Many of you know that last year I went through a few shades of the ultra trendy, IG friendly silver hair. My fine hair did not appreciate all those processing hours in the salon. The final nail in the coffin for my tortured hair was the trip back to red.
I can’t express how badly I did not want to cut off more hair than I already had, but what else can you do when your hair resembles a Brillo pad. Being a hair extension virgin, not even a clip in had touched this hair, I was hopeful that these babies would camouflage the damage and allow my hair to grow out healthily.
I did my homework and I found that while all extensions cause damage to some degree, tape-ins are on the lower end of the spectrum. Sounds like a plan!
I chose skin weft based on the look and quality.
Skin weft have individually knotted rows of hair.
The alternative (shown above) is a densely packed row of hair with no individual knots. This type of tape in can look like a clump of matted (for lack of better description) hair beneath natural hair and is more difficult to conceal than the skin weft type of extension.
How do Tape-in’s work?
The back of the weft contains the tape side of the extension. A small section of natural hair is placed between the sticky sides of two extensions. Multiple rows of “hair sandwiches” are created from the crown to the base of the skull (number of rows is dependent on whether extensions are used for length, volume or both.
How Did The Extensions Look?
You tell me!
I absolutely loved them. I didn’t find them terribly difficult to conceal. The packaging clearly says “straight” hair extensions, but they were crazy curly after washing. I reconciled with my new frock after I learned out to care for curly hair.
I missed my pony’s dearly. Thankfully after about 6 weeks, I had enough new growth and the extensions were far enough from my scalp that I could do rock a pony, with a headband to conceal them.
How Well Do Tape-In’s Hold Up?
I had only one issue with my extensions during the first month. My hair is very thin and brittle from over processing. The extension sandwiches have so much weight from the additional strands and length, so when attached to thin hair, especially close to my face, the extensions can pull out the small hairs anchoring them. It’s worth noting that extensions come in different weights, but tape-ins only have one weight. I had to trim them away until their was a thick enough piece of hair holding them on.
Not a great feeling, to know your hair is slowly being pulled out. In retrospect, I would not put the extensions so close to my face. My stylist and I discussed this and because my hair is thin, it is more difficult to conceal them, making it ideal to have more extensions and closer to the hairline. Knowing what I know now, I would make that sacrifice.
How Long Do Tape-In Extensions Last?
Usually tape-ins are kept until about 1.5-2 in of new growth is present. Normal growth is about a half-inch per month. My hair grows fast, so I had 1.5 inches of new growth after almost two months. My hair began to matte after about 6 weeks. Matting will happen; it’s caused from the hair between the hair sandwich rows tangling in the space between the extensions. Think about having foils in your hair for highlights, the hair that mattes, in this case of example, would be the hair left out of the foils (extensions). Hair between the extensions gets tangled and, while you can brush and wash your hair like normal, as the extensions grow further away from your head, it becomes more difficult to keep it separated and untangled from the hair left out of the extensions.
I started to feel like I couldn’t keep up with the maintenance even though I was using the silk pillow case, hair scarf, braids and everything else recommended . I wonder if the damage and my thin hair texture played a role in this as well.
I wanted to move them up toward my scalp, so they would be more manageable. By then, the holidays were approaching and my stylist was booked out. Removing and replacing hair extensions both require a decent block of time. I was able to book enough time to replace the extensions, but not to take them out. No worries though, I have several friends who use tape-ins and they never go to the salon to remove them.
How To Remove Tape-In Extensions
Or rather, how not to remove tape-ins… this is where my experience with extensions went completely awry. A few weeks before I decided to remove them, I’d asked my stylist to remove an extension that felt like it was only partially attached. He used a salon formula to remove it and it took him a while. There were lots of tugging and, “I’m sorry”s. He hadn’t seen an extension so tightly secured, ever. A few days later, I felt a pea sized portion of glue still nestled in my hair where he removed the extension, so I purchased the salon formula glue remover and it did just about nothing; I lost most of the hair attached to that piece of glue.
My friends all use coconut oil to remove their tape-in extensions. The extension care instructions read not to use any conditioner/oil products near the tape because it dissolves the glue. Makes sense that this would remove the extension. Having had the previous glue remover experience, I went into it armed with, coconut oil, glue remover and the confidence of my friends.
“Oh it’s so easy, I sit in front of the tv and massage them out.” One friend said.
“It’s relaxing.” another said.
I’ll save you from the 8 minute video of me working on one extension that ended up taking far longer than 8 minutes. The internet quotes 20 minutes for removing tape-in extensions. Clearly the coconut oil wasn’t working. I reached for the glue remover. The problem wasn’t getting the hair extensions out, they came out with ease, but the strip of glue was left behind and matted to my hair. It was nearly impossible to get the tangled matted glue out of my hair. My husband and I worked with oil, glue remover and a fine toothed comb for four and a half hours until the glue was finally removed. I lost a lot of hair in the process.
I can’t stress enough that this is not what usually happens with removal of tape-ins.
“Oh it’s so easy, I sit in front of the tv and massage them out.” Picture me rolling my eyes.
So What Happened Then?
I visited the store where I purchased the extensions and shared my story. The employee assured me that while it’s not common for the glue to adhere so strongly to the hair, I am not alone in my experience. He says it happens because of a few reasons:
- In Arizona, the extensions can heat up quite a bit if the wearer participates in several pool days mid Summer. Nope, not me, I stay shaded and this was December.
- The wearer uses a lot of heated styling tools and reheats the glue from time to time. I only used heat on my hair one to two times a week because of the damage, but occasionally I did reheat the glue. I was told that most people have a problem with the extensions slipping, so it’s good to reheat the glue. Perhaps having to replace a few is a better tradeoff than not being able to remove them.
How Do You Get Hair Extensions Out if the Glue Mattes?
The very nice man at The Hair Shop assured me that he could have removed them without causing so much trauma. He explained that the glue had bonded too strongly to the hair, so if it’s heated slightly with a hair straightener prior to the application of glue remover, the softened glue would lift out with the extension instead of leaving behind the strip of glue. “Once the glue is left behind in the hair, you’re basically screwed.” He assured me. Yes, that’s exactly how it felt. My hair was screwed.
I wanted to try the extensions one more time for you, my loyal readers. I wanted to see if this technique would work, but the state of my hair won over. I could not possibly go through that again. I’d have no hair left! My stylist offered to use this technique to see if extensions came out easier, but since this is not a typical response to the glue, I think it really should be used on hair that is known to bond too strongly to glue, ie: mine. If I do work up the courage to try out tape-ins again, I’ll follow up with you. I’m pretty sure I’ll be growing my own long hair though, it’s far less trouble.
Tune in next week for all of my hair rescue tips. I’ve clearly had my work cut out for me.