Care for Human Hair Extensions: Detangling, Washing, and Conditioning

Last Updated on December 19, 2022 by Gaga

Hair extensions are a serious investment of time and money, so you’ll definitely want to keep them in good condition as long as possible. It’s also important to keep your natural hair and scalp healthy while wearing extensions.

When it comes to human hair, guidelines for care differ depending on whether you’re wearing semi-permanent or clip-in hair extensions. Semi-permanent extensions are supposed to stay in your hair for 1 to 6 months, depending on their type and quality.

Today we are going to take a closer look at how to take care of human hair extensions.

How to Detangle Human Hair Extensions

Beautiful young woman combing hair with extensions

Regular combing and detangling are crucial for all types of hair extensions. Combing reduces the risk of matting and also helps to blend extensions with your natural hair. You should comb your human extensions daily (when you wear them) and before each wash to prevent the tangles from forming.

Make sure to remove any knots as soon as you notice them. Fixing the problem will be tougher if you leave the knots in your hair for a while. Don’t be naughty with the knotty habits!

Use a wide-tooth comb or a brush with looped bristles that are designed specifically for wigs and hair extensions. The curved bristles without tips glide through the hair evenly without grabbing the bonds or snagging on the extensions.

Detangling steps

  1. Divide your hair into sections and secure the rest of the hair with clips to keep it out of the way. First, try to gently loosen the knots with your fingers prior to combing to minimize breakage. Try to take out this way as many tangles as you can.
  2. After removing the most stubborn tangles with your fingers, use a wide-tooth comb or a detangling brush to remove the remaining knots. Be gentle and try to avoid pulling the hair. Always start from the ends and gently move upwards to the roots. 
  3. When you come across a knot, hold the hair above the knot with your hand to prevent putting pressure on the bonds. This also helps prevent damage to your natural hair.

How to Wash Real Hair Extensions

If you wear clip-in extensions, you can wash them approximately once a month. Due to the lack of natural oils, clip-in extensions don’t require frequent washing.

When it comes to semi-permanent extensions, it is important to refrain from washing the hair for 2 or 3 days immediately after installation. This is necessary because the bonds need to be completely sealed before you wet the hair.

Wash your hair with extensions no more than 2 times a week. Excessive washing can loosen the bonds and shorten the longevity of your hairpieces.

Young woman with beautiful long hair in bathroom

Wash your locks with lukewarm water and use a mild, sulfate-free shampoo. Your shampoo for extensions shouldn’t contain drying alcohols or oils that could damage or loosen the bonds. It also must be gentle as harsh shampoos can cause friction, increasing the chances of tangling.

Gently apply the shampoo to the scalp with your fingers in a gentle downward motion. Avoid scrubbing or vigorous massaging near the bonds. Rinse thoroughly. 

Apply conditioner only to the middle and ends of your hair, avoiding the roots, because the conditioner can cause the extensions to slip down.

Pro tip: To reduce the possibility of tangles, stand upright in the shower and let the water stream down from above.

Wrap your hair in a towel and don’t use the towel to rub it.

Set a hair dryer at a low heat setting and avoid applying heat to the bonds. Blow-dry the hair by pointing the nozzle downwards to prevent tangles. Don’t pull the hair with the brush.

a girl with human hair extensions blow-dries her hair

Happy to Hydrate: Conditioning

Hair extensions lack natural hydration, so you must give them the moisture they need. Deep conditioning once a week or biweekly is required to keep them hydrated and healthy-looking. The conditioner should be applied only to the middle and ends of your hair.

Use a leave-in conditioner daily to compensate for the lack of moisture. This product should be suitable for extensions, which means no oils, silicones, and strong chemicals. Never apply leave-in conditioner too close to your roots.

How to Style Human Hair Extensions

Avoid using high heat to style your hair because the heat can weaken the bonds (or tape tabs) that hold the extensions attached. If you do use hot tools, set the heat to the lowest level and avoid the bonds. Also, make sure to use a heat protection spray. However, don’t apply oil-based hair sprays near the bonds, as such products can increase the risk of slipping.

How to Sleep with Real Hair Extensions

If you wear clip-in extensions, you need to take them out before going to bed. The removal is necessary to prevent tangles and frizz, and you will sleep more comfortably.

If you wear semi-permanent extensions, you should sleep on a satin or silk pillowcase or wrap your hair in a silk scarf. To prevent the knots, your hair must be completely dry before going to bed.

Girl putting hair with extensions in a ponytail

To minimize friction, pull your hair into a loose ponytail or braid it loosely before bedtime. These protective hairstyles also work well for the gym.

Protection from External Factors

Swimming in the ocean or swimming pools is not recommended because salt and chlorine can damage the bonds and adhesives. But if you love swimming, braid your hair into braids and apply a creamy conditioner before entering a pool to prevent chlorine or salt water from penetrating the hair. Once you are out of the pool, make sure to rinse the hair as soon as possible.

Sun exposure can dry out the extensions, so make sure to wear a hat or apply hair sunscreen when you’re out in the sun.

How to Dye Human Hair Extensions

Dyeing human hair extensions in lighter shades than the current color isn’t recommended due to the damaging effects of bleaching. Dyeing in darker shades doesn’t require the use of bleach, so it won’t cause significant damage and can be done by using a semi or demi-permanent color. However, let a professional stylist take care of any chemical treatment you want to try.

Maintenance Appointments

Your hair stylist will suggest how often you need maintenance appointments. This is usually 4-6 weeks after the initial installation. If your bonds become loose before that time, you’ll need to see a hair professional. After checking your extensions and the condition of your natural hair, your stylist will do the necessary fixing or removal. Once your extensions start to wear off, don’t try to remove them yourself. Let a professional stylist do it with minimal damage to your natural hair. 

checking the condition of hair extensions in the salon

About the author

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Gaga is a blogger and founder of the Softer Hair website. She often says that insomnia is to blame for her first blogging attempts. Being the night owl, she hated the morning alarm. She left her office job and returned to what she loved most - writing.


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