No, my long hair isn’t real. But it sure looks real, doesn’t it!? So I’m finally writing a post about my hair extensions in order to answer all your questions!
I chopped my hair in October of 2017 right before I moved to Chicago. I had a brazilian blowout that didn’t agree with my hair. The treatment made my strands brittle, and the breakage wasn’t pretty. So chop chop it went. Ever since I chopped it I missed having long hair to play with, curl, and style. When I moved to Chicago and found out that my new stylist, Sabrina, was a hair extension expert, I didn’t hesitate to try them! After a consultation to see if I’d be a good candidate, she put them in my hair in January of this year. Ever since then I’ve been compiling your questions to answer in one post!
What Brand Are They?
My hair extensions are by a company called Hair Dreams.
What Style Are The Extensions?
These are tape in extensions! There are other types of extensions, like clip-ins, beaded, and nano-bonded, but I opted for the tape-ins because they are quick and easy to install and they don’t damage your natural hair. Hair Dreams calls them quikkies. Some people use them to add hair volume or a streak of color, too.
Are They Real Hair?
Yes, the hair is real. I like that it is real because it looks natural and it is heat style-able. I’m not an expert, but you can read more about the hair quality here.
How Long Are They?
We started with 18 inch extensions, and only trimmed a tiny bit to get the shape that we wanted. On me, the hair goes to a little bit past my boobs.
Are They Expensive?
I’m not gonna lie – yes. But they are an investment. Which is why, as you’ll read below, I try to take good care of them. It also depends on how much hair you need. We initially put in 3/4 head of hair, but went back for more because it wasn’t enough. I think I have over (what they consider) a full head of extensions because my hair is thick. Who knew!?
How Long Do They Last?
The extensions themselves will last forever as long as you treat them nicely. Since my hair grows, I go in to the salon every 6-8 weeks to have them bumped up. By the 6-8 week mark I can tell that they are definitely ready to be reinstalled because I have about an inch of new growth. Sabrina removes the extensions with a special de-gooping solution (scientific, I know) and attaches new bond tape to the hair so that we can re-install them.
We do color, cut, whatever we need to do, then Sabrina washes my hair twice with only shampoo. Your hair has to be squeaky clean with no product in it for the extensions to bond really well. Then she blow dries my hair (without product so it usually looks kind of meh) and begins installing the extensions starting at the nape of my neck all the way up to my temples. It takes about an hour because she is really precise about placement.
Another thing – these extensions can’t be colored because they are dyed with fabric dye. Once you buy your extensions, then you are pretty much stuck with that color. So if I hypothetically wanted to dye my hair blonde, I would have to have a set of blonde extensions.
How Do You Wash Your Hair?
Sabrina recommended a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner that I absolutely love. It smells delicious and the small bottles have lasted me since January (that’s 5 months!). You know that burning smell you sometimes get when you curl your hair? This shampoo gets all the excess product out so that you don’t smell that anymore.
I wash my hair 2-3 times a week, and use warm (not hot) water. I shampoo normally but just make sure that I don’t rub my scalp too vigorously. The conditioner only goes on my ends – like if you were to make a ponytail – only that part – so that the bonds won’t slip. I rinse as usual, and towel dry very lightly so the extensions don’t get tangled. I never put my hair up in a towel, either.
Yes! The only difference is that you HAVE to blow dry the bonds. If you let them air dry, then they could slip or get tacky. If you shower before bed, then I recommend blow drying the bonds/roots, then you can let the rest of your hair air dry. I personally wash my hair in the mornings and blow dry the whole thing (which takes a lot longer with the extensions; I timed it at 14 minutes) and curl as usual. I use this curling iron with this 1.25 inch barrel to get my normal beachy waves.
As for products, I use whatever products I like. A heat protectant is a must in order to take take of your extensions and your natural hair. I really like this heat protectant spray pre-blowdry, or this one when my hair is dry and I’m touching up my curls the next day. Dry shampoo is a little trickier, but I spritz it strategically on the top layer of my hair and underneath so that the bonds don’t turn white from the spray. This is unrelated, but I’m obsessed with this shine finishing spray. It legit smells like candy.
If you like hair masks, that’s also do-able. I wrote a whole post about it here. In a nutshell, don’t saturate your roots with product. You typically don’t want to do that anyway with a mask.
How about working out? Swimming?
I was afraid that the extensions would fall out because of my daily workouts, but that’s not the case at all. I exercise 5-6 days a week and tend to get really sweaty hair when I do. I like to work out with my hair in a bun or a low ponytail, just because the extensions feel heavy in a high ponytail. These hair ties are my favorite. Afterwards I’ll take a body shower, then rub in some dry shampoo and blow dry any remaining moisture left around my scalp so that the bonds stay in place. Call me gross, but it works!
For swimming, I usually don’t get my hair wet because I’m a diva. But when I do want to go under the water, I make sure to wet my hair first before going in the pool or ocean.
Overall, I am IN LOVE with my long hair and it makes me so happy when people say they had no idea that I have hair extensions. They are totally worth the extra effort, especially if you have a lot of trouble growing your hair or need a little extra volume. Sabrina made my Rapunzel dreams come true!
If you have more questions, drop them in the comments or email me and I’ll be sure to answer! And if you’re a Chicago girl and looking for a fabulous stylist, Sabrina is with Kelly Cardenas Salon in Wicker Park. If you mention I sent you then you’ll be treated like a queen, I promise.
Currently Sipping: Green Tea
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