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Clip-In Extensions: The Pro's Guide To Choosing, Wearing, And Caring For Them

photo of clip in hair extensions

When it comes to hair extensions in 2018, it can sometimes seem as though the options are limitless. There are wigs and sew-in weaves, you can install extensions with bonding or fusion—and that’s just to name a few. With so many advanced options available, it can be easy to forget the first hairpiece many of us fell in love with: clip-in extensions.

Clip-in extensions are a quick way to add more length and volume to your style. While clip-in extensions are relatively easy to install, we don’t just want to install them—we want them to look flawless. That’s where Stephanie Nolan, CEO and founder of XOXO Virgin Hair, comes in. She’s breaking down everything you’ve ever wanted to know about clip-in extensions and how to ensure you pull them off every time.

What are clip-in extensions?

Before we get into how you can flawlessly pull off clip-in extensions, you should know exactly what they are. Clip-in extensions are pieces of wefted human or synthetic hair attached to wig combs or clips for easy installation. Unlike traditional methods of installing extensions such as the sew-in or glue-in method (which allow the wefted hair to remain in your hair for several weeks at a time), clip-in extensions can be installed and removed daily in just a matter of minutes.

Clip-in extensions are so easy to install and remove, they’re perfect for anyone looking to add length or volume to their ‘do for just one night. It is important to note that you should never sleep with you clip-ins still placed in your hair, be sure to remove them every night. They’re also a great option for anyone with thin or fragile hair. While traditional extension installation techniques can place unnecessary stress on fine hair, clip-in extensions can add length and volume without too much tension when used in moderation.

Choosing Clip-In Extensions

When shopping for clip-ins, the first thing you want to do is find a close color match. Matching your clip-in extensions to your natural hair color will allow them to look as natural as possible. If you have a unique hair color or for some reason can’t find a match, head to a trusted colorist. Many stylists offer customized extension services and they’ll be able to cut and color your extensions to ensure they’re a perfect match.

Once you’ve found a color match, you’ll need to find a texture match. If you have curly hair, straight clip-in extensions will stick out like a sore thumb (even if you curl them) and the same goes for ladies with straight hair.

Finally, you need to pick the correct length. If you’re just looking to add more volume to your ‘do, pick up extensions that about the same length as your hair. If it’s length you’re after, you’ll obviously need longer extensions—but practice some restraint. If the extensions are significantly longer than your natural hair, the line of demarcation between the clip-ins and your hair will be very visible. One way to avoid a harsh demarcation line is to buy several lengths so that they can be placed throughout your hair to create a layered effect.

Prepping For Clip-In Extensions

According to Nolan, the most important thing you should do before placing your clip-in extensions is wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo.

If you have super straight or very fine hair and are concerned about your clip-in extensions remaining in place, Nolan has a little trick for you.

“Teasing the roots with a teasing comb and a light mist of holding spray will create a foundation for the clip-in extension to adhere to,” she explains.

Installing Clip-In Extensions

While there is no shame in using clip-in extensions, most of us want our extensions to look as natural as possible. According to Nolan, where you place them on your head will determine whether or not you’ll get the natural look you’re going for. Each head of hair requires a unique placement depending upon the thickness of our hair.

“If you have normal-to-thick hair, the best place to clip hair extensions is at the base of your scalp. This prevents the clip in from sliding down. When installing clip-ins on thin hair, the clips should be placed on larger sections of hair to avoid slippage,” she explains.

After you decide where to place them, it’s just as important to make sure to distribute the clip-ins you use across your head. Making sure they’re evenly distributed will make it harder to tell where your clip-ins start and you real hair ends. While you can use as many extensions you’d like, Nolan says a standard set of clip-in extensions comes with about nine to 10 pieces.

While you can just place your clip-in extensions and walk out of the door, styling your hair after you’ve placed your clip-ins will further help to create that natural appearance.

Caring For Clip-In Extensions

The best thing you can do for your clip-in extensions is to treat them like you treat your hair. If you plan to wear your clip-in extensions every day, you should wash, condition, and detangle them as often as you do your own hair. If you only break them out on special occasions, caring for them after each use is just fine.

“Using a clarifying shampoo can help lengthen the life of your clip-in extensions by eliminating any product buildup on the hair,” she explains. “Another way to maintain flawless clip-in extensions is to brush them with a boar bristle brush to maintain its luster.”

After you’ve washed, conditioned, and detangled your clip-ins you can lay them flat to air dry. If you need your clip-ins to dry in a hurry, feel free to use your blow dryer to speed the process along. If you opt for synthetic clip-ins, they should last anywhere from six to eight weeks with proper care. Human hair clip-ins on the other hand, can last several years with proper care.

Armed with all of these tips, you’re ready to slay clip-in extensions at your next big event—or maybe just a trip to the grocery store.

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