Considerations in Choosing Your Hair Extension Brand | SEJ Guest: Janie Tongue

The most important advantage of using hair extensions is the confidence it can bring to the person wearing them. Hair plays a key part in many people’s self-esteem, giving them the confidence, they need to take on the day ahead. When your confidence is boosted and you’re feeling great – it shows! Extensions are that magical.

So, how do you choose the right brand for your clients?

The first important detail you need to be aware of about the hair extension industry is that this industry is NOT regulated. That means manufacturers can state whatever they wish on the packaging, and it is not verified. For instance, should the hair state 100% Human Hair on the packaging, there may only be a couple of human hairs and the rest synthetic, so you must do your research prior to committing to a specific brand. Other keywords used are Remy (meaning cuticle intact and all running in the same direction),Virgin Hair (never been chemically treated) and Naturally Curly (not permed). Your research is paramount, so here are some tips to help you decide.


      1. Research where the hair is sourced from and how it is sourced. If the hair is said to be ‘Remy’, then the manufacturer must source the hair in ponytails. This will ensure all the cuticles are in-tact and running in the same direction. Make sure the hair wasn’t just cut off, fallen to the ground, scooped up and sold by weight.
      2. Almost all hair harvested, especially from India and China is a Level 1 when sourced. Check out the manufacturer’s procedures on how they colour the hair. ie. Do they lift slowly or quickly? Do they use any treatments to protect the cuticle ensuring long lasting extensions? Remember, going from Level 1 to #60 should be a long process in order to keep the integrity of the hair and make them last longer.
      3. Check the weight of the hair extensions. If using tape-in, is it 1.5g or perhaps 2g per tab? If hand-tied, what is the weight per weft? This could affect the amount required and pricing.
      4. Check the bottom of the hair extension. Some Manufacturer’s label their hair 14-16” for example – this simply means there are 14” & 16” hairs and everything in between on that bond/tape. This is important when it comes to blending. Are you going to be cutting the whispery ends off, leaving the client with actual 14” hair, rather than the perceived 16”? *Hint. If you hold the extension horizontal and at each end, give it a shake and see if any hairs fall – that would indicate different lengths.
      5. Virgin hair. Check if there is a coating on the hair extension, if so, if you intend to colour the hair yourself, this may prove difficult. Always check with the manufacturer before colouring hair extensions.
      6. If using tape-ins, check reviews on removal. Some brands leave a lot of residue in the hair and take hours to remove. Others claim to be little to no residue. Time is money and this can be a very important factor.
      7. Indian hair is the most sought after because the hair is naturally silkier and most rural women who donate/sell their hair have never used artificial dyes or colours. Some even haven’t had it cut before, which is where we can see 24” hair and beyond. China is the next popular. As there is an abundance of hair in India and China, this is reflected in the price. Russian or European hair that is sourced can be more expensive as it is rarer.

Janie Tongue is An internationally published hairstylist, Janie specialises in Hair Extensions. She is also the Director of Global Publications with Pheonix Salon Suites as well as Editor An internationally published hairstylist, Janie specialises in Hair Extensions. She is also the Director of Global Publications with Pheonix Salon Suites as well as Editor


It’s new, it’s innovative, it’s transformational, it’s educational!  But what is it all about?

Nabuno and Salon Education Journal are excited to introduce a new stage for educators and experts within the salon industry – SALON:ED Talks.  The premise of the Talks is to share knowledge, skills, ideas, and experience in the form of video presentations or seminars. It is a new and fantastic opportunity for experienced professionals, educators, and industry experts to expand their profile, their audience, and to develop their skills in public speaking and presentation.

SALON:ED Talks will be relatable to the salon industry and encourage personal or professional growth for the viewer. They will be hosted on our SALON:ED YouTube channel from early 2024.

Talking for a living has been part of my career path since I started work in the 80’s, and like many of us, ‘talks too much’ was always a critique on school reports. In my corporate roles, as a salon professional talking with clients, as an educator imparting my knowledge and skills, or more recently as a podcaster talking to a mic, talking has continued to be very much part of what I ‘do’. In the salon industry I know I’m not alone in this trait – we all talk for a living in some way or other. Some dislike it, some just want to be quietly consulting with a client; meanwhile, others want to be on the rooftops sharing to anyone who’ll listen to their knowledge, ideas, or thoughts. For those that don’t love it so much, you’ll probably be a great listener. There must be a balance for all of that hot air from the rest of us. The Ying and Yang needed to complete the circle of communication. For every voice there must be listeners, and listeners want to hear a voice that resonates.

Most educators and experts like to talk and present, even if only to a small group. Some have experienced stage speaking too; however, this activity usually tops the ‘what do you fear most list’ for most people. If you’ve not stood on a stage with a microphone and spoken to an audience, the thought of it can be anxiety inducing and terrifying. We all start somewhere, and in today’s world where video content is king, mastering your fear of the camera and the mic can give power to your career and your business. This is where the SALON:ED Talks come in.  Alongside those that love public speaking, we are welcoming those new to speaking and who want to challenge themselves to take the step to connecting with a bigger audience.  

Although this is a virtual, recorded talk, going through the SALON:ED process will enhance your skill set. Whether through the speaking itself or the planning, writing, practicing, or recording skills, submitting a talk will help you grow. It can help you build confidence, increase your knowledge of your subject through research and preparation, grow your profile and network, and may even help build your position as an expert in your subject.  The SALON:ED Talks opens a new way of sharing and growing as an industry speaker.  

What SALON:ED Talks are:

  • Talks relating solely to promotion of education, skill development, career development, and business development within the salon industry and supporting sectors.
  • All sectors and niches related to the salon industry are welcome.
  • ‘Coffee Break Talk’ of around 15 minutes or a ‘Lounge Talk’ of around 45 minutes.
  • An opportunity to raise your professional profile as a SALON:ED speaker.

There are a few things that SALON:ED Talks aren’t as well…

The SALON:ED talks will not be an opportunity for product houses, business coaches or other sellers of goods or services to promote products, schemes, or brands.  All talks hosted on the SALON:ED channel will be provided free of charge at the point of delivery and no payments will be made to the speakers. There will be rules around what can and cannot be included in the talks which will be made available at the point of application.

We’ll be starting the application and submission process very soon and details will be available on our socials and on the website as soon as we’re ready. 

We are really excited about bringing this innovation in educational resources to the industry and would love for you to be part of this legacy.

The SALON:ED Talks will be hosted by Nabuno & Salon Education Journal, and we are welcoming sponsors to collaborate on this great educational platform for the industry.  Sponsorship enquiries should be directed to he***@sa*******************.uk.

Moving from Salon Professional to Educator – How Easy Is It?

In recent years salon education has shifted immensely, partly due to technology evolving but also pushed faster and harder by the effects of the pandemic.  What was once a face to face only occupation is now shifting into blended or hybrid learning, where there is a mix of face to face and online, as well as some courses being delivered fully online.

This means becoming an education provider is now more accessible but also requires a different set of skills as standing in front a class delivering knowledge is different from standing in front of a camera, being recorded, and then editing the digital content ready for upload to platforms such as Nabuno.  Technology in education is the way forward and you’ll need to not only complete your teaching qualification but master the world of software services that will support your academy.

Accreditation organisations have moved quickly to embrace this shift, and this has positives and negatives for those who are wishing to make a career pathway from their skills and experience.  For the industry it means that more professionals than ever are wanting to embrace education as an alternative revenue stream.  Whilst this should be applauded it is still an approach with caution situation as not every professional has enough experience, confidence to teach or the ability to pass on their knowledge.  It is a very different role from that of salon professional and it’s not as simple as showing someone how to carry out a particular technique.

Accreditation has become a method of easy access into the salon industry and understanding how it works before you begin your journey into education is vital.  Firstly, not all accreditation providers are created equal.  The better schemes require the education provider to be working to the national occupational standards, have a suitable back history of experience in the subjects they are teaching and to deliver any practical skill in an appropriate way (usually face to face). However, there are now also accreditation providers that allow all skills to be delivered remotely, online with no live tutor interaction and this route needs to be considered very carefully as often learners are left with a ‘qualification’ that is only insurable via the accreditor’s insurance supplier and with skills that leave them lacking confidence and career opportunities. 

These changes have led to education being a career pathway for many more than has been the case previously, and it’s led to a dilution of quality salon industry education.  If you want to be a quality-driven educator in your future, then here’s some information on how to start that journey and choose the right pathway to share your passion.

Don’t expect to run before you can walk.  Teaching is not for the faint-hearted or the inexperienced.  If you want to teach for a professional brand, they will usually be looking for at least 2 years, and sometimes up to 5 years, proven experience in your area of knowledge.  Without this length of experience, you may find yourself in the unpleasant situation of not being able to answer your students’ questions, and constantly having to look at notes or manuals when you are in front of the class won’t instil confidence from your learners.  If students are paying you for your educational services, they want to be able to trust that you know your subject thoroughly and will be able to answer any queries they may have before, during and after their course.

It is unusual in today’s world to be able to teach without a recognised education/teaching qualification such as the Ofqual regulated Level 3 AET or equivalent, such as PTTLS.   In more recent times there has been a rise in accredited versions of the AET but be aware that it is considered false advertising to call a qualification the AET unless it is an OfQual regulated and approved AET certificate.  These unregulated courses will likely be cheaper, and you will discover that many educational venues will not accept them as a suitable qualification for you to teach and so you may end up having to take a further regulated qualification.  Check your provider is a regulated provider and not accredited. If they aren’t a regulated provider ask for evidence that you will be able to teach outside of their umbrella both in your own academy and within a college or brand education role. 

You can progress in your educational qualifications to Level 4 and 5 in Education & Training culminating in a degree level qualification.  These courses may be more costly, but in some circumstances, you may be able to obtain funding or sponsorship depending on how and where you want to teach.  If you wish to work within the Further Education field this will be a requirement to have or be working towards.  It is an investment in your own education and your future so make sure you choose your course wisely, and speak to education providers you wish to work with to understand what they require and if they can offer support.

In regulated AET and higher courses (CET & DET) you will learn how to work with your learners and how to deal with different learning styles, develop the ability to assist those that have learning needs, and how to prepare and present your subject plus a lot of other skills to enable you to provide a well-rounded lesson.  Like all qualifications, the higher the level the more in-depth the study and the harder the course and assessments will be.

Before you embark on your journey to be an educator make sure your own education is up to date and that you have underpinning knowledge behind you.  Have you taken enough CPD over the last couple of years?  If not, then make sure you update your skills to today’s standards.  Are you aware of the National Occupational Standards (NOS)?  Again, if this is something you’re not aware of then make part of your continued learning to understand and update your knowledge with the new NOS for the hair and beauty sector, released in 2021. Make sure you understand every element of what you will be teaching.  There’s nothing worse than being on a course where the educator can’t answer a basic question without looking it up in a manual themselves?

If you haven’t already undertaken NVQ or equivalent qualification, then look at taking the regulated Level 2 and Level 3 courses in your subject area. In an ideal world, all industry educators should have formal qualifications to ensure they have the best level of standardised underpinning knowledge, however, a good and thorough history of brand or accredited education along with industry experience will, of course, be acceptable for many scenarios.  There are now several providers of ‘route to regulated’ education that can transfer your non-regulated education and experience and get you certified as regulated with only a limited amount of assessment of skill & knowledge

Whilst you can still take VRQs & NVQs there are also Technical qualifications available where you will sit end of course exams, so it will be tougher to pass.  This is going to prove an interesting time in our world as these new courses will perhaps shift things educationally in our sector.  Equally, this will all come down to how well the course is delivered and by whom.  A good educator teaching the NVQ route could produce better outcomes than an average or poorly experienced educator teaching the Technical qualification and again, this translates into accredited education which in some instances may be far more comprehensive than regulated but does not have the kudos of a regulated qualification.

Students should be checking their educator’s background and experience, whether brand educators or further education educators.  Are you current, do you know their subject, can you answer their questions?  If they are unsure or can’t find out this information, think about how to ensure they see a value to their investment and make sure you can answer all their research and due diligence questions appropriately.

It is important that you have the skills, qualifications, and experience to teach, as your potential students should, and will, be checking you out once you are educating.  Education isn’t just about being able to provide your specialist service well, it’s about being able to impart the biology, chemistry, structure, anatomy & physiology, and the full theory behind whatever you are wishing to teach.  The practical element is only part of their learning and many courses, particularly cheap online ones, fail to cover much of this important area of knowledge.  Your ability to pass on the vital underpinning knowledge to learners with comprehensive information and passion is the biggest skill of a good educator.

Once you’ve gained all the required skills and qualifications then the hard work begins.  If you haven’t signed up to work with a professional brand and wish to remain independent, you will need to work with an awarding body or an accreditation provider.  You need to decide if you will teach short courses or whether you wish to only teach regulated national qualifications eg NVQs.  Each pathway brings different levels of assessment and criteria for your education provision.  Accreditation is the simpler of the two routes and is currently a common source of education in the industry.  It gives easy access, sometimes far too easy, for students to get into the salon industry.  If you intend to provide accredited courses give your students plentiful guided learning hours as, without it, they may struggle to succeed long term.

Following the pandemic and lockdowns, online education has become more common and popular and whilst in some scenarios, it can be a great step forward in some ways it is also enabling some less morally sound educators to profit from cheap, not fit for purpose education.  Some educators have embraced the online world with virtual classrooms and for areas such as nail services, this can create an advantage for students who instead of peering over someone’s shoulder to see the tutor demo get a birds-eye view via video link and in fact also means that the tutor can view and assess the student’s work more effectively and efficiently than in a live class with 16 students to walk around.  We need to recognise the difference between virtual classes and online courses as the difference is vast.  An online course will in some cases an unsupervised, pre-recorded video with worksheets to complete and little or no assessment from a live tutor.  For this style of education any certificate provided may be little more than an attendance certificate which in the world of career pathways won’t support a professional in the event of an insurance claim.

Education is changing and as an industry, we watch with curiosity to see what the future holds as we merge old style learning with more virtual and online studies.  Educating our future professionals as a career should be seen as a privilege, and those of us that provide this need to ensure we treat our students fairly, with respect and to give them qualifications that are fit for purpose, worth their investment and will enable them to grow a successful career.

Education should not be easy – it should challenge and inspire; it should help you evolve into the professional you want to be and help you develop the next generation of professionals.

Empowering our future professionals is and should be, an honour for all those who work in creating the professionals of tomorrow.