How to apply clip-in extensions for curly hair

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Sometimes, even people with curly hair crave just a bit more body. Traditional methods, like big barrel rollers and thickening sprays, fight the delicate texture of curly hair, rendering it frizzy and oddly shaped. But extensions, specifically clip-ins, are a foolproof way to achieve voluminous hair.



The Cut asked celebrity hairstylist and fake-hair connoisseur Cynthia Alvarez how to apply clip-in extensions at home. Her method is outlined in the GIFs below.


The model before the clip-ins are applied.

Pre-step: Most clip-in extensions are available to purchase individually at varying lengths, colors, and textures. Once you've found the style that closely matches your natural hair, select two to three wide strips — like these from Hair Factory — and then one slightly shorter strip for the top of your head.

Step 1: Start with clean, dry hair that's been treated with a moisturizer for curly hair, like DevaCurl's Styling Cream. Just above the ears, part the hair and clip. This is where you'll place the first clip-in. Eventually you'll make three to four additional parts of a similar width as you work your way up to the crown of your head.

Step 2: Using a fine-tooth comb, tease hair upwards around the part. The friction will make it easier for the clip-in to secure a lasting grip on your hair.

Step 3: Snap the clip-in to hair, just below your first part — it will adhere very easily, like a barrette. Repeat steps one through three for the remaining clip-ins as you work your way up to the second, third, and optional fourth part, respectively.


Step 4: Once all of the extensions are in place, carefully trim the clip-ins so that they are just a little longer than your natural hair. This will create a pretty cascading effect and will ensure that you don't cut any of your own hair. Just make sure to leave the arts and crafts scissors behind and use professional shears for a clean cut.

Clip-ins are easily removed by un-snapping the "clip" part of the extension. Synthetic hair has a shorter shelf life because it tends to become matted overtime. Extensions made from real hair may be reused for up to a year if they are regularly washed, conditioned, and brushed.

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