Ask the Experts: How To Maintain Curly Extensions While Natural

One of the most popular ways for naturalistas to give their hair a break is by wearing curly extensions. Curly weaves can be just as versatile as natural hair, but the catch 22 is that they can sometimes be tricky to maintain. Get the scoop on how to keep your textured tracks in tact.

Nicole Marie Melton Nov, 14, 2012

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Kelly Rowland

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One of the best benefits of wearing extensions while transitioning is that it gives your own hair a break from daily styling. Women who are transitioning are at a higher risk of damaging their own hair simply because they are dealing with a new texture that's much different from their relaxed hair.  "Anytime you are even combing your hair it can break, especially if you haven't dealt with that hair since you were four years old. The minute we start growing out our natural hair we're like, 'Okay, I don't know what to do with this.' And natural hair is not easy to take care of when you're starting out," says Dotson.

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While wearing curly extensions, it's important to take care of your own hair underneath and protect it with a net or cap.  "Weaves are nice because you can braid your own hair and leave it alone.  Just make sure you continue to mositurize, condition it and treat it properly. I also suggest that you wear a net over your own hair and have the extensions sewn onto the net instead of your hair," says Dotson.

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Unlike straight weaves, one of the tricky parts about wearing curly extensions is finding a texture that closely matches your own hair. Wearing textures that don't match is a major no-no! Talk with your stylist to find a texture that you're comfortable with. Also, if you see someone out and about wearing a fabulous weave, don't be afraid to stop and pay her a compliment.  This breaks the ice for you to also ask her where she purchased her hair from.

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Since you've decided to rock curly extensions, why not have a little fun with them?  Now's a great time to experiment with a new shape or color that you've always wanted to try. "Extensions are great in general because with the right hair, you can add color and highlights, too," says Dotson.

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Sleeping on a head full of cascading curls is a fine art, but one that you can master with a little patience and practice. "What I suggest for night is to part it in the center and create two chunky braids on each side. Then let it  out in the morning and fluff it with your fingers. Also, the steam from your shower will help the hair to expand back to its original fullness," says Dotson.

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As with any sew-in weave, handle your edges with care.  Curly weaves are great because you don't have to worry about heat styling your edges to blend in with your extensions. "Make sure your edges are extra moisturized before you go to bed. Also, braid them down to create a nice coily wave and to protect your edges from breakage," says Dotson.

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Avoid the temptation to overload your curly tresses with hair products and exercise caution with the products you do use. "You don't want to use a lot of mouse at all, and you definitely don't want to use a lot of alcohol because curly textures tend to get dry faster than another type of hair. It's just like our natural hair. It gets really dry. Use light oils that penetrate into the cuticles and do not sit on top of the hair. Also, always use sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners."

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Curly hair has more volume than straight hair which means you should use fewer wefts during installation or else you run the risk of having wild, Tina Turner hair. "Since the hair has a lot of texture to begin with, the longer the length, the bigger it will be. If you want something a little more conservative I suggest that you do about 10 to 12 inches in length. Once you start going up to 16 inches and 18 inches, that's when it starts to be a really big, dramatic look."

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While it's tempting to grab a rattail comb to scratch your scalp while your hair is weaved up, don't!  Always treat your scalp with TLC or you expose yourself to yucky scalp infections and more irritation. Oil your scalp with a pointed applicator, but don't be heavy-handed. "Make sure your scalp is oiled, but don't overdo it," says Dotson. "We've all seen someone with greasy weave and that's not cute!"

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The longer you wear your curly extenstions, the easier it will become to take care of them.  There are also a lot of resources online that can help with your transition period. "In addition to talking with your stylist, there are tons of tutorials out there on the internet," says Dotson. "There is a lot that you can read and watch that will show you how to take care of your hair."

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