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Best shampoo for hair extensions 2023: Protect and prolong your tresses from £16

Help to maintain your new look with our pick of the best shampoos for hair extensions

Whether your natural hair is on the thin side, you love a bit of extra volume, or you’re too impatient to let it grow, choosing to have hair extensions is the perfect solution. But whichever type you’ve opted for – wefts, tape-ins, bonds, i-tips, to name a few – you’ll want to ensure that you look after them with the best shampoos for hair extensions.

While a few years ago you could spot a set of hair extensions a mile off, their quality has massively evolved. But the key is maintaining their condition to ensure they remain shiny, healthy and, most importantly, stay put for as long as possible. After all, investing in these magic strands is an expensive business!

Your first step to excellent hair extension health starts with your shampoo. But which formulas will help your hair extensions stay in tip-top condition, and what ingredients should you look out for and avoid? Read on for all you need to know about expert hair extension cleansing.

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Best shampoos for hair extensions: At a glance

How to choose the best hair extension shampoo for you

What are the main things to look out for in a shampoo for hair extensions?

A shampoo bottle doesn’t necessarily need to say “hair extensions” on the label to be safe to use. You can use most normal shampoos as long as they don’t contain certain ingredients. The key is actually in the words “sulphate-free”.

So, what are sulphates? Well, they’re cleansing agents, specifically sodium lauryl sulphate and sodium laureth sulphate, which give you that satisfying lather when you shampoo your hair. Gratifying, yes, but healthy for the hair and scalp, not so much. They may clean the hair more thoroughly by stripping it of dirt, but they also strip it of natural oils, resulting in colour fade and dehydrated hair and scalp. On top of this, your scalp can become more dehydrated when wearing hair extensions, as washing it is slightly more tricky. You also need to use a gentle shampoo to preserve the quality and longevity of your preferred type of hair extension.

Sulphates are anything but gentle; swap them out, and you and your extensions will be off to a great start. Try to steer clear of parabens and phosphates and look for mild, hydrating ingredients, such as coconut milk, shea butter and argan oil.

How do you use a shampoo for hair extensions?

Think about how vigorously you scrub the roots of your hair. It’s easy and satisfying to go for it when sporting your natural locks, but when there are dozens of tapes, magnetic locks or wefts in the way, scrubbing without causing disruption isn’t so simple. That’s not to say you should neglect your scalp. Just be more measured when cleansing it, lifting each extension as you go, and shampooing in sections. After all, you don’t want to go in all guns blazing and dislodge any extensions.

If you’ve opted for glue, wait a few days after application before washing your hair so the glue can set. Try not to wash your hair every day, as this can affect the colour of your extensions versus the colour of your natural hair.

How much should I spend?

Think about how much you would spend on your everyday shampoo, and don’t change it. As long as you’ve found a gentle one that doesn’t contain any harsh agents, there’s no need to spend any more or any less than you usually would. We think anywhere between £8 and £30 is ideal and gives you many options.

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The best shampoos for hair extensions to buy in 2023

1. Paul Mitchell Clean Beauty Scalp Therapy Shampoo: Best new shampoo for hair extensions

Price: £28 | Buy now from Sally Beauty

There’s nothing like having complete faith in a product, and when a brand has been around for more than 40 years you can be sure that your trust is well founded. Ever evolving with the times, this is Paul Mitchell’s latest shampoo, which is kind to scalps, natural hair and hair extensions thanks to gentle ingredients such as grapevine sap and chamomile extract.

This product is suitable for any hair type or texture, and you can continue using it to maintain scalp health, even when you’re having a break from your hair extensions. With its rebalancing, nourishing and strengthening assets, it is no wonder it has the word “therapy” in the title. It lathers nicely, even without the help of sulphates, and the smell is utterly beautiful. This product shows that these pared-back, tender-to-the-scalp shampoos can have your hair smelling like you’ve just stepped out of the salon as well as any other.

Key specs – Vegan: Yes; Sulphate-free: Yes; Cruelty-free: Yes; Shelf life: 12 months

Buy now from Sally Beauty

2. Green People Intensive Repair Shampoo: Best planet-friendly shampoo for hair extensions

Price: £18 | Buy now from Green People

Like a spa treatment in a sugar cane tube, this shampoo is packed with all the good stuff and misses out on the bad stuff. It’s void of sulphates, parabens, gluten and silicones and is packed full of organic green tea, yucca, quinoa, sandalwood and orange, which would account for its beautiful scent. It also comes in fully recyclable, renewable packaging, and 10% of its net profit gets donated to charity.

But how does it do on hair extensions? Just as you’d hope. They’re left shiny and clean, and the clever colour-lock technology follows through with its promise of prolonging colour for as long as possible. We recommend using the conditioner from the same range after cleansing, not just because hair extensions can tangle easily but also because you’d be doubling your hair’s intake of the shampoo’s nourishing, hydrating ingredients. A must for hair extension and planet lovers all round.

Key specs – Vegan: Yes; Cruelty-free: Yes; Sulphate-free: Yes; Silicone-free: Yes; Shelf life: 12 months

Buy now from Green People

3. Wild Science Leaf + Seed Smooth Start Bond Reconstruct Shampoo: Best shampoo for hair extensions to add shine

Price: £16 | Buy now from Sephora

Be prepared to get the gloss with this hydrating and strengthening shampoo. It’s like a facial for hair extensions thanks to its ingredients of avocado oil, soothing marshmallow extract, organic shea butter and four essential oils to boost your relaxation. It also contains the added benefit of a keratin repair peptide, which helps to give natural strength and shine. After all, the scalp needs to be treated with as much respect as the skin, so it’s no wonder this formula targets the shampooing experience in the same way as a spa treatment.

Something about the pump on the bottle makes this shampoo feel more luxurious to use than most, and its scent makes us feel like we’re basking in the aromas of a sunny kitchen garden. It’s the sort of shampoo you would expect to find in the shower of a posh hotel, only this one benefits hair extensions and natural hair. It lathers well, and the shine it leaves behind is undeniable. No one need ever know that they’re hair extensions!

Key specs – Vegan: Yes; Cruelty-free: Yes; Shelf-life: 12 months

Buy now from Sephora

4. Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo: Best shampoo for hair extensions to tame frizz

Price: £25 | Buy now from Living Proof

If you want your hair extensions to look extra smooth, extra sleek and frizz-free, then this is the shampoo for you. It creates a block right from the word go, helping to minimise frizz from the second you use it in the shower. It’s sulphate-free and void of parabens, formaldehyde, silicone and phthalate, making it pretty much as gentle as a shampoo can get. You notice after just one wash using this smooth operator that the softness of your hair is multiplied.

Watch out if you don’t like your hair smelling too strongly. This shampoo has Living Proof’s signature scent, which, don’t get us wrong, we actually think is beautiful. But if you aren’t keen on strong smells, there isn’t much getting away from it  once it’s in your hair – not to mention embedded into the added weight of your hair extensions.

Key specs – Sulphate-free: Yes; Paraben-free: Yes; Formaldehyde-free: Yes; Silicone-free: Yes; Shelf-life: 12 months

Buy now from Living Proof

5. OSMO Colour Save Shampoo: Best shampoo for hair extensions to protect your colour

Price: £20 | Buy now from Sally Beauty

Not washing your hair every day, using lukewarm water in the shower and applying a colour-protecting mask now and again will help to lessen colour fade. But how about enforcing colour protection directly from the shower, just to be on the safe side?

This shampoo doesn’t look like much, we won’t lie: its packaging is rather dull, and there are plenty of other all-singing, all-dancing, colour-saving shampoos available. But with hair extensions, we’d prefer to keep it low-key, making this one the perfect choice if you’re particularly worried about colour fading. It’s gentle, sulphate-free, cleans the hair and protects colour without a fuss. It also has a strong smell but doesn’t “cling” as long as others, and it leaves a lovely glossy finish.

Key specs – Sulphate-free: Yes; Salt-free: Yes; Shelf Life: 18 months

Buy now from Sally Beauty

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