I’m a dramatic person who treats my hair like a mood ring, so my strands have really been through it. Pink streaks when I was trying to impress a crush, black dye during a breakup, chemical straightening before college, and purple clip-ins I thought made me look “edgy” — ah, what a colorful hair history I’ve had. But there have been only two times in my life when a major hair change left me feeling transformed — like I was born anew, and my old self no longer existed (I said I was dramatic!). The first was when I decided to take the plunge and dye my dark-brown hair a bright platinum blonde in October of 2018. Ten hours and many vats of bleach later, a different person stared at me from the mirror. The sweet, innocent(ish), balayaged girl of my past was no longer, and in her place was a platinum-haired queen who swapped her heels for Doc Martens and soon clomped around New York City like she owned the place. (My hair is still platinum, but I’ve chilled out a lot since then — I think.)
The second happened just a few weeks ago, when my colorist Reece Walker placed 25-inch tape-in extensions in my hair and I experienced another transformation — this time, into my pop goddess alter ego, Frosé (you know, like Rosé of BLACKPINK, but a little rough around the edges). I had never considered getting extensions until that moment, mostly because they seemed high-maintenance and also because my hair tends to grows like grass. But when I got an email from Priscilla Valles’ team about her new extension line with Glam Seamless, something stirred within me. Visions of long, Nicole-Kidman-in-Nine-Perfect-Strangers-length hair danced in my dreams, and soon, Hillary Duff’s 2007 hit single “Why Not?” started playing in my head on repeat, which it usually tends to do right before I do something very risky, like cut my hair into a bob (nightmare) or buy latex pants (worth it). I called Reece — who, lucky for me, also happens to an extensions specialist with over 17 years of experience and also styles the likes of Victoria Beckham— and he agreed to take the lead on my dramatic hair change. Hours later, the Frosé transformation was complete. I was powerful. I was a pop goddess. I was extremely insufferable to everyone around me because I couldn’t stop touching my hair. But I couldn’t help it — the extensions looked incredible. Even my friends agreed, as I tossed my long hair dramatically at every opportunity, usually hitting them in the face with my ends.
Ahead, I’m sharing my answers to the questions I know you are dying to know about my hair extension journey.
Are There Different Quality Tape-In Extensions?
In short, the answer is yes. As I mentioned before, Reece used Priscilla Valles’ extension line with Glam Seamless on my hair. Priscilla is the go-to extension expert for the likes of Hailey Bieber, Christina Aguilera, and Kendall Jenner, so I trusted that her extension line would be of the highest quality — and I was right. I couldn’t believe how soft and rich the extensions felt — like real hair, but better. When I asked Priscilla what makes her extensions different from others on the market, she answered, “I hand-painted and personally spent months picking textures to make it a dream extension line!” Oh, and another note: in case you weren’t already aware, the highest-quality tape-ins are made of real human hair, not synthetic, so you can style with heat tools and apply products like you would on your actual hair. That made me feel weird for approximately 30 minutes, and then I got over it.
If you are thinking of getting tape-in extensions, the easiest way would be to find an extension expert and trust that they have hair that they can order for you once you have your initial consult. If you are wary about fully trusting your extension specialist, Reece recommends doing some initial research online, where you can find out brands celebs have talked about using or read reviews. “People are very honest online about how the hair feels,” he says. “I personally use a brand that I love, but I'm always looking out for new brands that are better quality, longer lasting, not so heavy on the hair.” He, too, was a fan of how high-quality Priscilla’s extension line felt and looked.
How Long Does It Take to Install?
Surprisingly, the actual process of installing tape-in extensions didn’t take long at all. I’m used to sitting in Reece’s chair for at least three hours every six to eight weeks to touch-up my roots (don’t say I’m not dedicated!), but the tape-in process itself took less than two hours. Reece, who installs extensions weekly, told me that he will usually shampoo a client twice with a clarifying shampoo and condition the ends, then blow the hair out straight — this is key, because it helps him see the shape of the hair and will ensure the extensions look natural. Then, he’ll go into the hair, section it out, and place the tape-in extensions in, which involves sticking your real hair near the root between two extension pieces, then clamping them together with a special tool that looks like a medieval screwdriver. After all the extensions are in, he’ll do a rough blow-dry so the extensions meld with your actual hair, then he might cut or trim some of the hair so that it all looks natural. “A haircut is, I would say, 50% of what makes extensions look good,” Reece says. “Because you can just put them in, but if you don't blend them properly, then they look like extensions — so I'll always do the haircut after I put in extensions and then I'll style it.”
Are Tape-In Extensions Bad For Your Hair?
This was my most pressing question for Reece, because we’ve all seen the horror image of broken, frayed hair after extensions are taken out. But Reece promised me that with the right hairstylist, tape-in extensions shouldn’t damage your natural hair — you just have to ensure they know what they are doing when they remove the extensions, which is when most of the breakage can occur. “I think extensions get a really bad reputation for damage,” he says. “It really depends on who puts them in, and then how you look after them.” He notes that one thing he tells all his clients is to avoid high, slicked-back ponytails, which can pull out your hair at the root since the extensions are adding weight to your scalp.
“Tape-ins a really quick way to add volume, or length to your hair, but they're also great for people that want brighter pops of color when their hair can't necessarily handle color,” he notes. For example, if you have really fine hair and have always dreamed of having Khaleesi-white strands, but your colorist tells you your hair can’t handle more bleach without breakage, you can try tape-ins that are slightly brighter than your natural hair color to brighten everything up. I also think it was interesting to hear that tape-ins can be a good option for anyone who wants to hide their breakage as it grows out.
And just from my first-hand experience — I just removed my extensions last week, and my actual hair feels as thick as ever.
How Long Do Tape-Ins Last?
Any tape-ins you purchase can be used up to a year, but you’ll need to get them removed and redone every six to eight weeks.
How Do You Take Care of Tape-In Extensions?
I had this idea in my mind that tape-ins would be high-maintenance — but they’re not. In fact, I spent less time on my hair with tape-in extensions than I did with my natural hair, mostly because the tape-ins were so high quality and dried so beautifully. My natural hair texture is wavy and a bit coarse, and usually I have to slather on creams and my holy-grail K18 Leave-In Mask to keep it from puffing up into a mad scientist muffin-shape when it dries. With the tape-ins, my actual hair dried and blended into the extensions, which were softer and silkier, and air-dried into perfect waves. Incredible!
As for after-care tips, Reece says he always tells his clients to avoid over-washing the extensions — twice a week would be ideal, and when you do shampoo, wash your hair gently instead of rubbing all over your scalp in a circular motion, which can tangle the extensions. He also recommends avoiding conditioner at the roots because it can prematurely loosen your tape-ins, and to sleep in a low ponytail or a braid. “Make sure you brush them regularly and also have them lifted regularly,” he notes. “Lifted” means to get them removed and moved up closer to your root every six to eight weeks — otherwise, they’ll either fall out on their own or start becoming very noticeable.
Can All Hair Types Get Tape-In Extensions?
Though you may be able to find curly or coily tape-ins on the market, Reece recommends tape-ins mainly for those who have straight or wavy hair. If you have curly hair and want to consider extensions, he recommends trying sew-in extensions or keratin bond extensions instead, which allow for greater customization (he loves ones from a company called Keratin Compounds).
What Is the Average Cost of Tape-Ins?
The average cost of high quality tape-in extensions is around $200 to $500, depending on how much hair you will need. This doesn’t include the cost for your stylist to install the hair, which can start at $200, depending on your location, and go up from there.
How Do You Remove Them?
The removal process is quick and easy. When I went to see Reece last week, I was in and out in less than an hour. Your stylist will apply a special solution on the tape part of the extensions, which will help loosen the adhesive and allow the tapes to be pulled apart.
Is There a Downside to Getting Tape-Ins?
If you’ve made it here, congratulations — I think your heart is in the game and you should probably get tape-ins. Through my experience, I learned that all the things I was afraid tape-in extensions would do to my hair — damage it, add breakage, require extra styling — were unfounded. When I asked Reece, he said any downsides are really subjective. Some might say having to get them removed and redone every six to eight weeks could be a downside (other extension options, like keratin bonds and sew-ins, can last much longer without a stylist appointment, while clip-ins offer more versatility in removal). Others might say it’s the cost — with tip included and the number of times you’ll have to get them redone, you’re looking at spending over $1,000 a year on your tape-ins, which is certainly not cheap.
So really, at the end of the day, getting tape-in extensions is a personal decision. All I can say from my experience is that I have no regrets —and I know that Frosé will definitely be making a comeback soon.