Bangs, fringe, breakage — whatever you call it, it'll fit in some butterfly clips.
I sometimes get asked by the
bold and the curious if I wash my hair while wearing extensions.
The answer: Of course I wash
my hair! What do I look like, a stray cat?
Just because you have been
hooked up with the flyest, illest and sickest weave by the weave gawds, you
should NEVER neglect what you were naturally given. That is my number-one rule whilst wearing weaves or extensions, and it's a shame
that many weave wearers often neglect their own hair and then wonder later on when
they uninstall their extensions why their real hair is so damaged, brittle and unhealthy.
But at the end of the day,
it’s not a stupid question. Here
is my haircare routine when “wash
day” rolls around to nurture and care for my natural hair, as well as to
maintain the hair extensions attached to it.
preface by saying that I normally wear human hair full sew-in weaves with a human
hair lace closure. I personally do not like leaving my natural hair
out so I do not have to apply heat to my naturally kinky 4C-texture hair to have
it mimic the texture of the extensions on my head. My braid pattern is always
the same: a full head of vertical cornrows with the weft extensions laid and
sewn horizontally to avoid any tension to my natural hair and natural hairline
(damn you edges!). I found that this braid pattern works best for me and my
hair, but to each her own.
For me, “wash day” is usually
every two weeks. It is a really simple process but it is also REALLY lengthy, so
I like to make sure that I have the time to fully dedicate myself to doing this
both gently as well as thoroughly.
First and foremost, my best
friend while wearing weaves is an applicator bottle because it is WAY easier to apply the oils
and products to my scalp and natural hair while my hair is braided down
and weaved up. So I highly suggest you invest in a few them.
Step 1: Oils
As a pre-shampoo treatment, I
fill my first applicator bottle with a mixture
of equal parts of olive oil, carrot oil, and Jamaican Black Castor Oil.
I like this particular mixture
because it fights breakage while promoting hair growth. I separate each track and douse
my scalp with the concoction, row by row, until every inch of my head is
Once that's done, I really like to focus on my hairline to avoid
breakage of my edges, which has been an issue for me in the past. For my edges in particular, I
massage the mixture, in a circular motion, which helps to nurture hair growth by increasing blood circulation in the scalp.
I then put on a thick plastic
shower cap and allow my natural body heat to activate the mixture for an hour
to an hour and 15 minutes as a "hot oil" treatment of sorts. You can also choose
to apply the mixture and proceed to sit under a hooded dryer for 30 minutes to
45 minutes. Either which way, this allows
it to really take effect and absorb into my hair follicles.
While it is
penetrating, I'll do some chores around the house as time
passes (but really I am watching Teen Mom 2 because I am addicted--don’t
judge me). I allot this time mostly because I really want to ensure it really
seeps into my roots. For those of you with a leave-out, you can use the same
mixture and do the same step because all of these oils are beneficial for
healthier and stronger hair.
Step 2: Clarifying
I don’t do this every time I
wash my hair but instead every other “wash day,” or once a month. This is important to do because it removes
the excess buildup of oils that have accumulated over time at my roots as well
as stripping the weaving hair of product residue. (I LOVE HAIRSPRAY. Sue me.) Being
that my natural hair is braided underneath the extensions, I want to avoid
buildup at my scalp so that when it is actually time to take out my hair
extensions, whether I keep them in for three weeks or three months time, all of
that residue is removed. Clarifying the scalp and hair is a great refresher, giving
it a much-needed hair detox.
To do so, I use another
applicator bottle and fill it with one part apple cider vinegar to two
ACV stinks, but the benefits--including removing product buildup, treating hair loss and dandruff, fighting
dry, itchy scalp and balancing hair and scalp pH--are worth it.
I apply ACV track by track and massage it into my scalp using the balls of my
fingers. I also add some to my extensions to help restore them by cleaning away
I let that sit for five minutes and then rinse. If you are opposed
to ACV, then you can also use a clarifying shampoo.
Step 3: Conditioner
I am all about co-washing my hair,
real or fake, and I love a generous dose of moisture for my hair. I use yet
another applicator, apply a moisturizing conditioner to my scalp and my extensions; I massage it into my
scalp, comb through my extensions with a wide-tooth comb and then rinse.
Step 4: Shampoo
I do not add shampoo to my
roots since I did the ACV treatment prior but rather just lather it into my
extensions and rinse. For the “wash day” where I don’t do an ACV mix, I use a deep-cleansing shampoo on both roots/braids as well as extensions to
remove heavy residues.
Step 5: Deep Conditioning
It is normal to shed 50-100
hairs a day, and while the foundation of the weave is braided
down (and if you’re like me, keeping hair extensions installed for an
extended period of time), all of that shedding accumulates until removal of the
weave. To help with shedding and breakage, deep conditioning is the key.
found that my hair thrives much better after deep conditioning. I particularly
love SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep
I use another applicator bottle to
saturate my natural hair with the deep conditioner and rub it into my scalp; I then
let it sit for about 20 minutes in a
plastic shower cap and then rinse out completely.
Step 6: Leave-In Conditioner
After deep-conditioning my
hair, using yet another applicator bottle (I told you to invest in them!), I
proceed to then apply my Cantu Argan Oil Leave In Conditioning Repair Cream in between the tracks and into my
Being that this is a leave-in
treatment, I do not wash this out but instead allow my natural hair to absorb it
so it can do its thang: hydrate, moisturize,
and strengthen my real hair. I also like to use this mixture in between “wash days” as well in order to keep
my hair underneath hydrated and conditioned in the interim and prevent
And for those of you with a leave-out, you can also add the same conditioning cream to leave in. As for my
extensions, I do add some leave-in conditioner to soften the strands to help restore
them back to life by brushing the cream through with a Denman Brush before moving on to the next step.
Step 7: Drying
When I was growing up, I had
a legit salon-style hair dryer in my basement since my mother used to do hair
for a handful of clients and friends on top of having a full-time job and being
a mother of four and wife. Superwoman with a hotcomb.
These days, I turn to my portable
hooded dryer. I LOVE hooded dryers because they evenly dry my
whole head without direct heat or heat damage, it allows my hair to set while
allowing the deep-conditioning treatments or hot oil treatments to absorb
more easily. I personally feel that they are a great investment, especially when you are on your natural hair journey like
First, I section my hair into
four buns: one at the top right, one at the top left, one at the bottom right, and one at the bottom left. I used to wrap my hair in a doobie with bobby pins to secure it before sitting under
the dryer, but I found that the four mini buns technique was more effective
since it left my hair more open and thus allowing the heat to reach my scalp
But for those who choose to
use a handheld blowdryer, first work on thoroughly drying your roots.
And then dry your extensions. If you have a leave-out, I suggest
applying a heat protectant first and then blow-drying your natural hair on a
low setting. For the extensions, I would also apply a heat protectant because
human hair extensions can experience damage from blow-drying just like real
hair, and you want to increase your weave's lifespan. You’re not doing all this
work for nothing!
But again, focus on the roots
first. Some might think it is not a big deal walking around with damp hair, but
it is imperative that your braided/natural hair is absolutely and
completely dry while wearing extensions. If it is not, mildew and bacteria can
form and... eww, just eww.
Step 8: Styling
Pretty simple. I use my
favorite extra-hold hairspray, spraying each section BEFORE I pass the flat iron
through. Once done, I set my hair with Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Sheen
Spray for enhanced shine.
And there you have it! I told y'all: it... is... a... process! “Wash day” is legitimately a biweekly holiday in my life.
Do not disturb and leave a message after the beep.
I found that this routine is
what works best for me and I strongly encourage you to do your
research because not all hair is all the same. Whether you are a newbie to
the “fake hair, don’t care” club, or you wear weaves as a protective style, or
you just love wearing them ‘cuz can’t nobody tell you nothin’, please do your homework to find what works best for you and your hair: techniques,
products, oils, anything and everything.
And always remember to show
your natural hair the care that it needs and deserves.