Hair Extension Product Must-Haves
Natural Beaded Rows Hand Tied Extensions are an investment, and there's no point in investing in yourself if you aren't going to take care of your hair with great product. Many over-the-counter products have plastic fillers, old product or are watered down and will completely wreck not only your natural hair, but also your extension hair. And while we can treat that hair, sometimes once the damage is done, there's no turning back. So this week, I want to share with you everything you need to take care of your extensions.
Before I started doing hair, I never believed that there was a difference between professional and over-the-counter products. In high school, I started using Herbal Essence on my hair (because it smelled amazing) and at my next haircut, my dad called me out (yes, my dad still cuts my hair). I told him he was crazy and that I've been using the same shampoo and conditioner he gave me. He knew I was lying. I totally had no idea how he could tell until I started doing hair. I've had to cut people's hair because of the damage from cheap hairsprays (they're loaded with alcohol). It's actually really sad when it happens. I've also seen store-bought shampoo take wax off of Walmart floors. I've personally experienced extreme dandruff with cheap dry shampoos (sometimes you're desperate when your flight is cancelled and your stuck out of town overnight. Do yourself a favor, and throw it all in the trash.
Let me start by saying that I'm not someone who loves the feeling of product. I NEVER use a hairspray (ew) and while I have hundreds of products on my shelves, I only use a select few. I've got my routine pretty much perfected, and I hope this helps you in your journey with extensions.
Shampoo, Conditioners and Masks
First and foremost, you need an AMAZING shampoo and conditioner. My absolute favorites are MarulaOil Shampoo and MarulaOil Conditioner. I have never stuck with a shampoo and conditioner so long (going on 5 years now). They leave your hair hydrated and smooth, but don't weigh it down. I always make sure that I rinse my conditioner out really well, and I've never had an issue with it feeling heavy or like it's still in my hair. When I switched to this shampoo/conditioner combo, it was the first time I was able to stretch out washing my hair every 2-3 days (pre-extensions... now I wash my hair every 5-7 days). Since I go so long between washes now, I do wash my hair twice just to get that extra few layers of Dry Shampoo out. I swear by this line, and it's what 90% of my clientele uses. I also like to add in the mask once a month to help keep my split ends away. I use it in place of my conditioner, and let it soak in for about 10-15 minutes before rinsing out.
Products to use when your hair's wet
My two must-have wet-styling products are MarulaOil Serum and Neuro Prime. I used Paul Mitchell's Super Skinny Serum for 10+ years, but ended up making the switch over to the Marula Serum about a year ago. It helps with frizz and fly-aways, but I don't feel like I have any product in my hair. About two months ago, I started adding in a heat thermal protectant (I use one when it's wet and one when it's dry). EVERY time I lighten my hair, I end up with mass breakage about a month later, so I know it's thermal damage. So far, I haven't noticed any breakage, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I use one pump of the serum and one pump of the prime, mix them together and apply mid-strand through my ends. I'm only using one pump of each every 5-7 days, so the product lasts FOREVER. Totally worth the money. The other product that I use when my hair is wet (not every single time) is a leave in conditioner. If my hair is feeling a little dry or tangly, I'll spray a little leave in conditioner as soon as I get out of the shower and it will help with everything. Some days, I just don't feel like I need the extra condition. The one time I ALWAYS use this product, is anytime I am going swimming (ocean or pool). I spray this in my dry hair, and it acts as a barrier to help prevent the water from absorbing into my hair and drying it out.
The must have - oil!
If you have extensions, you know that an oil is a must to keep them hydrated. Your extensions don't get the natural oils that your own hair gets, and my go-to is, of course, MarulaOil. This is the ONLY oil I recommend on your extensions (it won't discolor your hair). This oil is highly concentrated, so a little goes a LONG way. This oil is dispensed with a dropper, so I recommend 2-4 drops (yes, drops, not droppers) of oil when your ends start feeling a little dried out. I like to use a full dropper on my ends about 15-20 minutes before I wash my hair to give them an extra dose of hydration. The oil is water-soluble, so it won't build up on your hair like other oils.
Heat Thermal Protectant
Once my hair is dry, I separate it into two sections (bottom row and down then top row and up). I give a light mist of a heat thermal protectant - Neuro Protect - over that bottom section and start styling. Two things - one, don't over spray the product until it's wet... totally defeat the purpose and it will cause more damage. And two, don't try to spray with every curl, you'll forget. Just give that entire bottom section a mist at once and the same with the top. I use this every time I style or touch- up my hair. If you're using a really light spray of it, it will not weigh your hair down. PS. Make sure your hair is 110% dry before putting any heat to it.
Hair Sprays and adding Volume
Like I said earlier, I'm not huge into putting hairspray on my hair, but my two favorites for clients are the Extra Body Finishing Spray (medium-firm hold) and MarulaOil Perfecting Spray (light hold...great for frizz and flyaways). I LOVE a good texture spray... they're somewhat newly popular, but they add volume and texture, but not the hardness or stiffness of hairspray. My absolutely favorite texture spray is Invisiblewear Undone Texture Spray. Another favorite to add volume is the Invisiblewear Pump Me Up. It's a little bottle of a light-mist powder that gives a lot of fluff without the weigh down. Another client favorite is the Neon Sugar Tease. It will give you great hold like a hairspray, but it combs out 10x easier than a hairspray.
Dry Shampoo and Conditioner
My two saving grace products are Neon Dry Shampoo and Dry Conditioner. These are the BEST I have ever used. They smell AMAZING and work GREAT. I'm a brunette, and I love that they don't make my hair white or powdery. Also, if you're using dry shampoo to absorb the oil at your scalp, you need something to add a little love to your ends. Try this combo. I promise you won't regret it. Pro tip - apply your dry shampoo before bed to start absorbing oil while you sleep. Totes worth it! Also, when you apply your dry shampoo, spray enough at your roots so that you barely start to see it, then let it sit for a few minutes. After that, rub it in almost like you're shampooing your scalp. Letting it sit gives it a bit of time to absorb all the extra oil.
The other must-haves for extensions
A good quality brush is essential for your extensions. I love the Paul Mitchell Paddle Brush. I LOVE that it has a cushion, so it will collapse if there is too much hair or tangles (remember to brush from the ends to the scalp) but I still feel like I can actually get the brush through my hair. I'm not a huge fan of the silk cap (I find that my hair ends up harder to style when I wake up), but I find a silk pillowcase necessary. Cotton will absorb the natural oils from your hair and also cause friction when you sleep. I got my silk pillowcase from amazon. My absolute favorite hairties, Goomees, are available at the salon. They don't leave that gross crease in your hair and they last forever (as long as you don't lose them or someone doesn't steal them).
Trust me, I get it... that's a lot! But also, these are high quality products that are SO worth the investment. These products are very concentrated, so you will find yourself using way less and the products lasting way longer than your old shit. Protect your investment and use great products... it's worth it and so are you!
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NBR Extension Specialist.