How to Take Down Extensions Without Damage or Breakage (Part 2)

By Jenell of 

How to Take Down Protective a Style without Damage

Many professionals advise removing your protective style with extensions after 4-8 weeks.  Partly because the weight of protective styles can begin to harm your hair line as your new growth gets longer and longer moving the extensions further down the hair strand. The other reason is hygiene. It is advised that you wash your hair while in extensions at least 1-2x a month, but let’s face it, you can’t clean  your hair as well as you can when it is interwoven in extensions.

When I am ready to take my hair out of a protective style, a lot of planning goes into this because I need to dedicate about 3-4 hours to the removal process. Most of the time I have to remove my twists in sections because my time and attention is divided amongst things at home. I wish I could sit and take down my hair without interruption, but this is unrealistic.

The goal is not how fast you can take your protective style down. The goal is getting them out safely without damaging your hair that you worked so hard to protect.

Choosing the Day

I select a day that I know I have nowhere to go. I also select a time of day where I can get the most of my hair done, in the event that I do have to stop frequently. I highly recommend you do the same.

If you know you have to be somewhere at night don’t loosen your hair in the morning with hopes of being done before you go out. You won’t!

If you have somewhere to be in the morning, don’t begin taking your hair down the night before. You won’t be able to take down your extensions, wash your hair,  moisturize your hair and then detangle. Well not unless you plan on pulling an all nighter with no rest at all before your  scheduled obligations the next morning.

Take Down Tools

When taking down my protective style, I grab all my tools to ensure that I don’t need to get up for things that I forgot. I usually have all of the following items:

Scissors– to cut the lower part of the extensions off
Wide tooth comb– to remove all shed hair from sections of your hair
Rat tail comb– to loosen any tight knots and tangles
Water bottle– fill it with warm water, conditioner, and oil. This will help to soften your hair before loosening your protective style
Bag– to throw all extensions and she hair in.
Patience– Don’t rush. Don’t rip. Don’t count the minutes.

In the video below I show you how I take down my protective style

For more tips on how to take down extensions without damage click here.

Are you rocking extensions? How long have you had them in and when do you plan to take them down?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...


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17 thoughts on “How to Take Down Extensions Without Damage or Breakage (Part 2)

  1. I gather all of my tools too including a mirror because I like to watch tv, so I’m not feeling antsy about just getting it out. The only thing that I don’t have is the spray bottle which I will be having now. I normally get cornrows and i keep them in 4weeks, 6 weeks if I can’t seem to plan a good day to take them out.

  2. I have in Senegalese twists (have had them in exactly 4 weeks!) but mine are starting to look untidy/fuzzy. So I’m taking them down tonight. My technique is similar to the one shown in the video, glad for the suggestion of dampening my hair while in the twists first. Will certainly be incorporating that into my routine. Was very concerned about the amount of shed hair I usually get from taking down my extensions. Now that I’ve seen this video I realize it’s not quite as excessive as I thought. I just want to thank BGLH for these helpful tips! xoxo

  3. Just took out my yarn twists. I don’t use a water bottle instead the night before the “take down,” I sleep with a shower cap after moisturizing my hair with a mix of aloe vera juice and water. I find this method loosens my hair and eliminates the step of spritzing.

    I had my yarn twists in for five weeks.

  4. I think that the length of time you keep in extensions should be directly proportionate to the amount of time and care you put into your natural hair interwoven with your extensions’ material. I have had my waist length yarn braids in since early October 2012. I do not plan on taking them out until early March or early April 2013. I really enjoy styling my hair and experimenting with different products and techniques, so keeping them in is more a matter of resisting the urge to rock my jumbo puffs or a faux-hawk. I wash my hair a minimum of once a week while in my yarn extensions. Sometimes, I wash it two or three times a week in my yarn extensions. I clarify my scalp a minimum of once a week. And I pamper my natural hair woven within the yarn with regular water spritzes and a little sealant (jojoba oil, castor oil, or a aloe vera based cream).
    For the most part, the perils of keeping in extensions “too long” is from braiding the hair where the material is at a higher ratio than 1:2 (meaning you have maybe a centimeter (or inch, if the braids are bigger) square of natural hair for more than double in material [whether that’s yarn, human hair, synthetic weave or whatever]). Some might even argue a 1:2 ratio of natural: synthetic is too much.Most people do this (or allow it to be done to them) not understanding that the increased material to natural hair ratio actually places undue tension on the natural hair follicles. They are more interested in creating a vastly “fuller” look than any increased tension associated with this fullness. There’s another variable to consider, besides care and actual construction of extensions: styling. Someone who has placed an extraordinary amount of tension on their natural hair with extensions will see their hair suffer triplefold if they also neglect washing & conditioning it appropriately and style their extensions in tension intensifying ways. (Who hasn’t seen the girl on the bus with the 1 inch receding hairline rocking a fresh set of micros in a super high, tight ponytail?)
    All that rambling being said, it really depends on the hair, the person taking care of it, the actual structure of the extensions, and the material of the extensions.
    I am fortunate enough to have learned how to do my own extensions. I do cornrow, flat-twist, kinky-twist, micro, box-braid (from 1 cm sq to 2 in sq), two to four strand twist, havana twist, and a host of other styles I can’t think of at the moment, both with my natural hair and with a variety of extension materials. I personally don’t like using human hair as extension material (did it once and once was enough). High quality synthetic fibers that can withstand heat without melting are my favorite (but are expensive, so I use them rarely). The cheapie $1 packs of weaving hair are what I use when I’m low on funds or don’t plan on wearing a style for more than a few weeks. Yarn is something I only recently began using for hair extensions. All materials have their pros and cons. Your hair runs the risk of locking more and faster with human hair extensions. Skinnier extensions, in my opinion, attract more lint/debris, or else its a little harder to completely clean them. Yarn extensions are light when they’re dry but HEAVY when they’re wet. Then, of course, no one can ignore the condition of the hair and scalp before extensions were installed. Fragile hair, crazy shedding, jacked up scalp or anything less than ideal/normal conditions will decrease the ability of the wearer to safely wear extensions for extended periods of time. ALL of these factors impact how long extensions can be worn with minimal breakage/damage. Then of course, like this article mentions, there’s the takedown. A month, or two, or several month’s care and diligence with natural hair in extensions goes right down the toilet if the wearer rushes the takedown process or is anything less than gentle. Proceed with caution, ladies! :)

    • I can’t speak for what anyone else does, but in my non-professional opinion, the best moisturizer is plain water. If you have hard water, you might want to use cooled-off boiled water. If you want to get a little fancy, mixing in a bit of aloe vera, glycerin, or a light oil (jojoba, grapeseed) in a spray bottle works wonders. I find that when the scalp is irritated after extensions have been installed it is either a reaction to the material (Some people are actually allergic to the cheapie synthetic fibers. I’ve heard searching for “hypo-allergenic” and “itch free” varieties significantly improves irritation) or your scalp is telling you your braids are too tight. Misting your scalp with water helps to loosen the hair enough where tight braids aren’t as irritating, but it’s better to avoid tight scalp altogether. For the most part, if you don’t need to “moisturize” your scalp when you don’t have extensions, you don’t need to just because you have extensions. Unless you have a scalp abnormality, for the most part, your scalp regulates itself, as long as it stays clean…
      Keep in mind, your scalp already produces its own moisturizer (sebum) so adding your own just means you have to work harder to clean your scalp (of buildup, natural and otherwise) on wash day.
      So I suppose the short answer is: aim for moisturizing your actual hair regularly. And if moisturizing your scalp ordinarily works for you, continue to do so when you have extensions but beware of buildup if you use anything other than water to do so. :) Hope my answer helped!

  5. Something that worked like a charm for me was putting conditioner at the base of my yarn braids as I took them down. I would cut the braid a half inch from where my hair was, unravel the braid by pulling the two yarn strands, and before I remove the yarn I take a generous dab of conditioner (Silk Elements MegaSilk Olive Oil conditioner at sally’s…amazing!) and gently worked it in at the base of the braid until the yarn slid out. I continued to rub the base of the braid with the conditioner to break up the post protective style build up and it made my detangle 10x easier after removing braids. I wish I had been doing this all along…

  6. This could not be more on time. I have had kinky twists in for about 5 weeks & plan to take them down in the next 2-3weeks. The last time I had braids I was transitioning & I had to cut several inches because I just took them out and immediately wash my hair w/o combing it out or anything and it just matted into huge knots. It took me a full day to try to comb out some of the knots & the rest I just had to cut…it was a TOTAL NIGHTMARE, but was completely avoidable if I had not rushed the process. Thanks for the good advice.

  7. Decided to take my 5 week old Marley-style twists out this week. This is the first time that I have had synthetic hair that approximated the kinky texture of my own. Therefore I can’t just get scissor-happy in a tangled patch.
    I actually took two twists out just a few minutes ago to see how difficult it would be. There was a little locking so I was freaked out at first, but only mid strand. The tips and roots were easy to free. I figure it will take me an evening and most of the next day.
    I don’t think I’ll ever get this style again. I know it thinned my edges and the front will be shocking to see once the extensions are removed. I would prefer to just wear my own twists up for 3 weeks.

  8. I wish I had seen this before I took my braids out last summer. I was still new to natural hair and took my braids out while my hair was dry. I had lots of breakage. My hair is better now but there are places that are uneven because of the breakage. I’m thinking about getting twists, at least now I know how to take care of my hair.

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