Taking Care of Your Hair Extensions: What to Do and What Not to Do

So you’re thinking about getting hair extensions, or you’ve just had them put in—now how do you care for them so they’ll look good for as long as possible? Read on to find out what you need to do and what you need to avoid.

Extensions that are well cared for can last from two to four months. Occasional maintenance appointments at the salon where you had them put in will help extend their life. But there’s a lot you can do at home to prevent them from degrading too quickly. 

Avoid using harsh chemicals and treatments on your hair extensions

Remember that, although they may look and feel like your own hair (and even be made of an actual human hair), they are not your hair and can’t be treated the same way. Extensions are sensitive to chemicals and harsh treatments. Salty and chlorinated water are no-no’s, as is water that’s too hot (so keep your extensions out of the Jacuzzi!).

Don’t use any products that are meant to lighten, straighten, or add waves to your hair. They’ll damage your extensions. If your extensions were applied with glue, you want to be careful to keep oils and sprays away from the place they attach or risk loosening the glue. But, you can use leave-in conditioners and hydrating oils on the lower part to maintain luster.

You can use heat tools to style your extensions, but be very careful not to use too much heat. Use a heat protectant to prevent damage.

Don’t wash your hair too frequently. Not only can hard or mineral-intense water deteriorates the extensions, but too much washing increases the wear and tear you’re putting on them. Dry shampoo is a great way to absorb excess oil and keep your hair looking and feeling fresh. If you’re going to wash your hair, use warm water, regular shampoo, and conditioner on the ends only. Keep conditioners and hair masks off the roots. After washing, dry your hair gently with a towel, comb it out (using a wide-toothed comb), and let it air dry. But be careful not to sleep with wet hair. This will drastically shorten the life of your extensions.

A good brush and good brushing technique are essential. You want to minimize tangling and keep your brush from getting caught on your hair, which can pull on the extensions. A round brush with boar bristles is ideal. Brush gently two or three times a day, holding the roots in your hand and using a downward motion. Make sure to always brush your hair before you wash or wet it, and consider using a detangler pre-shower.

When styling your hair, don’t pull it too tight. But, do braid it loosely before you go to sleep every night. You can also use a silk pillowcase to prevent static from snarling your hair while you sleep.

Well-chosen hair extensions expand your style options

Choose extensions that will integrate well into your life. If you’re used to putting your hair up, you need to make sure your extensions don’t show when you do. If you know you don’t have time or money for a lot of maintenance, consider clip-on extensions, which are easier to put in and take out. You also won’t have to worry about deteriorating glue.

Go to a reputable salon with staff experienced in putting in extensions. But don’t go right from one set of extensions to another. Give your natural hair a break in between. If you don’t give your scalp enough time to breathe, you’ll risk premature balding. If you have short hair, don’t add more than 14 inches of length, or you’ll put too much strain on your natural hair.

Do have fun choosing your extensions. Look at pictures and do your research. Whether you want to go bold and trendy or more subtle, hair extensions are an expression of your personality that suits well for radiant looking skin, so choose something that complements who you are. Don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never tried before—who knows, maybe you’ll discover a whole new personal style!

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