Hair extensions are a method of altering the look of your hair, either adding to it or covering it completely. Three major types of hair extensions are: clip-ins, where a smaller section of hair is held in the rest of the hair with a clip; weaves, where a full head of hair is sewn into natural hair near the scalp; and keratin extensions, where multiple small strands of keratin-tipped hair are glued in place onto natural hair near the roots. Except for clip-ins, hair extensions usually take a long time to apply and can be very costly when professionally done. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to wash your hair extensions without damaging them, saving you time and money.

Method 1
Washing Clip-in Extensions

1 Remove your extensions.

One of the advantages of clip-in extensions is that they are temporary and easy to both apply and remove at home. Removing your extensions will make washing them much easier. Be sure to always remove your clip-ins before showering or swimming. Sometimes the metal used in the clips can rust or otherwise be damaged by water.

2 Detangle your extensions if needed.

Just like your natural hair, it's best to detangle extensions before washing them. Gently run a wide-tooth comb to remove any knots. Start at the extension's clip and end at the hair tip. Hair extensions are prone to drying and may need extra care if tangling occurs. If you cannot remove the tangles with the extension dry, try wetting it with detangling spray and trying again. If you still have a stubborn knot, try wetting the hair completely and adding conditioner before combing.

3 Prepare a wash basin.

Fill up a clean bathroom sink or a small plastic tub with warm water. Avoid using hot water, as this can damage your extensions. However, keep in mind that too-cold water will not effectively rinse grime and shampoo from the extensions.

4 Soak the hair extension.

Hold the extension by the clip and dip it into the basin. Avoid getting water on the clip. Run a wide-tooth comb through the hair to make sure it has been evenly wetted.

5 Shampoo your hair extension.

Select a shampoo that is gentle, moisturizing, and free of sulfates. Lather a dollop of shampoo and work it into the hair from just under the clip to the tips. Try not to create tangles, but use the wide-tooth comb again if needed. Lather the extension just like you would washing your own hair. The major difference is the hair in the extension is likely to be much dryer and delicate than your natural hair. Make sure it is soaked through before working in the shampoo to keep in from tangling.

6 Rinse your hair extension with warm water.

Start by dipping the extension back into the basin. Gently squeeze the extension from clip to tip while submerged. Then, delicately run the extension under warm water from the faucet.

7 Condition your hair extension.

Use a light-weight moisturizing conditioner. Massage in a dollop of conditioner, focusing on the center of the hair and working up and down. Treat it as you would natural hair. Rinse again with warm water. Remove excess water by gently squeezing the extension with a towel.

8 Allow your hair extension to air dry.

Hang up your hair extensions to dry straight. This type of hair extension can be conveniently clipped to many surfaces. Avoid blow drying hair extensions, as this may dry out and damage the already delicate hair.

Method 2
Washing a Weave

1 Pre-treat your hair with moisturizer.

Because your extensions aren't getting the moisturizing oils produced by your scalp, they have a tendency to dry out much faster. Dry hair of any kind is much more difficult to wash and is prone to breakage. Add a little hair oil to your weave before you shampoo. Place a shower cap around your hair and allow the oil to infuse into your hair for about an hour before moving on.

2 Clarify your hair and scalp.

This will remove built-up hair products and prevent dandruff. Fill a spray bottle half with water, half with apple cider vinegar. Spray it track-by-track onto your scalp and massage it in. Then give the weave itself a few spritzes. Leave this to set for five minutes before rinsing with warm water. You don't have to clarify every time you wash your hair. Once a month should be enough to keep your scalp healthy.

3 Pick the right shampoo.

There are many shampoos on the market specifically made for hair extensions. However, some stylists recommend that any mild shampoo can be used.Others advise to treat your weave like dry, damaged hair and use a deep-moisturizing shampoo. Like your natural hair, finding what works best may require some trial and error.

4 Shampoo your hair.

Wet your hair thoroughly before applying the shampoo. Add a dollop of shampoo into your hair and lather it. Massage the shampoo into your roots. Be gentle to avoid tangles and breakage. Rinse with warm water. You can do this in the shower or using a sink or wash basin. When you clarify your roots, you can skip shampooing them.

5 Condition your weave.

Keeping the hairs moisturized will extend your weave's lifespan. Deep condition with your choice of moisturizer. Leave it for 15-20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with warm water.

6 Dry your hair.

Either allow your hair to air dry or sit under a hooded dryer. You may also use a blow dryer, but this may damage your weave. Focus drying your roots. Make sure your natural hair and the portion of your weave attached to it dry out completely. Damp hair under a weave can cause mildew or even a bacterial infection.

7 Repeat as necessary.

It is generally recommended to wash your weave and natural hair once every one to two weeks. Washing too often will cause breakage and result in a weave that doesn't last very long. However, not washing at all can damage your natural hair and may end up being unhygienic.

Method 3
Washing Keratin-Bonded Extensions

1 Choose the right shampoo.

Because you want to avoid damaging the keratin bonds, shampoo selection is very important for this type of hair extension. Do your best to find one made specifically for use with hair extensions. If this isn't possible, pick a mild moisturizing shampoo instead. Be sure to avoid shampoos containing sulfates and silicone. Sulfates will dry out your extensions, while silicone may cause them to slip off.

2 Wet your hair.

Use warm (but not hot) water. You can do this in the shower or at the bathroom sink. Run your fingers through your hair to make sure it is soaked-through and tangle-free.

3 Shampoo your hair.

Shampoo your hair, including the extensions, as you normally would. Take a dollop of shampoo and lather it into your hair. Massage it in beginning at the scalp and work your way down to the bottom hair tips. Rinse the shampoo out with warm water.

4 Moisturize with a conditioner.

Keep in mind that extensions will not be reached by your scalp's natural oils. Even if you don't normally need to condition your hair, use one when wearing extensions.

5 Rinse with warm water.

Hot water may damage your extensions, while cold water will not properly remove residue. Wrap your hair with a towel to remove excess water when you're finished. Leave your hair to air dry.

6 Repeat washing two to three times a week.

Remember that more frequent washings will shorten the lifespan of your extensions. If you normally go longer without washing your hair, add a leave-in conditioner to your extensions to keep them moisturized. If your natural hair is oily, try using dry shampoo to reduce the washing frequency necessary to keep your hair looking clean.

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Wash your hair extensions as often as you usually wash your hair. When you do wash the extensions, whether they're in your hair or not, make sure you don't scrub at the bonds, which can weaken them.

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