How to Wash Your Hair When You Have Hair Extensions [Complete Guide]
Washing your hair when you have hair extensions can be intimidating. Not only do you have a lot more hair than usual (which can be surprisingly heavy!), but as you’ll know if you read our blog on how to make your hair extensions last longer, learning to wash it correctly is one of the best ways to do so.
Since we know that anyone new to hair extensions needs to master this skill to ensure their investment looks beautiful and natural for as long as possible, we’ve created this complete guide to ensure you get it right.
Read on to learn how to wash your hair extensions correctly.
Your Complete Guide to Washing Your Hair Extensions Correctly
Type of Hair Extensions Matters
The first thing to know is that the type of hair extensions you have matters. While you can treat the hair like the hair on the rest of your head, the adhesive (whether sewn-in or glued-in) must be treated with care.
If your hair is glued in, you may need to avoid certain ingredients in hair care products that can cause the adhesive to stop working. Your hair stylist should advise you on this when you have your extensions put in, but if in doubt, simply Google the adhesive used and see if you need to avoid certain products.
We’ll be covering professional hair extensions in this article, but if you need advice on washing clip-ins, scroll to the end.
Use Sulfate-Free and Alcohol-Free Hair Care
Before you step into the shower, ensure your shampoo and conditioner are sulfate-free and alcohol-free. Why? Because sulfate and alcohol strip the hair of its natural oils, and can also break down the adhesive holding your extensions in place. This goes for adhesives like micro rings as well as glue.
Step into the Shower and Start Shampooing
Now you’ve got the right products, step into the shower. When you shampoo your hair, try to do so gently, as though you’re getting it washed in the salon. Work the shampoo in gently, using your fingertips to massage your scalp. Try to avoid scrubbing. When you’re done, rinse it out thoroughly.
In the same way that very hot water can strip hair dye from your hair more quickly, it’s best to avoid using hot water to wash your hair extensions since it can damage the adhesive. If you like your showers hot, turn down the heat before you wash your hair.
Condition and Brush Your Hair
One of the easiest ways to damage your hair extensions is to brush out knots when your hair is dry. The best way to keep your hair tangle-free is to apply your conditioner, wait 1-2 minutes, and then comb or brush through the conditioner carefully. This will help you remove any tangles and knots easily without having to be rough, which can cause split ends and pull excessively on the adhesive.
Conditioner makes our hair soft and silky (a win!), but that same silkiness can mean your extensions will slip more easily, so don’t apply it any higher than 1-2 inches from the top of your lowest extensions.
You can use any conditioner you like, provided it’s sulfate and alcohol-free. We’ve got a deep conditioner coming soon, but in the meantime, we recommend conditioners with natural ingredients, such as argan oil.
(A note on using oils on your hair: if you apply an oil to your hair, make sure you follow the same rules about keeping it away from the adhesive as we gave about the conditioner. Oil can cause your extensions to slip. Apply any oils only to the length of your hair, do not apply them to the hair above your chin.)
Squeeze excess water out of your hair and then pat your hair dry with a towel. (Micro-fiber towels work even better.) Resist the temptation to put your hair up in the towel on top of your head, as this can cause unnecessary stress on the adhesive. Instead, pat dry thoroughly, run your fingers through or comb through your hair again, and allow it to air dry.
If you don’t have time to air dry your hair, apply heat protection spray and blow dry as normal, blow-drying downwards to keep your hair as tangle-free as possible. Many recommend you use the cool setting if you can, but if you use the warm setting just make sure you keep the air moving.
If you decide to air dry your hair, just make sure you don’t go to bed with wet hair. While it won’t be the end of the world if you do so once or twice, going to sleep with wet hair makes your hair more prone to tangling, which will put excess pressure on the adhesive.
How often should I wash my hair with extensions?
If you can, we recommend washing your hair 1 or 2 times a week, depending on how long your hair can go between washes. Be aware that washing it more than 3 times a week will shorten the lifespan of your hair extensions.
Since you don’t need to wear clip-ins 24/7, remove them before washing your hair. You only need to wash clip-ins when they need it, which is usually when they’ve got a build-up of product, such as hair spray. While we recommend sulfate-free shampoos most of the time, you may want to use one containing sulfates for washing your clip-in extensions since it will more easily remove product build-up.
Washing your hair with extensions does not need to be intimidating. With these tips, you’ll be well prepared to wash your extensions and keep them looking beautiful for months to come. To find out more about prolonging the life of your hair extensions, see our 5 top tips here. If you’ve yet to get your first hair extensions, read our guide on how to buy hair extensions for the first time, and then head over to our store to pick the best hair for you.