Hair extensions instantly transform a person’s look by adding texture, thickness, length, and even color. Modern extension solutions are incredibly realistic, long-lasting and versatile. Quality hair extensions are anything but simple, as they must be installed in a way that doesn’t commit lasting harm to natural tresses. They also need to be removed carefully, for the same reason.
In this guide to hair extensions, I’m going to discuss 4 of the most popular hair extension methods:
- Taped in hair extensions
- Sewn in hair extensions
- Fusion hair extensions
- Micro-link hair extensions
I’ll detail what each of these methods entail, as well as how you can safely remove them without damaging your natural hair.
Understanding the Different Types of Hair Extensions
There are many ways to install hair extensions, but in this guide, we will focus on taped, sewn, fusion and micro-link hair extensions. Before I tell you how to remove these extensions, let’s do a brief overview of what each type is like and what’s involved in their installation.
What are Taped Hair Extensions?
These are exactly what they sound like. Pre-taped extensions are taped onto the hair at the root to add length and volume to tresses. A heating tool is used to heat up the glue so that it bonds strongly to the hair, providing long-lasting and beautiful results. When done by a professional, installation takes less than an hour.
Taped hair extensions last anywhere between 4 and 8 weeks. If the extensions are still in good condition after this point, they can be used again when it’s time to have them reinstalled.
What are Sewn in Hair Extensions?
Also known as “weave,” sewn in hair extensions involve fixing the natural hair into cornrows or braids before installing the extensions. After that is done, the hairstylist will use a needle and thread to add the extensions to the natural hair. This is a very technical process that should be left to the professionals, as results can fall drastically short of expectations when this task is performed by inexperienced hands.
Sewn in hair extensions are recommended for people with very thick hair. Because of how heavy these extensions can be, they are not a great fit for thin or fine hair textures. It is recommended that a person only keeps the weave in their hair for no longer than 4 months, as it will impact natural hair growth.
Also known as bonded hair extensions, fusion extensions work by using different adhesives to fuse the extensions to hair. These are a lot like taped-in hair extensions, except glues are used in place of tape. It’s not uncommon to see a stylist use a tool that resembles a hot glue gun to apply these extensions.
This is a lengthy process that can take several hours and inflict serious damage onto the hair. Like other types of extensions, these should only be worn up to a maximum of 4 months to minimize damage and accommodate natural hair growth.
What are Micro-Link Hair Extensions?
These extensions are applied to the hair through the use of beads that are lined with silicone and then tightened to ensure lasting results. The natural hair is divided into small wefts onto which the bead and extension will be used.
The beads keep the hair in place for months but should be removed and adjusted every 2-3 months as the hair grows and the beads shift away from the scalp.
How to Remove Different Hair Extensions
Sometimes, the end result of hair extensions isn’t one that the person is happy with. Other times, the extensions may have been installed for too long and need to come out. Of course, it is always advisable to confer with your stylist to remove any and all hair extensions, but this might not be possible 100% of the time.
It may take time and money that you simply don’t have to sit in the salon chair. So, I’ll show you how you can remove these 4 types of hair extensions at home – while inflicting little or no damage to your natural locks.
Removing Taped in Hair Extensions
Fortunately, the removal of taped hair extensions is a simple task. Oftentimes, they’ll even start to loosen up before you’re ready for them to, thanks to oily hair products like conditioners and styling agents that loosen the bond of the tape. You can take advantage of this fact when you actually want your taped-in extensions to come out.
Simply get your hands on almond oil, coconut oil, baby oil, olive oil or avocado oil. These oils are all great for hair but will destroy the bonds that have formed between the tape adhesive and your natural hair. Apply the oil directly to your roots, where the tape is located, and allow it to sit for 15 minutes (or as long as you want, after 15 minutes).
Rinse and then watch as your extensions come out with ease.
If you don’t have any oils available, you can use peanut butter to break up the tape. Apply the peanut butter in the same way that you would apply an oil and then let it sit for 30 minutes.
Removing Sewn in Hair Extensions
Removing this type of hair extension is much more involved and time-consuming than removing taped hair extensions. You will need to cut out the extensions, but you don’t want to risk cutting your actual hair off your head, so you will need to take your time. Get a mirror, a rat tail comb and a small pair of scissors. Once you’re equipped with the right tools, follow these steps:
1. Make sure that you are working out of a well-lit room. Have your tools in front of you.
2. Tie your hair up into a high ponytail but leave the last track of extension out. You will be cutting your extensions out track by track.
3. Use the end of the rat tail comb to separate a segment of the thread from your hair, creating a gap. This is where you will cut and helps ensure that you will not be snipping your natural tresses.
4. After identifying the thread, cut it with your small pair of scissors. Cut it twice to make sure that it comes out.
5. Gently pull the thread from your braids. Because the thread is what’s holding the extensions to your hair, pulling the thread will remove your extensions.
6. Repeat steps 1-5 for each track until all of your hair extensions have been removed.
Removing Fusion Hair Extensions
Because fusion hair extensions use adhesives, you need something to break down the bond that these adhesives have formed with your hair when your extensions were initially installed. Fortunately, this isn’t any more complicated than removing glued in hair extensions. All you need is a wide-tooth comb and a special bond remover that you can purchase from a Sally’s Beauty Supply or other beauty supplier in your area.
Apply the bond remover as instructed on the bottle and then use the comb, if necessary, to help remove the hair extensions.
Removing Micro-Link Hair Extensions
Since small links are used to connect natural hair to the extensions, you need to have some hardware on hand to remove the links. All you need is a small pair of pliers and a solid knowledge of where your extension links are located on your head. Separate your hair so that you can easily access the links where they are. Having a mirror available will likely make this process a lot easier.
Use the pliers to pull the links apart one by one. It really is that easy! Once you’re confident that you have pulled apart all of the links, run a comb through your hair to ensure that all links have been successfully removed and that your roots didn’t become tangled in the process.
You Don’t Always Need a Professional to Remove Hair Extensions
While it is certainly ideal to defer to the help of the person who installed your hair extensions when it comes time for removal, there are many reasons why that might not be an option for you.
Removing hair extensions at home doesn’t have to be difficult, even with technical sewn-in extensions. All you need to have is some time on your hands, the right tools available to you, and some patience.
Removing fusion and taped in hair extensions is a breeze. All you need to do is apply the right products to ensure that the bonds between the tape or adhesive and your hair have been effectively broken down.
Removing micro-link and sewn in hair extensions is a bit more complicated, involving more tools and substantially more time than the removal of taped and fusion extensions. But it’s not impossible! Just make sure that you have the free time to dedicate to these detailed processes. After all, it is your natural hair that’s on the line here.
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