Ok beauties stay with me for a moment …..As soon as the courier arrives you hastily rip the package from the poor man’s hand. You’re so super chuffed about getting your new natural hair extensions. Yes! Someone has finally figured out how to make afro texture and kinky hair extensions just like your own natural hair. In your opinion it is like some revolutionary world changing event. (Well, I mean to a some extent it is revolutionary to us in the natural hair community especially for those of us that want to maybe add a little more ummph and length to our current hair without looking like Chile from TLC (for those of you that are old enough to remember them), when our hair texture is really more like Kunta Kinte).
So, you immediately co-wash them and install. You’re looking real cute and everyone is complementing you on your “substantial hair growth” and you’re graciously smiling at the comment of “girl, how long you been natural?” Then it seems, all of a sudden after a few weeks your new extensions are acting up. They’re just not behaving like they used to in the beginning and you’re like what on earth is happening? Your new hair is now clumping together and looking like dredlocs, with knotted balls at the ends. (Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love me some dreads; I used to be a dreadhead for over a decade, but I don’t think that’s the look you were going for with your afro kinky extensions.) Your extensions are now stiff, dry, tangled and matted. Ugh!!!!
Does this sound familiar? Ok hold up! don’t get too mad, it’s more than likely not the hair, but YOU. It might be what you are doing to the hair as well as what you are not doing. With of course ruling out the quality issue, I’m here to give you a few good tips and advice on how to manage and up-keep your beautiful “natural” looking hair extensions and eliminate a world of frustrations; keeping your look on fleek!
So let’s begin!
- Wash and co-wash your extensions regularly – co-washing your extensions can bring life back to dry, thirsty looking extensions. Co-wash weekly; in between co-washes it’s always good to give the hair a shampoo to remove any dust or dirt particles, product build up, as well as air pollutants and smells like cigarette smoke etc. that may have attached to your hair. Use a shampoo that is sulfate free which will not strip and dry out the hair. Always shampoo in a downward stroking motion rather than a circular one to avoid further tangling. Always deep condition the hair thoroughly after shampooing; on full out wash days you may want to use the deep conditioning microwave method for clip-ins or sit beneath a hooded dryer if hair is sewn-in. After conditioning, using a small amount of oil (dime size or so) on the hair when wet, this can help to further seal in moisture.
- Detangle the hair frequently – ladies don’t be lazy! Detangle, detangle, detangle!- if need be, do it nightly. Even though your extension might be virgin hair, because this hair has been highly processed to mimic “natural” afro and kinkier textures, it WILL get tangled. You will want to gently comb and detangle hair just as you would your own hair from ends to roots using a large tooth comb or a Denman type brush when wet/damp. We all know that curly hair is more manageable when damp so this is the best time to detangle; also, gently detangling while damp will significantly reduce the risk of snapping coils vs. when dry. At bedtime detangle and braid or two strand twist hair in 4 sections and wrap hair with a silk scarf to avoid additional tangling, if you’re wearing clip-ins, remove the clips and spritz lightly with water and conditioner mix and detangle; in the morning you’ll be good to go. Trust me, by detangling daily/nightly you can save yourself a world of trouble.
- Use the LOC method: liquid (or leave-in conditioner), oil and cream method; this is a curly hair girl’s savior for moisture. Spritz extensions daily or when needed with a water & leave-in conditioner mix, as well as apply water-based hair lotions, anti-frizz creams, curly hair puddings /milks or curly hair custards to the hair, then finally, add oils (to lock in moisture). Be generous with the moisturizers and creams, just like your own hair, natural hair extensions love moisture!
- Last and by all means not least, treat your extensions as if they were your own hair growing out of your head. Often we think that because it is not really attached to our scalps then we can treat it any which way we want and expect it to behave appropriately. I ask you, would you not shampoo, condition and moisturize your own hair for days and weeks on end?….. Well, I rest my case.
By following these few tips you will significantly improve your experience with your natural hair extensions. Be good to your natural hair extensions and your extensions will be good to you!