Recycle Your Old Extensions! (Straight to Kinky/Curly)

Hello my Naturalistas!

This one is just for you,

Today I’m going to show you how to recycle your old extensions or change the curl pattern of straight-wavy hair to better blend with your own curl pattern.

When I had relaxed hair I experimented with wearing wigs and weaves, now I’m natural I still like to wear various types of extension but I prefer to wear textures that are closer to my own natural hair, not just because it looks better but it means that I don’t need to risk heat damage by flat-ironing my hair to blend with straight extensions.

If you have ever tried to buy good-quality Human hair kinky/curly extensions then you know how expensive they can be, the hair I currently have my eye on is over £250.00 not including p&p! Right now there is no way I’m spending that amount of money on some hair. So I decided to save some money and invest some time in converting a straight and wavy homemade U-part wig into a kinky curly wig.

My lovely friend Georgia made a U-part wig out of straight HH (Human Hair) weave but ran out of straight hair so added some wavy hair to complete the wig, unfortunately Georgia couldn’t achieve the colour match she wanted so she kindly donated the wig to me.

There are many ways you can steam perm extensions but my way is cheap but effective and does not require the use of any dangerous or smelly chemicals. This process is very easy but takes a little bit of time.

You will need:

  • Extensions – tracks, a bundle or a wig,  you can do this method with Synthetic hair but my instructions are for HH only.
  • A Very Large Saucepan or Pot with a lid. Pot should be large enough to accommodate all of your hair.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil or your hair oil of choice (not an expensive one!)
  • Conditioner
  • Perm Rods, Foil or both – I wanted a tight curl but in theory you could use rollers to create a looser curl
  • Water
  • Wide Toothed Comb

First things first, put your hair on the perm rods or rollers, I refused to buy several packets of perm rods so I made “flexi rods” out of foil. I made my flexi rods by simply scrunching strips of foil into rod shapes , you can see one in the photo above on top of the box of foil.

Fill your large pot about 3/4 full with water and while you are rolling your hair you can set your water to boil.                                      Try to roll your hair using the same technique on each roller, because this was an experiment, I used different techniques to see which curl type I preferred.


Once your hair is rolled and your water is boiling add a squeeze of conditioner -about 1 tablespoon & a few drops – 1 teaspoon of oil to your boiling water.

Next carefully submerge your hair in the pot reduce the heat to a simmer and put the lid on, your hair needs to gently boil for about 2 hours, make sure you check the pot regularly so that the hair is always covered with water, you should top your pot up –  if  necessary with boiling water from the kettle.


After the time is up, very carefully remove your hair from the hot water I suggest using metal food tongs.                                     Do not let the water cool with the hair in it.

   Let the hot hair, air dry for at least 4 hours before removing your rollers.


As you can see,  my curls did not come out evenly but I was expecting this.

Next you want to detangle and comb out your hair with a wide toothed comb. I slathered my hair with diluted conditioner, combed it out and then rinsed out the conditioner before leaving my hair to air dry over night.


In order to blend this U-Part hair with my hair, I flat twisted my leave out and rolled the ends of my twist onto the same perm rods.

The next day, I put the wig on and then blended my hair with the wig.

2013-12-12 12.35.47

This technique is a home version of the industrial steam perming method which is often used to make Asian hair extensions mimic the texture of Kinky/Curly hair.  Please don’t be fooled by the term “Brazilian” hair this is still Asian hair that has been processed to alter the curl pattern, almost every brand of kinky/curly HH hair extensions you will purchase even the high end ones will be processed Asian hair.

The only time you are likely to see genuine virgin (unprocessed) kinky/curly extensions is on wigs that have been made from donated hair from charities such as Locks of Love. Reputable vendors will let you know the provenance of your extensions and if the hair has been chemically or steam processed.

If you have any questions about this technique, please feel free to ask them in the comments below.

Thanks for reading




71 thoughts on “Recycle Your Old Extensions! (Straight to Kinky/Curly)

  1. Hello, I have I wig I want to try this on but unfortunately it has a skin part. Do you think I could still try this or would the boiling water melt the plastic?

    • Hi, I believe that boiling the wig would definitely compromise the structural integrity of the unit, It might not melt the plastic but I would not advise it especially because this method submerges the entire unit in water for such a prolonged period.

    • There is always more than one way to skin a cat. I have a unit that I made and the hair is different. Since I have made the unit already, I will use a large pot that has a steam plate inside with holes, and place a top on it and allow the unit to steam instead of submerging in boiling water. I will let you know how it turns out.

  2. Hello,

    Very impressive!
    I would like to do the same with my straight virgin HH.
    But i ‘m wondering how long does the curls stay? I don’t intend to straighten it and I intend to wash it once a week?
    Does the texture go back to the original texture after a period?
    thank you for your answer

    • Hi Laetitia, thanks for reading my blog, I can’t say exactly how long the curls last but it does last a very long time, in essence this process is a steam “curly perm” we are “permanently” changing the structure of the hair with heat. If you don’t use heat on it , I would make an educated guess and say that the curls would last as long as the hair is in usable condition. I steam permed some hair a few years back, before starting this blog and the curls stayed up until I had to throw the hair away which was 2.5 years.

  3. Hi Sian

    Merry Christmas btw 🙂

    After boiling my 20, 18 & 16 inch hair it came out looking as short as 8 inch hair, practically like the look shown in your picture, and not full at all.

    Did you literally only slather the hair with conditioner, comb it through the rinse it to make the hair look long again? Because I really feel like I wasted my hair; It’s relatively new.

    • Hi Estelle, Thank you. Merry Christmas to you too.

      Yes I only slathered the hair with conditioner and throughly detangled which loosened the curl pattern considerably.

      I’m really sorry that you feel you wasted your hair, I’m thinking it may be in the rolling technique perhaps?? Has all the hair shrunk to 8 inches? Please feel free to email me at so I can hopefully see a photo and help with solutions.

  4. Hi Sian

    Merry Christmas btw 🙂

    After boiling my 20, 18 & 16 inch hair it came out looking as short as 8 inch hair, practically like the look shown in your picture, and not full at all.

    Did you literally only slather the hair with conditioner, comb it through the rinse it to make the hair look long again? Because I really feel like I wasted my hair; It’s relatively new.

    • Hi Unique, thanks for reading my blog. Always test a small section first but the process is similar but shorter for synthetic hair. First chose your setting pattern -for example braids, twists, rollers or straws. Set the hair in your chosen method. Then get a large jug or bowl and carefully fill it approx 2 inches from the top of the jug with freshly boiled water. Dip your hair in the hot water using metal tongs if necessary keep the hair in the water for around 20 seconds only. Repeat until you have dipped all the hair. You may have to change the water as it will cool down. Let the hair air dry in the braids or rollers etc. Once it’s dry remove the braids/rollers and your hair will now be kinky/curly. The smaller the rollers or twisted sections the tighter the curl pattern will be. Please be careful and enjoy wearing your “new hair”.

  5. I loved your post! I’m actually trying this method right now. I have naturally curly hair and straightening my hair to blend in with my 30in virgin hair isn’t very healthy. I hope the outcome is as good as yours.

    • Thanks Posh, good luck. Yes straightening your leave out can lead to heat damage so thats why I now try to make the extensions match my texture instead of the other way round. I hope it turns out well for you!

      • Thanks! Also, I do not have a wide toothed comb. Would the results still be the same if I used a brush that has comb like bristles? Or should I just go buy a wide toothed comb..

      • You don’t need to use a wide toothed comb, you can use the brush you described, just go slowly and start from the ends of the hair working your way up.

  6. after getting the hair curly would curly hair products work for the hair? So every wash/co wash the hair will revert back to curly?

    • Hi T, my extensions have stayed curly but I haven’t straightened them often so I don’t know if they can withstand repeated straightening and revert back to curly. The hair doesn’t need as many products as naturally curly hair as it’s essentially straight hair and the make up of the strands is not the same. I would be careful with using heavy products as these can weigh the hair down and make it look/feel greasy

  7. Hi, this is totally brilliant! Thanks so much for sharin. I have spent years trying to find curly extensions that last!! The only problem for me is that I use nail tips, which I’m guessing will melt in the boiling water?!!! Any suggestions on how to get round this!
    Thanks again
    Charlotte x

    • Hi Charlotte, I think you’re right nail tips would probably melt in the boiling water, if you’ve got a spare one just one tip – why not test it out? The only other thing I can think of is to somehow suspend the tips out of the water – but even then the steam might melt them. I think it’s one of those techniques that you have to (carefully) experiment with to see what works… Thanks for commenting sorry I couldn’t be of more help. x

  8. Hello, I have a sew in and I’m going camping/swimming in a few days and my hair is naturally curly but my sew in is wavy is there a way I could get my extensions really curly without the whole pot and water because I don’t have clip ins or a wig it’s a sew in so is there another technique?

    • Hi Kaitlyn, thanks for reading my blog. As your extensions are already installed we can’t make them “permanently” curly at the moment. The best way to blend the extensions with your hair is to do a braid out or twist out- detangle all the hair on your head, split it in half and do one braid on each side (you can do more braids if you want to) make sure your braids are quite tight but not painful, secure the ends of your braids with a hair elastic. Swim with the braids in – this will also help stop your hair and extensions from becoming tangled as you frolic in the water. After swimming do your normal rinsing or cleansing routine with the braids in. Let your braids air dry and once your hair is all completely dry you can undo your braids and all of your hair with have the same curl/wave pattern. The more braids you do, the tighter the resulting curl/wave pattern will be. If you have time, You can experiment before you go to see what size braids suit you best. Have fun camping and swimming! I hope this was helpful?

      • Thank you so much it was, not to bug you but if I used a leave in conditioner or hot water and used tiny perm rods or aluminum foil rolled up and then sat under a dryer for a few hours or let my hair air dry do you think it will give the same affect?

      • You’re not bugging me at all, I’m hair obsessed… lol. You would have a very similar effect, but it would not last long. Once you got the hair wet again it would return to it’s original wave pattern

  9. Hey thanks for this post! Definetly going to try. Just one question, I have make a wig with a closure and the hair I have is Brazilian body wave. I want to do what you did, but I sealed the wefts with some fabric glue. Do you think the glue will wear off from the boiling or do you think it might damage the closure? Did the boiling change the hair color as well? Sorry, I’m asking a lot of questions. Thanks.

    • Hi Maiyapaya, I do believe that the glue will dissolve while being boiled, there’s a possibility that it could damage the closure depending on the construction of the closure itself, technically heat and water shouldn’t damage the closure as you should be able to wash it and blow dry it – but this process is a prolonged combination of both. This process did not lighten the hair when I did it, but some has has been dyed before you get it and even if it says it’s virgin it still might have been dyed and then the colour could leech out.

  10. Hi thanks for this post. It’s very helpful and I will definetly try this. Just a few questions. I have “Brazilian” hair as well and I sealedmt wefts with Aleena fabric glue. Do you think the boiling will make the glue wear off? Also, will it damage my lace closure or lighten the hair by chance? Thanks.

    • Hey Missymissy, no you don’t have to let it dry for 4 hours, I wanted to let mine air dry as is it more gentle on the hair and helps to “lock in” the new curl pattern.

    • Hi Lulamisa, thanks for reading my blog! I’m not sure what type of dye you used or hair you have, so I can’t say for sure if the dye would come out. The best way for you to find out is to do a strand test, take a few of the shed hairs or cut a few from the end of your weft and do a test run, then you can see how the hair reacts for yourself. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  11. Hey Sian. Thank you for this technique and I’m about to try it but I’m struggling to keep my weave on the foil. Please tell me how I can do it please. I do not have perm rods which is why I opted for the foil.
    Thank you

    • Hi Serah, thanks for reading! The best way to keep your weave on the foil is to use it like a flexi rod, wind your hair on your foil and bend the last inch over and squeeze it to keep the hair on. Hopefully that helps?

  12. Hey,thanks a lot for telling us about this procedure,it’s really useful. I did this on a few pieces of my hair extensions and unfortunately they got very dried,they got really curly,that’s true,but really dried. Do you think next time I do them I should try to detangle them while they are wet? Or I don’t know,this thing is very useful because I want curly extensions,but I just don’t want them dry 😦 Do you have any advice? 🙂

    • I’m not sure why that happened, I’m sorry, deep condition the hair afterwards to combat the dryness, add a drop (teaspoon) of olive oil to your favourite conditioner, mix them together and apply this tothe dry hair, put the hair in i microwaveable ziploc bag or in a covered microwaveable bowl and heat the hair on high heat for one or two minutes. When you remove the hair from the microwave leave it in the bag/bowl to cool down, this isthe equivalent of a steam treatment which will restore moisture in the hair. After a minimum of 20 minutes you can rinse and air dry the hair.

      • Thanks a lot,i really hope this will help:) I’ll try it this weekend and I’ll let you know if they get less dry

  13. Hello I was wondering how often should you leave the synthetic hair in when boiling it. I heard that boiling synthetic hair too much will damage it is that true? Also, when your synthetic hair feels a little nappy is it best to wash it with a conditioner or use a “fabric conditioner”

    • Hi, I’ve never tried this with synthetic hair. I dont think it would work the same way on synthetic hair either…but you can always use a small piece of synthetic hair and test it out. I don’t wear loose synthetic hair, I’ve only ever used it for braids or twists so I’m not sure of the best way to remedy that “nappy” feeling.

  14. Hi,
    Im wondering if this method would have the same effect, you see,I have some right curly wefts that Id like to try to loosen the curl a bit, so I thinking,rod up the hair to a bigger size rod than the curl and try to make the perm loosen up the tightness of the curl texture,Id appreciate your thoughts on this. ️Thanks so much

  15. Hi,
    Would this method work if I wanted to loosen a tight curl,such as set the hair with a later rod so to make a looser curl texture.thanks

  16. Hi Sian, very interesting article 🙂 I was wondering if you use a certain shampoo to wash your extensions? Because someone recommended me using a gentle shampoo, she told me she uses a Korean one, called something like Ryeo. I’ve been searching on the Internet and couldn’t find a lot of opinions, I found a review at, so I wanted to give it a try. I was just curious if you’ve used this kind of shampoo? Or what shampoo do you you for extensions?

    • Hi Mary, I’m so sorry for such a tardy response my life has been thrown around so much in the past year and the dust is only just settling. I’ve never used any Korean shampoos but i tend to use the same type of shampoo on my extensions as I would on my own hair, I use almost any sulphate free shampoo or cleanser I particularly recommend the “Shea Moisture brand.

  17. Hey Sian, i really loved your article 🙂 i have a huge problem with my extensions, i’ve tried several good brands and this thing is always happening. My extensions get really dry a few hours after being in my hair, they get tangled and frizzy and i can’t even put my hand in them. The thing is that i take a lot more care of them than of my own hair, i treat them with conditioner, mask, even hydrating leave in oil, and they still get really dry. I was thinking about treating them with coconut oil and then straightening them so that the oil will penetrate them deeply. Though i don’t think this will work either, probably they’ll look soft at the beginning and after a few hours in my hair, they’ll look horrible again 😦
    Do you have any ideas what i could do? I paid a lot of money on different extensions and it’s always the same. What am i doing wrong?
    I forgot to mention that i made them curly by your method and i made sure they’re really moisturized, so that shouldn’t be the problem.
    And sorry for this looong question, i hope it’s not too boring. 😀

    • Hi! Thanks for reading my blog I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you. Your question is not long and boring at all. How was the hair before you tried this method? Was it still dry then? You might need to use a hydrating leave in as oil does not truly moisturise and hydrate hair only water can truly hydrate. There could be so many reasons why your extensions are behaving badly…

  18. Hi, this was very informative. I do have one question though… I am trying to revive my straight peruvian hair wig that I made. On the frontal closure, the lace was bleached to conceal the knots. Also the hair on the wig was dyed jet black. Will boiling have any effect on the color? I don’t want it to return to its natural color.

    • Hi Milan! Thanks for reading my blog sorry that it’s taken me soooooo long to reply. I can’t say definitively if the wig would return to it’s natural colour however I can imagine the colour running into the lace and messing it up completely. I don’t recommend you trying this method on this unit.

  19. Hello!
    So I tried this and it worked out, but I was expecting the curls to be tighter. Will it still work if I were to boil the hair again?
    Thank you,

      • Hi I just did this method a couple of days ago. I have this really tight curl which I love but my question is if I detangle and let it air dry it won’t be as tight is there a way to keep it from loosen or is it bound to happen. BTW the have i purchased was curly but I made the mistake of doing the boiling it (without the rod of course) and it went wavy.

      • Hiya, I suggest detangling before you tightly wrap onto rods, then boil and hair and let it air-dry completely ON the rods. If you do this the curl will not loosen. Thanks for reading!

      • hi there thanks for the reply it has not solved my problem is there a way i can perm my thin skin base without damaging it help i also have a lace base human hairpiece i have permed it and boiled it it has come out loose maybe i should have gave it longer i will try again and get back to you most important is the thin skin base hair piece i need help malbet

        On 2 June 2016 at 20:25, Cakes, Kinks and Coils wrote:

        > sianthebaker commented: “I strongly recommend that you do not do this, it > WILL melt the thin skin base unit.” >

      • hi there thanks for the reply is there a way i can perm the thin skin base human hair piece i need help i also have a lace base hairpiece which i permed and boiled it came out loose this was a trial i will gave it longer next time i will let you know what happens malbet

        On 2 June 2016 at 20:25, Cakes, Kinks and Coils wrote:

        > sianthebaker commented: “I strongly recommend that you do not do this, it > WILL melt the thin skin base unit.” >

  20. Hey I know this post is old but I recently made some kinky curly hair but in the end, the hair came out very straw like and not soft at all. I put quite a bit conditioner and olive oil in the water as it boiled. What do you think I did wrong, and how can I fix it?

    • Hey Kayla, I don’t think you necessarily did anything wrong, water, conditioner and olive oil make the hair softer. It’s possible that the hair was not good quality human hair or wasn’t human hair at all, sometimes hair is sold as human but it’s really synthetic/animal or a mixture. I suggest using a small amount of leave in conditioner on part of the hair to see how it responds – it should soften immediately. Alternatively you can deep condition the hair by applying a good conditioner and sealing the hair in a plastic bag overnight, in the morning you should rinse it out with cold water, if it’s real HH either of those should work.

  21. Hello
    Thanks for posting this amazing blog. It consists of very useful information. The language you used in this is very simple & easy to understood. Post some more blogs related to “clip in hair extensions for natural black hair” It would be really helpful for those girls who want to look gorgeous in party or any other function.
    Thanks & Regards.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s