Best Care for Human Hair Extensions

Written by Gaga

-Edited by Stacy J. Shaneyfelt, Educator, Author, and Freelancer

If you want to rock it like Rapunzel, then typically you’ll wreck your wallet. In reality, hair extensions are a serious investment of time and money, and you’ll definitely want to follow these instructions to give them proper care to last as long as possible. It’s also important to keep your natural hair and scalp in good condition while wearing hair extensions. Are you ready to maintain extensions without pain?

When it comes to human hair, maintenance instructions differ based on whether you’re wearing semi-permanent or clip-in hair extensions. Semi-permanent extensions will stay in your hair between 1 and 6 months, depending on the type and quality.

Combing and Detangling

installing of hair extensions in the salon

Regular combing and detangling are crucial for all types of hair extensions. Combing reduces the risk of matting and breakage and helps to blend extensions with your natural hair. As a result, it’s critical to comb your human extensions at least twice daily and before each wash to prevent the tangles from forming.

It’s further best 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 specifically made for wigs and hair extensions. The curved bristle glides through without grabbing the bonds or snagging on the extensions.

Divide your hair into sections and hold the rest of the hair with clips while combing a section. First, try to gently loosen the knots with your fingers, because finger combing is the gentlest way of detangling. Then use a comb or brush to remove all remaining knots. Combing should be easy, without pulling the hair. Always start from the ends and gently move upwards to the roots. 

When you find a knot, hold the hair above the knot with your hand while combing that section. This way won’t put too much pressure on the bonds while combing. This will also help to reduce breakage to your natural hair.

Clean and Pristine: How to Wash Human Hair Extensions

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

When it comes to semi-permanent extensions, do NOT wash hair immediately after attaching them. Instead, wait 2 or 3 days after installation before wetting them. This is beneficial because the bonds need to be completely sealed before the first wash.

Hair extensions themselves don’t require frequent washing, as they are not getting natural oils from the scalp. Excessive washing can loosen the bonds and shorten the longevity of your extensions. Wash your hair with extensions no more than 2 times a week.

Always detangle your hair before washing to remove all knots and tangles.

Wash your lock with lukewarm water and use a mild sulfate-free shampoo that won’t dry out your hair. Your shampoo for extensions shouldn’t contain drying alcohols or oils that could damage or loosen the bonds. Harsh shampoos can dry out hair, increasing the friction and your 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 to be sure no shampoo remains. 

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

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

washing hair with the extensions under a shower

Wrap your hair in a towel and avoid rubbing it. Use a hair dryer at a low heat setting but avoid applying heat to the bonds. Blow-dry the hair pointing the nozzle downwards to prevent tangles. Avoid pulling the hair with a brush while drying it.

Happy to Hydrate: Conditioning

Hair extensions lack natural hydration, so you need to give them the moisture they need. A deep conditioning mask once a week or biweekly is recommended to keep them hydrated and healthy-looking. The mask should be applied to the middle and ends.

Use a leave-in conditioner daily to compensate for the lack of moisture. This product should be formulated for use with hair extensions and shouldn’t contain oils, silicones, and strong chemicals. Like any other product, never apply it too close to your roots.

Suggested brand: MATRIX Total Results Length Goals Extensions Perfector leave-in hair treatment moisturizes human hair extensions, reduces detangling, and protects hair from heat.

How to Style Human Hair Extensions

Avoid using heat to style your hair because the extensions are less resistant to heat than our natural hair. The heat can also weaken the bonds (or tape tabs) that hold the extensions attached. If you do use hot tools, set the heat and speed to the lowest level and refrain from applying the heat near 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 weaken the bonds, increasing the risk of slipping.

Protection During Sleep and Workouts

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 also 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.

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.

Girl putting hair with extensions in a ponytail

Protection against External Factors

Swimming in the ocean or swimming pools is not recommended because salt and chlorine can damage the bonds and adhesives. If you enter a pool or sea, try to keep your hair above water. If your hair gets wet, make sure to rinse it as soon as possible.

Sun exposure can dry out the extensions, so it’s highly recommended 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 treatment you’ve wanted to try.

Maintenance Appointments

Your hair stylist will recommend how often you need to book maintenance appointments. This period is usually 4-6 weeks after the initial installation. If your bonds become loose before that time, you’ll need help from 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 wear off, don’t try to remove them yourself. A professional stylist will do it with minimal damage to your natural hair. 

hair stylist checking client's hair extensions

Disclaimer: All content on this blog is created for informational purposes only. You shouldn’t use it as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Last Updated on March 26, 2022 by Gaga

About the author | Website | + posts

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. Her pets are her coworkers, and she replaced the town crowd with a quiet neighborhood outside the city.


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