So um, growing curly hair takes some time.
Okay, it takes a LOT of time.
Actual length is very different from visual length (aka how long your hair looks, versus how long it actually is).
And while some of us are on that mission to grow long and strong hair (*raises hand, jumps up and down*), sometimes the wait is just a lot.
Enter, clip-in hair extensions.
Now yours truly has, for a very long time, believed that these were exclusively for straight haired folk. After all, every curl on my dang head is different, how are you going to find extensions to match? And wouldn’t they get tangled?
Apparently, THEY MAKE EXTENSIONS FOR CURLY HAIRED HUMANS.
Enter two women who have enlightened us all – Soleil Guerrero, owner of Curls by Bebonia (a curly hair extension company) and Lavida Barkley, a Deva Advanced Stylist and the owner of Coiled Salon.
We asked them EVERYTHING we could about curly extensions. Here are their secrets:
Who should use hair extensions?
“My biggest clients are people who are transitioning, who may not feel comfortable with their current length or hair thickness. Clip in extensions are amazing for maximizing your look while you grow your hair!
Clip-ins are great for anyone who wants to add more length, thickness, or fullness to the appearance of their hair,” says Soleil.
And um, what a difference they make. CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS BEFORE AND AFTER?!
How are these even made? Don’t they only make extensions for straight hair?
Curly hair extensions are in fact, very real. They’re made two different ways – chemically, where the hair is permed to create the curl, or by steaming, where the hair is put on a rod and set with steam (kind of like a flexirod set, but permanent).
“They allow you to wear different versatile styles and they’re easy enough to insert and remove,” says Lavida. Also…they only take about 15 minutes to install. Sweeeeet.
How long does my hair have to be to use clip-in extensions?
“For clip-ins you want at least 4 to 5 inches of hair (from the scalp) to make sure they blend well,” says Soleil.
Can I cut or color them?
Yes, but go to a stylist for help. Color on curls can be tricky and if you over develop color on a set of extensions, there’s really no way to recover them!
How do I wash my hair extensions? What products should I use?
As with all curly hair (even when it isn’t attached to your head)…you want to use the best products possible and…a lot of water.
PSA, you can use DevaCurl to maintain curly hair extensions. Actually, DevaCurl works really well for this #winning.
Lavida’s go-to products are: No-Poo Decadence (to detangle and cleanse), Low Poo Delight (for a light cleanser and its amazing scent), One Condition Original, and Styling Cream (to lock in the moisture) for a “twist-out” or a simple “wash & go.”
Soleil’s go-to products are No-Poo and One Condition Original. She’s also a huge fan of deep conditioning, “I actually will cleanse the hair, and then while it’s soaking wet, I’ll hydrate it with Heaven in Hair, and leave them to soak in a plastic zip lock for a while, then I’ll rinse that out, and work in some One Condition as a leave In!”
She finishes off by styling with either Ultra Defining or Arc Angel Gel. She likes to rake the gel through, and then scrunch the curls with a towel (because yes, curly extensions need to be encouraged too!).
And if you wear the pieces every day, make sure you wash them at least once a week and refresh them in between washes with water.
What about drying curly hair extensions?
To speed up the drying process Soleil recommends separating the curls and letting them air dry. But if you’re in a rush you can also use the diffuser. (Pro Tip: Make sure your hair and the curly hair extensions are totally dry before inserting them, otherwise you’ll be adding even more weight and tension to your scalp which can strain your strands).
Lavida has another awesome trick, “I secure my extensions to a plastic hanger, then I will let them air dry or sit them under my dome hair dryer. The air drying will allot for expansion and fluffier curls and the dome dryer or diffuser will give more defined, long-lasting curls, so it just depends on what look I’m going for.”
How long can I leave them in for?
“You can wear your extensions every day – I do! But make sure you take them out at night before going to bed, otherwise, you’ll wake up in the morning with a lot of tension on your scalp, and possibly even a headache!” says Soleil.
How Long Do Clip-Ins Last?
If you purchase quality hair and maintain them with great products, you can keep them in great condition, says Lavida. She’s had the same set for nearly 2 years!
But PSA, if you use a lot of heat, you’ll wear out your extensions fast. If you’re thinking about straightening your hair extensions, Soleil says skip it.
Each time you use a straightener you’ll weaken the curl pattern and it won’t recover. If you want to switch up your look between straight and curly, consider getting two different sets of extensions.
Do hair extensions damage your natural hair?
“Although very safe, there should be special care and caution taken while wearing them,” says Lavida. “It’s best to seek a professional that not only specializes in extensions but also specializes in curly hair textures. They can help you learn about proper placement (to avoid tension and soreness). Most quality extension producers will have a stylist directory and can connect you with a professional that is familiar with their line.
How do I install curly hair extensions?
Placement is everything. As mentioned earlier, a stylist can walk you through exactly how to install your clip ins, but there’s some pretty easy rules of thumb to follow:
A big thing to remember: don’t layer wefts (i.e. sections of extensions) on top of each other, because the tracks will likely poke out of your head (not so cute) and this will cause a lot of tension on your scalp and could lead to breakage.
You’ll want to layer your extensions, placing each one based on width (i.e. how many clips are in each piece).
Most sets come with three lengths – small (2 clips), medium (3 clips), large (4 to 5 clips). Medium pieces should be installed near the bottom and crown, large pieces in the middle, and the small ones in the front.
Start with the back half of your head (the section behind the ears up to the top of the crown) and divide into horizontal layers, layer the medium and large pieces based on your head shape.
Then install the smallest pieces along your front sections in horizontal layers. Start around the eyebrow line and work your way up. Don’t go too far up towards the crown, or the tracks might show through!
Need a visual? Us too.
You can watch Soleil install hers right here:
How do I get extensions out?
Rule number one: have patience. “You want to make sure your own hair isn’t tangled in the extensions before removing,” says Soleil.
Rule number two: Remove them in reverse of how you put them in, in other words, the last weft that is applied should be taken out first.
Have you tried curly clip in extensions before? Would you want to? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!