How To Wash Hair with Hair Extensions

The Hair Goddess answers all our questions on maintaining hair extensions.

Woman getting her hair washed at a salon
Photo: Courtesy

To know me is to know my love for reality television and my completely unnecessarily complicated relationship with my hair.

I have boring, easy, flat, mousy hair, nothing to really complain about, but nothing to write home about either. I've gone platinum. It was fun. I've grown it long. It was stringy. I cut it super short, it looked "fine."

So, what's left to do?

Thankfully, my best friends that don't know they're my best friends over at TLC, The Hair Goddess came into my life—or my living room, if you're looking at things technically. They showed me the next thing.

Christina Oliva, owner of Olivia Christensen and rightfully self-proclaimed Hair Goddess, is a Staten Island-born and bred hair extension genius. All you have to do is watch an episode of her reality show to understand why she's so good at what she does: it's a perfect mixture of passion, expert technique, and dedication to detail. Like, every, single strand, detail.

Getting extensions is a lot like having a baby. JK — I don't have a baby and it's probably nothing like it, but it is a huge commitment. You need to brush differently. You need to treat your scalp differently. Your personal relationship with your favorite pillow changes. You need to actually take care of your hair. The first step in being a Hair Goddess? Learn how to shampoo.

Here, Christina answers all my annoying, seemingly simple questions about how to wash my new hair.

Should I wash my hair more, less, or the same amount as I did without extensions?

The hair extensions that I use at my salon are applied with a small bead, so any products containing oils will make the extensions slip out. It is preferred to wash your hair more with our hair extension technique rather than less, especially if you have naturally oily hair.

What do I have to do to my hair before stepping into the shower?

Nothing specifically! If you're getting high-quality hair, the pieces go through a series of quality control before it's ever in our client's hands. You're good to go.

What types of products can I use for my hair in the shower? What ingredients should I avoid?

Most hair extension experts recommend sulfate-free shampoo. Don't freak out. Sulfate-free products might not create much of lather in the shower, but they maintain the integrity of your hair extensions, which is the most important thing.

Things to avoid: oils, extracts, hydrolyzed silk, wheat protein, or silicone. All of the above will make the extensions slip out. Things to stock up on: We highly recommend our hair care line; Olivia Christensen Daily Shampoo & Daily Conditioner, which is specifically designed for hair extensions. (EDITOR NOTE: The stuff smells amazing.)

I also recommend the Milbon Moisture Treatment to keep extensions safe and healthy. It is a five-step process and has proven to be the safest treatment with our hair extensions. We recommend the treatment be done every 6-8 weeks. It seals the cuticle, locks in moisture, and adds shine to your hair!

Let's get to the washing. What motions should I use? How do I treat the scalp? Gentle?

You can wash as normal, but make sure to really scrub and get in there to remove any oil buildup. Go hard or go home.

Do I have to condition my ends, even though it's not really my hair?

Always condition from mid-length throughout ends; any conditioner is left over on your hands can be applied to the top of your head, however, don't take conditioner and apply directly at the attachments.

How do I properly rinse my shampoo out?

You should always properly rinse your hair thoroughly to avoid any buildup, and if you happen to have some residue, we highly recommend Neutrogena Anti-Residue Gentle Clarifying Shampoo to remove any excess oils.

What about when I'm sopping wet in the shower? What do I do with my hair?

It's recommended to gently squeeze any excess water from your hair to avoid towel drying, which can ruffle the cuticle.

Is it ok for me to air dry?

One of the best things about our hair extensions is you can air-dry your hair. Our Indian hair air-dries with beautiful beach waves, making it extremely simple for our clientele to style their hair naturally and effortlessly. (EDITOR NOTE: My hair has never looked better air dried as it does with these extensions.)

What's the safest way for me to blow-dry my hair and ensure I look like a beauty blogger?

Woman with long brown hair extensions

The safest way to blow dry your hair is to air dry your hair to at least 70% and always apply a thermal spray to protect your hair. Our favorite is Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Heat Styling Spray. We love the Living Proof product line for any post-shower, styling needs. No Frizz Nourishing Styling Cream and Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo are great.

Before and after picture below.

Before and After photos from the back of a woman's hair going from shoulder length to middle of back long length with hair extensions

I know. I look gorgeous.

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