Another tale from my mid-life crisis. OK, it’s not really a crisis, because I’m not in a period of intense difficulty or trouble. It’s more like a party because I am having fun with things that may be frivolous, but they are bringing me enjoyment. And my hair was in a state of crisis, the extensions merely remedied that.
I talked about this briefly in my weight loss post, but ever since I lost all my weight (+55 lb.), my hair has been thinner and somewhat fragile. Throw in a surgery, and for what ever reason, the anesthesia contributed to some hair loss as well. Given the fact that I already have very fine and thin hair, these factors only made a sad hair story worse. Now, I am thankful I’m not losing my hair and going bald, but the hair that I do have isn’t the greatest and I’ve always dreamed of long, thick locks. So after thinking about it and researching for over a year, I decided to take the plunge.
One thing that I considered for quite awhile before deciding to do it, was cost. Hair extensions are not cheap, so you have to be ready to spend the money, not just initially, but on-going as your hair grows out and they need to be removed, moved up and put back in. The salon I went to charged $79 for each piece, however that includes your color, cut, and style. We used 10 pieces, so my total for everything was $790. I know, extravagant, but I love the results. Maintenance wise, to have them removed, and moved up it’s $39 each (and I believe that’s also all-inclusive for your visit).
The Right Stylist
I have a fabulous hair stylist named Mandy at Dyer and Posta salon in Kennesaw, GA. I started going to her after looking at some Instagram posts and seeing that the type of hairstyles she did were exactly what I was looking for: natural looking, soft waves, beachy blonde with subtle highlights. She is definitely an ace at color – in fact, she does such a good job blending that when my hair grows out, you can’t really tell, because there isn’t a straight line of roots. Now, I am blonde and have no gray, so that’s a little easier to achieve, but I have had many sets of highlights in my life, and I’ve always been able to tell when they’re growing out because it was so visible, but not when Mandy does my hair.
I scheduled a consultation with her to discuss extensions. We had briefly talked about them once before, but at the time I wasn’t ready to make the commitment. I wanted to give my hair another chance: I was taking vitamins, using good hair products, and trying my best to keep it healthy. The fact is, my hair is what it is, and I realized it wasn’t going to magically get thicker, stronger, and longer no matter what I did. If I wanted longer hair, I was going to have to get extensions.
Mandy was straight up with me: she didn’t feel comfortable doing the type I wanted and the amount I needed and instead referred me to another stylist who is the hair extensions expert at her salon. We decided Mandy would color, then turn me over to Ashley to put in the extensions. The two of them got on the same page about color, we talked about length, and then I set my appointment.
The Right Kind of Hair Extensions
I did my research in advance, talking to both my stylist and other people who had extensions. I read online to learn what would be best for my hair type. I went with tape-in extensions. Besides tape-in, there are clip-in (cheapest and temporary), keratin bonded, and sew-in. Tape-ins are the newest and most popular because they are fairly easy to put in, requiring no special tools or heat, and it is not a time consuming process. Also, they do not damage your hair and lay flat, so they are perfect for thinner and finer hair. And, they are re-useable! As your hair grows, you have them removed and placed back in. The salon keeps all colors in stock, so matching the panels to my hair was pretty easy as well, and we were able to use a couple different shades to give my hair some dimension and a natural look. The salon I went to used a brand called Aqua. There are many brands out there, and a range of cost and quality, so again, do your research.
The Day Of
I was so excited about getting this done, so you can imagine how disappointed I was when I got the call that Mandy was ill and we’d need to reschedule. The good news was Ashley, who was putting in my extensions was not ill and still available, but she didn’t have time to do my color because she was booked solid for the day. However, I got lucky because there was another stylist available last minute, so I was able to keep my appointment. Kayla had apprenticed under Mandy back when she first got started, so I was comfortable with having her do my color even though I had never met her. I also checked out her Instagram feed, and I liked the hairstyles that I saw. Besides, Dyer and Posta is full of excellent stylists and has a great reputation so I wasn’t worried at all.
We started with putting in highlights and some lowlights. My hair processes quickly, so I never have to sit very long. Kayla washed it thoroughly until it was squeaky clean, then blew it out without any hair products in it; your hair needs to be good and clean to ensure the extensions stick. Once she was done, she turned me over to Ashley who brought out some swatches so we could decide on color. It’s absolutely amazing how well they were able to match the extensions to my hair color, using two different shade of blonde to go with my new highlights and low lights.
The panels come in 16″ lengths, so first she put them in, starting with underneath at the back of my head. She added some pieces to the sides of my head, and then we decided on length. Ashley suggested to not go too short, because we can always cut them shorter, but we can’t make them longer. Also, as my natural hair grows out, I’ll want to re-use these pieces, and if they were too short, they wouldn’t blend in. We settled on taking just 2-3″ off of them, so my hair fell at my chest. Initially I was thinking I’d want them a tiny bit shorter, but I’m glad I left them; I feel like the length is perfect. Putting the extensions in only took about 20 minutes. After that, she styled it for me with a curling wand, and I was ready to go!
I found myself looking in the mirror a lot that first day to make sure they weren’t noticeable; I was worried the tape-in ends near my scalp would show, but they don’t. I was also worried I wouldn’t know what to do with my hair or how to brush, wash, and dry it.
I bought a “loop brush” on Amazon as recommended by Ashley (as well as in the online reviews I read). The loops don’t get caught on the tape ends like a straight bristled brush would. I was still able to brush my hair with a normal brush; I was just careful to go over and under the extensions and not grab where they are attached. Before going to bed that night, I put it in one large braid, so it didn’t get tangled while I slept.
I didn’t wash it the next day, waiting until the day after before tackling that. I touched it up with my curling wand and some hairspray was good to go. The following day when I washed it, I focused the shampoo on top, where my natural hair is, and focused the conditioner on the extensions themselves. Drying wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had imagined – it took a little bit longer, because there’s considerably more hair to dry, but it really wasn’t bad at all. I used my round brush as usual, just being careful to avoid the taped ends. It turned out nice – in fact it looked better after being washed; it plumped out a bit and had a more natural look to it. I left it straight to make sure it looked good that way too, because I won’t have time to do the curling thing every day. I was again surprised by how natural it looked even while straight. I also made sure that I could put it into a pony tail without the extensions showing, and was delighted that I could do that as well!
Well, my husband keeps staring at me, smiling and giggling. Hopefully the novelty will wear off soon so he can quit acting like a 16 year old boy. But, he does really like it a lot. My daughters both like it as well and think that we all look more alike now (not really what I was going for, but hey, I’ll take it). Of course, I posted my before and after pics to Facebook and got positive feedback from lots of my friends.
One thing I noticed the first two days was the tape bugged me a little bit. It felt sort of rough on my scalp, even though it isn’t taped to my scalp. I think because my hair is thinner, maybe I could feel it more. They were also a little bit uncomfortable the first night, but I’ve noticed that since I washed my hair, those tape pieces don’t feel as stiff and are much more comfortable. I had heard they could itch a little bit, too, but I haven’t experienced that.
I also have not had any problems with tangling yet. That was another thing I was worried about, but I think braiding it before bed helps, and not being afraid to brush it helps, too! Some reviews I read indicated the hair felt heavy, but it honestly doesn’t feel heavy to me. If anything, I love the fact that I can feel my hair on my shoulders – I feel like I have hair!
I’m sure there will be new learnings along the way, but I have to say I do like them so far and I am so glad I did it – no regrets. If you have been considering extensions, I would definitely recommend it, if it fits into your budget.