How to wash hair extensions to prevent damage

Apr 18, 2024

Mastering the art of extension care

Hair extensions are a fun way to switch up your look, or solve those everyday struggles with bad hair days (or weeks… or months). Hair extensions can be a quick fix if you want to add volume to flat strands or blend in the lengths while growing out an impulsive chop. 

But like any other investment in your beauty bag, they need a bit of care to keep them looking great. The main thing to get right? Washing them properly. Proper washing helps keep them clean, of course, but it also makes sure they retain their smooth appearance and last longer without getting damaged.

Knowing how to wash your extensions is essential if you want them to keep turning heads like they did the first time you rocked them. We’re here to show you the best stuff to use and how to get your wash routine down pat, giving you all the tips to keep your extensions looking fabulous. 


Understanding hair extensions

Congratulations on deciding to enhance your hairstyle with extensions. You’ve made a smart move toward achieving your dream hair goals. Using genuine human extensions means you’ll get a shockingly realistic boost to what nature gave you. 


While it's impressive that extensions are now indistinguishable from natural hair, there’s a tricky side to it—the misconception you can treat clip-ins just the same as natural hair. Extensions are a bit more high-maintenance compared to your home-grown locks, so trying to wash and dry them on autopilot will likely lead to disappointment (in other words, potential damage).


Here's the core of it—proper cleansing is essential for keeping your extensions vibrant, reducing the chance of tangling, and adding to their longevity. This effort is totally worth it when you consider the cost of quality extensions, and neglecting this essential step could lead to a loss of their silky texture. 


Pre-wash care and preparation

Before you even think about getting those extensions wet, there's a bit of prep work to do. Start with a gentle detangling session. Using a wide-tooth comb or a soft bristle brush, work your way through the extensions, teasing out any knots or tangles. Patience is key here—no yanking or pulling allowed.

Next up, sectioning. Working in sections helps you manage the task better and ensures every strand gets the attention it deserves, making the washing process more thorough and less of a hassle.

And don't forget about the products. This isn't the time to pinch pennies. Your extensions need the good stuff—sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners that clean and hydrate without stripping away essential oils. They might cost a bit more, but the fact that they'll keep your extensions looking fabulous is priceless.


Step-by-step guide to washing hair extensions

Washing your hair extensions doesn't have to feel like a chemistry experiment. With the proper steps, it's as easy as pie. Here's a foolproof guide to getting those extensions clean.


1. Wetting the extensions

First things first, let's get those extensions wet, but be gentle. Use lukewarm water, not hot water—too hot, and you risk damaging them, but too cold, and you won't get them clean. Let the water flow down to the ends from the base, where it attaches to your natural hair. This helps prevent tangling and ensures the water saturates the extensions evenly.


2. Shampooing

Using a sulfate-free shampoo, pour a dime-sized amount into your palm and gently rub your hands together. Starting at the top, apply the shampoo by gliding your fingers through the extensions. No scrunching or rubbing, as that can lead to a tangled mess. You want to be gentle and go in the direction of the hair.


3. Conditioning

Once you’ve rinsed the shampoo out, it's conditioner time. This step brings moisture and smoothness back to parched locks. Apply the conditioner from the mid-lengths to the ends, avoiding the roots, especially if using semi-permanent extensions like tape-ins or sew-ins. Leave it in for a couple of minutes to let it work its magic.


4. Rinsing

Rinse the conditioner away with lukewarm water, ensuring you wash out all the product. A clean rinse means no leftover residue to weigh down your extensions or make them greasy.


Tips for success:

– Be gentle: Handle your extensions with care throughout each step. They're more prone to damage because they’re not attached to your scalp and don't receive natural oils.

– Detangle as you go: Keep that wide-tooth comb handy to gently remove any tangles that might form during the washing process.

– Temperature matters: Always use lukewarm water to prevent heat damage and maintain the integrity of the extensions.

– Product application: Less is more when it comes to product usage. Overdoing it can lead to buildup, making the extensions heavy and lifeless.


Post-wash care

After your extensions are squeaky clean, apply a lightweight leave-in conditioner or serum to the ends to keep them hydrated and prevent tangling.


The way you dry extensions can also make or break their health. Keep it gentle and minimize damage. The most important thing is to avoid anything that will rough up your hair and create frizz. Swap out the coarse bath towels for a plush microfiber towel. These towels are supremely gentle on your extensions, minimizing friction and the likelihood of frizz or damage. Carefully dab the extensions to lift away surplus moisture and avoid any rubbing or squeezing motions.


Whenever possible, allow your extensions to air dry. This method is the most gentle and shields them from the intense heat of hairdryers. If time is of the essence, opt for a hairdryer on its lowest heat setting and keep a distance of at least six inches from the strands.


When your extensions are just a bit moist, gently untangle them using a wide-tooth comb or a soft bristle brush, starting at the tips and gradually moving upward. To avoid buildup and drying, stick to styling products specifically designed for extensions or ones that are lightweight and alcohol-free.


Top tips for ongoing hair extension care

Enhancing the beauty and durability of your hair extensions goes beyond the cleansing and drying process. To keep your extensions in impeccable condition, consider these four essential tips.


Adopt a consistent maintenance routine

Regular upkeep is the foundation of keeping your extensions in prime condition. It's best to gently brush your extensions each day using a soft bristle brush. This practice helps detangle and maintain the smooth texture of the hair. 


How frequently you wash your extensions depends on how often you wear them and how much product build-up they accumulate. While it's unnecessary to wash your clip-in hair extensions after every use, you should cleanse them when you notice signs of tangling or when they begin to lose their softness and bounce. Neglecting upkeep can lead to dryness, tangling, and matting, whereas excessive washing might compromise the hair's integrity.


Use smart storage solutions

Preserving the quality of your extensions when they're not in use requires smart storage. Experts recommend hanging them up or laying them flat in a designated storage box or silk bag. This will reduce frustrating tangling and protect the extensions from dust and other environmental factors.


Protect your investment

Like natural hair, hair extensions are susceptible to environmental stressors. To safeguard them, it's advisable to apply a heat protectant before styling and cover them with a hat or scarf when exposed to harsh sunlight or windy conditions. These measures help minimize tangling and protect the extensions from potential damage.


The final secret

There you have it—your comprehensive guide to washing and caring for hair extensions without causing a strand of damage. Remember, the secret to extending longevity is the gentle, loving care you provide, from the washing process to regular maintenance and smart storage. 


Want to keep your extensions looking flawless and fabulous? Check out our collection for all the extension-friendly products and tools you need. Here's to happy, healthy extensions that stand the test of time!