I Tried Natural Hair Extensions For a Week and Fooled Everyone

POPSUGAR Photography | Benjamin Stone
POPSUGAR Photography | Benjamin Stone
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Shocker: this is not my hair. What you see above is all thanks to clip-in extensions.

It happened one night at about 1 a.m. Four hours into my eight-hour styling process, I hit that "f*ck it" moment. I had an important event the next day, and my coils were still soaking wet from the shower. There was no way my strands would be dry before heading to work (#curlygirlproblems). That's when I remembered I had a box of curly extensions stored under the couch from an old, DIY updo photo shoot.

The last time I wore extensions, I was headed to the beach for Spring break with cornrows. I've avoided weave altogether because a straight sew-in would require me to put heat to my natural hair almost every day. But over the last year I've spotted more and more extensions that cater to kinky, curly, Afro textures. So I was excited to finally have my chance to test them out.

My first day wearing the extensions, I fooled everyone into thinking the clip-ins were my natural strands. "Your hair is getting so long!" was the primary reaction I got from co-workers, friends, and even professional stylists. Once I revealed that the look was extensions, people wanted to touch — and I let them. I know it's against the black girl code, but I even removed a track in public (don't judge me) to prove the quality of these clip-ins.

During my three-week experiment, the extra inches changed my attitude, meaning I had more of it! Putting in those long curls made me more sassy. I finally had enough hang time for a proper Beyoncé-style hair flip. I was constantly whipping the wefts from side to side, which is something I can't do with my short strands.

I felt like makeup was an everyday requirement with such a chic hairstyle, which is out of character for me. My new look reminded me of the hair crushes I envy from Instagram. They always have a beat face, so I needed to up my cosmetic game to match. But the best part about these extensions is that I didn't have to do my own strands for a week (score!). Keep reading to learn all about my experience with extensions.

The Clip-Ins
POPSUGAR Photography / Benjamin Stone

The Clip-Ins

In the photo, I'm wearing the CurlSistas Chima Extensions ($340 for two bundles). It's a mix of 16-inch and 18-inch wefts.

The Maintenance
POPSUGAR Photography / Benjamin Stone

The Maintenance

Because these extensions are made with 100 percent human hair, you can wash, condition, and even color the strands as if it's your real mane. Just like with your curls, blot the strands with a t-shirt and lay flat to air dry. You should shampoo and deep condition the strands once every two months or more frequently if you're wearing them every day.

The clip-ins can get a bit matted after teasing and day-to-day wear, so I like to stick to a daily maintenance schedule. Before clipping them in, I spritz each row with water. Then, I apply a leave-in conditioner such as Cantu Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream ($13) and finger detangle the extensions.

You should not wear the clip-ins to bed. The metal fasteners can pull on your roots and cause breakage. Instead, store them in a silk bag or lay flat overnight.

How to Put Them In
POPSUGAR Photography | Benjamin Stone

How to Put Them In

I found the best way to wear these clip-ins is to braid or twist my Afro first, leaving a little section of my own hair out to cover the base of the wefts.

Each bundle comes with wefts of various lengths. I used the 3-clip length at my nape, then the 4-clip weft, followed by the 5-clip weft from ear to ear. It's best to leave about an inch between each row of hair.

Closer to the crown, I placed another 4-clip weft under the 2-clip weft at the top. For this half-bun style, I used all the small 1-clip wefts at the front (in a square pattern) to get the bun.

Here's a video tutorial that explains it all.

The Pros
POPSUGAR Photography | Benjamin Stone

The Pros

  • Wearing clip-ins counts as protective styling. If all your ends are tucked away, your real curls are safe from the stress styling and moisture is locked in at the roots. This promotes hair growth, so eventually you might have strands as long as the wefts you're rocking.
  • You can try new styles. I spotted this half-bun look on Instagram and desperately wanted to try it out, but my natural hair wasn't long enough. With the added inches, I was able to pull everything up into a topknot.
  • You can finally go to the gym. I've avoided working out for years because my curls are never the same after sweating. You can remove the clip-ins before Zumba class without worrying about shrinkage.
The Cons
POPSUGAR Photography | Benjamin Stone

The Cons

  • You still have to do your mane underneath. Buying clip-ins does not mean you can stop doing your own hair. You still have to moisturize your strands and scalp underneath. While it does cut down styling time, it's not totally eliminated.
  • It gets tangled. If you're not careful, the extensions will get single-strand knots (just like your own coils). It's important to keep up the maintenance on the clip-ins to avoid matting and tangles. I even gave my ends a trim when I noticed the ends getting ratty.

While I can't say I'm a woman who will rely on extensions all the time, I have realized the benefit of a weave stash. No time to do a twist out? Clip-ins will come to the rescue. Plus, these wefts will be useful when I attempt a Winter protective style challenge. Finally, women with natural hair can take the easy way out.