As anyone who has curls knows, curls and length aren’t the best of friends. Curls spring locks all the way up, making hair that might be down to there appear way less impactful. Because I want the curly girl trinity—ringlets, volume, and length—but I need a little help from mother nature, I opted for curly hair extensions.
Curly hair extensions are surprisingly hard to come by, which makes sense considering how hair extensions are sourced in the first place—from women with generally straight hair. If you don’t purchase real, naturally curly hair, you can get your straight extensions permed but only if they are 100% human hair. This is a big deal.
Curly Hair Extension Options
To get straight hair extensions curly, you can opt for a permanent perm or a water perm. It should be noted that a water perm will return the hair to its straight texture after it is exposed to water and can cost upwards of $700. Weighing these options, I decided the best bet was to curl the extensions with an iron. This was both the simplest way to approach curling, one I’m familiar with, and also an option I could easily change my mind about if I did want to go straight for a night.
For any hair extensions, but especially curly ones, it’s best not to load up on products. Even though you can wash extensions like you would normal hair, too much product can gunk them up and shorten their shelf life. Considering the cost, you definitely don’t want to damage your extensions.
Having already tried tape-ins and not exactly loving it (you literally can’t use conditioner), I went for the clip-ins which offer the most freedom.
Josue Perez, a celebrity stylist, was there acting as Virgil on my curly hair extensions journey. Using 100% human hair by Beyond Extensions, Perez determined my color would be best suited for a dark brown. This is the other hair extension hurdle that is easy to overthink: the color must match or it’s a really obvious tell that you’re wearing fake hair. If your extension color is off and the hair is 100% human, then have a stylist dye them for you, because honestly, it’s worth it.
The Curling Process
To get my curls to blend easily with the perfectly curled extensions, Perez rocked my ringlets with his iron. He divided the hair into sections and curled from the bottom up. Once my curl pattern was more defined, he started on the extensions. We decided to only use three pieces because using the whole pack of hair would have been a little too big, even for me.
The extensions were clipped in along a horizontal part, starting from the longest on the bottom and the shortest on the top. “There’s a misconception about putting in hair extensions that you have to have a perfectly straight line,” explains Perez. He notes that all you need is a tail comb with a metal end to create a part that isn’t super straight. “All you need is clearance of hair,” he continues. In the past, hair was teased to create a base for extensions, but as long as the weft is thin enough, this step can be eliminated making it easier for you to DIY.
After clipping in all the sections, Perez makes sure the hair is blended, by lightly misting with hairspray and brushing out the curls (and the extensions) to avoid a too-perfect pageanty look. Once the hair is in, I notice not only length (the extensions are 20 inches) but volume. My hair is B.I.G. and I love that.
All in all, my curly hair extensions are a success. The process is simple enough that I’m confident I can manage it alone (or with a friend’s help). While I wouldn’t wear them daily, these extensions are perfect for a night out or a special occasion. I also love that I can play around with the different pieces and style my curly hair as intense or low key as my mood.