Amoy Pitters, a New York City hairstylist who works regularly with celebrities like Joan Smalls and Alfre Woodard, got her start with one fearless client and a set of pink sponge rollers: “I started doing my mom’s hair when I was eight years old,” she says. Pitters has personally experimented with every style “from a short Toni Braxton cut to hair down to my waist. I’m constantly changing my hair.” What makes a lot of that experimentation possible? Extensions. (That’s her current length, above.) “I go back and forth between sew-in, clip-in, and ponytail ones.” I asked for her best tips on how to care for them.
First, if you have the sew-in kind, make sure to get at least 20 cornrows from the hairline to the nape of the neck, so “the extensions lie flat.” Then follow this three-step plan.
1. Don’t ignore them. “Some people put in a weave and forget about it,” Pitters says. But because high-quality extensions are made of human hair, you should shampoo and condition your extensions as often as you would your regular hair. Pitters likes hydrating formulas, like J. F. Lazartigue Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner.
2. Lay it on thick. To keep your roots well moisturized between shampoos (when you don’t have your extensions in), combine equal parts water and moisturizing conditioner in a spray bottle (Pitters likes her own Amoy Couture Hair Leave in Conditioner). Shake it well until thoroughly mixed together. Then spray the concoction right between the cornrows.
3. Know the expiration date. “I’ve seen clients try to keep extensions in for three or four months, and I’m like, ‘What are you doing?!'” says Pitters, who suggests removing sew-in extensions after eight to ten weeks. (Give the hair a break for a week or more before replacing them.) If you keep the hair in cornrows for longer than that, “the hair that’s growing in could get matted.”
One last word of caution: When cornrows are too tight, they can cause hair loss—or traction alopecia. “I always use a light hand when I’m braiding,” says Pitters.
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