Hair blog on the difference between I-tips and microlinks

I-Tips vs Microlinks – Everything You Need to Know Before You Put In Microlink Hair Extensions


There is a reason our sales associates used to be confused when you called us and asked to buy microlinks extensions online or microlink hair extensions for sale.

By the end of this post, you’ll know why as well. And why you shouldn’t ask those two questions when you head to your favorite hair extension ecommerce store. 

So, this is a quick educational post on all things microlinks and I-tips and everything you need to know before you buy and install your extensions.

But first … 


A glossary of microlink terms

Before we get into the discussion, let’s quickly go through a few terms so we can better understand the differences, the extensions, and the process. 

  • I-tip/I-link (also called hair link or tips/fusion hair) is a hair strand with keratin tips and can be used for both fusion and micro link service. It features strands of hair that have been glued together with keratin at the tip (like the I-tips extensions you’ll see here). Think about how a shoelace looks tapered at the top, but much smaller with hair strands.
  • I-tip hair extensions are just the strands of hair extensions (and not to be confused as a service).
  • Microlink is the term used for the innovative service and technique used to add I-Tip extensions to real hair. 
  • Micro is the sub for microbeads. Microbeads are used for various hair extension applications including micro bead I-tip hair extensions and braid-less wefts.
  • Micro bead weft extension is a service that incorporates the micro link technique using weft and microbeads to attach hair extensions. This service is also known by a few other names, including: braidless weave install, Malaysian application, micro bead weft or sometimes micro link application.
  • Weft is a hair track, a collection of hair strands that are sewn together onto an extremely thin cloth strip.


So, now that we understand the terms we’ll be using, let’s get down to reviewing I-tips versus microlinks. 




Hence the title I-Tips vs Micro links?

Because, like myself at one point, we’ve been confusing the two, using them interchangeably, and they are not the same.

Here’s why I say that.

SL Raw Virgin Hair Answers What are Microlinks with POPSUGAR

(Source: Interview by LeAna McKnight, founder of SL Raw Virgin Hair with POPSUGAR. You can view the rest of the interview here.)



Micro link is the technique versus a hair type. I-tip hair extensions and wefts are the hairs used for your micro link service. It is a more natural-looking hair extension alternative to crochets and sew-in extensions. 

Microlinks is the perfect service for persons who:

  • Want a free-flowing hairstyle with longer lengths, full coverage, and increased density to their hair (it’s not for extreme volume – you’ll need a closure or wig for this)
  • Want extensions but have an active lifestyle, so you need something versatile and easy to manage
  • Love to wear your hair in a variety of styles, including ponytails and updos
  • Don’t want to use heat or glue in your hair extension installation so you can prevent damage to your hair



The microlink application technique 

Microlinks can be applied in two ways to achieve the natural-looking extensions you’re going for.

  1. Microlink/Cold Fusion Technique

The microlink service consists of attaching I-tip hair link extensions to your hair in small strands at a time. Your stylist will use a clamping tool to clamp aluminum or copper microbeads around a small cluster of your hair and the I-tip extension at the small keratin tips of the strands. (See an example of the microlink hair tools and accessories here.)


How to step by step install micro-link hair extension Diagram  on black curly hair for women using hair by SL Raw Virgin Hair


This service can cost anywhere between $800-$2000, depending on the number of I-tip extensions you install. This depends on your location and stylist and does not include the I-tips, which will need to be purchased separately. A typical full coverage install would use between 200-250 I-tip hair links. 

Service time for this process is 4-7 hours, again depending on the number of I-tip extensions used. 




     2. Micro bead weft extension 

Micro bead weft extension (aka micro weft) is a service that consists of hair wefts that are clamped with micro beads. 

The wefts are attached to the hair by weaving strands of your hair into the wefts and then securing both with a microbead. First, the wefts will be secured in place using hair clips. Your stylist will then use a hair threader to thread a piece of hair from the weft and the microbead near your scalp. The wefts are then clipped to the top of your hair using the microbeads.

The price range for a microbead weft extension service can run from $400-$1000 depending on the number of wefts/tracks used. The cost listed here for the Braidless weft application does not include the wefts, which you’ll need to buy separately. And the rates differ based on location and stylist.

The expected service time is between 2-4 hours.




Pro tip. Schedule a consultation with your stylist before going for the service. The discussion should cover the shape of your face, your goals, lifestyle, and hair status (thick, thinning, damaged, etc.) to determine how many I-tip extensions or wefts will be needed to achieve your desired look. (Or if you should even attempt this style, especially if your hair is currently damaged).



Questions we normally get about I-tip and microlinks hair extensions

As a stylist, our founder has encountered quite a few questions over the years about I-tips and microlinks.

So, we’ll answer a few of them for you. (And if you have others, feel free to drop them in the comments. You can also view her interview and additional comments on microlinks hair extensions with Women’s Health Mag here.)


Are microlink extensions damaging? Is microlinks safe for natural hair?

Yes, in general, this is a safe hair extension technique.

Microlink does not require the use of heat, harsh chemicals, or adhesives to install, So, it is a great extension option if you’re worried about damaging your hair. And it puts less tension on your scalp as it doesn’t require that your hair be braided down in cornrows first, unlike some of the other extension methods.

You also need to ensure your stylist is trained and well-versed on how to properly install your I-tip extensions or braidless weave install.





Can microlink be used on relaxed hair?

Yes, you can use the microlink technique with relaxed hair and natural hair. You have access to I-tips and wefts hair extensions that can suit all textures of hair so it can easily be applied. 


How long do microlinks extensions last?

Links can last from three to five months with proper maintenance. The hair used for the service can last for a year or more so you can get two or more microlink installations from your bundles. 

The length of time also depends on how often you schedule regular appointments to tighten/push up the beads (recommended every 3-5 weeks) and properly cleanse your hair.

Also, sleep with a silk or satin scarf or bonnet to preserve your extensions and to prevent excessive pulling and tangling.


How do I maintain my I-tips or wefts micro link installation?

In addition to the push-up service, it’s recommended that you wash and condition your hair once a week. Conditioner and oil can cause link slippages so try not to get them too close to the scalp. And as usual, be mindful of the products you use in your hair. 

When combing, use gentle strokes so that you don’t cause slippage or damage to your hair since the I-tips or wefts are microbeaded/clamped to your hair.


Who should not get a microlink service?

If your hair isn’t at least 4 inches long, we do not recommend doing this hair extension method. Also, if your hair is prone to breakage from split ends, suffers from excessive shedding, or is currently damaged, this might not be the best extension hairstyle for you.

You will also have to commit to washing and conditioning your hair on a regular basis. So, if that’s not you, you might want to consider an alternative extension method.



Final thoughts on microlink service

In a discussion on I-tips vs microlinks, it’s important to understand the difference between the product (the hair extension) and the service (the technique used to install the extensions).

Choosing the right hair type is also critical to ensure that the extensions blend well with your natural hair. This makes it easy for maintenance. And as I-tips and wefts are available in a variety of textures to suit any hair type, you can find one that matches yours. 

And if you’ve already had your consultation with your stylist? Then head over to SL Raw Virgin Hair and choose from our selection of luxurious 100% natural hair keratin I-tip extensions for your microlink service or sew-in wefts perfect for braid-less extensions.




Written by:

Yvette J Haughton

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