Here’s a daily fun fact: Hair grows about 1/2 inch per month, which adds up to six inches per year. The downside to this: If you desperately want longer hair, that can feel sort of like watching grass slowly sprout up in your backyard. And sadly, there are really no products that’ll speed up growth (read: don’t believe the marketing talk you hear about growth supplements). This is where hair extensions come into play. If you’ve never dabbled in them before, tape-in extensions are a great entry point.
According to Priscilla Valles, a celebrity extensionist who works with everyone from Dua Lipa to Kylie Jenner, tape-in extensions are wefts of hair that are installed using small strips of adhesive or tape, hence the name. Basically, the expert says they’re applied to your real hair by sandwiching one on top of another. “They do not require any clips, beads, sewing, or keratin to install,” she adds. Adding to that, Alex Brown, a Chicago-based hairstylist, says tape-ins are usually 1.5 inches in width, which can make it a bit easier to hide within your own hair and help the overall effect look as natural as possible.
Want more inside scoop on tape-in extensions? You’ve come to the right place. Below, experts share the 411 on this buzzy hair trend.
How Tape-Ins Differ From Other Extensions
For starters, you might have heard about, or even tried, two other popular extensions on the market: Sewn-ins and clip-ins. According to Brown, the former is when 1-4 big wefts are sewn into the hair in a row, while the latter is a weft with clips attached (so, in turn, you're able to clip them in and out of the hair easily). “People tend to go this route if they have a special occasion or want the option to not wear extensions every day,” Brown says about clip-ins.
Giselle Luza, founder of Giselle Luza Studio, adds that, “Tape-ins are meant to stay in until your next salon visit and clip-ins are temporary and meant to be taken out before you shower or go to bed.” Therefore, if you’re going for longevity, tape-ins are probably your best option (next to sewn-ins, of course, which typically last six to eight weeks).
Another benefit, according to Carolyn Aronson, CEO & founder of It’s A 10 Haircare and Ex10sions, is that tape-ins are gentle on your natural hair, whereas sewn-ins are heavier. If properly applied by an expert, they won’t cause damage to your hair; however, you might feel them more than tape-ins.
The Benefits Of Tape-Ins
So, why choose tape-ins over the others? “A lot of people prefer tape-ins because they can be reused multiple times by simply replacing the tape,” Valles explains. Ideally, a pro should be the one to install these extensions. But, if you want to reuse them, all you (or, well, your stylist) needs to do is apply new tape-in extension adhesive.
And if you have fine hair, Brown finds that tape-ins are your best bet when it comes to creating the illusion of fullness in addition to length. “Usually, clients will want to fill in the sides of their hair for added thickness,” the hairstylist explains. On top of that, Brown says that tape-ins are also great for adding fullness to the bottom of your hair where it typically tends to be a bit more brittle or sparse.
Cost-wise, tape-ins (which start around $150 on average) are a bit cheaper than sewn-ins, which usually begin at around $200. Then there are clip-ins, which is the most affordable at roughly $100 and up.
As for installing the extensions, tape-ins will be around one to one and a half hours, and clip-ins can take as little as five to ten minutes. Comparatively, sew-ins will take an average of two to two and a half hours — so for a balance of cost, time to install, and how long they last, tape-ins have a nice balance of all three.
Installing & Removing Tape-Ins
First things first — Luza recommends avoiding the use of oil or alcohol-based products near your scalp as they can cause the tape to dissolve (so keep that in mind before you go to an appointment).
According to the experts, it’s best to let a professional put in your tape-in extensions, and the same goes for removing them, too. “Your stylist will use a dissolving solvent to gently remove the tape, then will comb through to remove any hair that needs to shed naturally,” Luza explains about the removal process. But, if for whatever reason you need to do it yourself, she says you can purchase a tape-in bond remover on Amazon and saturate each layer of tape. “Wait for the tape to loosen a bit, and gently pull the wefts away,” Luza adds. “Comb through the hair to remove excess tape and hair.”
Additionally, Brown suggests not washing your hair within 24 to 48 hours after installation because this gives the tape the time it needs to really adhere to the hair. “Brushing your hair carefully is very important too, [because] it helps prevent matting,” she adds. “My favorite brush to use for this is the Sheila Stotts brush.” By following these tips, all these experts say tape-ins should last you six months or longer. But Aronson says you should go into your stylist no less than six to eight weeks to have them tidied up, which involves the expert removing and re-taping your extensions.
Ahead, shop these pros’ favorite tape-in extensions on the market. Just make sure to take care of them so they last as long as possible.
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