Friday, 21 February 2014

A Guide To Hair Extensions

Hair Extensions Rosy Cherrington model Kevin Mason
Long hair seems to be permanently in Vogue... after all, it's a psychologically proven fact that men love long hair (apparently luscious locks are a sign of fertility). So if you're yearning for a bunch of guys queuing round the block just waiting to show you their genitals, hair extensions may be right up your (metaphorical, penis filled) street.

OR, like me, you could just want a quick way to restore your hair to its former glory after damaging treatments have taken their toll. This is me in 2010 with a set of individual bonds in, one of many sets of extensions I had over the years. Thanks to some heavy duty bleaching, my hair was in a pretty sorry state and I used extensions to give me the length and thickness I wanted. I genuinely loved the way they looked but eventually the damage, and expense, they were causing became a bit too much and I said goodbye forever. This guide is just based on my personal experience!

Clip-ins
Pros: Inexpensive, super simple and really quick to put in and remove.
Cons: Fell out at the most inopportune moments which caused me to die inside a little.


Weaves
Pros: Reasonably cheap. Salons took less than an hour to put them in.
Cons: It was slightly painful and if the stylist wasn't experienced they caused a lot of scalp pressure. The extensions became matted after a couple of washes which made it hard to wash my actual hair.

Glue Bonds
Pros: Really, really, ridiculously good looking.... until they were washed.
Cons: The fall out was awful, I left a trail of hair extensions wherever I went which annoyed everyone, ever. Very expensive. Took around 4 hours to put them in. The worst offender for damage, I lost huge chunks of my own hair.

Rosy Cherrington Model Kevin Mason
Tips for Extensions
• Although human hair is heavier, and therefore potentially more damaging, it's your only real shot at fooling the general public. Plastic hair just looks... plastic.
• Try to avoid washing your extensions, or wash them as little as possible in a mild shampoo with plenty of conditioner. Most extensions have been treated with silicone to make them shiny and manageable - once you wash this off, they tend to matt and tangle. The only way to completely avoid this is to spend upwards of £400 on virgin hair that have the follicles all facing in the same direction!
• If your hair's been cut into a thick or blunt style, when getting semi-permanent extensions you may want to ask your stylist to thin the natural hair slightly to help blend it in with the extensions. If you get clip-ins, you could purchase a double weft of hair for extra thickness.
• To make extensions look more natural, try feathering the ends of the hair. You could also add a wave or curl to the ends - though be careful not to over heat-style the hair and never use heated appliances on synthetic hair unless it states so on the packaging!
• When applying clip-in extensions, backcomb and hairspray the areas where the clips will be applied to help them grip the hair and reduce the risk of them slipping out.


The Risks
Apart from the damage to your bank balance, a condition called traction alopecia is one of the biggest downfalls of extensions. Extensions cause a lot of pressure and stress on the hair follicles, often causing the hair affected to fall out - repeat this enough times and the hair won't ever grow back!
Clip-ins and weaves are least likely to cause this condition, respectively. Make sure, unlike me, you take your clip-ins out before sleeping and remember that the more clips you add, the less pressure on specific parts of your hair! With weaves, try and give your hair a break every so often.
I ended up with severely thinned hair and quite a few bald patches as a result of extensions. LUCKILY I managed to give them up and grow my hair for real, somehow managing to avoid any permanent damage. The most ironic thing about extensions is that it's simply way harder to grow your hair while they're in, endless bummer.

Photos - Kevin Mason
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