Hair Extension Length Guide - (2023)

So, you decided to get extensions and now you’re in research mode. Getting hair extensions can be very exciting! They can transform your look by making your hair look longer, fuller, and healthier, meaning you’ll get an instant boost of confidence.

Nobody wants hair extensions that look fake or unnatural. One of the ways you can prevent that is by getting real human hair extensions or high-quality synthetic extensions that look like real hair, but that’s a topic for another day.

Today we’re discussing another common faux pas people make when choosing hair extensions: getting the wrong length.

You might be tempted to get the longest hair extensions possible, but we urge you to rethink that. Hair extensions that are too long compared to your real hair can look fake.

Hair extensions that are too short won’t look good either. It can be challenging and confusing the first time you get hair extensions.

Are you looking for a full hair extension length guide? You’re in luck! We’ll show you how you can figure out the right hair extension length that’ll look best with your real hair, what kind of extensions you need for your hair texture, and how to layer different lengths of extensions to create a natural look.

Extension Lengths For Your Hair

Wondering what extension length is right for your hair? While each situation is different, especially if your hair has a unique texture or haircut, the general rule is that your extensions should be about 3-4 inches longer than your own hair.

Why? Because if they’re any longer, there will be a noticeable difference between your real hair and the extensions, and the two won’t blend together very well.

To avoid that, try to keep the extensions no longer than 4 inches longer than your hair. Use the guide below to figure out the best length based on the length of your natural hair.

If you’re interested in more of a visual tutorial for choosing the right size hair extensions, take a look at this one from Milk and Blush Hair Extensions on YouTube.

4-6″ Long

If your own hair is about 4-6 inches long, your extensions should be no longer than 10 inches. Your hair is considered relatively short, in fact, it’s the shortest length that allows for extensions.

If your hair is any shorter than 4 inches, getting extensions might not be a good idea yet as the attachment mechanism will be too visible.

But if your hair is over 4 inches long, you can get 10-inch extensions, which will give you a “long bob” look – your hair will hit just above your shoulders.

This is a great place to start – it will instantly transform your look from “short hair” to “medium hair” and will add a lot of volume.

While might be tempting to get longer extensions, you’ll have a lot more luck gradually increasing the length of your extensions as your own hair grows. Give it a few months before you upgrade to a longer set!

7-9″ Long

If your hair is 7-9 inches, then you have a haircut that hits just below your chin. You might have a bob or a choppier style like a shag.

Either way, your hair length allows you to get extensions that are either 10 or 12 inches long. The 12-inch extensions will give you maximum length while still looking natural. These extensions will take your hair to about shoulder length or slightly longer.

Extensions of this length can give you a healthy amount of volume and thickness and look really great while you’re growing your hair out.

10-12″ Long

If your natural hair is 10-12 inches, it probably reaches your shoulders and collarbone. You can get longer extensions with hair like that – 16 inches would be ideal, although you could pull off 18 inches as well.

These extensions will make your hair long – around the mid-back or top of your bra strap, for reference.

This is a great place to be because it opens up a lot of opportunities for more length! You’d be surprised how much of a difference these extra inches make.

By installing 16-18 inch extensions, you’ll be adding a ton of length and movement to your hair.

13-16″ Long

If your hair is 13-16 inches long, you already have a lot of length! Your hair likely hits your upper back, but you might want it to be longer and thicker.

To achieve that, you can wear extensions that are 18-20 inches long. These extensions can make your hair reach the middle of your back and will look absolutely gorgeous.

Since your hair is already on the longer side, you can pull off 24-inch extensions, too, however expect them to give you a more layered look with less blended edges. Some people really like that look, so if that’s what you’re after – go for it!

17-19″ Long

If your hair is 17-19 inches long, you should aim for hair extensions that are either 20 inches, 22 inches, or 24 inches. If you like the layered look, you can even opt for 26-inch extensions, which are typically the longest extensions that you can get.

Not sure which length is better for you? If you’re more interested in adding thickness and volume to your hair, stick with the 22-inch extensions.

If you’re looking for more dramatic length, then 24 or 26-inch extensions would be best for you.

20+” Long

If your hair is 20 inches or longer, you already have long hair. Your hair likely reaches your waist or below.

Many people have long hair but still want to add thickness and movement to their hair, as well as a few extra inches of length.

In this case, we’d recommend 24-26 inch extensions. Basically, aim for extensions that are about 3-4 inches longer than your hair.

The longest extensions you can get are 26 inches (although there are some brands that offer custom extensions that are longer than that), so if your hair is just as long or longer, you might not need extensions at all. You can still use extensions throughout your hair to provide extra volume rather than length.

Layering Hair Extensions With Different Lengths

Now that you know the general length of hair extensions that you should aim for based on the length of your own hair, let’s talk about layering.

Layering hair extensions is the process of mixing slightly shorter layers with longer layers and placing them in different parts of your hair.

This results in a really natural, voluminous, and trendy look. Layering your extensions helps them blend better and look more realistic.

After all, your real hair isn’t all one length. Usually, you have shorter hair around the face and long hair in the back.

So, it makes sense to structure your extensions to follow a similar pattern. Here is how you do it:

Start With The Longest Length

The first thing you need to do is figure out the “general” length of hair extensions that works for you, based on the length of your current hair. We discussed that above, but to summarize: your extensions should be 3-4 inches longer than your own hair.

This will be the longest length of extensions you’ll be using. So when purchasing hair extensions, make sure that at least one bundle is of this length.

Get Additional Bundles Of Shorter Extensions

Next, you want to get a few bundles of shorter extensions. It’s up to you how much shorter these extensions need to be compared to your longest extensions, but here is a general guide:

  • If you want natural soft layers, get a bundle of extensions that are 2 inches shorter than your longest length, and a bundle that is 4 inches shorter than your longest length. For example, if your longest extensions are 20 inches long, you’ll want to get a bundle that’s 18 inches and two bundles that are 16 inches.
  • If you want a super layered look, get a bundle of extensions that are 4 inches shorter and 6 inches shorter than your longest extensions. For example, if your longest extensions are 20 inches long, you’ll want to get a bundle that’s 16 inches and two bundles that are 14 inches.
  • If your hair is very short already, you might need to adjust these measurements so that the layers are less dramatic. For example, if your longest extensions are only 12 inches long, you should get the rest of the bundles at 10 inches long, since that’s the shortest option.

Layering Extensions

Once you have your hair extensions in different lengths, it’s time to strategically place them throughout your hair so that they look natural.

If you get your extensions placed at a hair salon, your stylist should know exactly how to do this. But if you’re doing it at home by yourself, here is how it’s done:

Layering Extensions Of 3 Different Lengths

  1. Start by brushing your hair out so that it is easy to work with.
  2. Section your hair horizontally by drawing a line between your lower ears, and clip up the top section.
  3. Attach your longest extensions under the sectioned-off area.
  4. Remove the clip from the upper section of your hair and brush the hair down over your extensions.
  5. Create another horizontal line from the top of one ear to the other, and clip up any hair above that.
  6. Place your second-longest bundle of extensions along that line.
  7. Remove the clip from the upper section of your hair and brush the hair down over your extensions.
  8. Section off your hair on the right side of your head by drawing a line from your right temple back horizontally towards the crown of your head, but stop at the area above the back of your ear.
  9. Clip up any hair above this section out of the way.
  10. Place one of your shortest extensions into that section.
  11. Remove the clip and brush your hair over the extension.
  12. Repeat steps 8-11 on the left side.
  13. If needed, trim or texture the ends of the extensions to make them blend better with your hair. You are done!

Layering Extensions Of 2 Different Lengths

If your hair is shorter and your extensions have only 2 different lengths, the process is similar to the one described above with a few slight differences.

  1. Start by brushing your hair out so that it is easy to work with.
  2. Section your hair horizontally by drawing a line between your lower ears, and clip up the top section.
  3. Attach your longest extensions under the sectioned-off area.
  4. Remove the clip from the upper section of your hair and brush the hair down over your extensions.
  5. Create another horizontal line from the top of one ear to the other, and clip up any hair above that.
  6. Place your second-longest bundle of extensions along that line.
  7. Remove the clip from the upper section of your hair and brush the hair down over your extensions.
  8. If needed, trim or texture the ends of the extensions to make them blend better with your hair. You are done!

As you can see, the general idea is to put the longest extensions on the back of your head towards the area closest to the nape of your neck, and then layer shorter extensions closer to the crown of the head and to the sides.

This follows the natural growth pattern of real hair and blends seamlessly for the most natural and attractive look.

Extensions Lengths For Curly Hair

If you have curly or textured hair, you might be wondering if the process for choosing the length of hair extensions is any different for you.

The best thing to do if you have curly hair is to find extensions that are of a similar texture. This means you should look for extensions that not only have curls, like you but also have the same type of curls.

If your hair naturally has loose wave-like curls, aim for extensions with the same texture. If your hair has tight spiral curls, get extensions with the same curls.

As long as you follow this rule, selecting the right extension lengths is simple. Measure your hair length when it’s in its natural state (curly) and use that as your length measurement. Add 3-4 inches to that length to find the right curly hair extensions for you.

If you ever want to straighten your hair and your extensions, you’ll be able to do it without disrupting the overall shape and look of your hair.

Halo Extensions

Halo hair extensions are types of hair extensions that you can put in and remove in a matter of minutes. They come attached to an “invisible” cord that goes around the crown of your head and can be easily hidden underneath the top layers of your hair.

No clipping or weaving is necessary!

Aside from being easy to install and remove, the biggest benefit of these types of extensions is that they often come pre-layered. Meaning they have shorter layers on the sides and top of the extensions with longer layers underneath.

This takes away the need for you to order different lengths of extensions and then spend time meticulously placing them on the right part of your head. Convenience is the name of the game!

If you’re someone who is intimidated by the whole layering process we described above, definitely consider investing in some halo extensions instead.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you have a better idea of what length of extensions you should aim for based on the type and length of your hair.

That being said, remember that there are no hard rules in beauty! You can play around with different extension lengths to find the look you want. Some people get extensions for volume, others get them for lengths, and some get them for a specific look or costume.

With a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to figure out exactly what works for you and your goals.

Related Articles

Hand-Tied Vs Machine-Weft Extensions

Least Damaging Hair Extensions

Best Extensions For Fine Hair


How do I know what length hair extensions to get? ›

One of the most common questions that hair experts get to hear is: “How long of extensions should I get?” The short answer is that you'll receive the best results if you choose extensions that are no more than four inches longer than your natural hair since this will produce the most natural results.

How many hair extensions do I need for length? ›

Thin/Fine hair – around 75-100 hair extensions would be needed to add hair of up to 12”in length. For longer lengths and lots of volume 100-150 hair extensions are needed. Fine/Medium hair -to add hair that's around 12” in length approx. 100-125 hair extensions are needed.

What is the most common hair extension length? ›

The most common lengths are 14 inches, 16 inches, 18 inches, 20 inches, and 22 inches. However, keep in mind that longer extensions will require more maintenance and may feel heavier on your head depending on the amount of hair installed.

How long is 22 inch hair extension? ›

20" hair is what I would refer to as long hair. Depending on your height it will look different, but typically this length is going to lay at the middle of your back. 22" is very long hair. Again depending on your height, this hair will typically lay around your waist.

How long is 16 inches of extensions? ›

How long are 16 inch hair extensions? The 16” is mid-length and sits just above your bust. So it's perfect if your hair is around shoulder length.

How long is 20 inches of extensions? ›

In fact, the 20 inch hair extensions is called waist length, which means this will be around your waist. However, please note down that in visual hair length estimation, the length also depends on the hairstyle you are wearing.

What's the shortest hair can be for extensions? ›

What is the required hair length to wear hair extensions for short hair? To achieve natural and discreet results, the length of your hair should be at least 4 to 6 inches. This allows your real hair to cover the clips and bonds of your extensions. It also ensures that your hair extensions will be secured properly.

Can you put extensions in really short hair? ›

Yes, hair extensions will work on short hair.

As long as your own hair is about 3 inches in length, then hair extensions can be applied. The type of hair extensions used (hand tied, tape ins, fusions) will depend on the texture and length of your hair.

Is a half head hair extensions better than a full head? ›

Full Head vs Half Head

In most cases, when people just want to add volume rather than length, a half-head of hair extensions is enough. A full head can give a more dramatic overall look or maybe more appropriate if you have particularly thin hair.

Which type of extensions are best for length? ›

The five different types of hair extensions for great lengths
  • Clip-in. Best for: Damaged hair & commitment-phobes. Last for: Until you unclip. ...
  • Tape-in. Best for: Fine hair & being discreet. Last for: 4-8 weeks. ...
  • Bonds. Best for: Those who don't enjoy regular trips to the salon. ...
  • Weave. Best for: Thick hair. ...
  • Microlinks.
Oct 29, 2019

What are the most manageable hair extensions? ›

Clip-ins are the easiest type of hair extension to apply and remove. They are made of synthetic fibres that are glued onto a band with clips. These types of hair extensions are great for everyday wear since they can be removed and replaced easily.

What hair extensions last 12 months? ›

Clip in hair extensions can last up to 12 months if you take care of them and use the correct aftercare. The amount of time your clip in hair extensions last can vary on how much you wear them, some people wear them a few times a week and some people only use them for special occasions.

Should I get 16 or 18 inch hair extensions? ›

If your hair is around shoulder length then you'd benefit from hair extensions that are between 16 and 18 inches. Once in place, these hair extensions will fall around your bust - giving you extra volume and length.

Is 20 hair extensions enough? ›

Many people often inquire about a 20 piece pack as this is the cheapest available pack. This is ONLY considered a 'booster' pack for those who already have tape extensions and want a few new pieces or need extra volume. A 20 piece pack will NOT be enough for any hair type as this will only make 10 sandwiches of hair.

Can hair extensions be too long? ›

Leaving your hair extensions too long with less pieces of your natural hair to hang onto will result in your hair extensions becoming too heavy on your hair and resulting in the hair extensions pulling from the roots which will cause bald spots.

How long is 32 inch hair? ›

30 and 32 inches represents the lengths where the hair is below the hips and about 60-80 centimeters. With these hairstyles, trust us, you will become more attractive instantly and will surely stand out on special occasions, or even daily life.

What is the length of 12 inches of hair? ›

What are 12 inches of hair? At 12 inches long, your hair is slightly longer than your shoulder-length hair. This length touches your shoulders or reaches the top of your back. As long as the length lasts, the 12-inch long hair will be directly below the middle.

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