Everything You Need to Know Before You Get Hair Extensions


One gift we all received this spring was plenty of time to think about our next hair appointment. Other than some temporary color, I did not attempt any salon-level experiences at home. I didn’t cut my split ends, I didn’t color my roots, and I somehow never gave in to the urge to cut my own bangs! Instead I’ve been planning all the things I can have done to my hair once salons reopen and it’s at last my turn in the stylist’s chair.

I have been wearing my hair chin-length with the ends straight and blunt. But now that I’ve got some unanticipated extra length, I’m remembering the fun of having longer hair. Over the holidays I rocked some mid-length hair extensions that matched my current color and gave me some dramatic volume and a few extra inches of length.

In all honesty, despite being excited about the whole idea of mermaid hair for Christmas pictures, I nearly canceled my appointment and definitely asked for a shorter style completely out of fear. I hadn’t done much research going to my appointment (despite promising I would) and I had a lot of concerns about headaches and style restrictions.

Blessed with an excellent stylist (who is also a good friend), she was able to answer my questions, adjust the original plan, and she gave me extensions that really worked for me. If you too have been thinking about hair extensions, here are a few things I learned. My stylist, Hali McCord, helped me out with the technical stuff.  Her responses are included.

Before Your Appointment

  1. Find a stylist who is certified. And while we are on the subject of stylists, find one who isn’t pushy and who listens to what you want and can recognize uncertainty on your face!Hali: A certified stylist is important because this means they have physically put in the hours, expense, and oftentimes travel in order to invest in learning a new method. There are far too many stylists claiming to be educated in various extension methods but have only watched a YouTube video.
  2. Make sure you are comfortable with the source of your extensions. Quality extensions are made from human hair. It was important to me that the hair being sewn onto my head was sold and purchased fairly and ethically.Hali: Women, children, and even sometimes men can be targeted, assaulted and even sold for their hair as well as trafficked for other physical desires.
  3. Ask your stylist how long you’ll be in the chair, I was surprised that it was several hours to apply, cut, and style. I actually took the morning off work.Hali: Every extension installation should include a blending haircut to give you the most natural blended look, and an informative styling session so that you are prepared to take care of your new hair at-home.
  4. Make sure you have clear expectations and your stylist knows your hair extension goals.  Do you want length and volume, or just a little extra fullness?
  5. Extensions are not cheap. If they are sourced ethically and applied correctly, they will set you back. And you should have good products and shampoo to keep them healthy.  Ask before you book so you don’t end up with sticker-shock at the register.Hali: If you intend to invest in hair extensions plan to also invest in QUALITY products suggest by YOUR stylist that installed the extensions. Not some know-it all on the internet. Your stylist is investing in you by giving her time to provide a lengthy service- trust his or her product knowledge and recommendations.

After Your Appointment

  1. Be prepared to not wash your hair every day.Hali: This is much healthier for your hair and helps your natural hair to grow out and be nourished by the natural oils on your scalp.
  2. Be prepared for the tightness at first. (no high ponys or updos for the first few days/weeks) And maybe a slight headache from carrying the weight. I adjusted very quickly.Hali: Adhering to this will help give you longevity between installations and reduce tension at the scalp.
  3. Check on texture. I straightened or curled my hair when I had extensions but did not air dry because my extensions were much smoother than my natural hair. I did have the added benefit of going days between washes and my hair still had lots of body.  Even in a low pony, my hair was full and shiny. 
  4. Have excellent products. Extensions are being fed and nurtured only by what you put on them. This isn’t the place to save money. Get the good stuff and support your investment. Also be sure you have a quality brush with looped bristles that cannot catch on the extension seam.


Follow-Up & Maintenance

  1. Ask questions. I have zero hair skills but I asked about the application process, the certification process, and exactly HOW these were going to stay in my soft, fine hair.Hali: There are many different extension installation methods but as Kristina’s stylist I decided that the JZ Styles beaded row technique with a Co-Z weft was the best for her hair density, texture, scalp health/ integrity, and maintenance level.  
  2. I do not have a “tender head” and I have a very gentle stylist.  But be sure if you’re in pain, you say something so they loosen up the tension a little bit.Hali: Amen, hallelujah. We want this to be exciting not painful – communication is KEY.
  3. Keep any and all follow up appointments and stay in touch with your stylist. I had a little plastic end that needed to be re-tucked after a few nights’ sleep. I was tempted to suffer though it but instead called my stylist and asked if this was normal. She fixed it right away and this made styling my hair much easier.Hali: Sticking to the maintenance schedule will maintain the integrity of your scalp and the extensions, as well as making the move-up appointments faster and keep your hair feeling and looking fabulous.

Extensions might not be right for you if you plan to spend all summer at the pool, lake, beach, or otherwise in a wet environment, which is something I didn’t know at first. But if your summer is looking a little different this year, this might be the perfect time to try something new and fun. 

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Kristina is an El Dorado native who spent a lot of years trying to live "anywhere else.” She returned to El Dorado with husband Chuck (m. 1994) and their children Isaac (b. 1998) and Isabelle (b. 2003). A SAHM for 16 years, Kristina is now a wine rep for Demo Sales Inc., living her dream of a wine-saturated life. Kristina is a Geographer (BS K-State), Historian (MA WSU), and wrangler of two tiny dogs. She loves to travel, shop for shoes, and spend time with her teenagers, though she’s probably on her back porch saying “there’s no place like home.”