How to Take Care of Hair Extensions

Hair with extensions
So you've either decided to get those extensions or you're intrigued enough about them to learn more. Well, you have come to the right place. Whether synthetic or real, all hair extensions need to be cared for properly to extend the life of them. For what people pay to lengthen their locks, keeping them around for as long as possible is very much desirable. Our goal is to help you get the most bang, or bangs, for your buck.
Let's start with the basics-shampooing. Be sure to use a rather gentle shampoo and conditioner and don't skimp on the quality. Don't ruin your hair and/or extensions by trying to save a couple of dollars on the super cheap stuff. I have read in a couple of places that some of the really high priced shampoos may actually speed up the rate at which the bonder is broken down.
If you do start to have extensions falling out far before their "expiration date", take a look at your shampoo and give your stylist a call. It may be as simple to fix as using a non-conditioning shampoo or simply a different brand. Now, if your extensions are sewn in, you do not need to be as concerned about this type of reaction occurring. After your shower, feel free to dry your hair the same way you would have dried your own natural hair. I would highly recommend an ionic dryer, I personally love mine and have had many people say that they won't dry their hair with anything else.
As far as coloring your hair and extensions, plan ahead. Color your natural hair the desired color before your extensions are applied. Your stylist will then color match your extensions, whether synthetic or real, to your new color to make your purchased hair look like the real thing. Highlights can even be added by adding different colored extensions in the same randomness as highlights applied to hair pulled through a cap. If your roots need a touchup before you need to change your extensions, play it safe and leave the coloring to your stylist.
When it comes to styling your hair it totally depends on the type of lengthener you have. If you have real hair, most of your styling tools can still be used in the same fashion. However, with some types of synthetic hair extensions, more care needs to be taken. As with everything else, talk to your stylist. He or she will be able to tell you all of the styling rules specific to your type of extension. Also, feel free to put your hair in ponytails, braids, buns and barrettes as you would have normally.
With summer coming you will not want to miss out in dips in the pool or ocean because of your new hair. Be sure to always wear a swim cap made of latex. Carefully comb out any tangles that may be present starting from the bottom and working your way up. Once the hair has been detangled braid the hair in two braids to ensure that all of the hair is protected and tucked neatly under the cap.
Following your dip, be sure to wash your hair immediately to remove any damaging chemical that may have snuck under your cap. Use your creativity and make your cap your own. Add some sparkle or bling so your swim cap shows your personality.
Now, when it is time to remove the hair extensions you can do it in a couple of different ways. The quickest way would be to cut them out, however, that would leave with quite a short do. A more preferable method, most likely, would be to let your stylist take them out. If you have synthetic locks, the area that is bonded will be heated up slightly which will loosen the glue's hold on the hair.
With natural extensions a special solvent is applied to the connection which helps to release the bond. From there the ball is in your court. If everything was done properly and your natural hair and scalp is still in good condition, you may choose to have new extensions added on the same day. If there is damage to either, it would be advisable to fix the problem before adding more hair.
I hate to sound like a broken record, or should I say a skipping CD, but talk to your stylist a lot and often to ensure a good experience with your journey into Rapunzelville. There are many things that could go wrong so do your homework and find a stylist that you know is experienced and one that you trust.
I would also strongly suggest asking for references, see if you can speak to clients who have had hair extensions applied and ask to see pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at an "after" picture and like the "before" look better-move on to another salon. Remember you are paying the salon so make them work for you!
Gretchen LeAnne     ©
Photo: Focus and Blur/Shutterstock
See also: Hair Extensions Q&A