hair extensions

When looking to add some extra length, volume, or an entirely different style to your hair, extensions, AKA weaves, are a natural choice.

But eventually it comes time for the hair you bought and the hair you grew to go their separate ways. Installing them properly is one matter, best left to the professionals, but safely removing them is usually something we try to do ourselves...with varying levels of success. Since we all worry about losing our natural strands or destroying our edges, knowing how to remove extensions is key!

Regardless of which type you have in, the goal is to remove them without breaking, ripping, or cutting your natural hair. Let's start you off learning the right way now, so we can avoid the "pound of cure" later on.

Clip In

A clip is perhaps the most straightforward in terms of both installing and removing. It's literally all in the name! To remove a clip in weave:

1. Place your thumbs on the sides of the top of the clip with your index fingers placed directly beneath your thumbs.

2. Use your thumbs to pull in a downward motion on the clip while your index fingers exert outward pressure at the same time. This pressure and movement will open the clip.

3. Now that you have opened the clip, start to lift it away from your hair using gentle motions to avoid pulling out natural hair. Remember just because it's simple doesn't mean you can just rip through!

Tape In

1. First, locate the tape and begin applying a generous amount of remover solution around the edges of the tape. Don't be stingy here, more is more.

2. The remover should start to loosen the tape and it should stop sticking to the other side of the tape. This will allow you to pull the extensions off slowly in a downward motion—so as to cause as little disruption to your strands as possible.

3. Always remove one section completely before trying to remove any following extensions. It's not a race!

4. If any residue is left over on hair, promptly apply remover, and deep clean your scalp. Look into some good clarifiers and go to work!

Glue In

1. Locate the bonds with your fingertips to get started.

2. Apply your favorite oil to your fingertips and then begin slowly, gently rubbing the bond, careful not to put any pressure. If you sneak in a scalp massage here, we won't tell.

3. Use a wide-toothed comb if needed or fingers if able, and start to loosen the area where the bond holds the hair and extension.

4. Apply a keratin glue remover where the bonds are to further loosen the hold. Continue working through with fingers or a comb to loosen the bond completely.

5. Remove bonds completely before moving on to any other sections.

Sew In

The process to remove sew-in extensions is a little more complicated than the other options...and yet there's only one actual step! You will need to cut the bonds with a pair of cutting shears, or with a seam ripper (a much less scary tool than it sounds) The key, obviously, is to make sure you don't cut your actual hair. We still have tips though! BEFORE you even start installing, you can always ask for your stylist to use a thread that's a different color than your hair to install your style. Even a subtle color a few shades lighter or darker than your natural hair will help you get started. If you have access to a lighted vanity to help get you started, use it! The worst thing is getting into your own light. Finally, you'll want to keep distractions to an absolute minimum. Send any small kids off for a playdate, turn Spotify on instead of the TV, and really give yourself time to feel those threads out. Take a takedown break every few sections to get your bearings, maybe grab a cup of tea, and let your fingers re-adjust to how your hair feels before you get into the numb sort of groove where the worst mistakes are made (wow, that's actually deeper than we expected to get on this article). Your inches will thank you!

Micro Link

You might not have thought instructions on how to remove extensions would include literal tools, but to remove this type, you'll really need to get a grip! Because the microlinks are flattened former cylinders of malleable metal, rather than links like the jump rings on your favorite necklace, you're actually just squeezing them back into a somewhat circular shape with some needle-nose pliers to get enough room to pull your hair out of the link. Squeeze GENTLY at the horizontal axis (the shorter part for the geometry-challenged), without squeezing so hard that you end up re-closing the link in the opposite way. Seems simple enough, right? It is! Just pull the ring out with care to avoid ripping your hair. If you have the option to choose, leave the exposed spring pliers alone! They'll only catch stray hairs, and dare we say...pluck up your process? Check out craft stores for smaller jewelry construction pliers that you can isolate specifically for this purpose! No rust, no fuss, no reappropriating hair tools as household tools and losing them in the tool box! DIY Divas, we're looking at you.

Do you have any weave-removal lessons, tips, or horror stories to share curlies? Let's commiserate in the comments!