Articles > Styling > How To Properly Prep The Hair For Extensions
Last updated: July 08, 2020

How To Properly Prep The Hair For Extensions

hotheads extensions before and after
close formula
Collaboration between @mickeycolonjr and @kristenmcolon // Instagram via @kristenmcolon

Extension Specialists Share Their Tips For Properly Prepping The Hair

The long-awaited arrival of Spring has your client itching to do something new, and she decided it’s time to give extensions a try. So let’s talk about prep. Prepping the hair is crucial for achieving an application that has major longevity and is undetectable, so we reached out to three extension specialists to get their best tips. From cleansing and conditioner use to the blow-dry, here’s how to properly prep clients’ hair for extensions.



Always Start With A Clarifying Shampoo

If the extensions aren’t applied to clean hair, things like residue and oils can cause them to prematurely slip. That’s why Donna Bella Hair Master Educator Baelee Reiter (@inbaeleeschair) always cleanses the scalp with a clarifying shampoo first. But if your client has had her hair colored, make sure to use a mild clarifying shampoo. Hotheads® Hair Extensions Educator Kristen Colon (@kristenmcolon) says anything stronger could mess with the color.


Pro Tip: Skip the conditioner! It’s meant for moisturizing so using it will only add oils back into the hair, making it more difficult for the extensions to stay put.


But A Little Bit Of Conditioner Is OK

Hairtalk® Master Educator and Platform Artist Alicia Iannone’s (@liciebaby) clientele is 90 percent blondes so skipping conditioner completely isn’t an option. So she’ll apply a very very light amount of conditioner on the ends only to keep her client’s hair hydrated without disrupting the longevity of the extensions.


Alicia Iannone @liciebaby hairtalk How To Properly Prep Hair For Extensions Tips
Instagram via @liciebaby



Is Staticky Hair Driving You Crazy?

Have you ever tried applying extensions on staticky hair? Yeah, it’s not fun but Alicia has a solution! The secret to avoid a static setback is to apply a small amount of conditioner to the ends and then be sure to rinse it out for a good 2 to 3 minutes. 


Pro Tip: For clients with dry/knotty hair, Alicia will spray detangler in her hands and then apply it to the ends. If absolutely necessary for taming purposes, she’ll then apply a drop of smoothing cream to the ends for heat protection and shine during the blowout.


Work With A Clean Palette

If the client’s hair isn’t super straight, not only will your application be messy but you won’t know which color extensions will match the row you’re working on and unwanted flyaways/babyhairs will get stuck in the tape tab, causing tension. That’s why Alicia will blowout the hair first so it’s super smooth and straight. Then, she’ll run a flat iron from the roots to the ends to ensure she’s creating a clear, clean palette for herself.


Baelee Reiter @inbaeleeschair Donna Bella How To Properly Prep Hair For Extensions Tips
Instagram via @inbaeleeschair


What If She’s Getting Her Extensions Moved Up?

First things first, only clean extensions should be removed. Because she uses hairtalk® tape-in extensions, which don’t leave any residue in the hair, Alicia will wash her client’s hair first, then blow it out smooth and straight before removing and reapplying.


But Kristen likes to start totally fresh so she’ll tell her clients to arrive with clean extensions. Then, she’ll remove them and cleanse the hair with a mild clarifying shampoo to get rid of any residue/buildup before drying and reapplying. “This is not a step to be lazy on,” advises Kristen. “The client hasn’t had that good scrub with no extensions in so they’ll appreciate it…This really helps eliminate any trouble shooting if an extension were to come out after reinstalling as they shouldn’t be coming out.”