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Barbara Lhotan's Journey With Hair Extensions


Barbara Lhotan, a fabulous hair consultant, a favorite contributor to, recently attended workshops to become a certified hair extension technician. Barbara recently invested several days attending intensive seminars and classes to learn hair extension techniques. She currently offers hair extensions services out of the salon she works at in New York.

Note: To make an appointment for hair extensions call Elie Elie Salon in Winchester, Virginia at 540-678-0050. You can also email Barbara at [email protected]

Barbara first heard about the hair extensions when she read about fusion style hair extensions on the site. After much investigation into hair extension systems she decided to take the certification training so she could offer the method to her existing customers. asked Barbara to share some of her experiences with the classes. We also asked her to explain some of her thoughts about her new certification in hair extensions.

Listed below are some questions posed to Barbara about her work with hair extensions and her answers.

Hair Boutique Question: Why did you decide to take hair extension classes in the first place?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"It was the only thing that I haven't done yet with hair. Over the years I have worked extensively with long hair, short hair, curly hair and ethnic hair. I have worked on hair for men and women of all ages.

As a senior educator for Paul Mitchell I do runway hair and other hair shows. When it comes to hair, I have studied for many years to learn all types of techniques for all types of hair. Hair is truly my passion. I love learning new things and working with new techniques.

The only type of hair that I had never worked with was extensions. I decided that I really needed to make time to take classes in hair extensions so that I could stretch my learning curve and expand my knowledge base.

I found that learning about hair extensions was a wonderful challenge both personally and professionally. I also discovered that there is a vast market for this very rewarding work and I wanted to be able to offer it to both my current clients and future clients that may want this expertise."

Hair Boutique Question: What were some of the facts that you learned in the hair extension training that was a surprise to you?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"I was really surprised by the large number of people who wear extensions. It is not very well known how many people wear extensions but the numbers are astounding. Another surprising fact was that many men wear hair extensions to thicken thinning hair issues.

Nothing else about the hair extension classes was really all that surprising. A lot of the information was stuff that I was already aware of and had read about in the past".

Hair Boutique Question: What are some of the biggest mistakes that people make when they wear hair extensions?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"The biggest mistake that people make is that they don't take the time to get enough information in the initial consultation with the hair extension expert.

The mistake is not specifically about the actual extension techniques that are used, it has to do more with the client's ability, willingness and understanding about what it takes to maintain and care for the extensions after they are applied.

Hair extensions definitely require a certain amount of special care and maintenance to keep them looking good and lasting as long as possible.

Many people are not aware of this fact before they have the extensions applied. When they do realize the care commitment they may regret getting the extensions in the first place.

Another mistake is the cost factor. Many people are not aware that good extensions can cost in the $2,000 - $3,000 range or above. The least you can hope to spend for decent extensions is in the $900 range. Even then, that range relates to limited hair and extension range. Obviously people with shorter hair that are using extensions for thinning or hair loss issues will require less hair and time. They can get a good set of extensions for less than someone with the need for lots of hair or for added length.

Depending on a wide range of factors (hair length, thickness, hair texture, type of hair used) good hair extensions can be very expensive. It really is true that you get what you pay for.

Many people are wooed by very inexpensive hair extension systems and basically if it sounds too good to be true, it really is. Inexpensive or cheap hair extensions will tangle very easily, not last long and can be a nightmare to remove. They can also be more damaging to your own hair.

A good set of hair extensions involves a lot of work by the technician and requires the purchase of good quality hair. The hair alone can be quite expensive.

All of these possible mistakes can be avoided if a client takes their time and does their research to find out what is available, how much it costs, how long it lasts and whether it is right for them and their pocketbook."

Hair Boutique Question: Are some people just not suited for hair extensions?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"Absolutely. Anyone that has a sensitive scalp or hair may find hair extensions uncomfortable to wear. Also, anyone who has limited time and can't dedicate the required time for caring for their extensions should pass on the option.

It is hard to understand why people would take the initial time and pay the money to get hair extensions added and then totally disregard necessary care restrictions.

These issues should also be discussed with the hair extension expert before they make a decisions to have the hair extensions applied."

Hair Boutique Question: How long does it take for hair extensions to be added to a client's existing hair?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"It can take 6 to 8 hours depending on the fullness of the client's hair and any special treatments that may be required. Some people want the hair permed or colored after the hair extensions are applied. This can add to the time required to finish the process.

Another reason that it takes so long is because the hair extension process is quite painstaking. Individual sections of hair have to be carefully applied one section at a time.

One thing that most people don't understand is that after the extensions are added, the technician is required to cut and shape all of the hair (natural and extension hair) to integrate the extensions into the total style. The goal is to make the extensions look as natural as possible and match the client's existing hair.

This whole process is very precise and just takes time to get it done right so the extensions last as long as possible and look great.

Hair extensions technicians sincerely want to offer the client the best possible work. This takes time and willingness for the client to be patient with the process."

Hair Boutique Question: What are the hair extension upkeep requirements? Are special hair care products necessary?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"The main thing to remember is that the extension hair can NOT stay wet for any extended period. If a client is going to do a lot of swimming or participate in other water sports, it is not a good idea for them to get hair extensions.

It really is important to dry the hair as quickly as possible after it is wet. Yes you have to shampoo it but it needs to be dried right after the shampoo process is ended.

Why is wetness a potential problem? The coating that is used on the extension hair has a strong protein bond. When the hair extensions get wet and remain wet too long this will tend to increase tangling of the extensions.

The hair needs to be brushed twice a day to keep the tangles at bay. Because of the weave in the hair extensions and the fact that humans average a loss of 100 hairs a day, if you don't brush your hair on a regular basis, the natural hairs that are falling out will get tangled up with the extension weave. Tangles of any sort can be a major problem and often can not be repaired.

Major tangles may require that both the extensions and the natural hair are cut to eliminate the snarls.

In fact, one of the biggest complaints people have is that the hair extensions are tangling. This can be avoided with high quality hair that is applied correctly and taken care of properly. This includes using the right hair care products and keep the hair dry and well brushed."

Hair Boutique Question: Are special hair care products required?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"Yes, certain products are better for hair extensions than others. Every person who gets extensions may have specific needs. The best thing you can do is consult with the hair extension technicians and get their recommendation on the best products to use for your particular situation and hair type.

Lot of shampoos have sulfates that will actually melt the hair extension bonds. Dandruff shampoos are the worst for causing potential problems with hair extensions.

You also need to be careful of hair conditioners. Some products are just not compatible with the extension hair. The best bet is to ask the technician what products to use to maintain the longest life of the extensions.

Remember, the better you care for the hair extensions, the better they look, the longer the last and the easier they are to maintain."

Hair Boutique Question: How do hair extension technicians prevent clients from ruining their new hair extensions? Are there ways that the technicians can help the client extend the life of the extensions?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"The hair extension experts give their new clients a form that lists all the dos and don'ts about their hair extensions. The technicians ask the client to read the instructions for their hair extension aftercare and then sign it.

This procedure of asking clients to read and sign a form goes a long way to preventing problems because of misinformation about how to care for the extensions.

It also protects the technician. Many clients don't pay attention to the requirements for how to care for their extensions and then because of lack of understanding may cause their own tangling and other related problems."

Hair Boutique Question: Where does the extension hair come from?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"All of the hair that I use comes from India and it is pre-colored. It can actually be colored to match the client's hair before it is applied.

The hair is designed to be as universal as possible and tends to be wavy. The advantage to wavy hair is that it can easily be straightened or permed. Straight or curly hair might be harder to work with.

The hair is also completely stripped of the cuticles after it is purchased from humans and as it is processed by the hair extension company.

The hair can be ordered already permed before it is attached or it can be permed afterwards. It can also be colored or highlighted after it is attached.

The hair is flexible for most hair extensions needs and is easy to work with."

Hair Boutique Question: Can clients potentially suffer from allergies from the bonding materials or get headaches from having the hair extensions added?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"I think this is very rare. In fact, I have not personally ever heard of this happening. The hair extensions do not actually touch the scalp directly so it would be almost unheard of for anyone to experience allergic reactions from either the bonding chemicals or the hair itself. Anything is possible but I suspect that allergies are extremely unusual.

Headaches are also rare, but if they do occur it is because of the lack of ability of the hair extension technician. Poor techniques in applying the hair can lead to potential problems. Again this is a direct result of how the technician applies the hair.

If a client is having hair extensions applied and experiences a headache or allergic reactions they need to mention that information immediately to the technician. Like everything else involving hair, the client needs to maintain an open communication with the technician or their stylist so that adjustments can be made immediately.

Remember to always speak up, ask questions, be involved and express any concerns."

Hair Boutique Question: How long does a client's hair have to be in order to be qualified for receiving Great Length's extensions?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"A client must have at least 3-4 inches of hair for the hair extension method to work. Much shorter than that and the extensions would probably just not be anchored well or not stay in place as they should."

Hair Boutique Question: What is the longest length of most hair extensions? In other words, could we get hair that would go from our shoulders to our knees?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"Realistically 22-24 inches is the longest length that hair extensions are available in. Longer hair extensions just don't work for a number of reasons.

Since the hair extensions have to be attached to the hair approximately 1/4 inches from the scalp it is impossible to go from shoulder length to knee length. The length of your hair is limited with hair extensions to about middle of the back as a maximum.

It is impossible to have hair to your rear with hair extensions. You would need to have a full custom wig to achieve that type of look.

If you have short hair you are able to get hair to your shoulders.

Another consideration is the potential damage that can be done to longer hair. If you apply extensions to healthy long hair there is a risk of some damage.

If a client is looking to go from ear length hair to below the waist length hair then we really can't help them."

Hair Boutique Question: Is extending the hair length the only type of clients that want hair extensions?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"Hair extension methods really work fabulously for people with painfully thin or fine hair.

There are so many people that suffer with thinning or super fine hair that can benefit tremendously from having hair extensions added. It's not just length that people want. In fact, probably the majority of the people getting hair extensions want the added hair thickness. Just like everything else in life, people with thinning hair can be discriminated against because of their looks. Even if they aren't necessarily treated differently because of their lack of hair, they may feel that they are. Many people, especially women suffer horribly from hair loss issues.

Men have discovered that hair extensions are a great way to help them deal with thinning hair. Not only can it make their hair a lot fuller, hair extensions can be more comfortable to wear than other alternatives.

Hair extensions can also be a lot less detectable than other hair systems. A lot of men have really benefited from hair extension options."

Hair Boutique Question: What do you see as the biggest advantage for a client of getting Great Length hair extensions?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"The biggest advantage is that it greatly helps a client's self esteem. It is miraculous how having hair extensions added can make a person feel a lot better about themselves in so many ways.

I have met people whose self esteem was destroyed by bad hair. It ruined their lives. The idea that extensions could help them have a normal life is a great thing. People suffering from cancer treatments, alopecia or other heredity hair and scalp problems can conquer hair loss issues and feel a lot better about their looks.

In some cases I have seen how hair extensions added to women and men with thinning or hair loss problems because like new people overnight. It is very exciting to watch the transformation.

The most satisfying thing for me doing this work with hair extensions is to help people who are suffering needlessly from hair problems that have destroyed their own self esteem and their ability to function socially in the outside world.

It is a very rewarding opportunity to help people and I am grateful that I can do this work."

Hair Boutique Question: You work with people with natural long hair. In fact, you are a well known long hair expert. Do you find that long haired people resent people who get hair extensions? And if so, why is this?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

Most people with natural long hair have spent a lot of time, money and commitment growing their hair to its natural longer length. That is great if you can grow hair or have good hair or don't have cancer or other problems.

Some people just can't grow long hair. So people with long hair that they were fortunate to be able to grow just don't stop and think about that. I think there is a major misunderstanding about why people get hair extensions. Yes, some people do it because they want to add instant length, but the majority of people just can't grow thick hair or are suffering from diseases that cause hair loss.

Sometimes I see a little bit of a jealousy factor from people with long hair about people with hair extensions because the natural long hair people believe that it just isn't fair that they put in a lot of sweat and tears growing their hair and someone could just go and buy extensions.

I understand their point of view but they also need to understand the pain and suffering that many people go through who just can't grow their own hair. Believe me, if they could, they would be happy to put in the effort.

Basically I just think it is a misunderstanding that long haired people have. The majority of people with hair extensions are getting long hair, they are just getting hair to cover bald spots and patches and super thin hair."

Hair Boutique Question: So hair extensions can be used to cover bald spots and patches?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"Yes they can. One caveat is that hair extensions applied to cover bald spots and patches just may not last as long as for other hair problems.

Hair extensions last 3-4 months with a full head of normal hair but may only last 2-3 months for people with bald spots and patches."

Hair Boutique Question: Is there a standard rule of thumb used to decide who should or should not get extensions? How makes this rule and how does it apply to the clients?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"Every person considering hair extensions will have different needs, issues and financial means. Each person should spend as much time as possible researching the pros and cons of having extensions added. Finding a good technician that you trust is very important. A good technician may even advise a client that they are not a good candidate for having hair extensions applied.

I know that I would not hesitate to advise someone that they should pass on having hair extensions added. I want to know that I am helping someone improve the quality of their life and feel good about their appearance.

If someone had a scalp that overly sensitive or lack of time to care for their extensions, I would definitely talk to them about the challenges that they might face with their extensions."

Hair Boutique Question: Do you have additional plans for more hair extension training?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"Yes, absolutely. I am very excited about this technique and will definitely go back and learn as much as I can. I want to continue to learn new techniques of how to do this better for her clients. I am a big believer in this process.

I have seem clients go through amazing personal transformations when they feel good about how they look. I have worked with women suffering from hair loss issues who have had a complete personality change from finding a solution to their hair loss pain.

This is so rewarding that I want to be the best that I can be.

I am also very excited about the hair extension system that I use. They do a quality job of training their technicians. I also love the support they offer and the quality of the hair that they make available. It is a great company and I am proud to be qualified to apply their system."

Hair Boutique Question: How do people contact you if they would like to make an appointment to have a consultation about having hair extensions applied to their hair?

Barbara Lhotan Answer:

"I welcome all new clients either in the New York City or from wherever they would like to travel from. The Renaissance Salon is on Long Island about 45 minutes from New York City. It would be easy for people to fly into one of the NY airports and get to my salon.

If someone would like to schedule a consultation to discuss hair extension applications they can make an appointment through the salon where I work. Call Elie Elie Salon in Winchester, Virginia, at 540-678-0050". You can also email Barbara at [email protected].


Barbara concluded this conversation by saying that hair extensions give her so much more artistic freedom. She can do a lot more with a client's hair that has been enriched with hair extensions. She just has a lot more hair to work with and can be incredibly creative. She loves this new opportunity to create new looks for both existing and new clients.

Hair extensions also bring in a whole new type of clientele that she gets to help and work with.

If you want to talk more about this or other hair care articles on or anywhere else, please post a message on's Hair Talk Forums.

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