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Can Hair Extensions Help the Health of Your Hair? Hint: Yes

Do you envy the Kardashians their long, shiny locks? Don’t feel bad – it’s impossible to achieve that look without a little extra help – from hair extensions. Done right, they can even boost the health of your hair.

Whether you choose tape-in, keratin, or sewn-in extensions, weaves can take the pressure off while you’re in between styles or growing your hair out. Extensions can also help protect your natural hair from damage and give you the flexibility to transform your look on the regular.

Learn more about how to care for the sensitive tresses beneath your extensions – and how to avoid stress caused by inexperienced stylists:

Baby Your Natural Hair

Most women turn to extensions to make their natural hair appear thicker, fuller, and longer – but that doesn’t mean you can stop paying attention to the hair you do have.

In fact, getting extensions can be a great excuse to baby your natural hair, since extensions themselves require quite a bit of maintenance.

“The natural oils of your hair will not reach the tips of your extensions,” Monica Thorton, the co-founder of RPZL, explained to InStyle.

“Proper care includes a daily brushing routine, hydration, and the use of natural products that avoid drying chemicals.”

As Thorton indicates, one of the most important elements of your new hair care routine will be taking the time for deep conditioning treatments for your ends.

“Make sure to hydrate braids or curly hair with a leave-in conditioner daily,” recommends Diane Da Costa at StyleCaster.

“At night, wear a satin bonnet or scarf to minimize dryness and/or tangles,” she adds.

When you hop in the shower, be sure to use a sulfate-free shampoo. Not only will this extend the life of your extensions, but sulfate-free formulas will help your hair maintain more of its natural oils, too.

While hair extensions are easy to style with heat, refrain from turning the heat up too high, or too often – just as you would with your own hair (we hope!).

“Heated styling appliances can be used, but only on 100% human hair extensions,” write the editors of Sally Beauty supply. “Heated curling or straightening irons should never be used on other synthetic hair.”

Just like your natural hair, overusing heated styling tools on extensions can cause damage – or even shorten the life of your ‘do.

In fact, many women even turn to bonded extensions (or keratin extensions) to protect their natural hair.

According to Ruth Roche, the artistic ambassador for Pureology, bonded extensions can “protect your hair, because it’s all inside the extensions and isn’t getting as much exposure to hot curling irons and other damage inducers on the ends of the hair.”

Once you get the gist of caring for your new hair extensions, transforming your look should give you a confidence boost while you’re in the process of growing out your own hair. That’s the whole point!

“Feeling good about the way you look is such a fickle thing, especially for women,” writes StyleCaster’s beauty editor Rachel Krause.

“If having long hair is what it takes for me to feel fully confident with my appearance at this point in my life, shallow as it may be, then why…not have extensions?”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Rachel.

How to Rock Extensions without Damaging Your Hair

New to the world of extensions and weaves? There’s a knack to getting your hair done just right.

Here’s our best advice for avoiding damage during the painstaking application process – and in the weeks afterwards:

1. Go to a Pro

No matter which kinds of extensions you spring for, the most important consideration is to schedule your appointment with a pro.

“Beware of any salon that charges less than $500 for keratin-bond extensions,” writes beauty editor Marissa Gold in Glamour.

“It’s always better to splurge for a time-tested brand of extensions, as well as a salon that’s known for doing them.”

Experienced stylists can also minimize the strain on your natural hair while applying extensions, and help you find the color and texture that best matches your natural hue.

Over at Huffington Post, celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble recommends Remy brand extensions. If you need more ideas, check out this list from StyleBlazer, or chat with your stylist about her recommendations.

All set? Once your extensions are in, make sure to schedule regular appointments with your stylist to maintain the health of your natural hair.

Most stylists recommend monthly check-ins to avoid stress and breakage.

2. Rotate to Avoid Stress

Every three to four months, it’s important to take extensions out completely to avoid strain or breakage, and to let your natural hair breathe.

“When left in for more than four months, the regrowth starts to tangle and can cause breakage to your own hair,” explains Kristina Noto, an extensions specialist, to Glamour.

“They must be professionally removed and replaced before it gets to that point.”

If left in too long or re-applied to the same area, extensions can stress the natural hair closest to the application point.

When you’re ready to switch up your look, your stylist should find new areas to apply the extensions to prevent stressing the same group of hair, says dermatologist Francesca Fusco.

“Rotating means less damage to the hair follicles,” Fusco told Allure. “And [at home], you shouldn’t pull at [extensions] too much when styling.”

The biggest take-away? Easy does it, whether you’re styling at home or the salon.

3. Know Your Treatments

Keratin treatments, or bonded extensions, are much less stressful on your natural hair than sewn-in extensions.

“The cornrowing [involved in the sewn-in process] is stressful on the hair and the hair follicles,” Fusco explained to Allure.

“There’s more weight on the surface area with sewn-in extensions than individual keratin strands,” she added. (More weight always equals more stress on your natural hair.)

If you’re worried about the growth rate of your natural hair, or you’ve experienced hair loss in the past, it may be a good idea to steer clear of sewn-in extensions for now.

4. Use Special Tools

Remember when we said getting extensions is a good excuse for babying your hair? That extends to the tools you use for styling, too.

“Extensions are not for the low-maintenance,” stylist Jen Atkin told Glamour. “You’ll need to make sure you have a special brush and to brush your hair regularly,” Atkin added.

In the market for an extension brush? Check out Atkin’s recommendations at Marie Claire.

5. Problems? Don’t Wait

If you’re experiencing problems – like hair loss or major discomfort around an application point – then don’t wait to fix them, says Fusco.

“If you’re starting to experience hair loss, address it right away,” Fusco told Allure.

“This will eventually damage the hair follicle and the hair loss will be permanent,” Fusco added, describing the symptoms of traction alopecia.

Don’t risk scarring or permanent hair loss – even if you’re embarrassed to go back to the salon. Your stylist should be able to address the problem and re-apply the extension in a place that will cause less stress on your natural hair.

Remember: extensions are supposed to help you protect and pamper your tresses. If it’s having the opposite effect, you need to see a pro – STAT.

Sure, hair extensions require extra work – but, done right, they can help you shield your natural hair from everyday wear-and-tear.

Switch up your look, enjoy having more volume, and feel like a million bucks – all while growing out your hair in secret.

Do you wear extensions? Tell us about your biggest hair care challenge in the comments below:

Images: Unsplash, Pexels, Unsplash, Flickr

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