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We tried the Ruka Hair ponytail extensions for afro hair

These synthetic and human-hair extensions are specifically designed with Black hair textures in mind

Maxine Harrison
Thursday 11 May 2023 12:35 BST
We whipped our hair back and forth, in true Willow Smith fashion, to test the security of each ponytail
We whipped our hair back and forth, in true Willow Smith fashion, to test the security of each ponytail (The Independent)

Co-founded by Tendai Moyo and Ugorji Agbai, Ruka Hair is a hair extensions company specifically designed with Black hair textures in mind – the extensions are made in-house by Black scientists and engineers who understand the behaviour of Black hair.

The brand has been sported by the likes of Serena Williams, who wore the brand’s kinky hair textured ponytail in 2022, while competing at Wimbledon.

As well as offering human-hair textures, the brand has released a synthetic range, named Synths 1, which is also sustainable, due to its biodegradable fibres. Completely plastic-free, from its packaging to the hair fibres themselves, Ruka’s Synths 1 collection is made from a high-quality synthetic material: Ultima collagen fibre.

The ponytails reviewed in this piece are washable (with synthetic hair shampoo, according to Ruka Hair) and come in different lengths, ranging from 12in to 22in. The extensions can also be curled and straightened with heat-styling tools, whether from the human-hair or Synths 1 collections.

Lightweight, the ponytails weigh between 80-100g. Although the company is based in the UK, Ruka Hair also ships internationally to other European countries and the US.

We tried two synthetic and one human-hair ponytail
We tried two synthetic and one human-hair ponytail (Maxine Harrison)

How we tested

We tested three different textures of Ruka Hair’s ponytail products over the course of a week: two from the Synths 1 collection, as well as one of the brand’s human-hair ponytails range.

With each ponytail, we put our natural hair back in one tight, low ponytail. Our thick, coily hair was in a stretched state, similar to blowdried hair, which enhanced its length and made it easier to tie in a ponytail.

We ranked the products based on their ease of application, how well they secure the hair and how they held up after applying hair products (oil and heat protectant spray), washing (with water only) and blow drying. To test the security of each ponytail, we whipped our hair back and forth, in true Willow Smith fashion, when each ponytail was applied to our hair.

Ruka Hair Synths 1 blow wow ponytail, natural black, 22in

Ruka Hair afro hair extensions review Synths1 blow wow ponytail
  • Colourways: Natural black or dark brown
  • Lengths: 16in or 22in

The net in these drawstring ponytails is about the size of a child’s fist, so, if you have thick, long hair, you’re likely going to have to tuck your natural hair into a bun before applying the drawstring. We were pleasantly surprised to feel how soft the texture of this synthetic hair was. At first touch and when we ran our fingers through the hair, it did not shed. And the blow-dried texture matched our natural stretched-out hair.

The drawstring is very well designed – we were able to tightly secure it to a comfortable level, and when we fervently flipped our hair to test for security, it did not shift position. However, the length of this hair (22in) meant it is more prone to get tangled but only ever so slightly – when we took off the ponytail, it was easy to untangle with our fingers alone, with only minor shedding.

After this, we applied jojoba oil to add extra shine to the ponytail and, although, by the end of the day, it had evaporated a little, there was still some shine left.

When washing/rinsing the hair (with water alone), we were impressed with how much it felt like human hair – it didn’t feel stiff or hard. We did notice the hair was a little easier to shed when wet, which is understandable, as it is in a more delicate state, but this was only minor.

We then applied heat protection spray on the hair before blow drying it. Once again, it acted like human hair and absorbed the heat well, reverting back to the soft blow-dried state in which it arrived.

  1. £40 from Rukahair.com
Prices may vary
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Ruka Hair Synths 1 think silk ponytail, natural black, 14in

Ruka Hair afro hair extensions review Synths1 think silk ponytail
  • Colourways: Natural black, dark brown or auburn
  • Lengths: 14in or 20in

This ponytail mimics the texture of straightened hair. As our natural hair was not straightened when applying the ponytail, we did find it tricky. This is because the wrap-around Velcro strap left little space to accommodate our thick hair. However, if our hair had been straightened, it would likely be easier to push through the Velcro wrap, and our hair would have matched more with the texture of the ponytail.

When applying oil to the ponytail, the oil evaporated a little by the end of the day, but there was still some moisture left.

This ponytail washed well and took up the heat of a hair dryer well, without leaving the hair feeling stiff. Although most of the silky feel of the ponytail remained after blow drying, it wasn’t as straight as when it arrived in its packaging and therefore would need straightening to revert back to that exact silky look.

  1. £25 from Rukahair.com
Prices may vary
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Ruka Hair press’d ponytail, natural black, 12in

Ruka Hair afro hair extensions review press’d ponytail
  • Colourways: Black
  • Lengths: 12in, 14in, 16in, 18in, 20in, 22in, 24in

The press’d ponytail uses human hair, and was very soft to the touch. When we applied jojoba oil to the hair, the moisture stayed on pretty well throughout the day without feeling overly greasy. A few days after this, we washed the hair, applied heat protection spray and blowdried out this ponytail. The texture still felt smooth afterwards, and, when applied with the drawstring ponytail, it felt secure.

There was hardly any shedding, before and after washing, either, even after running our fingers through the ponytail.

This ponytail took longer to dry than the Synths 1 ponytails but it did hold in moisture from the hair oil for a longer period of time.

  1. £90 from Rukahair.com
Prices may vary
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The verdict: Ruka Hair ponytails

We think the Synths 1 blow wow ponytail is the best out of the three, because of the affordability, softness, ease of application and the fact it still feels similar to human hair. Although synthetic, it mimics human hair so well, and for a fraction of the price of the press’d ponytail human hair extensions. But if you have a little more cash to splash, we’d recommend going for the press’d ponytail, as it does hold in moisture for a longer period of time than the Synths 1 tresses.

For shine, smoothness and damage repair, try the best hair oils

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