How to Care for Your Hair Extensions So They Look Better, Longer
Hair extensions look amazing, but they can also be extremely expensive. These pro tips will help you get the most out of your new set, no matter what type you have installed.
Whether you want to add length, and volume, or simply switch up your style for a new season, hair extensions are a great option. They offer flexibility, but without proper care, you can end up with matted hair, dull strands, or even worse, irreversible damage to your real hair. We want you to snatch your edges… not lose them.
Even though it doesn’t grow from your scalp, you must take care of extension hair as if it does — after all, you paid for it, sis! “The best way to maintain your extensions is to take care of them as you would your own hair. Use products that you would use on your hair and [avoid] too many harsh chemicals,”
Not all extensions are created equal. The look you are trying to achieve as well as your hair texture will determine the best extensions for you. Sew-ins are extensions that are literally sewn onto cornrows made with your own hair (plus added braiding hair for durability). While this technique is often illustrated on Black women, anyone can try this particular method. Porsche explains, “The benefit of sew-ins are that you can get a super long wear, a protective style, and it promotes hair growth.”
Another extremely popular option for your hair are tape-ins, which work as the name suggests: The extensions are placed on thin tape wefts and sandwiched between your real hair. They aren’t bulky if installed correctly; in fact, Porsche says one of the main benefits is that they “look super natural and undetectable.” She also raves about clip-ins for the woman who may not have a lot of time on her hands or has minimal experience with extensions. She elaborates, “They are great for quick and temporary length and to add volume.”
Other options include microlinks, a type of hair extension that is attached to your hair by taking small strands and securing the extensions with little silicone beads, which Porsche says are also great for length and volume. These are also slightly higher maintenance with necessary hair appointments at least once a month for upkeep. The next level up from microlinks are keratin extensions. Like microlinks, they fuse small strands of your hair with the extensions; however, unlike microlinks, they use heated keratin protein to bond and fuse your hair and the extensions. They’re pricey, but pretty much undetectable — making them a popular option amongst celebrities.
No matter what type of extension you decide to get, they all require some upkeep. We spoke with some of the best hairstylists in the game to share their tips on the best way to maintain your hair extensions to keep that install looking impeccable.
Replace extensions regularly.
Even with the best maintenance, you can’t wear the same extensions forever. Porsche says a sew-in can stay in for up to two to three months with proper care and regular trips to your hairstylist. “You will know it’s absolutely time for your hair to come out when your install is completely showing because your hair has grown out so much. Also if it’s been a few months and the style you start to look like a completely different style from which you started with — and not in a good way — it’s time to come out,” says renowned hairstylist Kim Kimble, who also worked on Black Is King, and whose hands have graced the crowns of Zendaya, Tyra Banks, Brandy, and more. She recommends replacing extensions “every six to eight weeks, depending on how fast your hair grows, across the board for all extensions at all lengths and textures to avoid matting and tangling.”
Install your extensions correctly.
Lopez stresses that maintaining your hair extensions starts with how you install them. He warns, “Always make sure that your extensions are applied by a professional who has been trained in that extension method.” Poor installation can lead to damaging your natural hair and having to remove that style sooner than you wanted to.
Sleep on silk or satin.
“The best way to sleep with your hair extensions is by wrapping them in silk or sleeping on a silk pillowcase to prevent dryness,” Kimble says. You can easily learn how to prepare your extensions before a good night’s rest. “Using a small soft bristle brush, gently brush the area where the extensions are connected to your own hair (near the roots). Using a silk scarf, tie around the circumference of your head, then tie from around the back and knot it near your forehead area — it’ll keep the hair going in the same direction.”
If you want a wavy look the following day, Kimble suggests putting your hair in “two loose pigtail braids which will give you some texture for styling.” She also gives warns against using some of the most common bedtime styles: “Do not tie up [your hair] in a topknot, low bun, or [leave it flowing freely].” You’ll end up with a matted, knotted mess.
Brush your hair daily and every time you take out your extensions.
Speaking of mats and knots, Francis instructs that you must “brush all tangles out after each use.” Wearing your straight extensions curly? Make sure you brush out the curls before starting a new style. If you’re working with straight extensions, use a paddle brush. If you are working with curly hair, use a wide-tooth comb or a detangling brush when hair is wet and conditioned. Issa Rae’s hairstylist, Felicia Leatherwood, created a (Best of Beauty-winning) detangler brush with flexi-bristles that glide easily through your hair, gently removing knots.
Now that you know how to take care of your extensions, go forth and add those inches, honey. Franco International has many different options from brands such as Keiro, Luxurlocks and OnlyPro- see you soon !
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