How to look after hair extensions

Care for Extensions

Hair extensions are a wonderful way of giving your hair some extra volume and length, and can transform your look. Knowing how to look after hair extensions correctly will mean that they look flawless and last as long as possible.  

With different types of extensions, from glue-in and clip-ins to weaves, the type of care required varies considerably. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to looking after your hair extensions.

Before we start…

Hair extensions can be synthetic or natural (real human hair). This affects how you care for your extensions. 

Real human hair is actually much more manageable and more forgiving. They may look more real, but they do come with a price tag as a result. Both synthetic and human hair extensions are available in a complete range of colours and styles, so you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for.

How to look after clip-in hair extensions

Let’s start with how to look after clip-in hair extensions. Many of us reach for these as our first foray into wearing extensions because you can do them yourself at home with ease. Clips are attached to each weft (bunch of hair) and you attach them to your natural hair using a clip that snaps open and shut.

Clip-in hair extensions are really flexible and not permanent. You can wear them one day and not the next, and then have them back in again on Saturday night! They won’t damage your natural hair at all as there’s no heat or chemicals needed to attach them. 

Clip-in hair extensions are remarkably easy to look after and they last a very long time – especially if made from human hair. As they clip in and clip out, you don’t wash them while they are attached. You remove them and only wash them when needed. This could be around every 15-20 wears, unless you have a lot of product build-up in your extensions. 

When you are ready to wash them, you simply brush them first, then gently shampoo and condition your clip-in extensions. Leave them to air dry naturally.

Clip-in hair extensions made of human hair are really versatile because you can style them in exactly the same way as you do your natural hair. Fancy them curled or straightened? No problem! You can even colour them like you would your own hair, just bear in mind that the hair might take the colour differently to your own. 

How to look after glue-in hair extensions

Glue-in extensions typically last 4-8 weeks, although they can often be reused. So you need to know how to look after them to keep them looking their best.

Glue-in hair extensions are sometimes also called tape-in extensions. Each weft comes with pre-glued tapes that are then fixed to your natural hair. We strongly recommend having them applied by a skilled hair stylist because there’s quite an art to making them look fantastic and aligning them with your roots for comfort and a great look. A heated tool is used to fix the glue, then a special solution is applied to dissolve the glue when you are ready to have them removed.  

You need to be quite careful with glue-in hair extensions to maintain the glue. As such, avoid using conditioner, and ideally use the shampoo and hair care products recommended to you by your stylist. Avoid oil-based hair products as these will dissolve the glue.

Styling glue-in hair extensions is pretty simple as they are most commonly made with human hair. Just take care to keep any heat away from the root area where the adhesive is.

Alternative glue-in hair extensions are called fusion, or pre-bonded hair extensions. These are also glued in but they are fused to the hair slightly differently than taped extensions. Some hairdressers don’t recommend pre-bonded or fusion extensions as they can be quite damaging to your natural hair.

To apply fusion extensions, a device similar to a hot glue gun is used. However, once in, these hair extensions are considered semi-permanent and you can style your hair and treat it exactly as you would your natural hair. Just be warned that over time you will discover they need repositioning due to growth, and these extensions can cause breakage, irritation and hair loss.

How to look after weaves

Weaves are a luxury type of hair extension as they create a wonderful natural look and don’t require glue to apply. They need to be applied by a professional and this takes some time. They should be replaced at least every other month as they can affect the natural hair growth. But if you want, you could leave them in for a few months.

Weaves are a type of extension which involves braiding the natural hair first, into cornrows. The weave is then literally sewn to your hair. Typically this is best for thick hair, and most commonly used for those with afro-textured hair. The process can be quite straining on the scalp and it requires a technical application process.

When considering how to look after weaves, it’s essential to moisturise regularly. Your stylist will make recommendations, but at least once a week you should be moisturising the scalp, as well as the neck and areas around the edge of the hairline. You may also be recommended a protein wash as this helps to prevent damage and support the strength of the hair. 

The cornrows will need to stay in place and your styling will reflect this, but otherwise they can be styled as normal. Weaves are most typically human hair.

How to look after other types of hair extensions

Clip-in, glue-in and weaves are the most common types of hair extensions. However, there are also microlink hair extensions, as well as wigs and hair pieces that can be attached to your natural hair or scalp. These require a different care process.

For locks that always look fabulous, book a hairdresser or hair stylist to your home with a Secret Spa expert.

Book hairdressing