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Getting tape-in hair extensions is a fantastic way to add gorgeous volume and length to hair. Plenty of women get tape-in hair extensions, but most do not know how to properly take care of their extensions. When properly cared for, tape-in hair extensions can last a whopping 6 months!

Read on for the essentials to maintaining your new hair extensions for maximum shine and usage!

1. Buy a proper hair extension brush

Tape-in hair extensions are, by definition, dead hair. Therefore, it doesn’t grow back if it gets pulled out. Most normal brushes are designed for the living, growing hair on our heads and can pull out anywhere from 50-100 strands of hair per use, which will decimate your lovely hair extensions.

Hair extension brushes are specifically designed to protect the hair in your hair extensions and won’t pull or damage the hair. For optimal results, gently brush your extensions 1-2 times each day.

2. Use natural, sulfate-free shampoos

Most hair extensions are very sensitive to damage that can be caused by all the harsh chemicals in common shampoos. Some common but harmful ingredients include sulfates, oils and alcohols.

When caring for your hair extensions, opt for all natural, sulfate-free, alcohol-free and paraben-free shampoos. Natural shampoos will clean the hair without damaging the proteins in it, leading to greater longevity and healthier hair extensions, and it won’t hurt your natural hair either!

3. Avoid heat

Heat can damage both your natural hair and extensions. Using heat on your hair strips moisture from the hair, leaving the hair brittle and prone to breakage. While heat-protectant products can help protect your extensions, the safest and healthiest option is to avoid heat.

Instead of turning to heat for your styling needs, try methods like hair curlers, hairspray and other heat-free style while you have your hair extensions in. The good news is that heat-free hairstyles are usually quicker than curling or blow-drying and protect the natural oils in your hair.

4. Wash from the top down

A common mistake many women make when it comes to cleaning hair extensions is to scrub their hair with shampoo. Although a natural shampoo won’t damage the hair like a normal shampoo would, it will still damage the glue and cause breakage on your natural hair where the extensions are attached.

Instead, you should use the shampoo sparingly and only on the scalp. Don’t put shampoo on the ends of your hair and work around the extensions to avoid the tape. A good idea would be to add wet your hair, step out of the shower for a minute to shampoo your hair, then get back in to rinse it out.

The inverse rule applies to conditioner- only work on the ends. Conditioner should not touch your scalp or the tape, or you risk greasy and matted hair extensions. Only work conditioner half-way up the extension before rinsing.

5. Don’t pull!

Pulling hair extensions has a double-sided risk. Obviously, you risk the integrity of the hair extension, but you also risk the health of your natural hair. Pulling on the tape-in hair extensions can pull out your real hair just as quickly as the hair in the extension.

We’ve addressed brushing and shampooing, but there are many other common actions that involve too much pulling to safely do with hair extensions. One is leaving hair in a ponytail for too long. The extra weight of the hair pulls your natural hair and makes it prone to breakage. Going to sleep in wet hair is also damaging, as wet hair tends to stick to the pillow and pull. Finally, avoid tight hats as they put pressure on odd parts of the head and can damage the hair extensions.

The key word in all these tips is to be gentle. Hair extensions are not as resilient as living hair and require a bit of daily TLC, but with a bit of effort your hair extensions will be as shiny as your normal hair, and you’ll be able to rock them for months longer!

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