Everything You Need to Know About Tape-Ins

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Are you in the mood to add some length and volume to your tresses? You could try the classics like clip-ins or sew-in weaves, but have you thought of tape? Tape-in weaves, (also known as tape-in hair extensions or simply tape-ins) have been around for a little while, and they’re only growing in popularity. They’re relatively easy to install, you can most often do it yourself and the finished look is flawless. 

But, are there any drawbacks? Are they easy to maintain? What should you consider before opting for this style? And will they damage your hair? We’ve got you covered with this complete and comprehensive guide to rocking tape-ins, plus you’ll find all the visual inspo you need throughout the article.

So first things first, what are tape-ins?

Tape-ins are tracks of hair held together by strong, adhesive glue. Your own, natural hair is then sandwiched between two taped tracks, and held together by the tape. In the early days of tape-ins, many stylists recommended having them installed by a professional. Now that we’re all a little more familiar with the style, many women are installing tape-ins themselves, especially because the tools and products needed are more easily available. Like any new style you’re trying, installing tape-ins require time, patience and practice to perfect. 

Take a look at the video below from Lovely Bryana, to see how your hair will be sandwiched between the tape-ins. 

What are the benefits and disadvantages?

Like any hairstyle, tape-ins have both pros and cons. Let’s start with the pros! 

  • You don’t need to cornrow your hair to install the tape-ins. This is especially helpful if you’re not very confident with your cornrowing skills or if you don’t know how to. 
  • They can last up to eight weeks (if maintained properly) so you can rock your new look for a good amount of time. 
  • They’re also less painful to install and wear and don’t tug on your roots because they’re so light. This is a big plus because sew-ins and clip-ins can be quite damaging on the roots of our hair. 
  • Unlike clip-ins they’re not bulky at all so they look more natural when installed. The process of installation is also fairly simple; you literally just need the hair, clips and a comb. 
  • Tape-ins can also be used on any hair texture, in any condition (relaxed, natural, short, fine, thick) and because they’re so light, you can easily style your hair into a bun or ponytail without any tape on show. 
  • They also come in a variety of hair textures, from silky straight to luscious and kinky. 

Here’s why you might not want to get tape-ins:

  • Tape-ins may not be suitable if you have a dry scalp that requires oil or additional moisture. Oil and moisture reduce the adhesiveness of the sticky tape, meaning the tape is more likely to come loose and potentially fall out if there’s too much moisture on your scalp and roots. 
  • If your hair is short, tape-ins may not be suitable either as the tape needs hair to grip onto and you need to leave some space between the tape and the root. 
  • Tape-ins are also not great for very fine hair, as the tape is likely to show through your natural hair. 
  • If your hair is cut into layers, adding extensions will make it look uneven, but this is a problem across the board with semi permanent hair extensions. 
  • Another thing to consider is that tape-ins are usually installed on straightened or silk pressed hair. This may be an issue if you’re natural and trying to avoid heat on your hair. You can wash the tape-in hair and revert it back to curly or kinky if that’s the hair texture you’ve purchased but straightening seems to be the way most people install them. 
  • The installation process can be time consuming to install if you’re a beginner. 

Will tape-ins damage my hair?

The short answer is no. If you take care of the tape-ins whilst they’re installed and remove them carefully, you won’t experience any damage. When removing the tape-ins, you’ll need to use a solvent to dissolve the glue on the tape. You’ll then slowly and cautiously begin separating your hair from the tape. If you work with a few strands at the time, using enough of the solvent, your hair will smoothly separate from the tape. We have more details below on how to remove your tape-ins. 

Most reviews and experiences with tape-ins that we found were really positive. However Nadirah Ali had quite a negative experience and experienced some damage. In the two videos below she talks through some of the damage with her stylist. 

How do tape-ins compare to other extension methods?

Clip-ins, microlinks and sew-ins are staple extension methods that have been around for ages. They all have their positives and negatives. So how do tape-ins compare? Well one issue many people have with clip-ins is that they’re bulky and heavy; tape-ins solve this issue. They give a more natural look and don’t weigh down your roots. Sew-ins are very time consuming to install, compared to tape-ins and are also heavier, placing more pressure on your roots. 

Eliane Djema drops her honest opinion on tape-ins compared to microlinks in this video. She loves the fullness and volume tape-ins gave her and she was able to rock the style for six weeks. However as someone with very fine, thin hair, the tape started showing through her natural hair, as her hair started growing out. As mentioned, this is a problem that many people have, if they do have finer or thinner hair. 

Jania Aaliyah has a great video where she installs both tape-ins and a sew in weave. Here you can see how the install methods compare…

How to install your tape-ins

Tape-ins need to be installed on thoroughly cleaned, dry hair. Use minimal styling products on your hair, as the more oil means that the tape-ins won’t be able to stick properly. You’ll begin working from the bottom up, starting at the back of your head. Next…

  • Straighten your hair so that its ready for the install process. 
  • Set up your tools and products so that’s its easy to access whilst you’re installing the tape-ins. 
  • Separate your hair, leaving a thin strand out – this is the first piece of hair you’ll be installing the tape-ins on. 
  • Start by removing the tabs off the adhesive, then place the first tape-in track at the bottom of the strand of your natural hair. You can flip the strand up and down to see if the tape-in is sitting comfortably. 
  • Then apply the second track on top of your natural hair – your natural hair will now be sandwiched between the two tape-in tracks. You’ll repeat this process across your whole head. 

Here are some useful videos for you to watch, before you begin installing your tape-ins. 

Tape-ins on Straightened Hair

Jenise Adriana gives a great tutorial on how to install tape-ins. She’s installing the tape-ins on straightened hair, using hair from the brand twelve22.

Lynsey Anastasia also shows us how in her YouTube tutorial, using hair from Curls Queen.

Tape-ins on 4C Hair

TayPancake installs the tape-ins herself on her natural, 4C textured hair, also using Curls Queen.

If you want to see how the tape-ins are installed on natural kinky hair, this tutorial from Chev B is your best bet. She goes to her stylist for the installation. The Curls Queen hair was installed on straightened hair and then washed to revert it to her natural texture as this gives a nice even, natural blend for kinkier hair textures. 

Tape-ins hair style inspo

Lisaah Mapsie installs her tape-ins with Curls Queen hair and shows us four hairstyles she can recreate with her new look. 

Top tips for installation

If you’re thinking of installing the tape-ins yourself, here are some tips to keep in mind: 

  • Be very careful and take your time. Remember you’re sandwiching your hair between two pieces of tape.
  • Make sure your hair is clean and use a minimal amount of product on your hair to stop the tape from slipping out. 
  • Make sure the set up you have allows you to see the back of your head clearly. 
  • Velcro hair grippers are a game changer. They allow you to easily separate sections of your hair and install the tape-ins without flyaway hairs gripping onto the tape. 
  • Place the tape-ins slightly lower down from your root so you can, firstly, flip the hair up to install the second tape and, secondly, it limits the tension on your roots. 
  • Leave a gap between each pair of tape-ins so you can easily manipulate your hair. 
  • Leave hair out around the perimeter of your hair so you can hide the tape and also so you can easily style your hair. 
  • If you’re using straight tape-ins, you’ll have to blow dry/straighten your hair to match the texture. Just keep in mind that when your natural hair starts to grow out, the textures won’t match so you may need to remove the tape-ins earlier. 
  • Many women choose to use a hot iron to clamp down on the tape once it’s installed to really keep the tape attached to your hair.

Help, my tape-ins are falling out!

Tape-ins are designed to last for up to eight weeks, and if installed properly and maintained you’ll be able to wear this style with no hiccups. However, there are instances when the tape-in tracks could slip out. The main cause for this is improper installation. Other reasons for slippage include using too much or too little hair between the tape, not washing hair properly (remember tape-ins need clean hair to work), not cleaning the bundles properly before reusing them, working harshly with your hair, or product build up and excessive oil, especially on the scalp. Your hair will grow out whilst you have the tape-ins installed so it’s likely that a gap will form between the tap and the root of your hair. This isn’t the tape slipping out, and it’s not a cause for concern, it’s simply one of the elements of using tape-ins on your hair.  To make sure your tape-ins are installed properly or if you’re concerned about slippage, why not have this style installed professionally. Doing so will guarantee that the install process is carried out properly. 

Removing and reinstalling tape-ins

Taking your tape-ins out can be done yourself but many women use a trained stylist. The stylist will use a tape-in remover solution to gently separate your strands from the sticky adhesive on the tape. Using this solution means that the process is relatively pain free and also stops your natural hair being damaged. There should be very minimal shedding when removing your tape-ins. If you’re removing the tape-ins yourself, you can purchase a removal solvent but make sure you’re very careful and work slowly. Some great options are this spray by Wodemate or this dropper style solution from Smilco. Refer to our protective style guide, which gives general guidance on installing and removing styles.

Watch Paige Shaian have her tape-ins removed by her stylist…

Jania Aaliyah removes her tape-ins herself at home…

One of the best benefits about tape-ins is that you can reuse the bundles up to four times, but they must be cleaned properly. You can use replacement strips of tape to reinstall the same bundle. To clean your tape-ins you can simply wash them with some shampoo and dry them using a cool setting on your hair dryer. You can then store them in a sealed, airtight container. 

How to look after and maintain your tape-ins

Once your tape-ins are first installed, wait at least 48 hours before washing your hair to allow time for the bonds to seal properly. The first thing to note is that you MUST wash your hair when you have tape-ins installed. Dirt, grease and moisture will quickly wear away the adhesive in the tape. When you wash your hair do so carefully and make sure that when you’re conditioning you don’t apply any product to the tape or close to your scalp. Use a shampoo and conditioner that are alcohol free as the chemicals found in these products also wear away at the adhesive in the tape. Dry shampoo can be a good option for keeping your hair feeling fresh between washes, without having to wet your hair. This isn’t a replacement for shampoo though, so make sure to keep your hair and scalp clean with a thorough wash. 

It’s also important to note that drying your hair is VERY important when you have tape-ins installed. Once you’ve washed your hair, dry the roots immediately (use a cool setting on your dryer) to make sure the tape bonds don’t weaken. You can then let the hair strands air dry if you’d like. Finally you need to handle your hair with care. 

Check out this tape-in wash day video below from Studio Techilo, a great brand for tape-ins. 

What about my workout?

If you’re a gym girl and your workouts often dictate which styles you opt for, then we’ve got great news. Tape-ins are work out proof! Your hair will likely get a little sweaty at the roots so it’s important to dry your hair ASAP. You can quickly go over your roots with a blowdryer on a cool setting to dry your roots. You can swim with your tape-ins too, but it’s important to wash the chlorine out of your hair as soon as possible. Chlorine is a harsh chemical and exposure to it can weaken the tape bonds a lot quicker, but it’s also quite damaging for your natural hair. A swim cap will help to limit how much chlorine touches your hair. 

Choosing your tape-in hair

When it comes to texture, the options are very versatile with tape-in hair. Human hair is your best choice as it’s generally of a higher quality than synthetic hair and will last longer. It can certainly get pricey, so that’s something to consider when choosing your hair. If you’d like to opt for color then make sure the hair you’re going for is already dyed. Dying the tape-in hair will result in the adhesive loosening up as there is a lot of moisture involved in the process. 

We checked out a few videos and reviews; here are the brands that stood out: 

Studio Techilo
This is a brand that YouTubers are loving. Check out this install video below using a 3C curly texture from Studio Techilo. 

Curls Queen
Check out this install and review video from Kasia Jabre.

Even though she had her hair straightened Kashia goes  for a natural texture for her tape-ins so that she could rock her curls with the tape-ins when she next washes her hair. 

Jasmyn Destine also installs her tape-ins using Curls Queen…

Ruka Hair
UK-based brand Ruka are disrupting the hair extension scene. They’ve recently released two tape-in hair stylesThere aren’t any videos available but you can check out reviews and style inspiration on their website and mini tutorials over on their Instagram page.

Although they’ve not been around for too long, tape-ins are proving to be an excellent way to add length and volume to your hair. They offer versatility, longevity and minimal damage when installed and are also a great alternative to the classics like sew-ins (no cornrows needed) and clip-ins (goodbye bump hair). So the only question is, will you be rocking tape-ins for your next style? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Kristen Bingle
Kristen Bingle

I've been natural since 2014. Since then I've been obsessed with watching hair tutorials and learning more about how to keep my hair healthy — and sharing that with others. I'm based in London, work in Marketing and love herbal tea.

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