum blonde clip-in pieces and tint them to your liking.

4. Add volume
Ever wonder how everyone from red carpet bombshells to Victoria’s Secret models manages to get such lush, voluminous hair? Clip-in extensions make these looks possible, says Angelo. To keep pieces looking sexy and luxe, not fake, “They need to be brushed out and they need to be soft and bouncy,” he says. And take care not to go overboard: “Just like any other cosmetic application, if everyone notices that you have hair extensions, as opposed to noticing you, you’ve probably pushed it too far.”

5. Try bangs
Want to see how you’d look with bangs before you commit to a cut? Faux fringe can give you an idea. Angelo says clip-in bangs can be hard to pull off, so they’re “better with a tweak” — have your stylist trim them for a more natural look.

How to get the look at home
Wonderland offers a Couture Clip-Ins service (from $650), which includes curated set of Balmain DoubleHair clip-ins, fitting and lesson on how to use the extensions. But if you can’t make it to the salon (or want to recreate your stylist’s handiwork at home), Angelo offers this how-to: Prep the spot where you plan to add the hair with a texturizer, such as Shu Uemura Volume Maker ($48, shuuemuraartofhair-usa.com), and backcomb hair very slightly, so the pieces have something to grip. Place the clips at an angle at the nape of your neck and at the temples, giving yourself about an inch of hair to hide the clip. To get a seamless match as far as texture goes, “use the same iron on your hair as on the extensions,” he advises.

Have you ever worn clip-in hair? Would you try it?