woman with hair extensions

Tape-in hair extensions are a tool for creating the appearance of longer, more voluminous hair. But how do tape-in hair extensions work? Where do these hair extensions come from? And can extensions damage your hair? Find out the answers to these questions and more in our in-depth guide below.

What are tape-in hair extensions?

Tape-in extensions can be made of either artificial or real human hair; most experts say that they prefer real hair because it’s easier to work with and looks more natural. Human hair extensions can also be styled, dried, and colored just like the hair on your head. (Below, though, we’ll explore where human hair extensions actually come from.)

People love tape-in extensions compared to their alternatives. Tape-ins generally look more natural, because the tape binding is barely visible. They’re also easily applied and removed: The application process generally takes only 45-60 minutes. Finally, tape-in extensions last longer than their sew-in and glue-in alternatives–and once they’re in, they can easily be styled and heat-treated using the same methods you would for your own hair.

How do you care for hair extensions?

To care for hair extensions, try to avoid going to sleep with wet hair, which may damage the setting. Tape-in extensions are easier to care for than many of the other options, but it’s still important to keep them clean and moisturized. As mentioned above, human hair extensions can usually be treated much like the hair on your head; for artificial extensions, you may need to be more careful when it comes to heat treatment.

How will extensions affect my hair?

Plenty of sources will claim that tape-in extensions don’t harm your hair. It’s important to be skeptical when it comes to beauty retailers’ claims, though. The beauty industry is extremely unregulated, and many women fall prey to the unfounded claims of predatory companies, only to regret it later on. Meanwhile, we’re often drawn to the idea of hair extensions because we see so many images of celebrities with inhumanly voluminous, long, sleek hair. But the truth is that most celebrities wear extensions, and many of them suffer from hair damage.

The truth is that although tape-in extensions are probably the best extension option for minimizing damage, they definitely can damage your hair. Experts say that this damage is most likely to occur when during the removal process, which often causes breakage–but we’re also skeptical about the effects of adhesive glue on your hair and scalp’s health. Extensions also put extra weight on your hair, which can put a strain on your follicles and lead to a form of hair loss called Traction Alopecia.

Where do hair extensions come from?

Beauty experts often recommend opting for real, human hair when it comes to hair extensions. But you should keep in mind that while these extensions are easier to work with, retailers’ claims regarding their origins are often false: Merchants brand their products using exotic language, claiming that extensions come from Brazil or India, while the vast majority of them come from China. There are definitely some complex political and socioeconomic factors to consider when it comes to buying hair from less privileged countries.