The same things that make summer wonderful can wreak havoc on hair extensions: sunshine, sand, saltwater, chlorine, wind, and all the endless hours spent outdoors. Hair extensions that started out silky and soft can quickly become a tangled mess.
Summer doesn’t have to ruin your expensive extensions. By following this guide to summer care, your extensions can stay fresh all season long.
Your #1 Threat? Water.
While hair extensions are made to survive the same conditions as your own hair, water makes them more fragile to breakage. Taping, bonds, and sewing are all at greater risk when wet, so treat your extensions carefully whenever they’re exposed to moisture.
Swimming is still an option, but try not to spend extended periods of time with your hair underwater – especially in the ocean or in chlorinated pools. Salt and chlorine are drying and damaging to extensions.
As soon as you get out of the water, towel off your extensions gently and remove all excess moisture. In fact, it’s a good idea to be proactive by putting your hair in a bun or high braid before entering the water.
Same Goes for Showering
When you bathe, you can reduce the potentially harmful impact of water on your extensions by wearing a shower cap and washing your hair less often. When you do wash your extensions, use the smallest amount of cool to cold water possible. Hot water might feel nice, but it’s damaging to your extensions!
Buy a gentle shampoo designed for extensions that doesn’t contain alcohol, parabens, or sulfates. Your extensions could be completely ruined by using the wrong product – especially a drugstore shampoo that could cause them to harden and become brittle.
Banish Buildup and Sweat
In a way, sweat is even worse for your extensions than water, because it contains harmful chemicals like ammonia and urea. During the hot days of summer, you’ll need to carefully remove sweat and other buildup from your extensions so they don’t degrade. This includes adhesive buildup, which can occur from repeated application of extensions.
In addition to the regular washing described above, consider using a preventive treatment like a deep conditioner that will protect your hair from damage but preserve the softness of your extensions. If you have adhesive buildup, a gentle scalp solvent that’s compatible with extensions can eliminate the problem and leave your scalp feeling clean and refreshed.
Tangles are the enemy of hair extensions. Unfortunately, many fun summer activities can create tangles, so you’ll need some detangling tactics to keep things under control.
If you already have tangles, don’t rub or pull them. Pulling can damage the extension and the root of your own hair. Tackle the tangles right in place, using a gentle touch while holding the base of the extension in place with your other hand or with a friend’s help.
Take time to carefully unwind each tangle with your fingers or a hook needle, from tip to root, in sections. Don’t allow your hair to become wet until the tangles are 100% gone, or they’ll become much harder to remove.
If it’s impossible to remove knots without removing your extensions, try using a hair extension detangling caddy. It holds your extensions while you work to detangle and re-style them.
The best way to keep tangles out of your extensions is to preserve their original flexible texture, which means wind and water are less likely to cause tangling in the first place. Prevent future snarls with hydrating products that keep your extensions soft and bouncy.
Rethink Your Brushing Technique
Most of us brush or comb our hair based on techniques we learned early in childhood, from sources like friends, family, magazines, or the internet. Unfortunately, many of these techniques are all wrong for hair extensions.
For example, the old “brush your hair 100 times” advice is terrible for extensions. They should be brushed slowly and carefully, using a loop brush that’s compatible with extensions, applying minimal pulling to the root. In fact, during the day, simple finger brushing and gentle finger detangling is often enough to keep extensions looking fresh.
Once a day, take time to gently brush your extensions completely. Start at the tips, and slowly allow the brush to cascade downward through the hair. Then move up a couple of inches, brush down again, and repeat until reaching the roots. This technique prevents you from causing snarls and breakage in the extensions.
Try not to brush extensions at all while wet, because that’s when they’re weakest and most easily damaged. Instead, brush your extensions before washing to prevent tangles and then re-examine them after drying to ensure everything still looks good.
Avoid Intense Heat
Summer brings lots of sunshine and warmth, so avoid adding excess heat with flat irons and curling irons. If you must use them, follow the instructions for the extensions and use the lowest heat setting possible. Some extensions are more heat-tolerant than others.
You can also reduce the impact of heat by wearing a chic scarf, hat, braid, or bun when it is really hot. After a hot mid-day run, for example, dab off any sweat and follow the instructions for your extensions to keep them clean. Resist the urge to blow-dry them, especially after high-heat activities, because this can cause breakage.
Travel Like a Pro
If you’re traveling this summer, remember to bring along travel accessories for your hair extensions that will keep your hair care plan on track. A hair extension toolkit has pliers, a loop wand, and shears – all the basic tools you’ll need to maintain your extensions on the road.
Make sure you also pack a hair care travel set with products that ensure your extensions stay silky and pliable, no matter where you go. An extension storage pouch is also a good idea because it keeps your locks safe and tangle-free during your summer travels.
Have a wonderful summer!
Mariam Kathet is a blogger and infopreneur who writes on a variety of topics with a focus on hair extensions care. At present, she works on behalf of PerfectLocks.com.