Are Ruka Hair’s Tape-In Extensions And Gels Worth the Hype? I Tried Them Out
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Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on POPSUGAR UK, where possible we have replaced products not available in Australia with equivalent items.
Wigs have dominated the hair world for Black women for years, with sew-weaves and extensions following closely behind as they all offer ways to experiment with different looks. But there’s a new innovative option gaining traction on TikTok that offers flexible styling choices with a more gentle approach. Enter tape-in extensions.
British hair brand Ruka, which launched in 2021 with a mission to pair hair lovers with extensions that match textured hair patterns, has responded to demand and introduced its own multi-textured tape-in extensions. “Tape-ins offer a great alternative to weaves that has an excellent blend whilst also being long-lasting” explains Ruka Hair co-founder, Tendai Moyo.
Alongside the tape-ins, Ruka Hair has also added edge control and hair gel, making the brand the first in the UK to offer afro-textured tape-in extensions and accompanying styling products under one brand banner. “Innovation has always been at the forefront of what we do”, says Moyo. “So formulating a product that means that Black women, in particular, do not need to compromise between functionality and the health of their skin and hair was a no-brainer.”
Ruka Hair has long been on my radar as a cool, innovative hair care brand, so the launch of the tape-in extensions and styling products piqued my interest, so I decided to give them a go.
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 match your hair based on four options: kinky, coily, curly, or stretched. The tape-in hair extensions are typically coupled with stretched or coily hair, so I opted for the Coils on Coils tape-ins.
After ordering the extensions, I quickly found that installing them was not DIY-friendly, so I headed to the stylists at House of Hair UK. The West-London-based salon specialises in an extensive range of extension installation options, from LA weave and micro links to tape-ins.
Before beginning the 4-hour long appointment (which starts at £220 depending on your extension length and treatments), the founder of the salon and new-gen hair extension expert Ayanda Soares, conducted a 15-minute consultation in order to determine the best styling plan.
“Tapes are a great option for anyone looking to add length to their hair in a natural, moveable way” says Soares. “We like to make sure all our clients leave the salon with results in terms of lifestyle fit and hair health.” The stylist advises that “this isn’t a suitable style for anyone that works out vigorously multiple times a day or a swimmer as the continuous exposure to water can lead to weakened adhesive and slippages.”
After a wash, trim, blowdry, and styling sessions (without a texture release or silk press in sight), installing the tape-ins could begin and Soares tells me the magic is all in the tension. “After blowdrying and straightening, we begin by sectioning the hair into pieces that allow for your own hair to meld with the extension for a seamless finish,” she says. Each weft was pulled apart, before one half was attached to a small section of hair and pulled over the top, so my hair was sandwiched in between the extension. For the corners and side pieces Soares used a pair of House of Hairs clamps in order to keep the piece in place. The specialist metal clamps are used to ensure a secure application of the tapes on angled areas of the head like the crown.
Soares also offers maintenance advice. “Rather than wrapping your hair [at night], for tapes it works best if you place your hair in a low ponytail and then a bonnet,” she says. In order to reduce friction between my own hair and the extensions and to retain moisture while preventing breakage, I used the OnlyCurls’s sleep turban [editor’s note; try Slip Silk Turban ($95)] over a silken scarf from Bouclème (£60) in order to keep the style looking its best.
How to Style the Ruka Hair Tape-in Extensions
At home post-appointment, I took to styling the hair with a minimal routine, opting for Amika’s Blockade Heat Defence ($42), the GHD Glide Brush ($270), and a sweep of the GHD Platinum + Straighter ($395), bi-weekly to refresh the look and blend my hair with the extension strands.
The wet products range at Ruka Hir consists of products to suit a multitude of coil patterns and style needs. The ‘Hold Me Down’ edge gel ($34) is formulated with Caesalpinia Spinosa Fruit Extract and works as both a styling aid and protective barrier against pollutants for coily hair. Thanks to its fast drying gummy consistency when applied, I found that the gel provided a secure hold, without the dry, flaky aspect of many edge control options on the market.
I typically wash my hair – even while wearing braids- every 8 days, so waiting until the third week to wash the style a bit of a challenge and the only downside to the experience. In order to avoid shedding and slippage, I used an Oribe Gold Lust Transformative Masque ($92) on the strands of the hair before washing my scalp row by row with the Pattern Cleansing Shampoo ($20) and Pattern Medium Conditioner ($25) to avoid product build-up at the scalp, with Davines Curl Building Serum ($39) to finish.
After towel drying with Aquis’s curl-friendly microfiber towel ($45), I blow-dried row by row with a Revlon Pro Collection Salon One Step Hair Dryer & Styler ($40). By maintaining tension at the root, the style lasted for eight weeks which was impressive. I removed each tape with the help of T.H.O.M Scalp serum (£46) [editor’s note: try Straand, The Crown Fix Scalp Serum ($28)] and Imbue Nourishing Oil (£6.99) [editor’s note: try Bread Beauty Supply, Hair-Oil Everyday Gloss ($39)]
Ruka Hair Tape-in Extensions Verdict
This is far from a low-maintenance style, but for me, the pluses (including the ability to buy both products to style alongside the extensions) outweighed any cons. As a Black woman who is admittedly bad at sculpting edges, I found that the waxy nature of Ruka’s edge control, allowed for smooth styling and its fast drying time left less room for coils to spring back out of place.
As someone who prefers to wear my hair in braids and wigs, the initial few days with the extensions were an adjustment, but the tape-ins coil – once blow-dried – matched quite easily to the texture of my own hair, so they felt like an addition, rather than a super straight change.
Despite the fact many DIY videos have begun cropping up online, after experiencing a full installation in a salon, I would say this is a style that excels when installed by a professional, particularly for people with type 4 hair like me. This way, I saw minimal damage to my own hair and was able to follow the care and removal guidance provided at the end of the appointment to the letter.
Overall, the newest additions to the RUKA range feel like a welcome piece of innovation for the textured hair space. The tape-in extensions lasted 8 weeks and, as they are made with human hair, they can be reinstalled with new adhesive so make the price worthwhile, too. I’d gladly opt in again.