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Everything You Need to Know About Getting Tape-In Extensions on Natural Hair

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If there were an Olympic category for hair extensions, Black women would be bringing home the gold. We’ve perfected the art of enhancing our natural curls with a bevy of hair extension methods including sew-ins, wigs, and braids. Textured tape-ins are quickly becoming a popular method for Black women wanting natural-looking extensions, so much so that #tapeinextensions and #curlytapeinextensions have 730.5 million and 8.9 million views on TikTok, respectively. While the buzz is mainly positive, there are a few sentiments of concern about how effective and safe tape-ins are for natural hair. The word “tape” alone makes this sound like the perfect setup for a sticky situation.

Once you secure a salon, your tape-in journey will begin with a consultation where your stylist explains that tape-in extensions are small sections of human hair (about one to two inches wide) that come pre-adhered to a “band with adhesive that holds the hair together,” says Houston-based hair stylist Alexis Underwood. Your stylist will also assess your hair’s texture, type, length, and density to determine what texture tape-ins are best and let you know if you’re even a good candidate for tape-ins (more on that later).

To ensure you don't end up with a tangled mess of curls, we tapped a few experts to explain everything you need to know about getting tape-ins on textured hair, including what to expect during an appointment, and how to maintain tape-ins on natural hair at home.


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What to look for in good tape-in extensions for textured hair

Tape-ins are typically sold in bundles that include 20 to 40 pieces of individual extensions in each. Many stylists, like Underwood, will require you to purchase the hair extensions directly from them so that they know exactly what they're working with and can ensure that the hair is top-quality. If your stylist doesn’t provide the extensions, sites like Heat Free Hair and Wow Angel have a wide range of different lengths, colors, and textures. Underwood says that you should expect about four total bundles taped onto your head at the end of the process, so you'll need to purchase multiple.

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WowAngel Tape in Hair Extensions Kinky Straight

$89.00, WowAngel

It’s best to consult with your stylist before purchasing your tape-ins, but if you decide to go rogue, Underwood warns against skimping on quality. "You get what you're paying for," says Underwood. Cheaper options often have weaker adhesive and hold, so they won’t last as long. "The bands are not as thick so when you're taking them down, they can break which means you can’t use them again," says Underwood.

To ensure you love your tape-ins after you leave the salon, experts suggest picking a texture that is closest to your natural hair when blown out or straightened (depending on your preference between the two). "You don't want someone that has a kinky curl pattern with bone straight tape-ins because the textures won't match and it'll be harder to blend at home," says Underwood.

It’s also not a great idea to buy tape-in extensions that match your curly hair in its natural state. Houston-based textured hair specialist Okwe Okolie says this can cause more tangling and subsequent breakage during the maintenance stage.

How to install tape-in extensions on natural hair

For anyone with natural hair considering tape-in extensions, the first step is to find a good salon. Tape-ins can be damaging to your hair and the breakage will be far worse if the wefts are not installed by a professional. "TikTok and social media normalize this ‘do it on your own’ mentality, but this is one of those styles you should defer to a hair professional," says Houston-based, board-certified dermatologist Adeline Kikam, MD. "There's just too much potential for tangling and excessive heat.”

Most tape-in installation appointments will include a wash and blow dry service so there is no need to worry about coming with your hair pre-prepped. "I just tell my clients to come detangled and I take care of the rest," says Underwood.

Your stylist will start the actual installation process by sectioning your hair — first by parting it into rows, then segmenting those rows into even smaller sections that are about the width of your tape-in extension pieces. This is where it gets a little sticky. Your stylist will then carefully apply a weft above and below each of these smaller sections of hair. (Think of them as being sandwiched by your tape-ins.) This creates the seamless, ultra-flat blend that tape-ins are known for. The whole process typically takes about two and a half hours — so, you might want to bring a book with you.

Once all the extensions have been installed, the stylist will blow dry and straighten again to ensure your natural hair and the tape-in extensions are fully blended.

How much do tape-in extensions cost?

The service ranges from $400 to $1500 according to the experts we spoke to, but this does depend on your location and stylist’s experience — with the cost of the extensions ($130-$200 per bundle of which, again, you'll need at least four) you’re looking at about $920 to $2300 for the whole thing.

How long do tape-in extensions last in natural hair?

Tape-ins can last four to ten weeks (experts say 12 weeks is the maximum) on natural hair. "At the 12-week point, you've had some hair growth, and now gravity is pulling and exerting more tension on the scalp," says Dr. Kikam. That continuous pulling can lead to tension alopecia which is hair loss due to tension on the scalp.

After six to eight weeks you’ll need to have a new set of tape-ins installed — this is often referred to as a touch up. A stylist will remove the tape-ins, wash, condition, and blow dry the hair before attaching the tape-ins again. If you work out a lot, like to go for the occasional swim, or live in a very humid climate you may need more frequent touch-ups (every three to four weeks).

How to maintain tape-in extensions on natural hair

You can continue with your regular wash routine while wearing tape-in extensions with one caveat: avoid applying oil-based products to the scalp or base of the tape-in. This can break down the glue and cause your extensions to begin to slide out.

If you want that “just left the salon” look weeks after your appointment, you’ll need to be comfortable putting heat on your hair. Stylists recommend using a flat iron or blow dryer to keep your hair blended with the tape-ins. If you opt for a flat iron, be careful to avoid direct heat on the actual tapes. "If the flat iron touches the tape and heats the glue, it's able to be more pliable, and then they can slide[off]," says Houston-based hairstylist Kimberly Joseph-Rawlins.

Mizani Thermastrength Heat Protecting Serum | Protects Hair From Heat Damage | with Shea Butter | for Curly Hair | 5 Fl Oz

$23.00, Amazon

Bumble and Bumble Invisible Oil Primer

$34.00, Ulta Beauty

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To limit the amount of damage, only use heat tools one or two times a week and always use heat protectants. Underwood recommends the Mizani Thermastregth Heat Protecting Serum and we love the Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Primer, the CHI’s 44 Iron Guard Thermal Protection Spray for its inimitable smell, and the Moroccanoil Perfect Defense Heat Protectant which boasts heat protection for all hair types up to 450 degrees.

Denman D90L Tangle Tamer Ultra

$30.00, Amazon

Oribe Medium Round Brush

$125.00, Dermstore

Brushing your extensions at least once a day can help your tape-ins last longer but be sure to avoid paddle brushes that can cause snagging on the tape. "Try to use a more flexible brush, like a tangle-free brush or a wet-dry brush," says Joseph-Rawlins, who recommends the Denman D90L Tangle Tamer and her own Kimistry brand Tangle Free Brush. If you plan on touching up your blowout post-install, this Oribe Large Round Hair Brush, is also a great addition — it’s sturdy boar bristles are great for all hair types.

How to remove tape-in extensions

You got your tape-ins at the salon, so it’s best to get them removed at the salon too. "I don't advise people to do it at home because I've done it myself and even I have pulled out my hair," says Underwood.

Your stylist will either use a plier-like tool to separate the tapes or a special solvent to dissolve the proteins of the glue so the extension can easily slide out with minimal tugging.

Can I get tape-in extensions if I have damaged hair?

Stylists caution against getting tape-in extensions if your hair has been over-processed or has excessive breakage, as this can further the damage. This includes hair that has been relaxed, as “the strands are typically too weak to support the weight of the extensions,” says Underwood.

Who else should skip tape-in extensions?

Beyond having damaged hair, there are many reasons — health, hair length, lifestyle — why tape-in extensions may not be ideal for someone. With certain scalp conditions, getting tape-in extensions can do more harm than good. "If you have psoriasis and require regular scalp treatments, tape-ins make scalp care more difficult, which can lead to more inflammation and possible hair loss," says Dr. Kikam. The derm adds that those with seborrheic dermatitis should also steer clear of tape-ins.

Also, some stylists require your hair to be at least shoulder length when stretched before installing tape-in extensions. “If it is any shorter, you may have to cut your [tape-in extensions] so they can blend," says Underwood.

If you’re looking for a protective and low-maintenance style, tape-ins are not ideal. The entirety of your natural hair has to be left out and manipulated with hot tools so tape-ins aren’t for “those who do not want to or do not know how to properly use heat tools on their natural hair,” says Underwood.


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Originally Appeared on Allure