Hair extensions, much like a luxurious new silk blouse, deserve the right care and attention to prolong their lifespan and keep them looking as new as the day they were unboxed. You wouldn't unceremoniously throw a garment you've invested precious savings into the washer without checking its washing instructions or having it professionally dry cleaned, would you? In the same way, protecting your investment in hair extensions by choosing the best hair products for hair extensions will ensure that your extensions stay shiny, smooth, and lustrous for longer.
Sometimes, this means spending a bit of extra cash, however, more expensive does not always equal more effective. From drugstore to salon-quality hair products, we've gathered the four main best products every girl should have for their hair extensions and put them to the test. Save or splurge? Read on to find out.
Why choosing the best products for your hair extensions matters
Because hair extensions are not attached to the scalp, they do not receive continuous nutrition and oil deposits like natural hair. Coupled with the fact that hair extensions are chemically processed (unless you are purchasing virgin hair extensions,) hair extensions will naturally be quite dry. For this reason, products for hair extensions should be chosen carefully, not only to avoid harsh ingredients that may dry the hair out even more, but to add moisture back into the hair.
How to choose the right hair products for your hair extensions
Look for hair products that are coconut oil, Argan oil, or castor oil-based—all oils that are great for infusing moisture back into hair extensions.
Also, keep a lookout for "bad" and "good" alcohols. "Bad" alcohols are short-chain alcohols that penetrate the hair shaft easily, leading to frizz, dryness, and deteriorating hair extensions. Some of these include sodium lauryl sulfate, ethanol and propanol. On the other hand, "good" alcohols are long-chain fatty alcohols derived from coconut oil or palm oil. These alcohols draw moisture into the hair, add a slippery feeling for detangling, and act as an emulsifier. These alcohols tend to be found in conditioners and deep conditioners.
In this article we're going to talk about four main products for hair extensions you should have:
1. Best shampoo for hair extensions
Save: Loral Ever Pure Moisture Shampoo ($12)
Retailing at $12, it's a great option for those on a budget, especially for how often your hair extensions will be washed, which isn't that often. In fact, you should only wash your hair extensions once every 25-30 wears, or when there is too much product buildup to the point that they become unmanageable.
Pros: This shampoo has no sulfates, no salts, and no drying alcohols, a big win in our eyes. It's also specially formulated for color-treated hair, so if you have custom dyed your extensions, this is a good choice for you. Finally, the shampoo contains rosemary oil for added moisture and does a great job restoring softness and shine.
Cons: Although the rosemary oil does a great job moisturizing the hair, it does have a strong peppermint scent, which may be overwhelming. Be sure to also spend extra time carefully washing out the product to ensure there is no residue left over.
Splurge: Playa Everyday Shampoo ($37)
If you have a little more room in your budget to play, this shampoo is a favorite and can be found at Sephora.
Pros: Playa Everyday Shampoo is formulated with a coconut base so it won't dry out your extensions while you're washing. It does just the right amount of cleaning, breaking down product buildup and whisking it away, without over-cleaning. Have you ever washed your hair and it felt way too squeaky clean to the point of dryness? You won't see any of that with this shampoo! Hair extensions felt clean yet soft and manageable after washing. This shampoo is also sulfate-free, paraben-free, and formaldehyde-free.
Cons: Because the product is so thick, it is difficult to squeeze the shampoo out of its bottle. Prepare yourself for a bit of an arm workout!
2. Best conditioner for hair extensions
Save: Aveeno Pure Renewal ($12)
Pros: This conditioner is sulfate-free, "bad" alcohol-free and is made for all hair types, including hair extensions, and is good for color-treated hair, if you have custom-dyed extensions. It's also infused with balancing seaweed extract, which is rich in vitamins, proteins, and minerals to help rebalance the hair's natural moisture.
Cons: None! This conditioner is an all-around great, easy, simple conditioner that gets the job done.
Splurge: Bumble & Bumble Super Rich Conditioner ($38)
Pros: A little more luxurious, we love Bumble & Bumble's Super Rich Conditioner for hair extensions as it's thick, creamy and designed to add bounce and luster back into your hair without the greasiness. There are no parabens, no sulfates and no "bad" alcohols. This conditioner does contain cetyl and stearyl alcohols, however, these are "good" alcohols, so no complaints here. This conditioned softens, detangles, and moisturizes like nothing we've used before—it's the perfect solution for instant revival to dry, damaged hair extensions.
Cons: We have nothing but good things to say about this conditioner!
3. Best hair mask for hair extensions
Using a hair mask is not necessary, however, we do recommend to go a step further after shampooing and conditioning to extend their lifespan and keep them as hydrated as possible. Apply the hair mask to damp hair after shampooing and conditioning, and let it soak into the hair for 20 minutes before washing off for best results.
Save: Morroconoil Intense Hydrating Mask ($22)
Pros: You may already use Morroconoil's classic Argan oil on your hair, which is also the base of this hair mask. Argan oil is known to be full of antioxidants, viitamin E, lots of minerals and fatty acids, that help restore shine and smoothness to hair. This hair mask is formulated with no sulfates, no formaldehydes, no parabens, and the packaging is even recyclable, which we love. A little product goes a long way with this one, and it's also meant for thick to medium hair so it's perfect for a thicker set of hair extensions like our 220g classic set.
Splurge: Love Hair Nourishing Treatment Mask ($40)
Pros: This hair mask is 100% natural, certified organic and cruelty-free. It's also effective for color-treated hair and there are no parabens, sulfates, or synthetic fragrance. This hair mask is by far the most natural way to go. Formulated with lavender and jojoba oils, this is an excellent option to fortify hair strands and restore moisture. It also contains quinoa protein to help repair damage and dullness, an ingredient we don't usually see in hair masks.
Cons: At $40, this is a higher-end hair mask, however, we believe the high quality of the product and natural ingredients reflects the price fairly.
4. Best heat protectant for hair extensions
If you're like us and love to curl, straighten and style your hair extensions, all that heat can take a serious toll on your extensions. A heat protectant is a must to keep hair strands safe from damage.
Save: Jamaican Black Castor Oil Thermal Protectant ($12)
Pros: The main ingredient in this heat protectant is Jamaican black castor oil, which is known for repairing dry, brittle hair, reducing dandruff, and promoting hair growth. This heat protects does not contain "bad" alcohols or sulfates, and works well for natural hair and hair extensions, whether dry or damp.
Cons: We give this heat protectant an all-around thumbs up...perhaps the super long name?
Splurge: Amika Blockade Heat Defense Serum ($33)
Pros: It's a serum, not a spray, like traditional heat protectants, making it like two products in one. It not only protects your hair from thermal heat damage but acts as a hair oil as well, locking down frizziness and smoothening flyaways while styling. The products wraps itself around hair strands, acting like a shield against outside forces. This product is also sulfate, formaldehyde, paraben and "bad" alcohol-free, made with a sea buckhorn berry base, which is full of nutrients like vitamin C, E, and A.
Cons: None. This is probably one of our top favorite hair products of all time!
We hope this helps give you a better understanding on which hair products are best for hair extensions, and shows you that great hair care doesn't always have to break the bank. Of course, there's nothing wrong with elevating your hair care either. Happy shopping!