Wigs have dominated the hair world for black women for years, closely followed by sewn-in weaves and extensions. They all offer opportunities to experiment with different looks, but there’s a new innovative option that’s gaining traction on TikTok, offering flexible styling options with a softer approach. Enter Tape-In Extensions.
British hair brand Ruka hair, which was founded in 2021 with the aim of matching hair lovers with extensions that match textured hair patterns, has responded to demand by introducing its own multi-textured tape-in extensions. “Tape-ins offer a great alternative to fabrics that blend well while also being durable,” Tendai Moyo, co-founder of Ruka, tells POPSUGAR.
The 100% human hair range consists of two curl patterns and two length options. There are the tightly spiraling Coils on Coils Tape-Ins ($179-$203) and a straight option with a slight kink, Think Silk Tape-Ins ($179-$203).
In addition to the tape-ins, Ruka Hair has also included edge protection and hair gel in its product range. “Innovation has always been at the forefront of what we do,” says Moyo. “So it was a no-brainer to formulate a product that means black women in particular don’t have to compromise between functionality and the health of their skin and hair.”
Ruka Hair has long been on my radar as a cool, innovative haircare brand, but the launch of their tape-in extensions and styling products caught my attention. I decided to try them out.
Attaching the Ruka Hair Tape-In Extensions
To order the tape-in hair extensions, there is a Texture Match System on the Ruka Hair website to help you customize your hair based on four options: kinky, curly, curly, or straightened. The tape in hair extensions are usually paired with straight or curly hair, so I went for the coils on coils tape ins.
After ordering the extensions, I quickly realized that the installation wasn’t DIY friendly, so I went to the stylists House of Hair UK. Based in west London, the salon specializes in an extensive range of extension installation options, from microlinks to tape-ins.
Before the start of the four-hour appointment, the founder of the salon, expert in new generation hair extensions Ayanda Soaresconducted a 15 minute consultation to determine the best styling plan.
“Tapes are a great option for anyone who wants to lengthen their hair in a natural, flexible way,” Soares said. “We want to ensure that all of our clients leave the salon with results in terms of lifestyle fit and hair health.” The stylist advises that “this is not a suitable style for anyone who exercises vigorously several times a day or for swimmers, as constant contact with water can lead to weakened adhesive and slipping.”
After a wash, trim, blow dry, and some styling (with no texture release or silk press in sight), I was ready to have the tape-ins applied. Soares told me that the magic is in the suspense. “After blow drying and straightening, we start by sectioning the hair into sections that allow your own hair to blend with the extension for a seamless finish,” she said. Each weft was pulled apart before one half was attached to a small section of hair and pulled over the top, trapping my hair in between. For the corners and side panels, Soares used a pair of clamps to hold each panel in place. These ensure that the tapes are securely attached to angled parts of the head, such as the crown of the head.
Soares also offered maintenance advice. “Instead of wrapping your hair up [at night]for ties, tying your hair in a low ponytail and then a bonnet works best,” she said. To reduce friction between my own hair and the extensions and to retain moisture while preventing breakage, I used a sleep turban over the Bouclème x Preen Scarf (£80) to keep the style looking great.
This is how you style the Ruka Hair Tape-In Extensions
At home after the appointment, I began styling my hair with a brief bi-weekly routine, opting for Amika’s Blockade Heat Defense ($26), the GHD Glide Smoothing Srush ($169), and a swipe of the GHD Platinum+ Styler ( $279) Decided to refresh the look and mix up my hair with the extension strands.
The styling products at Ruka Hair consist of items that suit a variety of wrap patterns and style needs. Formulated with Caesalpinia Spinosa fruit extract, Hold Me Down Edge Gel ($20) works as both a styling aid and a protective barrier against pollutants for curly hair. Thanks to its quick-drying, gummy consistency when applied, I found the gel offered a secure grip without the dry, flaky aspect of many edge protection options on the market.
I usually wash my hair every eight days, even when I’m in braids, so waiting until the third week to wash the style was a bit of a challenge and the only downside to the experience. To prevent hair loss and shifting, I used the Oribe Gold Lust Transformative Masque ($66) before washing my scalp row by row with Pattern’s Cleansing Shampoo ($20) and Medium Conditioner ($25) to remove product build-up on the scalp avoid scalp. Lastly, I used Davine’s This Is a Curl Building Serum ($30) to finish it off.
After towel drying with the Aquis Wrap ($21), I blow dried row by row with the Revlon Salon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer ($50). By maintaining tension at the root, the style lasted an impressive eight weeks. I removed any tape using the Imbue Curl Worshiping Shine Oil ($13).
Ruka Hair Tape-In Extensions review
This is far from a low-maintenance style, but for me the pros outweighed any cons. As a black woman who is admittedly bad at edging, I found that the waxy nature of Ruka’s edge control allowed for smooth styling and the fast drying time kept my coils from slipping.
As someone who prefers to wear my hair in braids and wigs, the first few days with the extensions were an adjustment, but after blow-drying, the spiral of the tape-ins matched the texture of my own hair, making them feel like an addition rather than a super-straight Modification.
Despite the fact that many DIY videos have surfaced online, having experienced a full installation at a salon, I would say this is a style that is best installed by a professional, especially for those with Type 4’s -Hair like me. This way I saw minimal damage to my own hair and was able to follow the care and removal instructions provided on the letter at the end of my appointment.
Overall, the latest additions to the Ruka range feel like a welcome bit of innovation for the textured hair space. The tape-in extensions lasted eight weeks and since they’re human hair they can be reapplied with new glue, which is well worth the price. I’ll be happy to get back to you.
Image Credit: POPSUGAR Photography / Ata-Owaji Victor