Switching up your hair to a longer, fuller, more voluminous style is fun, and it's one of the best (most non-committal) ways to achieve a major hair makeover is experimenting with extensions. Your hairstyle options are practically endless when it comes to extensions—they give you even more freedom to rock unexpected cuts and colors. Trust, once you look in the mirror, you’ll feel like a whole new woman. This is coming from a reformed extensions addict—I hid my natural hair underneath extensions for two years straight at one point in time. Suffice to say, it’s easy to get lost in the land of extensions because they just make you look (and feel) flawless.
There are a few different types of extensions you can get. One option is sewn-in extensions that are applied with a needle and can last up to three months. If you’re going for a one-night type of hair vibe, clip-in extensions are an easy, non-adhesive option that allow you to clip them in and out of your natural hair. But let’s talk about the happy medium of the crew: tape-in extensions. If you’re a lover of thick and voluminous hair that has a sleek and natural look, these are for you. Even better? You don’t have to commit to them long-term if you don’t want to. The installment and removal process is seamless and on average can cost anywhere from $200 to $800.
We tapped five top hairstylists and Derrick Porter, the CEO of Beauty Industry Group, owner of Donna Bella Hair Extensions, to get their take on tape-in extensions. Scroll on for all you need to know about tape-ins, and then go screenshot a style on Instagram to take to your stylist ASAP.
Why they're so cool
Hairstylist Rodney Cutler of Cutler Salon and Redken brand ambassador is a huge fan. “The benefits of tape-in extensions know no bounds,” says Cutler. “They are incredibly easy to apply and remove, don't damage your hair, and look more natural because they lie almost completely flush against the head, whereas other types have thicker bases that stick out.”
Porter of Donna Bella Hair Extensions has noticed that a lot of their clients are all about buying tape-in extensions over any other kind. “Tape-ins brought the average time for getting extensions down from several hours to as little as 30 minutes,” says Porter. “Tape-in extensions allow for easy removal, the ability to reuse the hair, and the ability to maximize placement options giving the client a more natural, clean look. Another great benefit of Donna Bella tape-in extensions is the option to do a single-sided tape installation, which is a great solution for women with very fine, thin hair.”
Do they really only take a half hour? They could. Nunzio Saviano, expert hairstylist and owner of Nunzio Saviano salon, says that you won’t have to sit in the chair for very long at all. “It’s an easier style, and the application is quick, so the cost is less,” Saviano says. “It depends on how many extensions you want, but tape-ins can be as fast as 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll be in and out of the salon in no time.”
If you’ve suffered from hair breakage due to extensions, tape-ins are a safer option for you. “It’s a lot more difficult for stylists to cause damage to a client’s hair with tape-in extensions,” says extension specialist Andrea Jaclyn of Bomane Salon in Beverly Hills. “They are ideal for clients recovering from the aftermath of severe color breakage. Individual bonded extensions and sew-ins take exponentially longer to master. Additionally, it's a lot more difficult for clients to cause damage with tape-in extensions at home during their everyday wear and tear on their hair.”
Those with more of a fine hair texture will benefit from the thickness and volume they add. “There’s a need for tape-in extensions,” Saviano says. “Because a lot of clients have thinner hair and don’t want to have a full head of extensions. But they still want the look of thicker hair. We only do tape-in extensions at my salon because we wanted to customize the amount of hair for clients of all ages and hair types.”
what makes them different?
“One of the best things about Donna Bella Tape-In Extensions is that they lie flat, allowing for a more natural seamless look and feel,” says Porter. “Installation is fast with no tools needed, allowing for less amount of time in the chair. This cuts down the time of a glued extension installation to more than half.”
They don’t take as long to install in your hair and you also don’t have to wear them for a long period of time if you get sick of styles fast. “The biggest difference between tape-ins, sew-ins, and glue-in extensions is the longevity,” explains stylist and extensions expert Danielle Priester. “Tape-ins are known to last for a short amount of time and they also create the utmost sleek and flat look in your hair. The base of the hair weft for the tape ins are very thin. Opposed to the tracks that you may sew or glue, which is much thicker in order to sustain the application process.”
It’s also the newest, innovative extension technique to hit the market. “Tape-in extensions are the latest in technique compared to other extension styles,” confirms Schwarzkopf Celebrity Hairstylist Peter Butler.
the installment process
“Tape-in extensions are about an inch wide,” explains Saviano. “One very thin strip of your natural hair goes in between them. The way they are placed is like a sandwich—your own hair actually gets taped between two strips of hair extensions. You can’t do them correctly yourself. The precise amount of hair that goes in between each tape-in and how straight the section needs to be is impossible to do by yourself, especially when you’re applying them to the back of your head. Plus, the placement of the extensions plays a big role in whether or not they’re going to look natural.”
You might be a DIY kind of girl, but it’s really important to have a skilled professional install your extensions for the best results. “Donna Bella tape-in extensions are super simple,” says Porter. “Just peel off the sticker backing and get to work. But we don’t recommend installing them yourself for several reasons: If the person installing your extensions isn’t trained to place them correctly, people may be able to see them and they could also end up too close to your scalp or set diagonally, which is really uncomfortable. The important benefit of a stylist installing the extensions is a great cut to blend the extensions with your natural hair. When installed properly, no one will be able to tell that you are wearing hair extensions.”
Priester believes the best way to ensure natural-looking extensions is to make sure they’re evenly distributed throughout your hair. “Make sure that the volume of the extensions, length, cut, and style matches all around,” Priester explains. “Also, leave a good amount of your own natural hair out on the top and sides to ensure coverage of the tape-in weft.”
Cutler points out that the color of your tape-in extensions is equally as important as the application process. “To keep it looking natural, make sure you match the color as close to your natural hair color as possible, along with the shape and length of your hair,” Cutler says. Your stylist can always trim the hair to blend it. Also, never have them applied too close to the front hair line where it will be visible.”
Exactly How to Take Care of Them
According to Jaclyn, depending on the brand of your tape-ins, they can last up to eight weeks. “Remember that your natural hair grows, so if you’re using them simply for fullness, your hair will overtake the tape-in wefts on length overtime,” explains Jaclyn. “A great way to combat this is to ask your stylist to move them a 1/2 inch lower each visit so the length stays in sync with your own hair.”
Porter suggests that his clients brush their hair at least three times a day with a hair extension brush with specialized bristles that don’t pull on your extensions bond. Be sure to wash your hair less frequently and invest in a good dry shampoo. When it is time to wash your mane, one of the most important things to do is use sulfate-free shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks.
“With proper care, Donna Bella Tape-Ins can last up to six months, moving them up due to hair growth every six to eight weeks,” says Porter.
Also, be aware of the amount of water on your hair. “Just don’t allow much water or friction to hit your hair,” advises Priester. “At night, you should clip up your hair, and when showering use a shower cap to cover your hair.” [Ed. note: On days you’re not washing it.]
How to remove them
One of the most important steps to follow for the health of your hair is getting a professional stylist to remove them for you. “Tape-ins are applied with a medical grade adhesive, so they stay in,” Porter notes. “A trained stylist needs to gently remove the hair so you can use them again and again without damaging your natural hair.”
At Nunzio Saviano salon, his staff sprays an alcohol-based solution right at the root of the tape-ins and peels them off. “The alcohol dilutes down the glue and allows the extensions to slip right off of the hair with no residue left behind,” says Saviano.
Tape-in Extensions to Try
“EasiHair Pro’s Easilength tape-in hair extensions have been revolutionary backstage at fashion week,” says Cutler. “The quality of the hair combined with the ease of the application and removal has been a major game changer. Not having to remove glue from a model’s hair is amazing. It makes it easier for the stylist to take them out while also protecting the integrity of the models’ hair.”
Donna Bella hair extensions are also a great brand to try. “We started hearing about tape-ins, and our customers really wanted to try it,” explains Porter. “Matching the highest quality of human hair on the market with the right medical grade adhesive, tape-ins are really important to us. After a lot of work, we added an important step that is unique to us. We sew the hair into a template before adding the adhesive, which prevents shedding, making the hair more durable.”
Saviano is a fan of Hair Talk’s tape-in extensions. “The hair is really beautiful, and it comes in so many different shades so we’ve never have to color them for a client.”
If you’re down for even more hair extension research, find out seven things no one ever tells you about extensions.