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Removing Nail Tip/Keratin Based Hair Extensions

Before reading, please be aware that the following information is intended for those who have already trained in the art of hair extensions to act as a reminder, and to provide some guidance when dealing with customers. The removal of hair extensions should only be performed by those qualified to do so, and any attempt to remove your hair extension without the correct knowledge and knowhow can result in damage to your natural hair. The removal of prebonded nail tip hair extensions (or any keratin based hair extensions) is relatively easy once you understand the processes and how the task is performed.

The basics

Generally speaking, your client will wear her hair extensions for around 3-4 months after the date you fit the extensions, and she will have regular maintenance checks to ensure her hair extensions are in a healthy condition, with no tangling or matted sections. If your client has developed matted sections due to a lack of hair extension maintenance appointments and failure to follow after care instructions, please refer to the last section of this which shall cover matting.

Protect your surfaces

As you will be using a removal solution, you will need to prepare the area around you before you begin. Ensure that surfaces near where you are working are covered, and that you are wearing gloves to protect your skin.


Firstly, you will need to section your client’s hair extensions so that they are in a more manageable condition. Using your fingers, feel for the top row around the top of the head, and section all of the hair that does not contain hair extensions, exposing all of the bonds beneath. Once the top is sectioned, use your clips to divide the hair into 3 sections: the 2 sides and the back. We would recommend that as the back is the largest section you start work here first, moving your way around to the sides once complete. Taking each extensions at a time, you will first need to crush the bond to break down the keratin. Use your pliers to squeeze the bond a few times, as this will loosen its grip and to allow your remover to penetrate the bonds. Take your hair extension removal solution and apply a small amount directly to the bond. Only 1 or 2 drops will be needed, so try not to get this on any of the surrounding hair. Now take your pliers again and crush the bond for a second time. This time you should notice that the bond has begun to break down. Now you can slowly remove it from the hair. It should slide away from the hair easily, however if you still feel some resistance apply a small amount of the remover, crush again, and then remove. Each bond will be different, therefore take your time and never rush this process, as each bond will come out in its own time.

Deconstructing the bond

Now that your bond is removed the hair will still be held together by the keratin residue, and by shredded hairs. DO NOT BRUSH TO REMOVE. It is a common mistake made by hair extensionists that simply brushing away at the hair will remove the shedded hairs and bond residue. Whilst is will eventually remove the remainder of the bond, it could potentially damage the natural hair in the process, therefore it is important that you understand how this is done correctly. To remove the bond residue, you will need to remove the natural hair from the bond, rather than the bond from the hair. Using the tail end of your comb, you will need to slowly guide each hair out from the centre of the residue, by gently pulling from above where the bond was. This should be done gently and slowly, taking only a few hairs at a time. By doing it in this way you will protect the natural hair from any unnecessary pulling. Repeat this process for each and every bond.

Stubborn bonds

You may from time to time come across the odd bond that is harder to remove than others. This may be due to the size of the bond, how long the bond has been in the hair, and many other factors, however this is not something you should be concerned with. If you come across a bond like this, you will simply need to give it more time to react to the remover. Crack the bond with your pliers as detailed above, apply your remover and then crack again. If the bond does not budge, apply a small amount more of remover and then move on to another extension. After a few minutes return to the bond and see if it will slide free. Repeat this process as many time as is necessary until the bond is removed.

Matted hair

All of the above is written under the assumption that your client has followed all of the relevant aftercare advice and has attended regular maintenance appointments. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and it is likely that you will eventually come across a client who has neglected her hair extensions causing matting at the root. Although a headache to remove, it is possible, so try not to panic at the sight of the matted hair. You will be able to remove them, it will just take slightly longer.


When you section your client’s hair for removal it may not be possible to section the hair into 3 sections due to the hair that is tangled together, therefore you will need to section the hair into the sections formed by the tangled hair. Feel around the hair extensions and try to locate individual areas that have tangled. These may be big sections, e.g. a large portion of the back is a common area, or smaller sections where 4-5 extensions have tangled together. Now that you have located your tangled sections, you will need to remove all of the bonds from each section before you can deconstruct the bonds, therefore rather than working through individually you will need to work through the hair in groups of extensions.

An example

If you have an individual with matted hair extensions, and have located a section of 11 hair extensions that are tangled together, you will first need to crack all 11 bonds, then apply the remover to all 11 bonds, crack all 11 bonds again, and then remove the hair extensions. This method will apply no matter how big or small the section is. Now you have removed the bonds you will need to detangle the hair using the technique detailed above for deconstructing the bonds. Using the tail end of your comb, slowly guide the hair out from the tangles section, pulling the hair strand by strand from above where the bonds were. Slowly but surely the hair will detangle, however we would recommend sitting your client down and explaining why this has occurred and how this could have been prevented, especially if your client is looking to have a new set of hair extensions fitted in the future. Removing hair extensions is a very delicate process, however with a bit of patience even the most troublesome extensions can be removed with no damage to the natural hair.