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The Right Way To Care For Your Hair Extensions, According To A Pro

Women with long hair extensions

Whether you want a little extra length and volume for special occasions or want to show off longer hair 24/7, there are so many benefits to investing in hair extensions. As much as we enjoy the fun and versatility of experimenting with extensions, we also know that properly caring for them is just as important. 

If you have no idea how to care for extensions, you’re in luck! We tapped Stephanie Nolan, CEO of XOXO Virgin Hair, to break down everything you need to know about hair extension maintenance. From the products you need to keep your clip-ins healthy to proper brushing techniques, keep scrolling for everything you need to know.

Good hair day by @blushandmane.

Is it hard to take care of hair extensions?

If you’re wondering if hair extensions are worth adding to your styling routine, it’s important to determine how much maintenance you’re willing to commit to. How difficult it is to take care of them, however, depends on the type of extensions you purchase.

You can buy extensions in a variety of colors, lengths, and textures. However, they are only made from one of two things: human or synthetic hair. While it is perfectly acceptable to wear both synthetic and human hair, you can’t care for them the same way.

Good hair day by @haircolorkilla.

How do you take care of synthetic hair extensions?

Synthetic hair has a much shorter lifespan than human hair, typically remaining wearable for six to eight weeks with proper care. To prolong the life of your synthetic extensions, Nolan recommends using products that are specially formulated for synthetic locks. Using the appropriate products will help prevent unsightly tangles and significant shedding.

Synthetic hair extensions are also typically resistant to styling, so Nolan does not recommend applying styling products or heat to synthetic strands. While you don’t have to worry about product buildup with synthetic strands, dirt, dust, and other environmental pollutants can make them smell and look dull. If you wear your synthetic extensions often, we suggest washing them about once a week. Be sure to soak the extensions in cool or lukewarm water before gently shampooing them to avoid shedding or breakage. 

How do you take care of human hair extensions?

Human hair is a bit easier to care for because you can use the products that are already in your bathroom. Extensions are meant to make your natural strands appear longer or fuller, so you should choose  extensions closest to the  texture of your natural hair. Feel free to use the same shampoo, conditioner, and styling products that work on your strands on your human hair extensions.

You should plan to wash your extensions about as often as you wash your hair. Just like the strands on your head, your human hair extensions can experience severe dirt and product buildup. In addition to your regular shampoo and conditioner, we recommend using a clarifying shampoo like Redken Detox Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo to wash away pollution, daily grit, excess oil, and product build-up. To keep your extensions soft and hydrated, we also recommend treating them to a weekly hair mask like L'Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Absolut Repair Instant Resurfacing Masque.

What is the best shampoo for hair extensions?

From the L'Oréal portfolio of products, we love the Matrix Total Results Length Goals Shampoo. This sulfate-free formula gently cleanses to ensure the longevity and beauty of hair extensions. For best results, follow your shampoo with the Total Results Length Goals Conditioner.

Length Goals Extensions Perfector Multi-Benefit Styling Spray

Length Goals Extensions Perfector Multi-Benefit Styling Spray

Multi-benefit styling spray that detangles, revives and eases blow-dry for extensions.

One size available
6.8 fl oz

What products should someone with extensions always have on hand?

In addition to shampoo and conditioner, there is one product Nolan says everyone who has human hair extensions should have on hand: A heat protectant. Just because they’re extensions doesn’t mean they’re immune from heat damage.

“Heat protectant prevents heat damage, and also premature split ends that can occur due to frequent heat styling,” Nolan says. 

If you’re searching for a heat protectant to add to your routine, we recommend the Matrix Total Results Length Goals Extensions Perfector Multi-Benefit Styling Spray. This leave-in conditioner helps maintain and revive human hair extensions and wigs while protecting against heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Good hair day by @frances_hairartist.

What tools should someone with extensions always have on hand?

If you think correctly caring for your extensions requires a hefty trip to the beauty supply store, think again! Nolan says you probably already own most of the tools you need.

“The best tools for maintaining hair extensions are a paddle brush for keeping the hair smooth, wide-toothed comb for detangling, and a styling comb,” Nolan says.

Now you know everything you need to know to keep your extensions in tip-top shape for as long as possible.

Good hair day by @realericvaughn.

Can you brush your hair with extensions?

Whether you have human hair or synthetic extensions, it is imperative that you detangle them gently. Using a paddle brush or wide-toothed comb, begin detangling from the ends and work your way up to gently and effectively remove any knots or tangles.

What is the best way to store extensions?

When you’re done wearing your extensions for the day, you need the perfect storage space to ensure they remain clean and detangled until the next time you’d like to wear them. Lucky for you, you don’t need a fancy vanity to store your extensions—all you need is a resealable plastic bag or a hanger.

“There are a few ways you can store extensions. Some can actually be hung using pant hangers, and can also be stored in Ziploc bags if storing away long term,” Nolan says.

Good hair day by @realericvaughn.

How do you sleep with hair extensions?

If you have extensions that you can’t remove before bed, the best way to protect them while you sleep is to secure the hair in a loose braid. This will prevent your extensions from tangling or pulling throughout the night and make it easier to brush through your strands when you wake up. If you have clip-in extensions or wigs, they should always be removed before bed.

Now you know everything you need to know to keep your extensions in tip-top shape for as long as possible.

Interested in more expert hair care tips? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.

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