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Hair extensions have come a long way over the past few years, everyone from celebrities to even editors here at InStyle have become obsessed with the opportunity to transform our hair into something red carpet worthy. But getting and taking care of extensions is no small commitment, so we asked Frank Rizzieri, Creative Director of Rizzieri salons, schools, and spas, and Co-Owner of Fourteenjay salon in NYC, for his expertise on what to do (and what not to do) when caring for your new hair.
Do be prepared to spend extra time doing your hair in the morning
Many women don't think about the fact that getting extensions means more time will be added to your getting ready routine. "I think the most important thing to understand is that it's going to take more time to dry your hair and it'll take longer to comb out," Rizzeri says. "You've got to make sure you take care of it. If you're an active person and you're washing your hair a lot, you've got to make sure you're not just going in the shower and going crazy with scrubbing your scalp and hair."
Don't do anything in excess
Don't use any oily products, especially at the top where the extensions are bonded to the hair. Stay away from serums or anything greasy, as those will break down the bond of the extension.
Don't go crazy with the flat iron
Yes, you can use curling irons and flat irons on your extensions, but remember that it's real hair, so it can burn just like your own hair. "I really don't recommend any iron to go over 380 degrees. 350 degrees is a good spot. You have to remember some curling irons go up to 450/500 degrees. That's a big no." Also, don't pause on a section of hair with the iron. "The iron should just glide through your hair really quick, which reduces the damage."
Don't over-wash it
When you have extensions, it's important not to over-shampoo your hair and stay away from greasy products. "The ultimate way to take care of it is to wash your hair every other day or every second day and when you cleanse your hair, really cleanse the ends and scalp, but stay away from the midshaft of the hair," he says. "When you put the conditioner in, just focus on the ends, don't just plop it on the top of your head. When you comb, always brush through thoroughly while hair is wet and get all the knots out. It's ok to use a light detangling spray."
Do take care of your hair with the right products
Shampoo-wise, Rizzieri recommends Aveda Color Conserve shampoo ($21, aveda.com). "It's the best shampoo and safe for extensions. They also have a leave in conditioner ($21, aveda.com) which he says is great for those with extensions. "As long as you keep conditioner away the base of extensions, it's ok to use. And dont forget that dry shampoo is a girl's best friend when you have extensions."
Don't use just any brush
The wrong brush can wreak havok on extension hair. Instead, choose a detangling brush with nylon bristles that allow you to comb through the hair without pulling (we're obsessed with this one from R Session Pro Tools).
Do be prepared to spend some cash
Extensions aren't cheap, they can easily cost upwards of $1,000 to get, and they must be taken out by a professional every 6-8 weeks. So don't be surprised if your extensions start eating up your paycheck. Which is why it's so important to take care of them properly. "Taking care of your hair is the single most important thing you can do. If you're not willing to take the time, you're not the best candidate for extensions," says Rizzieri. "It's like a great dress, it's an investment."