By Erma W.
Braid and twist extensions are popular go-to styles because of their versatility. They can be worn up or down; they can be adorned with a clip or stand alone and still look snazzy. As fun and stylish as extensions are, though, you must prepare your hair--and yourself--for them. Read on for some helpful preparation tips.
1. Wash and deep condition your hair before getting extensions. You will most likely have your hair tucked away for a few weeks, and it is important for your hair to receive optimal care.
2. Make sure that your hair is thoroughly detangled prior to getting extensions. If your hair is well-detangled, you can reduce the amount of manipulation that your hair incurs. (Less manipulation=more retention; win, win!)
3. Make sure that your stylist braids or twists your extensions past the length of your hair. If the extension hair is not braided or twisted past the length of your real hair, then your hair is not protected. (Extensions are protective styles, after all, so be sure to utilize them for protection as well as style.)
4. Let your stylist know if your braids or twists are too tight. Extensions that are very tight can result in traction alopecia, a recession of the hairline due to excessive pulling of the hair. If the traction alopecia is in its early stages, you might be able to reverse it. The more the damage progresses, the more difficult it is to correct. Avoid taking the risk of "maybe" with your hair. Inform your stylist about the excess pulling the first time you feel it.
5. Be aware that the pieces of hair your stylist cuts from the length of your extension hair are your real hair. Stylists often cut those shorter pieces of hair to make the style look neat. If you would prefer to have extra pieces of hair cut, that is fine--as long as you are aware of what you are losing.
6. Don't let your stylist use fire on your extensions. Sometimes, stylists will burn the ends of braid extensions to keep them from unraveling. Also, they may run a cigarette lighter along the length of braids to "seal" them. You don't need fire near any extensions that are attached to your head. Remember, hair and fire don't mix.
7. Speak up. This point has been vaguely mentioned during previous points, but given the number of stories I've heard about how clients have left shops and salons dissatisfied because of how their hair was handled or how their extensions were done, this warrants a direct mention. Speak up if your extensions are too tight. Speak up if your hair is being combed, brushed, or blow dried too roughly. Speak up if you don't want those pieces of hair along the extension cut. Speak up if something that you don't want to happen is happening.
Bonus tip: Make sure that you are well-rested before getting extensions. Depending on what style you are getting, it can be a long process. Having a good night's sleep will prepare you for the long day ahead at the salon. It will also enable you to stay awake and watch what is being done to your hair.