I'm sure you've seen natural hair extensions a lot of times and wondered what they are, where to buy them and how to apply them at home. With the growth of the natural hair movement, it's no surprise that the use of these extensions has increased too.
Natural hair extensions are great because they’re created to blend seamlessly with your real hair so no one can tell you are wearing extensions. Whether you want a big voluminous fro’, fluffy natural blow out or bouncy washing go, you can achieve all these looks.
There are many factors like your own curl pattern, thickness, length and lifestyle that play an important role in choosing the right natural hair extensions for you. This post is all about natural hair extensions and will give you a rundown on the different types out there and commonly asked questions, so you can make the best choice to suit your needs.
What are natural hair extensions?
Natural hair extensions are extensions that have been designed for natural hair. Curly & Wild natural hair extensions are 100% virgin human hair that has been steam processed to replicate curly, coily and afro-textured hair.
What’s the difference between human and synthetic hair extensions?
Human hair extensions are made from real human hair. The hair is collected from a donor and is treated and processed to create a specific texture and/or colour. Human hair extensions can range in price depending on the quality. In most cases, with human hair extensions, you get what you pay for, so if you want long-lasting extensions, it’s worth paying for high-quality extensions.
Synthetic hair extensions have no human hair and are made from synthetic fibres, usually plastic. They can be manufactured to match human hair; however, they do not last as long, usually less than six months. If you have a smaller budget, synthetic hair extensions could be a good choice, although be mindful that you will have to replace them more often.
What types of natural hair extensions can you get?
There is a range of different natural hair extensions available, however, for the sake of time, we will cover the most popular types that are commonly worn in the natural hair community.
Weaves/sew-ins are installed by sewing them into your real hair, usually cornrows. They can be worn for weeks or months, which can make them a convenient choice if you are looking for a long-term and low maintenance protective style. The downside is that they can be expensive as they require a professional to install.
Natural hair clip-ins are essentially removable hair extensions. Their application is similar to weave as they are installed directly into your hair, however, this is done using clips making them quick and easy to install on your own. If you are new to clip-ins there can be a learning curve so they may not be suitable if you are looking for an easy low maintenance protective style.
If you are unsure whether weaves or clip-ins are for you, check out this blog post to weigh up the pros and cons of both extensions.
A hairpiece is a unit you attach to your hair to create an on the go hairstyle. Hairpieces can come in the form of ponytails, bangs or buns that are installed into the hair. To find out more about our drawstring ponytails go here.
A wig is a full hair unit made out of real or synthetic hair to cover your entire head. There is a range of different wigs so they can be a fantastic way to switch up your look while allowing your natural hair to be protected. They can also be worn for medical reasons such as alopecia or hair loss.
Lace front wigs have an invisible hairline, so it looks like the hair is growing from your scalp giving you a natural look. The hairs are placed individually into the lace front one by one to mimic hair growing out of the scalp. This is a labour-intensive process that comes with a higher price tag. The lace front is delicate so it’s important to be careful when wearing this unit.
Microlinks are growing in popularity in the natural hair community and are being used as an alternative to weaves and wigs. They are hair extensions that are attached to silicone or metal beads which are clamped around small sections of your natural hair to secure them in place. There are two main types of microlinks; I-tips and wefts.
Because of how they are installed they look and feel very natural and give the wearer a lot of versatility. The downside to microlinks is that installation can be pricey, and they generally last for 2 to 3 months when they are looked after properly. If you are looking for a low maintenance style, then microlinks are probably not for you.
Braiding hair is a long-time favourite in the black hair community. There is a range of different braiding hair available on the market in a variety of textures and colours. Popular styles include faux locs, crochet braids, box braids and Marley twists. Braiding hair has been used as a protective style for decades and can be worn in a multitude of ways.
How long do natural hair extensions last?
The longevity of natural hair extensions depends on two things: whether they are human hair or synthetic hair and how well you care for them. Human hair extensions have a longer lifespan and tend to last 6 to 12 months when looked after properly. Synthetic hair extensions generally last a few months, normally no longer than 6 months.
Will natural hair extensions blend with my hair?
Yes, natural hair extensions will blend with your natural hair as they have been designed to blend with textured hair. There are certain tips and techniques to help with blending your extensions. Check out this video to see our favourite blending methods.
Can I style natural hair extensions?
What’s great about natural hair extensions is that they can be styled, dyed and cut just like your natural hair so you can twist, braid and Bantu knot to your heart's content. It’s best to use a limited amount of heat because like your real hair your natural hair extensions can suffer from heat damage. Just make sure if you are using heat to use a heat protectant.
Can I wash natural hair extensions?
Of course! You can wash natural hair extensions just like your natural hair. It’s always a good idea to use a sulphate-free shampoo to prevent them from drying out and to follow up with a deep conditioner.How often you wash your hair extensions will depend on the number of times you wear them. If they start to look dull and show signs of product build-up it’s time to wash them. You can also wash them with a moisture-rich conditioner in-between shampoo washes. It’s important to bear in mind that the more you manipulate your hair extensions it shortens their longevity so do not over wash them.
Can I dye natural hair extensions?
If the hair extensions are human hair, they can be dyed. Curly & Wild natural hair extensions can be dyed up to #27 or Strawberry Honey Blonde, lighter colours may cause the curls to drop. We always recommend doing a test dye using our texture sample or on a small section of the extensions to ensure you are happy with the results. You can dye your extensions at home however we recommend getting them dyed by a professional colourist for a professional finish. For tips on how to dye your extensions at home, watch this video.
How to care for natural hair extensions?
When wearing natural hair extensions, you also have to consider the maintenance process that goes with them as they need to be cared for just like your natural hair. Hair extensions are a consumable product so they will eventually need replacing so keeping them clean, detangled and moisturised will make them last longer. You can find more detailed extension hair care advice here and here.
How often can I wear natural hair extensions?
You can wear natural hair extensions as often as you want. With daily wear, you must moisturise and detangle them to ensure you minimise tangling. There are some circumstances where we don’t recommend you wear your natural hair extensions for instance when swimming or sleeping.
What length of natural hair extensions should I get?
Deciding on what length to get will depend on what look you want to achieve. Curly & Wild hair extensions range from 12 to 24 inches depending on the extensions. If you are new to wearing natural hair extensions, try a shorter length while you get used to styling them. If you want to do a range of styles, a longer length would be better, so you have more hair to work with.
How long does my natural hair have to be to wear natural hair extensions?
We recommend that your hair is at least 4 inches long to wear our natural hair clip-in extensions and drawstring ponytails.
Do natural hair extensions look natural?
Yes, they do. When it comes to making your hair extensions look natural and seamless choose a texture that is closest to your curl pattern and find blending techniques that work for you. Choosing a length based on the length of your real hair can also make your extensions look natural. For more tips on how to make your extensions look natural head over to this blog post.
What products can you use on natural hair extensions?
Any products that you use on your natural hair can be used on your natural hair extensions. What is more important, however, is knowing which ingredients to avoid or minimise usage. Sulphates and alcohols can dry out the hair extensions and lead to tangling and eventually matting, so limiting the use of these products is essential.
That’s not to say these products should be avoided at all costs, however, you want to be mindful of the combination of ingredients and the order in which they appear in a product. The first 5 ingredients usually make up the bulk of any hair product. Therefore, if 3 out of the first 5 ingredients are alcohols this is likely to contribute to your hair extensions tangling. You would be surprised how many hidden alcohols are in hair products. Even glycerin is a derivative of alcohol!
Here is a list of ingredients you may want to avoid:
Sodium laureth sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulfate
Ammonium lauryl sulfate
Also, limit conditioners that are protein-based because too much protein can make your hair extensions stiff. The same rules will apply to your leave-in conditioner or daily moisturiser.
Here is a list of products we find that work well with Curly & Wild natural hair extensions:
Aunt Jackie’s Oh So Clean – Moisturizing & Softening Shampoo
Remember finding products comes down to trial and error. We will keep updating this list as we discover more products.
What accessories can you use with natural hair extensions?
Hair accessories are a great way to add personality and flair to your hairstyles. You can use any accessories with your natural hair extensions so don’t be afraid to jazz up your hairstyle with a colourful hairband, a satin scrunchie and hair clips.
Should I wear natural hair extensions?
Yes! Natural hair extensions are a fun way to add volume and length while protecting your natural hair. They are comfortable and convenient and a great compliment to any natural hair routine.
Hopefully, this post has set you on the right path to finding the perfect extensions for you and your lifestyle. We take pride in everything we do here at Curly & Wild so we want to ensure you have all you need to be confident when choosing your natural hair extensions. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and we would be happy to help.
Interested in our collection of natural hair extensions?