The Balayage Bae

My Not-So-Secret Obsession: Hair Extensions

HairAnne Sweeney

I just reapplied my tape in hair extensions yesterday so it seemed like an obvious choice for a first blog post. Many of you know, I completed my hair extension certification last year-yay!-and since then, I have had a lot of clients express interest in the tape in extensions that I do. I’ve been using tape in extensions on myself and clients for the last couple years and they are by far my favorite hair extension method from both a stylist and client perspective. In my opinion, the biggest benefit to the tape in method is how flat they lay to the head. In the past, I’ve had both sew in extensions (weave) and the micro-beaded kind. I found that with the sew ins, my head was twice as big as it normally is. This is because your natural hair has to cornrowed and then the hair weft is sewn on to the braid. This causes the weft to be slightly raised rather than laying flat like your natural hair would. Now, I know that this is not the case for everyone when they get a weave, but it was definitely true for me. The microbeads were a little better but uncomfortable when I laid my head down, which is a common complaint about that method. With tape in extensions, a thin section of natural hair is placed between two extensions, like a sandwich. The piece are thin enough that when you place your hands on the head, you can hardly feel them at all.

The extensions are not attached to your scalp, rather they are placed about ¼inch off the scalp. This not only allows your scalp to breath better than the sew in method, but your hair will continue to grow and your extensions will grow out with your hair. Because of that, they do need to be reapplied every 6-8 weeks, depending on how fast your grows. Each extension piece is only about an inch and a half wide which gives more freedom as far as styling goes and gives you an overall natural look. The tape doesn’t cause any damage to the natural hair which is an obvious plus.

It’s easy to shampoo, style and even swim with these extensions and with proper care, the hair can last a VERY long time. I’ve been using the same hair for a year now and they still look and feel amazing.

Okay, so we all know everything has its flaws. The downside to having any type of extensions is you have to take care of them. I know how stupid that sounds but you’d be surprised at how many people think they’ll wake looking like a Victoria’s Secret model once they get extensions. In all honesty though, caring for extensions is more work than caring for your natural hair. You have to brush your hair in the morning, before you wash, at night and even throughout the day sometimes. For me, I’m not bothered by having to do my hair all the time, it’s second nature to me. But a lot of people don’t want to add more time into their morning routine because on top of more brushing, you HAVE to style them. Even though they look natural and are 100% human hair, they didn’t grow out of your head. Curling or straightening the extensions makes them blend in perfectly with your natural hair. 

I think the best part of having extensions is not having to watch your natural hair grow at an alarmingly slow rate. I have a bad habit of chopping my hair off and then hating it a few days later. I've been growing my hair out for the last few years now and having extensions has made it an easier process. I also love that I don't have to wash my hair very often. Ideally, people should only wash their hair every few days. With extensions, the less often the better. I think I wash mine once a week...maybe less. So naturally I use dry shampoo like it's going out of style but having the extensions make my hair not appear greasy even if it really is. 

If you decide that tape in extensions are for you, here's my list of tricks to keep them in like-new condition. 

1. Use coconut oil on the ends before bed. You should braid your hair before sleeping on your extensions anyways, but the oil will soak in overnight and leave your ends feeling much better in the morning. 

2. Invest in professional hair products. Professional products are higher quality and are designed to keep hair healthy and beautiful. You've already invested the money into extensions, invest in the care of them too. 

-Luster Lock by Joico - by far the best deep conditioner I have ever used and the ONLY conditioner/mask that makes my extensions feel brand new

-Miracle Styling Potion by It's A 10 - my favorite styling cream for anyone, with or without extensions

-Hairdresser's Oil Primer by Bumble&bumble - again, I love this for anyone but it will keep your extensions hydrated and works perfectly as a detangler or leave in conditioner

3. ALWAYS put a hair product on before blow drying. You should be doing this for your natural hair too but protecting hair from heat is key in keeping it shiny and healthy. 

4. Brush, brush, brush. When you wake up, before you wash it, before bed, after your dry it. Keeping tangles out of your hair will prevent it from breaking and looking dry. 

5. Always have a professional install and remove the extensions. I shouldn't have to stress this. Trying to take them out or put them in yourself is not easy by any means and you can end up ruining your natural hair.

6. Dry Shampoo. Like I said earlier, dry shampoo is key for extensions because you don't want to wash them too often. I suggest Aquage Dry Shampoo or the Pret a Powder by Bumble&bumble. 

7. Avoid any conditioner or oils near the scalp. Oil will wear away at the tape and eventually cause the extensions to slip out before it's time to have them readjusted. This is also a good reason to use dry shampoo so your natural scalp oils don't wear down the tape either. 

8. Teasing. When you're nearing the end of 8 weeks and needing to reapply you extensions, teasing your hair will hide the extensions until you see your stylist. Just be careful not to tease the extension hair too much. Go for the natural hair that is between "extension sandwiches". 

9. Watch out for armpits, car doors and necklaces. If you're extra like me, you like long extensions and that means the hair can get stuck in lots of places. I personally get my hair stuck in my boyfriend's armpit when I hug him. I've also noticed my hair gets stuck in the clasp of my necklace sometimes. It wont harm your hair if it gets stuck but if you know to be more careful, you'll avoid embarrassment and knots. 

10. You don't have to tell people your hair is fake. Most the time I own up to the fact that I didn't grow my hair myself, but sometimes it's nice to just accept a compliment about your long hair. 

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Before & After