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The options for hair extensions nowadays are quite literally, well, extensive. From clip-ins to sew-ins, micro-links, and wigs, it's no longer something reserved for the rich and famous. Although, Ariana Grande did say it best when she sang, "You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it."
Beyond the type of hair extensions, the variety of hair textures available become way more accessible too. Whether you have 2A waves or 4C coils, you can find extensions made for all curly-haired queens looking for a little extra length.
The only setback? Finding the right curly hair extensions that match your natural curl pattern can be tricky. That's why the process of shopping for hair extensions requires time and research. Luckily for you, we tapped two experts on the topic to discuss everything you need to know before getting your curly hair extensions.
What Do You Need to Consider Before Getting Curly Hair Extensions?
Before getting your extensions, you need to consider your curl pattern, density, and length. "To get a great blend, you should have enough hair to hide the hair extension wefts," says Soleil Guerrero, creator of Bebonia Curly Hair Extensions. The founder adds that your hair needs to be at least chin-length for the best results. "Next, think about the density of your hair as this will determine how dense your extensions should be."
LeAna McKnight, a celebrity stylist and founder of SL Raw Virgin Hair, a textured extensions brand, says figuring out your curl pattern can help you determine the density of your hair and extensions. "Properly knowing your curl pattern and hair type will help you in the purchasing process on how many bundles of hair you'll need and choosing the correct curl pattern to best match your hair," she says. Typically, the more fine your hair type is, the less amount of hair you'll need and vice-versa.
What Are the Types of Curly Hair Extensions?
McKnight explains that there are four types of textured hair extensions one can get. She says when picking which type works best for you, you need to determine what hairstyle and goals you're trying to achieve. Are you looking for versatility, a protective style, or want extra length and volume? "Based on what you choose, you may need weft hair bundles, keratin I-tip link, clip-ins, or a wig," she says.
Sew-in wefts are great for adding length and density. "I-tips (which are similar to micro-links) are perfect for those who don't like tension but want something more permanent with awesome versatility," says McKnight. "Clip-ins are great for self-installation (DIY) for adding length and volume, and wigs are a great protective style that's great for self-installation while adding volume and length."
How Do You Match Your Curl Pattern?
To find your right extensions, you'll need to determine your curl pattern. McKnight recommends cutting a single strand of hair and comparing it to the hair patterns on a curl pattern chart. "Usually curly hair extensions will specify what curl pattern it is from 2A-2C, 3A-3C, 4A-4C," she says. "If you already know your hair curl type, then this will be easy to match."
However, if you don't know your curl pattern, most hair extension companies offer an exchange policy or help you determine which hair extension is best for you. For instance, Bebonia has a free personal matching service.
"We can do a live consultation or consult via photos," says Guerrero. "When sending in photos, make sure to take selfies in natural light (ideally not in direct sunlight) so that both your curl pattern and color are visible. When you order a set of Bebonia extensions, you'll get a tester weft, which is to ensure that the extensions match your texture and color to your liking." If the weft isn't a match, the company will accommodate a return or exchange if the main compartment of the original packaging is still sealed.
The same goes for SL Raw Virgin Hair, which offers a 30-day policy where you can exchange your unused curly hair extensions in person for the correct curl pattern.
So to reiterate, if you aren't sure of your curl type, make sure you review the exchange policies of the company where you're buying the extensions.
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What Is the Installation Process for Curly Hair Extensions Like?
The installation will depend on the type of hair extension you choose. If you opt for clip-in extensions, Guerrero says a tip is to work from the bottom up. "Clip the first weft upside down to conceal any shorter ends of your natural hair from peaking through — this hack is a game-changer," she says. "Create clear, vertical sections to make installation easier." Pro-tip: feel free to mix and match different curl patterns in your hair as it's common for people to have two to three curl patterns in their hair naturally, explains Guerrero. Also, never apply hair extensions to your hair when it's wet or when the extensions themselves are wet.
Other general tips for installing natural curly hair extensions are to shampoo and condition your hair beforehand. "Most natural curly hair extensions have been lightly steamed to achieve these curls and coils, so cleansing hair before is a great preparation before installing," says McKnight. "When ready to install, be gentle when opening up your pack of hair extensions and separate the curly hairs slowly one by one so you don't unwind any curls that may have clustered together."
How Do You Maintain Curly Hair Extensions?
If your hair extensions are made from human hair, the maintenance will be similar to your curly hair routine. "Remember curly hair extensions should be treated just as you would your real hair," says McKnight. "You need to moisturize, detangle, and preserve hair at night time with a silk bonnet or scarf."
To minimize tangling and matting, brush your hair daily with a detangling brush while wet explains McKnight. She also recommends applying a leave-in conditioner daily, starting from the ends of your hair and distributing it throughout your hair. "Your curly extensions will benefit from more frequent deep conditioning since they won't benefit from your scalp's natural oils as your actual hair will," affirms Guerrero.
In addition to conditioning, you'll also need to wash the extensions once a week, just like your natural hair. Another important part of maintenance is storage. Make sure you're laying your extensions neatly in silk or satin in a cool and dry area. The goal is to protect them from getting wet, tangled, or squished when you're not wearing them.
How Long Do Curly Hair Extensions Last?
"If you are detangling properly, deep conditioning regularly, and storing your extensions properly (in a dry area, neatly stacked, ideally in a satin/silk liner that won't suck the moisture from the hair — like a satin storage bag), your curly extensions will last between six months and two years depending on the level of care and wear," says Guerrero.
This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.
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