I’m sure you’ve heard hair extensions are no longer just for Hollywood A listers or pop divas on tour. More and more women are discovering how easy it is take otherwise thin, limp, nothing special hair and make it look ultra-luscious, thick and extraordinary.
But how do you go from ordinary, mere mortal locks to shampoo commercial fabulous? There are several ways to secure the extra hair to your head actually.
We’ll get into three common ways to do just that.
But before we do you need to know just what you’re in for as well as how to take good care of your new hair.
7 Useful Tips For Girls Struggling with Caring for Hair Extensions
After splurging on extensions to get instantly longer or thicker looking hair your attention should next turn to how to properly care for them.
Anyone with experience knows there is little room for sloppy hair care now.
TLC is probably the watch word regardless if you are caring for real human hair, synthetic hair, permanent or clip in hair extensions. In essence you want to treat them just like you would your favorite silk blouse.
Since that silk blouse tidbit doesn’t exactly help here are five specifics to follow. Starting with the one you don’t want to get wrong if you want your new hair to last longer than next week.
Hot Stylers Beware
Hot tools can wreak havoc on extensions. Yes, Remy hair extensions, like your natural hair, can be flat ironed, curled and blown dry no problem.
Yet even those made of human hair can be damaged by excessive heat. That’s why it’s recommended to limit the heat exposure to the low heat settings of 250 degrees F or less.
On the other hand styling synthetic or blended hair means you’ll want to adjust your styling routine. In some cases extreme care will be required when using hot styling since this is really nothing more than plastic strands.
It all comes down to what’s on your head.
Check the label on the package to see if the strands are “heat resistant” or “heat friendly”. If not you’ll want to keep heat FAR away from such extensions making metallic curling and flat irons off limits. Otherwise your lovely extensions may literally melt away like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz.
Because of that expect there to be…
Extended Dry Time
With extensions allow more time for your hair to air dry again because there’s more hair to dry. Besides you don’t want to attack them with hot styling tools (read blow dryers) any more than you have too.
Clip ins should be washed when product build up becomes obvious. That may be after 10 wearings or it could be after more just depends. Point being you don’t want to overwash.
Those permanently placed on your head need to be treated gently too.
Alcohol free, sulfate free or hair care products designed for dry or damaged hair are best.
One often recommended sulfate free shampoo that is a mild, gentle cleanser is Pureology hydrate shampoo. It can get your hair clean while keeping it looking smooth and silky.
Another problem area is extensions can get …
All Tangled Up
It just seems to be an unwritten rule that lustrous extensions can get all tangled up if you’re not careful. Regular brushing is the best preventative. Just be careful to detangle without inflicting any damage.
That means working with dry hair only. Holding your hair at the roots, detangle the ends first and for sure no tugging or yanking while brushing.
You may find loosely braiding your hair at night can minimize the problem of tangles too.
Avoid Salt, Chlorine and Sun
Pool or beach parties by the ocean can be great fun. But you will find neither chlorine or salt will do any type of extensions any favors. So while you may prefer not to have to try to look stylish with a swimming cap it is either that or dealing with damage that results from not wearing one.
Same goes for prolonged sun exposure. Another no no for those with extensions.
Life with Extensions
If you get any type of extensions other than clip ins that you put in or take out at your convenience recognize there are some things you’ll have to get used to.
After extensions have been added it’s totally normal to notice your hair feels heavier because, well, there’s just more hair.
The added weight will tug on your scalp and in some cases can cause irritation, discomfort, even hair loss.
Yet properly placed extensions should never be a source of pain. If you’re feeling that they may be too tight and stressing your scalp. This situation needs to be fixed right away to avoid permanent damage to your natural hair.
Despite what this list of tips for caring for hair extensions might suggest don’t sweat it. The new normal for your hair care routine is more or less common sense. Taking a little bit of caution with your new strands will insure you’ll enjoy that oh-so-long Disney Princess mane for as long as you possibly can.
Next let’s quickly explore three of the most popular and dare I say somewhat more affordable options.
Tape In Method
Tape ins are extremely durable. They are reusable as well. You can expect to get a year’s worth of wear out of them without them looking ratty and shop worn. That’s because they can be removed and reapplied as many as four or five times and still look fabulous – provided of course that you care for them properly. Oil is often what is used to release the tape and remove the extensions.
Now it is felt these work best if your hair is at least five inches long. But they can be applied to those with shorter hair and still look flawless and be perfectly undetectable.
To apply section your hair where you want to weft to go starting at the nape of the neck.
Then take a a very very thin section of hair, and slip it carefully between the two pieces of tape applied one at a time – underside first. The top piece is then added and they are pressed firmly together.
This technique is referred to as “sandwiching” and is typically not a DIY application however.
You need to get the right amount of hair to insure good adhesion.
Typically they are inserted in a brick laying pattern all over your head.
When done there should be some movement left in the hair too. If not they are too close to the scalp.
With some, heat from a flat iron tapped on the tape securely seals the deal.
The process goes faster than you might think as an experienced stylist can complete the job in less than 45 minutes.
For best results it is recommended, since these are more or less permanently affixed, that you sleep with your hair placed loosely on the top of your head and held there with a scarf. Plus it helps to sleep on a satin pillowcase.
PROS: Reusable and durable. They are quick and easy to be put in place by an experienced styling pro and are less expensive than gluing. Easy on most hair types. These are relatively long lasting.
CONS: Should be done in a salon so not DIY which can make them a tad pricey or not depending on your budget. Harder on fine hair. Harder too to get a lot of added volume.
If you care to see how this done, this two minute video demonstrates how tape in extensions are applied.
Tape In Hair Extensions Installation and Removal
Clip In Method
Clip ins are almost perfect for those new to extensions or those who don’t want to deal with maintenance hassles. They are easy to apply and can instantly provide needed length, thickness or both for a night out on the town. With a bit of practice in less than 10 minutes you can add in enough hair to rival anything seen in fashion magazines or found traipsing down the red carpet.
Each package of extensions comes as a set with several different sized pieces or wefts.
These are attached to your hair with tiny but strong combs. Ideally these clips should be big enough to be secure but small enough to not show through your hair. It’s not a bad idea to practice opening and closing them before trying to apply them to your hair so you get an idea how to best work them.
If you want super thick hair, clip two tracks to each other – for instance tacking a two clip onto a three clip section.
You want to start at the bottom of your hair and work your way up.
Section your hair and get the excess up and out of the way. Clip the weft fairly close to your scalp right below the horizontal part. You can lightly tease the hair you are clipping to to help the clips get some added grip. Or not. But there is really nothing to it. Attach the middle clips first. Just snap them all shut to hold the weft tightly in place.
For the best effect you’ll want to add in each weft slightly higher than the last. Like maybe an inch or so above where you clipped in the previous pieces.
Then be sure to check them from every possible angle to ensure they are not readily visible.
PROS: Quick and easy to put in once you get the hang of it. Very easy to take out. Little risk of damage to your hair about as risky as bobby pins. With proper care they should last for as long as a year.
CONS: Can be pricey. Should not sleep or swim with them in. Showering with them in probably isn’t wise either. Cheaper ones have been known to fall out, shift or they can be somewhat easily seen on extremely windy days.
Some say it’s smartest to get blonde ones and then dye them to match your hair color.
Hair Tutorial: Curling & Applying Clip-In Extensions
Wanted to mention one other option.
Halo or Flip Method
Halo extensions are hair on an invisible wire or filament like fishing line if you know what that looks like. So named because it fits around the crown of your head much like a halo and is covered over and weighed down by your hair,. It’s securely out of sight. Yet how to fit this on your head may not be exactly clear at first sight. So to clear up the confusion here’s all you do. It really is as simple as it sounds.
You apply the wire snugly to your head. Ideally you want it two to three inches behind your hair line on the crown of your head. Then pull it nice and tight down the back of your head just below your occipital bone until it is snugly in place . Then using a rat tail comb go around your head and pull out up to half of your natural hair out from under the “wire” holding the wefts. Pulling your hair over the wire like this produces an end result where the line is completely hidden out of sight under your hair.
Another approach is to decide where the wire will sit on your head. The section your hair, clip it up, then put the wire in place. Unclip your hair and viola. Instant body and volume. Perfectly concealed.
All that’s left is to blend your hair with the extension so it looks natural. Using your fingers to do the blending.
PROS: Fast. Extensions like these can be put in place in two minutes or less. No clips. No glue. No risk of damage to your natural hair.
CONS: Some express concerns about how secure the hair is attached to their head. They are worried it will pop off and at the worst possible moment. That is why these are recommended to be custom fit for the shape of your head.
Yet as this two minute video demonstrates it really is as easy as it sounds to put in.
From what I’ve seen this type of extension is more popular in Europe than in the US where clip ons seem to rule for those doing this at home.
In any case, it used to be long, thick, healthy hair took extreme dedication. But not anymore. Even those of us with shorter manes can be fabulously tressed with hair that has stacks of body, Rapunzel like length or both. Which kid of explains why the love affair with extensions will only continue to grow.