Fusion extensions have been gaining more momentum in popularity each year. Gone are the days of masking a too short hair cut by pulling it back, throwing on a beanie, or trying to concoct a hairstyle using 300 bobbie pins. Overnight, celebrities go from a fierce, shoulder grazing bob to long, sex kitten locks. A major difference between celebrities and the rest of the world is that they have people helping them look fabulous each day. Yes, it is just as important for them to use the proper techniques in caring for their extensions but if they don't, shelling out a thousands of dollars to replace them isn't that big of a deal. That is why is it so important to take the proper care in maintaining your hair, so that you can save yourself the headache and money. Here are the most important tips and tricks I have learned through the years when it comes to keeping extensions soft, manageable, and tangle free:
1. BRUSH, BRUSH, BRUSH! Good brushing is essential. Before you get into the shower, make sure to brush out any hairspray or tangles. When brushing, start at the ends and work your way up. NEVER use a brush with hard bristles, as this can damage the hair and add knots. I use a soft, boar bristle brush on all of my clients and encourage them to purchase the same brush if they don't already have it..
2. Wash your hair gently. Do not scrub, I repeat DO NOT SCRUB your roots or extensions. You have to treat them like silk. Gently press shampoo into the roots of your hair, avoiding getting it in the bonds. By lifting up the hair section by section and running your pointer finger across the hairline with shampoo, you will still being able to clean your scalp. When conditioning, only condition from the midshaft and down. Since the extensions will not get the natural oils from your scalp, it is important to use a high quality shampoo and conditioner to keep them looking and feeling great. I suggest Moroccan Oil Moisture Repair Shampoo and Conditioner as it is keratin infused and keeps your hair moisturized and strong. When rinsing product out, always keep the water flowing down. The same applies for blow drying your hair as well.
3. Do not put heat directly on the bonds. This will weaken them and cause them to fall out quicker. Always point the airflow in the down direction, never against the grain of your hair. I know how easy it is to just flip your hair upside down to get volume and cut blow dry time down, but this will not work with extensions. It will create and unpleasant, matted mess all around. Use your boar bristle brush while blow drying and remember not to run the brush directly down from root to end because it will get caught on the bonds and can rip them out (OUCH!). It is safe (and encouraged) to use a thermal protectant spray on your hair before drying it to create a barrier from the heat.
4. Your hair should be 100% dry before you go to sleep. By braiding the extensions or tying them into a low ponytail, this will lay the hair flat and keep it from getting tangled throughout the night. A messy bun on top of your head can cause an even messier style the next morning. If possible, a satin pillowcase will keep your hair soft and smooth.
5. Avoid harsh chemicals. Hair color should never be applied directly onto the bonds because it will break down its adhesion and cause them to fall out. Chlorine and salt water are also very abrasive to hair but if this is unavoidable, wear a swim cap. Swim caps have come a long way from when they were first introduced! Check out this bad-ass one, this one, and even this awesome floral cap.
6. Dry shampoo will become your best friend. The less you wash your hair the better. Although I don't suggest going poo-free for weeks on end, it is fine to go a few days without washing it. So many different brands make dry shampoo now and you can find it at your local drugstore. Just spray it at the root to freshen up.
By using these tips and tricks, your hair extensions will last a very long time. When I got my first set of extensions, I was not told by my stylist any of this. When I had asked her, she gave me very vague answers and I did not care for them the way that I should have. But through trial and error, I was able to find the best way to take care of my second set and each one after that. If you have any questions, please send me a message or comment. Here's to happy, healthy hair!