I love wearing hair extensions from time to time and I usually wear hair extensions on about three occasions within a year. At this time of year I install hair extensions to give myself a break from styling and to protect my hair from drying out and breaking in the colder months, oh the joys of living in London. Extensions are a great styling option as it allows your hair to be transformed, you can have a longer length if you are about the inches life, or even go bold and short without having to cut your own hair. Also extension can be great for adding volume or playing around with colours. Depending on the type of hair you opt for, the styling process can require less maintenance compared to your natural hair saving on time getting ready in the mornings or on preparation for a Saturday night out.
Wearing hair extension is an easy and ideal way for me to grow my hair, on removing the extensions my hair is so much fuller and longer. Extension can be a great way to protect your hair but only if done correctly. We have all seen, heard, or experienced the horror stories of losing edges or hair snapping off from hair extensions. I believe that every hairstyle should be done in moderation to prevent damage occurring.
Below are details of my hair extension process from to start to finish. The goal is to look gorgeous but still be left with a healthy head of hair underneath.
Natural Hair Preparation
Before installing my extension I always make sure my hair is in a good condition as the extension will be in for several weeks. This involves me clarifying my hair so I start with a clean scalp to reduce the itchiness that can occur with product build up. I also make sure I perform a protein treatment to keep my hair strong whilst the extensions are in. I then do my usual weekly deep treatment of natural oils and honey mixed with a deep treatment conditioner. I am currently using Cantu Deep Treatment Mask for Natural Hair. This is an old favourite of mine that I recently re-discovered in my cupboard. This mask goes a long way as it is extremely thick and it makes the detangling process of my coils so much easier.
I then blow dry my hair on a low heat setting and if my hair needs a trim, I will then snip off any frayed ends. I prefer to trim my hair prior to installing extensions as I want my strands to be healthy before installation. Even though extensions are a protective style you are still manipulating your hair, so if I have splint ends I like to get rid of them prior to prevent the split travelling further up the hair shaft during the installation process or on taking them out.
Unfortunately I cannot plait canerows. I have been practising but at the moment I can only achieve two struggle canerows. Hopefully in the future I will master the technique as this will save me a lot of money and time. So I always get my hair stylist to do my extensions.
You need to make sure you have a good hair stylist who you are comfortable with, who is not going to rip your hair from your scalp for the sake of a hair style. Make sure the canerows and the tracks are not tight. You want your hair to look good and last for a while, but you still want to have healthy hair when you remove the extensions. I don’t wash and condition my curly extension before I put them in, just because of pure laziness. But if I go for a kinky afro texture I never skip the pre-washing process in order to soften the hair for styling.
If you wear hair extension on a regular basis change the directions of the canerows so your hair is not being pulled in the same direction every time. Switching the parting side helps to reduce repeated stress to one area of the head. I prefer wearing closures as all of my hair is hidden away, so I don’t have to worry about blending in the leave out. Also in the past I have found that if I had a leave out, my strands tended to get a little frayed with the manipulation, so it defeated the purpose of protective styling.
Hair Extensions Care
The products I use to maintain my hair in extensions are very minimal. I just use a spray leave in conditioner, cream leave in conditioner and Black Jamaican Castor Oil. I use the spray leave in all over my scalp to keep the area moisturised. I then make sure I apply the oil on my edges on a daily basis and to the nape of my neck, which is my problem area. On my actual scalp I apply the Black Jamaican Castor Oil but only sparsely to prevent clogging up my scalp. Black Jamaican Castor Oil is a really thick and heavy oil that helps to promote hair growth. I find that this oil works best on my 4C hair as it really locks in the moisture to prevent my hair from drying out. Laying my edges depends on my mood; again if I am feeling lazy I will just brush them to neaten them up.
On the actual extensions I only use a light amount of cream leave in conditioner to keep the curls defined and soft. In the morning all I do is detangle the curls with wet hands, once water touches the hair the curls instantly come back to life and I apply As I Am leave in conditioner to the curls and I am ready for the day. My nightime routine is pretty simple as well, just two plaits to prevent tangling and covering with a head scarf. Plaiting the hair is very important step, as you don’t want your hair to knot up during the night and it will be a nightmare to try and separate the curls.
I keep the extension in for five to six weeks to avoid hair damage and also because I just get bored of the hairstyle and I want to let my natural hair breath again. At week five I always reach the point when I miss my fro and cannot wait to take the extensions out.
This process is just as important as the installation. You will need a spray bottle mixed with a leave in conditioner and water. I tend to mix up my own mixture as I am cheap and don’t want to waste my purchased leave in conditioners to detangle dirty hair. Other tools you will require are a scissors, comb and just your fingers.
Once I have cut out the tracks and removed the canerows I thoroughly detangle my hair by spraying it to make it damp. I use my fingers at first to locate knots and finger detangle, I then gently comb through my hair. It is best to detangle row by row to avoid knotting up the hair rather than tackling a large portion. After I have detangled my hair I then do a similar wash process to the installation. Firstly clarifying, protein treatment and a deep treatment with steam. I then leave my hair extension free for a minimum of a week to give my hair a rest before adding new extension.
Comment down below on how you maintain your extensions.
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I'm Caron and I have created this blog to share my love of natural hair, beauty and a few things in-between.
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