My love for hair extensions grew (unlike my hair!) after a traumatic episode at the hairdresser when my request for layers resulted in a horrific hairstyle identical to Bon Jovi's choppy barnet in the early 80's.
Oh how I cried as I tried to put my hair up and failed miserably when the shortest layers (about 2 inches from my head) poked up in wiry strands and needed to be pinned down with kirby grips.
After troublesome thoughts of suing the inept hairdresser disappeared and (after numerous meditations) my mind calmed down, I decided to get some hair extensions put in at the excellently named Secret Extensions in London's trendy Old Street.
This was many years ago now and I have always worn them with pride (apart from a couple of years when an ex boyfriend begged me profusely to take them out. on a daily basis. For 8 months).
Celebrity hair stylist Shannel Watson is the brainchild behind this renowned company and the inventor of her hand-tied extensions service which involves the attachment of thin strands of natural hair to the roots by organic cotton thread. The whole process takes about 6 hours but the results are truly worth it.
After my first set of individual, hand-tied extensions I was amazed at my new longer, thicker mane and became prone to random outbursts of Pantene advert-style hair swishing - which was most unfortunate for the innocent people standing within close proximity to me.
There is also the option of a traditional weave which is a cheaper, less time-consuming choice (a full head takes approximately one hour) yet with the same gorgeous visual effect. The only main difference is that the weave lasts up to 2 months before another appointment is required to reattach the hair. The individual extensions last for approximately 6 months.
Shannel shuns the use of toxic glue which is the most common attachment method of extensions in the UK and known to cause damage to the hair, severe irritation to the scalp including dermatitis and all manner of allergic reactions.
The results are truly stunning with both the weave and the individual extensions and a number of various looks can be achieved.
Aftercare is minimal. I treat my extensions as I would my natural hair but Shannel recommends that I use a good, moisturizing shampoo and conditioner and plat my hair before I go to bed to minimize excessive tousling to prolong the life of the hair.
'What about the damaging effects of extensions'?! I hear you cry. Well I admit I was worried about this after seeing Naomi Campbell's bare head in those photos on that super yacht, and Christina Agrillera's dodgy bald spots.
I have been using hair extensions for 6 years now and whenever I have a break, my hair still looks thick and long. I am just unashamedly addicted to dramatically long hair and my hair only grows to just below my shoulders for some unfair reason (whyyyyyy damn it, whhhhy?)
From my experience, I feel that as long as you look after your extensions (hold the hair from the roots before you brush, plat your hair before you swim/sleep and use high quality, nourishing hair products) and stay away from the ones that are attached by glue your hair will be fine.
Will I ever stop? Maybe. But for now I will continue to swish my long, bouncing locks at regular intervals (maybe checking who is next to me first) and continue to visit my hair extension guru Shannel, who in my opinion is the best at what she does, by far.
|me without extensions (during a break after 2 years of extensions)|
A full head of hand-tied extensions starts from £545
A weave starts from £195 and can be booked here.