Today I want to talk to you about virgin hair extensions, which have literally changed my (hair's) life.
To maintain my ombré hair, which I've had for seven years, I used to purchase blonde extensions and DIY the the brown base and extra tinted ends (to match my golden color). The result was over-processed and went to shit in less than a month as a clip-in, locked, or sewn-in weave. I saw the sign when I switched to virgin hair, as the person who owned this hair before me was a genetic hair lottery beneficiary with perfect locks.
Processing virgin hair with standard lightener (bleach) yields far less damage than you'll find in hair that has already been heavily treated and decolorized with lord knows what. Many hair extensions on the market lack a cuticle entirely!
Now that I know the real deal, I use virgin hair from brands like Indique. I bought my first tube (see below supplies) in August and that same tube is still in perfect condition eight months and three bleach sessions later.
There is one virgin hair caveat: unless you have very dark brown hair, you will likely have to color match. Lucky for me, virgin hair mostly comes just a shade or two darker than my own hair; a quick soap cap takes it right to my warm chocolate brown. From there I bust out the big guns and get to bleaching to create the “sombré” effect, also known as soft ombre.
- Virgin wefted hair
- Powdered lightener (I use L’Oreal Quick Blue)
- Peroxide developer (I use L’Oreal 40 volume cream developer; for a first-timer I suggest 20 volume)
- Non-metal bowl
- Mixing whisk (optional)
- Color brush
- Aluminum foil
- Binder clips or clothespins
Cover a wooden board or cardboard cut-out with foil--secure with tape if needed. Clip a single layer of hair to the top of the board.
Use a generous hand to paint lightener onto the bottom portion of the hair to match your own color and placement.
With a lighter hand, feather-brush where the color stops. I like to turn the brush on its side for this.
Clip each subsequent layer as you did the first and repeat the process until all the hair is coated.
Cover with an additional layer of foil and lightly press to create a seal.
When the hair reaches your desired level, rinse thoroughly, shampoo, and apply toner if necessary. I’m shooting for a darker golden blonde, which happens naturally with bleach, so no toner is needed, just a nice deep conditioning sesh.
Here’s the before and after!
Now you know how to do the damn thing! You can modify this technique to do on your natural head of hair, if you are brave--or if you don't want any highlights in the back (haha). Don’t be afraid to call in professional help. Many stylists are using Olaplex on extensions with wonderful results! I suggest setting up a consultation and having separate appointments for your weave and your noggin'.
- Whether you have extensions or not, are you thinking of going sombré?
- What are your holy grail hair extension brands?
Photos: Darnell Scott