So you have decided to upgrade your look by installing hair extensions, and you’re turning heads, but is it for the right reasons?
The right reason to turn heads: you’re bringing out the green-eyed monster everywhere you go because your locks are looking longer, fuller, and sway like you’re the star of your very own shampoo commercial.
The wrong reason to turn heads: the extensions are peeking out of your hair, the color doesn’t match that of your natural hair, or you chose to go with a length that would put Rapunzel to shame.
When you buy quality hair extensions, and they are installed correctly, no one has to know that you’re even wearing them. And if you learn how to properly care for them, then your extensions can stay gorgeous for months (even years)!
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Maybe you’ve asked yourself, your friends, Google or Alexa, this question in your quest for swoon-worthy hair.
First of all, the best hair extensions are not synthetic but made out of real human hair. This is because they can be styled, dyed, and washed just like your natural hair. The upside to choosing this kind of hair is that it can last for a long time with proper care and maintenance. The downside is that it can cost a pretty penny to buy and have them installed.
Hair extensions can be categorized into three: temporary options like clip-ins and halos; semi-permanent ones like tape-ins and sew-ins; and permanent options like keratin bonds and micro rings (also known as i-tips).
Let’s take a closer look at how you should care for your hair extensions so that you keep looking more gorgeous and less gruesome.
Whether they’re taken out every night, or they’ve been installed for the foreseeable future, hair extensions need to be washed on the regular. Different brands have differing guidelines on how often extensions should be washed.
Use your judgment: if you have product build-up or your extensions are starting to look dull and are becoming increasingly difficult to style, then it’s time for a wash.
Brush out your flip-in or clip-in extensions before getting them wet to reduce the chances of tangling while cleaning the hair. Always start brushing from the ends.
Fill your sink, a large bowl or container with lukewarm water. Add a couple of squirts of shampoo and swirl your extensions in the soapy water. Do not scrub the hair but gently finger comb to ensure even distribution of the product. Rinse in cold running water and shampoo again if the hair is really dirty.
Apply your conditioner to the extensions, leave it on for the recommended time, and rinse it out thoroughly. You can even take it a step further and apply a hair mask to your extensions.
Once you’ve conditioned and deep conditioned, make sure you thoroughly rinse out the product from the extensions. Squeeze out the excess water and pat dry with a microfibre towel. Do not wring the hair but let it air dry. Apply a light moisturizer to help the hair maintain its shine and smoothness.
It’s best to wash your extensions in the shower. Apply shampoo to your roots and gently massage it onto your scalp then squeeze it along the length of your natural hair and extensions. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
You don’t want to loosen the bonds every time you wash your hair, and that’s why it is recommended that you apply conditioner from the mid-shaft towards the ends. The same goes for a hair mask or deep conditioner. Take your time while rinsing to ensure that you get all the product out of your hair.
Squeeze out excess water and use a microfiber towel to dry your hair. As much as possible, allow your hair to dry to at least 90% before you manipulate with heat and tools.
The products you use on your hair extensions have a major impact on the longevity of your hair.
Opt for shampoos and conditioners that are sulphate-free and specially made for hair extensions. Sulphates strip away more than just dirt and can cause your extensions to become dry and frizzy as well as break down the bonds holding the extensions onto your hair. Always check the ingredient list on the bottle. If you see the words SLS, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate, put the bottle down and walk away.
You should also stay away from products that list alcohol as the first ingredient (this can also appear as alcohol denat, ethanol, SD alcohol 40, propanol, isopropyl, and propyl). Alcohol-based products have a drying effect on extensions, which makes them more prone to matting.
Heavy and sticky products like gels and pomades increase the chances of build-up and can be hard to wash out, so use them sparingly.
Get a lightweight serum specifically made for extensions that will help to keep your hair soft and manageable.
In order to keep your hair extensions from tangling, you need to brush them several times a day. It is recommended that you use a wide-tooth comb or a hair extension brush whose bristles won’t cause pulling, snagging or damage to your extensions and natural hair. Always brush from the bottom and slowly work your upwards towards the roots.
Just like with your natural hair, you should limit the use of heat on your hair extensions. Wait until the hair is mostly dry before applying heat. Keep your heat protectant handy when working with heat styling tools. Invest in a quality hair dryer, flat iron or curler and keep the temperature under 400°F/200°C.
You can minimize heat exposure by braiding your extensions when wet and letting them air dry, or you can also create pin curls.
If you are not planning to use your extensions for some time, then you should store them carefully in order to preserve their lifespan.
Brush and detangle the hair in preparation for storage. Never store your extensions when they are damp or wet; otherwise, they will grow mold.
Lay the extensions flat in a box that will be kept away from direct sunlight and stored in a cool, dry place. Alternatively, you can use a hair extensions storage bag that is made from non-woven material and comes with a hair extensions hanger.
Hair extensions are a great way to switch up your look. With a good routine and if you follow the recommendations above, you’ll be enjoying your hair for months on end.
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