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Wearing a weave or extensions in your hair can give you the volume and length you long for. But you'll need to take extra care to make sure they don't break your hair or pull it out.

“Anyone can wear extensions and still have healthy hair,” says Melanye Maclin, MD, a dermatologist and hair loss expert in Washington D.C. “You just have to take the time to show your natural hair and the weave some TLC.”

Here's how to do it.

Prime Your Hair and Scalp

Get your hair in good shape before adding extensions. Take a break from the weakening chemicals in curl relaxers or dyes to get a head start in avoiding breakage.

Make sure your hair is clean, well conditioned, and free of buildup from dead skin cells and styling products like hairspray. These can cause dryness, flaking, and itching.

“If your scalp is dry and flaky, use a medicated shampoo that contains zinc pyrithione or selenium sulfide, concentrating the suds on your scalp,” Maclin says. Leave it on for 15 minutes and rinse out. Then wash once more with regular shampoo and condition. Do this once a week for 4 weeks.

If you're still seeing flakes, visit a dermatologist before getting extensions. You may have seborrheic dermatitis, which can be harder to get under control when you have extensions.

How Extensions Are Attached

How a hair extension is attached to your head depends on the type you use:

  • A partial or full weave is sewn into tight braids of your own hair.
  • Extensions are bonded to your hair with a type of glue. You may need 50 to 100 of them, depending on the thickness of your hair.
  • Clip-in extensions add volume or length in a hurry. You attach them under the top layer of your hair.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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