As a hairstylist who works behind the chair, I get this question a lot.. Is it hard to take care of hair extensions at home? Most think the answer is yes, but it's actually not. Which is a big relief because it makes extensions even more accessible to the every day woman, like you and me.
So if it's not hard, what actually goes into taking care of your extensions at home?
I like to keep it simple and at the end of the day, you need to keep them tangle-free and hydrated. Here's what that looks like:
1) WASHING YOUR EXTENSIONS: Brush any tangles out of your hair before you shower. This will help you avoid tangles in the shower and while your hair is wet and more fragile.
Wash with a sulfate free shampoo & hydrating conditioner. For my clients I create an extension kit which includes the shampoo & conditioning duo called "Length Goals" by Matrix (Bellami and Matrix came together to create this product so it's specifically made for Bellami's hair extensions) but Loma Moisture is a great option as well.
While the conditioner is in your hair, brush through with a wet brush or a wide tooth comb to remove any tangles that may have happened while shampooing. This will make it easier to brush out after the shower. To rinse you will part your hair vertically around your head and massage while the water runs over the part.
[PRO TIP: Instead of massaging the shampoo into your scalp in a circular pattern like you probably normally do, massage horizontally between the rows of hair to avoid tangles and thoroughly clean your scalp.]
Ideally you should only be washing your hair 1-2x per week to maximize how long your extensions last but your stylist should go over this with you and recommend an extension method that is right for your lifestyle.
Towel dry your hair with a microfiber towel to protect from frizz and damage.
2) STYLING: After washing, I always recommend using a leave-in treatment (Length Goals Extension Perfecter by Matrix is a great choice). Then you can choose to either air dry or blow dry. Most of my clients air dry for a few hours and then finish them off with the blow dryer. This makes it easier to manage and because they have so much extra hair, their hair doesn't need all the styling to look good. The styling just puts it over the top.
Speaking of which, always use a heat protectant before using hot tools on your hair. There's nothing that will damage your hair extensions faster than constantly using heat on them without heat protectant.
BEDTIME ROUTINE: Your bedtime routine is another important part of caring for your extensions but it's really not that complicated. Basically you don't want to go to bed with your hair wet, and you want to braid it before your head hits the pillow. Nothing fancy, just a braid or two depending on your preference.
When your bed hits the pillow the pillow should be covered in a silk or satin pillowcase. Silk and satin have a lot of slip and don't absorb moisture like cotton does so they not only reduce friction on your hair (helping you avoid frizz and damage) but they also help your skin and hair retain moisture.
All in all, not that hard right? You're probably doing most of those things already. It's really just good hair practices to abide by and if you don't have extensions and you're not doing these things, I would highly encourage you to start working a few into your routine to make the most of your own hair.
BONUS: SUMMER CARE: More than likely the summer time is when you'll have to adjust a little more. With swimming and sun you do have to take extra care with your extensions. When it comes to swimming, wet your hair with tap water before getting it wet in a pool, lake or ocean. Towel dry your tap wet hair and liberally work a deep conditioner through your lengths and braid or secure in a bun (just not a messy bun). After swimming, shampoo your hair as soon as possible to remove any remnants of the water you were swimming in.
As far as sunscreen goes, avoid chemical-based sunscreens and opt for mineral-based instead because the chemical-based can cause discoloration in your extensions and it can be hard to remove.
Annnnnd, that's it. It felt long to type out but like I said above, it's really just good hair practices and you're probably doing at least some of them already. So if you were questioning whether or not you could keep up with taking care of your extensions at home, chances are you probably can! Once you start taking care of them you really get into a routine that works for you and it becomes just like taking care of your own hair.