The Best Shampoos For Extensions

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Extensions can work like magic to give your hair more length and body, but they do require a little extra maintenance. To keep your extensions looking their best, hair extension specialist Sara Clemente says that you should turn your attention to your shampoo. "You want something really clean," Clemente tells Elite Daily. "You don't absolutely need a sulfate-free shampoo unless you get a keratin treatment or any sort of relaxer, but obviously, sulfate-free is always a safe option," she says of what you may want to look for. "Avoid anything with a ton of oil or too much protein," she adds, explaining that too many moisturizing ingredients on the scalp can loosen your extensions — particularly if you have tape-in extensions. "Basically, any shampoo that says, 'for dry hair,' you want to avoid. You can use a conditioner that's moisturizing, just make sure you're only doing mid-length to ends," Clemente advises. But don't think that means you can skip out on washing your hair. Clemente stresses that not washing your hair often enough can be just as detrimental to your extensions. "People are convinced that you shouldn't shampoo your hair every day or every other day, but you absolutely should wash your hair every other day or every two days," Clemente says. "I do not suggest only washing your hair once a week because that ends up drying your scalp out, which will dry out your adhesive and make the extensions loosen."

The Expert

Sara Clemente is a hair extension specialist based on the East Coast. She is a senior hairstylist at Warren Tricomi salon in Greenwich, CT.

How To Care For Hair Extensions

Washing your hair isn't the only part of your routine that can impact your extensions. Your styling products — and even your sunscreen — could be wrecking your extensions, too. Clemente says it's important to avoid any alcohol-based styling products, which most commonly include dry shampoo and hairsprays (though you can definitely find alcohol-free versions). "Anything with alcohol in it can break down the adhesive," explains Clemente, who adds that hand-tied extensions don't require you to be quite as careful with alcohol-based products. "A good leave-in conditioner is so helpful, especially in the summer because extensions tend to get really dry," she says of additional products to have in your arsenal. "And brushing your hair is one of the most important things to do," she says. "Brush your hair the second you get out of the shower, and make sure all of the knots are out." Clemente says that you can use a Wet Brush, but that you'll want to be careful not to use a brush that has bristles with oversized round plastic tips, as they can rip out your extensions.

One other major tip that's key for blondes is to only use mineral sunscreens (aka sunscreens that use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the active ingredients). "Sunblocks with avobenzone and octocrylene have a chemical reaction with hair extensions, and they can turn blonde extensions a peachy color," Clemente warns. "It completely ruins hair extensions, and not a lot of people know about it until it happens to them."

Shop The Best Shampoos For Extensions

In a hurry? Here are the best shampoos for extensions:

1. The Overall Best: Color Wow Color Security Shampoo

2. Best For Oily Hair : Ouai Detox Shampoo

3. Best Clarifying Shampoo: DevaCurl Buildup Buster

4. Best Drugstore Shampoo For Extensions: L'Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Moisture Shampoo

5. Best Shampoo Developed For Extensions: Matrix Total Results Length Goals Sulfate-Free Shampoo For Extensions

1. Expert’s Pick: The Overall Best Shampoo For Extensions

"This is color-safe and keratin treatment-safe, and it just gives the hair a really good clean," Clemente says of Color Wow's Color Security Shampoo. The sulfate-free and silicone-free formula works for all hair types and provides a gentle, but thorough clean. Though it does contain a few moisturizing ingredients and hydrolyzed proteins, the shampoo was designed to completely rinse out without leaving any residue behind. Not only does this help keep your scalp healthy, but it also means your natural hair and extensions will be left completely clean without feeling weighed down.

Sulfate-Free: Yes Key Ingredients: Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Vitamin E Size: 8.4 oz.

2. Expert’s Pick: Best For Oily Hair

Typically, clarifying shampoos can be too harsh to use more than once a week or every other week, but for oily hair types, Clemente says this is gentle enough to use a few times a week. "It's not something that strips your hair or makes it feel like sandpaper," Clemente says of Ouai’s Detox Shampoo, which uses apple cider vinegar to remove residue and hydrolyzed keratin to keep your hair feeling soft. "My hair gets oily in a day, and I have a full head of hair extensions, and I use this every time I wash my hair now," Clemente adds.

Sulfate-Free: Yes Key Ingredients: Hydrolyzed Keratin, Apple Cider Vinegar, Glycerin, Tamarind Seed Extract Size: 10 oz.

3. Expert's Pick: Best Clarifying Shampoo

If you have curly hair and are looking for a shampoo to remove product buildup, this DevaCurl Buildup Buster is a clarifying formula that's sulfate-free and silicone-free. While it was formulated to protect and revive curly hair, Clemente says that even straight hair types can use this as an occasional reset from excessive styling product use. "It's not going to get bubbly," Clemente says of how to use the shampoo. "You kind of just rub your hair in between your hands like how you would wash out conditioner, and you just keep doing that for a few minutes. You don't even have to condition your hair after — your hair is silky smooth."

Sulfate-Free: Yes Key Ingredients: Glycerin, Celery Seed Extract, Panthenol, Vitamin E Size: 8 oz.

4. Best Drugstore Shampoo For Extensions

For a shampoo that's safe for extensions and less than $10, try this L'Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Moisture Shampoo. Formulated to protect color-treated hair, the shampoo contains moisturizing ingredients but isn’t too heavy. Additionally, rosemary leaf oil is included in the formula to provide antibacterial and antioxidant benefits to promote a healthy scalp.

Sulfate-Free: Yes Key Ingredients: Hydrogenated Coconut Acid, Vitamin E, Rosemary Leaf Oil Size: 11 oz.

5. Best Shampoo Developed For Extensions

Though they're not as common as you'd think, shampoos specifically developed for hair extensions are out there. The Matrix Total Results Length Goals formula was co-created with the hair extension company, Bellami, to care for your natural hair without compromising your extensions. The gentle shampoo helps to detangle extensions without disrupting the adhesive, and, when used with the ancillary conditioner, it leaves hair feeling smoother and softer.

Sulfate-Free: Yes Key Ingredients: Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Size: 10 oz.

6. You May Also Like: Best Treatment For Blondes

If you want to keep your blonde color looking fresh without damaging your extensions, Clemente swears by the individually packaged Malibu Blondes Wellness Hair Remedy treatments. "If you're feeling like your blonde is washed out and you don't have time to get it colored, this makes your hair brighter — it literally saves you from getting your hair colored," Clemente says. You'll still want to use your normal shampoo and conditioner with this one, as the treatment was designed to be used after you shampoo (and while your hair is still wet). Each packet contains tiny crystals that you activate by rubbing together in the palms of your hands with some water. Once a paste has formed, scrunch the mixture through your hair and let it sit for up to five minutes before thoroughly shampooing the treatment out (and following up with a conditioner).

Sulfate-Free: Yes Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, Panthenol Size: Pack Of 3


Sara Clemente, hair extension specialist and senior hairstylist at Warren Tricomi salon