The Ultimate Guide to Curling Hair Extensions: Tips, Techniques, and Product Recommendations

Curling hair extensions is a fabulous way to add volume and elegance to your look, transforming straight strands into bouncy, vivacious curls. Whether you’re prepping for a special occasion or just looking to switch up your daily style, mastering the art of curling hair extensions is essential.

In this guide we’ll walk you through the techniques and precautions you need to curl Synthetic and human extensions, we’ll also include some product choices just in case you’re stuck for choice. Without further ado, let’s delve into the details.

Is it easy to Curl Hair Extensions?

Absolutely! Both synthetic and human hair extensions can be curled just the same as natural hair. However, the method and the amount of heat you can apply will depend on the material of the extensions. Human hair extensions are more forgiving and versatile when it comes to styling with heat tools, as they mimic your natural hair. Synthetic extensions on the other hand, require more care and often lower heat settings to avoid damage.

Prepping your locks

  • Wash and Condition: Begin with clean, dry extensions. If they’re newly washed, ensure they’re completely dry and apply a leave-in conditioner to keep them moisturised. A lightweight option like It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product spray can help detangle and protect the hair without weighing it down.
  • Detangling: Begin by carefully detangling your extensions with a brush or wide-tooth comb, this step prevents breakage and ensures even curls.
  • Apply Heat Protectant: Regardless of the type, applying a heat protectant can help minimise damage and keep your extensions looking healthy.
    • For human hair generously apply the protectant to shield the extensions from thermal damage and coat each strand evenly. Consider using a product specifically designed for high heat. Unsure what to use? Try TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray as it coats evenly without leaving a residue
    • Whilst we recommend heatless curling for synthetic hair certain brands are heat-friendly. If that’s the case, applying a lightweight leave-in conditioner or a spray designed for synthetic wigs can provide a layer of protection and make styling easier. Jon Renau Heat Treat Thermal Spray is a great option, offering protection for heat-friendly synthetic extensions.

Curling Human Hair Extensions

  • Sectioning for Success: Divide your hair and extensions into manageable sections. Clipping the upper layers out of the way while you work on the lower sections can help achieve a uniform curl pattern throughout.
  • Choosing the Right Tool: Depending on the desired outcome, select your tool wisely:
    • For classic curls, a curling iron with a clamp might be your best bet. The GHD Curve Wand offers tri-zone technology for even heat distribution.
    • For beachy waves, a curling wand allows for more relaxed, natural-looking waves. The BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Conicurl Iron is excellent for this style.
    • A flat iron can also create curls by twisting the iron away from your face as you glide down the hair. The Cloud Nine Original Iron is versatile for both straightening and curling.
  • Curling Method: Wrap the hair around the tool, leaving the ends out for a more modern look, or curl all the way to the tips for classic spirals. Alternate the direction of the curls—towards the face and away from it—for a more natural, voluminous effect.

Curling Synthetic Hair Extensions

Heatless Curling Methods

  • Foam Rollers and Flexi Rods: Ideal for creating everything from tight ringlets to loose waves without the risk of heat damage. Wrap small sections of slightly damp hair around the rollers or rods, secure, and leave to set overnight for the best definition.
    • Conair Soft Foam Rollers are gentle on synthetic fibres and come in various sizes for different curl types.
  • Braiding: For soft, natural-looking waves, braid your damp extensions into one or several braids, depending on the desired wave size. Use a light-hold styling mousse to help the waves hold their shape
    • We liked L’Oreal Paris Advanced Hairstyle Curve It Elastic Curl Mousse, it holds the shape without stiffness
  • Pin Curls: This traditional method involves wrapping damp sections of hair around your finger, rolling them towards your scalp, and securing with bobby pins.
    • MetaGrip Premium Bob Pins are ideal as they hold hair securely without slipping.

Low Heat Curling for Heat-Friendly Synthetic Extensions

  • Curling Technique: When using a curling iron or flat iron, select the lowest temperature setting and conduct a patch test on a small section first. The BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron features adjustable heat settings suitable for heat-friendly synthetic extensions. Wrap the hair around the tool, hold for a few seconds, and gently release.
  • Setting the Curls: Pin the curl with a clip to cool in its shape for a more defined look. Alternatively, let the curls cool down naturally for softer waves.

Ensure Long-Lasting Curls by mastering the Setting Process

  • Cool Down: Allow curls to cool and set by pinning them up until they’re cool to the touch, which is crucial for longevity as it helps curls last as long as possible, whether on natural hair or extensions.
  • Avoid Heavy Products: For added hold, mist each section with a light hairspray before curling.
    • For human hair we recommend L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray offers a strong hold without the crunch, allowing curls to remain flexible. Alternatively you could try Using Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray which we find is excellent for adding texture and volume without the heaviness (which will avoid weighing down your curls).
    • For synthetic hair, try Brandywine Aerosol Wig Spray. This product offers hold without stiffness, keeping your curls soft and natural-looking throughout the day.

Finishing Touches for Durability

  • Break Up the Curls: Once cooled, gently run your fingers or a wide-tooth comb through the curls to break them up and blend with your natural hair. This step is essential for achieving a cohesive look.
  • Final Product Application: For extra shine and frizz control, apply a small amount of hair serum, like the Moroccanoil Treatment Light, to the ends of your curls. Avoid the roots to maintain volume.
  • Long-Lasting Hold: Finish with a flexible hold hairspray to ensure your curls last through the day. If you’re looking for extra volume, flip your head upside down and spray lightly at the roots.
  • Sleeping in Silk: If you really want to go the extra mile you can wrap your hair or use a silk pillowcase to reduce friction and preserve your curls overnight.

Essential tips and advice

  • Check the Heat Limit: Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines for the maximum heat setting. Human hair extensions can generally tolerate higher temperatures than synthetic options.
  • Temperature Control: Always use the lowest heat setting possible that still allows you to achieve curls. This helps prevent heat damage and maintains the integrity of the extensions.
  • Section Your Hair: Work in small sections to ensure even and consistent curls throughout the extensions.
  • Take your time: Especially with heatless methods, giving your hair ample time to set will result in longer-lasting curls.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Working with extensions can require a bit of practice, especially if you’re blending them with your natural hair. Take your time to ensure each section is curled uniformly.
  • Maintenance: Properly care for your extensions by storing them in a cool, dry place and brushing them with a soft-bristle brush to prolong their life.

Final Thoughts

Curling hair extensions is a great way to experiment with different looks and add flair to your hairstyle, but it’s crucial to know the right methods to avoid damaging your beautiful locks. Whether you opt for heatless curls with synthetic extensions or go for a more glamorous look with human hair extensions and a curling iron, the key is to proceed with care and patience. With these tips, you’ll be able to achieve gorgeous curls that can transform your style and add that extra bounce to your step.