We asked the NaturallyCurly Instagram community what you wanted to know about using and maintaining curly extensions, and then we sat down to get your top questions answered with celebrity stylist LeAna McKnight.
The beauty of natural hair is all about the science for LeAna McKnight. As one of the top celebrity hairstylists, she has been the genius behind some of your favorite celeb styles. She’s taking her love and passion for hair to a new level with her latest business venture, SL Raw Virgin Hair. Founded in 2009 SL Raw Virgin Hair is one of the first luxury hair extension brands backed by a licensed hairstylist, which boasts high quality human hair extensions in a variety of styles including award-winning I-Tips for bonding and microlinks, wefted hair, wigs and closures. As a beauty expert and educator she is inspired to teach women practical ways to care for their hair with practical and useful tips that can be done in the comforts in their home.
Tell us about your personal and professional background
I am LeAna McKnight and am considered a beauty expert, entrepreneur, an inventor (I currently hold 2 patents within the beauty industry) and have been styling hair for over 12 years. I’ve worked with celebrities like Ari Lennox, Deborah Cox, and Zuri Hall to name a few in addition to working with popular television shows like The Bold and The Beautiful and American Idol. I love educating customers and clients on scalp care, achieving trendy red carpet looks, and providing tips for achieving healthy hair from the comforts of their home.
How do you achieve more volume when using hair extensions?
Volume depends on if you have fine hair you’re wanting to achieve a thicker look or if you have long hair and want to enhance what you already have. Before you begin I’d recommend evaluating what state your hair is in before proceeding with a purchase.
For example, if you have fine hair then you’ll want to buy extensions to create more texture and density then I would suggest buying extensions with the maximum amount of texture which would be kinky/straight hair or kinky/curly hair. Those textures can give the maximum amount of volume and be curled seamlessly whether you’re going heat free or decide to a rod set.
If you’re someone who has shoulder length hair or longer then I would recommend buying clip-in extensions or tape-in extensions which can be lighter and placed throughout the hair to extend the hair or volume.
Please provide tips for styling my hair and organically blending in the extensions?
Natural hair extensions can be blended in with twist-out or braid out which can be achieved with wet hair. Pre-wet or pre co-washed curls can be more profound, defined, and textured which ensures your hair will naturally blend with the extensions. If you want a more spiral/cylinder/springy look then I recommend doing a perm rod set with a custard or lotion.
This should never be done on dry hair regardless of the type of style you are seeking because your curls won’t be defined. When we’re talking about products that are ideal for blending then you want to keep your product use consistent with your routine. If you have looser curls then you can blend the curls by using a heat wand or crimper and you should always use a heat protectant.
Read more: The Trick to Blending Your Extensions like a Boss
Should you wash your hair with hair extensions installed?
You should always have a consistent wash day routine but if you are using extensions then you should wash them with your real hair. If you are using clip-in extensions or wigs then they should be cleansed separately from your real hair.
What is the appropriate amount of time to keep hair extensions in?
Each extension application is going to be different:
- Sew-in extensions would be about 6-7 weeks because you want to thoroughly cleanse your scalp and give your hair a break.
- Micro hair extensions can be 11-15 weeks because there is direct access to the scalp and can be maintained longer.
- Clip-in or a wig installation should be removed daily.
Are there 4c hair extensions available?
Yes there are 4c hair extensions and and at SL Raw Virgin Hair we offer three different sizes in the I-tip hair.
What are the best types of extensions to use for hair loss?
When we’re discussing the intricacies of hair loss it can vary which is why I recommend visiting a dermatologist or doctor so they can analyze your scalp. If we are discussing stress related or hormonal hair loss then I recommend visiting a dermatologist and researching PRP options where they can insert your own hair in problem areas. PRP is not an implant where they put hairs in your problem area. PRP is an effective way to help with hair loss that uses concentrated plasma rich nutrients that come from your own blood. It’s not surgical. They then take your plasma and insert it in the problem areas of your scalp to help with healthy hair growth. A few of my clients have used cortisone shots given by the doctor to help their hair regrow in the crown area.
If you’re experiencing shedding due to lack of moisture, dryness, etc. then I would recommend reducing braids, bobbing pins, manipulating the hair, tugging the hair, or styling with ponytails to reduce tension on your scalp.If you have a bad chemical job and would like to feel more confident and would like to camouflage those problem areas then there’s a solution for that “I-Tips”.
Why is the bottom layer of my hair straight/wavy and the top layer is curly?
Now that more people are natural I’ve noticed a pattern showcasing the difference between the head and curls. Many African American women genetically have different hair textures in our head around the nape/temple where the hair is softer loose and in the crown area is where hair is the tightest, driest, and more resistant.
Naturally our bodies produce sebum and it doesn’t always go down the hair shaft evenly which is why we use artificial things, deep conditioner treatments, moisturizers, or leave-in to compensate for the deficit. I would recommend for people to focus on the areas that are tighter in curl which means you may have to apply more product because the areas that are looser tend to be more softer and manageable. This often happens because of heat damage that damages the elasticity of the hair so it doesn’t bounce back or genetics.
My hair won't grow evenly, do you have any recommendations?
When we’re talking about hair growth being even it can vary based on texture/hair type, the science of hair gets its nutrients from our blood flow. When we’re sleeping you are cutting off the blood flow and so you’ll notice your hair may be shorter in those areas because there is a lack of blood flow. I recommend massaging your hair before going to sleep or brushing your hair to help stimulate blood flow, or alternating your hair wraps and the direction to train your curls and enhance the blood flow.
Do box braids/twists damage your natural hair?
It depends whether you’re installing your own box braids or you’re getting them professionally done. If you’re getting them professionally done make sure that the hair is treated and conditioned ahead of time and it will make an ideal protective style. I advise that box braids or twists are not longer than 4 weeks, once they start to grow out the hair gets heavier due to oil and dirt and can tug at the root. Taking them out at the proper time can make this the ideal service install.