What Ingredients Are Bad For Human Hair Extensions? ANSWERED!

If you’re just getting into hair extensions, it can be tricky working out which products are safe to use on them and which to avoid. Lucky for you, I’ve done the research and I can answer this for you!

Products that contain sulfates, parabens, bleach, and alcohol can damage hair extensions. These ingredients dry out the hair, compromise the color, and make the hair prone to tangling. These ingredients are often disguised and have technical names such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Propyl, and Isopropyl.

Here are some further technical terms you should understand and familiarize yourself with when purchasing hair care products for your hair extensions.

Name of Ingredient:Technical Terms:
SulphatesSodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Ammonium laureth sulfate
Myreth sulfate
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate
Sodium Lauroyl Taurate
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate
Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Sodium
Isopropyl (SD-40)
Lauryl alcohol
Myristyl alcohol
Cetearyl alcohol
Hair dyesAmmonia
Resorcinol etc.
Table showing technical terms for harmful ingredients in your hair products. Avoid products with these ingredients on their labels.

These ingredients are often in products but labeled under technical terms so that they are harder to spot! This shows why it is so important to know which ingredients and products to avoid when choosing hair care products. Check out the table below for alternative names of harmful ingredients.

01. Shampoos that lather

Firstly, you should avoid any shampoos that lather or foam up. Although we expect to see bubbles and a soapy consistency when we massage shampoo into our hair, this is the opposite of what we want when it comes to hair extensions.

The frothy and soapy bubbles form because of sulfates in the products and this helps to clean the hair and remove oils. However, when washing your hair extensions, you do not need such harsh ingredients as there will be less oil to remove from the hair.

You need to remember that your extensions are not growing from your scalp so they do not have as the natural oils that your real hair has. If you wash your hair extensions with a shampoo that contains sulfates you can actually dry out the hair and strip it of any moisture it does have!

02. Quick-drying or strong hold hair sprays and gels

Secondly, you should be wary of any styling products that claim to be quick drying or stronghold. Gels and hairsprays that make these claims often contain different types of quick-drying alcohols (such as Isopropyl alcohol) which can damage the hair extensions, make them frizz over time, and leave them looking very dull.

03. Sticky hair products

Thirdly, you need to avoid any sticky hair products. Products such as hair mousse, pomades, or hair wax contain ingredients that make them very long-lasting and this can be harmful to your human hair extensions. These sorts of products are very heavy and thick in consistency when applied to the hair, and this can actually damage the hair strands and clog them up!

To effectively remove these products you would need to scrub at the hair and shampoo the hair often and this can put a lot of unnecessary strain on your extensions and dry them out.

04. Hair dye

Lastly, if you have human hair extensions you should try to avoid hair dye. Most hair dye contains bleach or ammonia as it is needed to effectively and permanently color the hair.

These ingredients are incredibly bad for your hair extensions and should be avoided as they can dry out the hair and strip it of any moisture. These ingredients can also unravel the hair cuticle and make the hair more prone to breakage and tears.

With that being said, you can still dye hair extensions if you know how to do it properly. If you’re having some trouble, check out our article here to learn how to do it properly!

What Products Should You Use On Your Human Hair Extensions?

If you’re looking for the best products to use on your human hair extensions, then I’ve got the perfect product for you.

The best product to use on human hair extensions is the Salt and Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner which costs $44.99. This product is formulated specifically for human hair as it contains no parabens, sulfates, or sodium, which can be damaging to the extensions. As a bonus, it cleans the hair without stripping or de-bonding the extensions.

Best Products for Hair Extensions

Although some alcohols found in hair products are bad for hair, some can be considered acceptable and good as they are fatty alcohols. Alcohols such as Cetearyl alcohol and Cetyl alcohol are two of the most common fatty alcohols and are known to make the hair more manageable and not strip the hair of moisture.  

To avoid your hair extensions from drying out and getting matted and tangled, opt for natural products that contain natural moisture-rich ingredients such as avocado oil, aloe vera, and shea butter.

I recommend Shea Moisture Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner for dry or damaged hair.

4 Tips For Keeping Your Human Hair Extensions In Great Condition

The best way to keep your human hair extensions in the best possible condition is to avoid the use of hot styling tools, especially if your extensions are synthetic. If you can, remove your extensions before bed and before swimming, as this can cause matting and knotting which damages the extensions severely.

That said, let’s take a closer look at the reasoning behind these tips and why they are so important:

Tip 01. Limit the use of heat tools

Try to avoid heat tools such as hairdryers, hair straighteners, or curling tongs as prolonged use can damage your hair extensions. Remember that this hair is not growing from your head so any damage it incurs will be permanent as it won’t just grow out!

Heat damage is a real risk and constantly applying extreme heat directly to the hair can damage the hair cuticle over time and dry out the hair. To keep your extensions soft and shiny, try and let your extensions air dry, and style them without heat whenever you can! If you must use heat tools then make sure you are protecting the hair with a sulfate- and paraben-free heat protectant.

Tip 02. Do not swim with your hair extensions in

Never swim with your hair extensions! Many swimming pools contain chlorine in the water to keep it clean and hygienic but this can damage your extensions.

The chlorine in pool water and the salt in seawater will dry out your extensions beyond belief and it will be extremely difficult to get them looking and feeling soft and silk again. If you go swimming make sure you remove your extensions, keep your head out of the water, or wear a swimming cap!

Tip 03. Remove them before bed or wrap them up

You should always remove your hair extensions before bed to avoid tangling and friction as this can unravel the hair cuticle and lead to split ends, dry and frizzy hair, and breakage.

If you are unable to remove your extensions, wrap your hair in a silk scarf to protect the hair from any damage and friction in the night. The scarf will act as a barrier between your extensions and the pillowcase and you won’t wake up with unmanageable tangles!

Tip 04. Wash them regularly

Lastly, make sure you are washing your extensions regularly. You obviously do not need to be and should not be washing them daily but you need to wash them at least every few weeks to avoid and get rid of any product or dirt build-up.

Do not leave them to get too soiled or dirty as this build-up of the product can be hard to remove fully without scrubbing at the hair which could damage the hair cuticle and make the hair frizzy.

Related Questions

How can I get my extension curls to hold without using hairspray?

Hairsprays often contain ingredients that are harsh and harmful to extensions so if you’re wanting your curls to hold, you’re going to have to get creative! Once your curl has been formed with your curling tong or hair straightener, immediately roll the curl back up and pin it securely using a bobby pin. Complete this process for each curl and allow your curls to cool down completely (leave them in overnight if possible). Once the curls are completely cool you can remove each bobby pin carefully and they should hold!


Hey, I’m Jodie, the gal behind CraftyHairHacks. I have a deep passion for hair extensions, hairstyles, and almost anything that has to do with hair, which leads me to the writing and research I do for this website daily. Our site is still small, however, we’re pushing to get the best hair hacks out to as many as people as possible. ENJOY!

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