Extensions are complex. First of all, there are hundreds of hair types to choose from depending on the look you're going for — long, short, curly, and every colour you can imagine. And if you thought picking out the right extensions was hard enough, the methods used to install them are equally unique.
You have a few options: The sew-in method, which actually sews wefts of hair to your natural hair; clip-ins that are fastened with barrette-like attachments; micro links, which are individual extensions that are applied strand-by-strand with bead-like rings; and then there are tape-in extensions.
Some women are asking for tape-ins over all other methods, because they're lightweight and blend seamlessly on wavy and straight hair. But don't be fooled — the process isn't as simple as sticking on a piece of tape. Ahead, find out everything you need to know before you book an appointment for tape-in extensions.
How are tape-in extensions applied?
"Tape-in extensions are super thin and look extremely natural," says celebrity stylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew. "The wefts come with double-sided tape along the base. You peel off a clear sheet from the weft and apply it to the hair."
According to stylist and salon owner Nunzio Saviano, the extensions are applied in a sandwich-like pattern, with the natural hair in between two pre-taped wefts. The entire process takes about an hour. "Once they are in, you shouldn't feel them," Nunzio says. "You usually don't need too many for length and volume." In order for your tape-in extensions to have body and movement, your stylist can apply shorter wefts throughout the hair.
Can you shampoo your hair with tape-in extensions?
Once your hair is installed, maintenance is fairly easy, Nunzio says. "You can shampoo, condition, and style your hair as usual," he says. "But avoid using products with alcohol, because it can break down the glue, and the weft can fall out."
Chris Appleton, global artistic director of Glam Seamless, suggests investing in a soft-bristle brush to avoid tugging on your extensions. "I also highly recommend sleeping on a silk pillowcase at night," he says. "If you are swimming, playing sports, or working out — always keep your hair in a braid to minimise knotting."
Can curly hair types get tape-in extensions?
"I wouldn't recommend this for textured hair," Sturvidant-Drew says. "You don't want to risk getting your curls stuck to the glue. Also, tape-in extensions just generally blend better with fine, straight, or wavy hair." If you want to add length and volume to your curly hair, she prefers the sew-in and clip-in methods.
What is the right way to remove tape-in extensions?
After your initial installation, prepare to fit touch-ups into your schedule every 8-10 weeks. But this is also where things get tricky, Sturdivant-Drew says. "The hair can start to loosen up, and improper removal can result in hair loss." Yes — you read that right. "I've seen people get bald patches from tape-in extensions because the adhesive is so powerful." Although the weft is supposed to be placed close to the scalp, you always run the risk of getting your hair stuck to the glue, so Sturdivant-Drew recommends going to a professional for application and removal.
Sturdivant-Drew says that using a slippery oil is a great way to ensure a seamless removal without ripping your hair out. "Whatever you do — do not peel or tug them out," she warns. You can also purchase a bond-removing solution to loosen up the weft from your scalp. However, bond removal liquids can be extremely flammable, so be extra careful. "You should see an experienced stylist to remove these extensions," she says. "This isn't one to DIY." In other words — tape at your own risk.