Everything You Need to Know About Microlink Extensions, According to a Pro

  • Microlinks are an innovative way to add extensions to real hair.
  • The style is known for its versatility, as it doesn't show wefts like traditional sew-ins.
  • Celebrity hairstylist LeAna McKnight is breaking down what to expect when getting microlink extensions.

Extensions are a fun way to switch up your everyday look or try out a trendy new hairstyle without the long term commitment. They make it easy to achieve any look you want — from the famous Ariana Grande ponytail to coi leray braids and even bowl cuts — without ever permanently damaging, or cutting, your real hair. Traditional extension methods like sew-ins, tape ins, and wigs have been used to achieve these hair transformations, but a different technique is gaining popularity with hairstylists and clients alike: microlinks.

Microlinks are an innovative upgrade to hair extension technology, and the style has steadily been increasing in popularity. Searches for "microlink extensions" have increased 70 percent on Google over the last three months, and hairstylists are posting seemingly endless client transformations featuring the extension technique."I noticed back in 2018 to 2019 [was] when a large number of my clients began requesting microlinks," LeAna McKnight, celebrity hairstylist and founder of SL Raw Virgin Hair said. "I believe people are interested in microlinks now more than ever."

Still, how exactly does the technique work? McKnight spoke with POPSUGAR and gave us tips on everything from what to research before getting your salon appointment to how to maintain the hairstyle once it's installed. Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know about microlink extensions.

What Are Microlink Extensions?

"Microlinks are a strand-by-strand hair extension technique that use keratin I-tip links and small micro-beads to complete the application," McKnight said. (These links latch onto natural hair so there's less rigid movement, creating a more natural-looking effect.) "It's the safest extension method that anyone can get as the extension itself is comfortable, doesn't cause tension, or require harsh chemicals."

Who's a Good Candidate For Microlink Extensions?

Although microlinks are completely safe and non-damaging for hair, it is always highly suggested to get a consultation from a salon professional who has taken classes on how to properly install them. It's also helpful, when researching whether this technique could work for you, to understand that microlinks are best for people who want longer length or added density to their hair.

"If you're a person who knows you like a lot of volume or 'big hair' then microlinks may not be the service for you — you may want to consider a closure, sew-in, or wig, these applications provide maximum hair volume," McKnight said. "[The style] is for those who like a more free flowing hairstyle or those who want to add a bit more length or density."

If you're considering whether your hair type will work with microlinks, rest assured hair textures anywhere from 1A to 4C can install microlinks easily. "If receiving a curly hair micro-link install, one could safely blend their hair by doing a cute protective style such as twist-outs or two strand twist," McKnight said.

What to Know About the Microlink Installation Process

McKnight recommends a few baseline qualifications before considering microlinks, including a minimum of "four inches of hair or longer and that you don't suffer from a lot of split ends or shedding."

Once those qualifications are met, she looks at factors like face shape, lifestyles, and goals. "Once I'm able to determine my clients lifestyle and hairstyle preferences, the clients' [hair] density will determine how many links are needed to achieve the desired style," McKnight said.

In terms of how they are installed, that process is fairly straightforward, albeit tedious. "On average a person will install 200 to 250 I-tip hair links. [Then] it's just a matter of installing, shaping the hair, and styling, followed with at home maintenance instructions," she said. "The install consists of attaching the lightweight pre-tipped keratin I-tip strand of hair, via a clamping tool to a small cluster of your own hair strand, which is combined with using a copper or aluminum cylinder micro bead."

The price for microlink extensions varies depending on the stylist and your location, but you can expect to pay anywhere between $1K to $3K.

How Long Do Microlink Extensions Last?

With proper maintenance, links can last from three to five months. That means being mindful of the products you're using, and how often. "With microlinks, it's recommended for you to wash and condition your hair once a week," McKnight said. "Just be sure not to get any conditioner or oils close to the scalp as this can cause link slippage."

McKnight also advises brushing or combing your hair daily for the best results, but be careful to use gentle strokes. "These hair extensions are attached to your real hair and they are clamped on, so you'll want to be gentle when brushing and combing - you do not want to vigorously pull or tug when brushing/combing as this can cause slipping or worse be damaging to your hair."