Many people, both men and women, dream of having long, thick and healthy hair flowing over their shoulders and down their back.
Unfortunately, many people can never grow their hair past a certain length.
Some people are born with a genetic footprint that prevents them from ever achieving their dreams of long hair.
People dreaming of long luscious locks can achieve their hair fantasies through hair extensions. While people with naturally long or thick locks sometimes frown upon the use of add-on hair, it's important to remember that not everyone is blessed with "good hair growing genes".
Hair Extensions - A Complex Topic
The business of hair extensions is a complex subject. There are many issues revolving around the use of human hair versus synthetic hair, the actual method of extension application (tied, bonded, glued, etc) and other questions that are too numerous to address for the purposes of this specific article.
I have spent some a lot of time investigating hair extensions in the past because so many Hair Boutique.com visitors have written asking for help in finding good hair extension experts in the United States.
Many people are unwilling to settle for thin or short hair when good, high quality hair extensions can be had for a price. One important thing to remember is that hair extensions using 100% real human Caucasian hair are naturally expensive.
Another thing to remember is that the outcome of the extension application is directly related to the skill and expertise of the hair weave artist.
Human Hair Extensions
While adding the hair extensions link pages to HairBoutique.com I discovered a hair extension expert whose salon was located just down the road from HairBoutique.com.
I sent an introductory email letting him know that we were neighbors. The hair extension expert called me a few days later. After chatting on the phone for awhile he invited me to come by his salon for a look-see about the work that he did with hair extensions.
When I told Hair Boutique's Jane Bullock about the hair extension expert she admitted that she had always toyed with the idea of having hair extensions applied to her "almost always short hair".
After Jane confessed to her fascination with hair extensions I insisted that she accompany me on my visit to meet with the hair extension expert (Wednesday, 8/18/99).
The Hair Extension Salon
The hair extension expert had a beautifully appointed Salon that is located, very conveniently, in North Dallas. This is significant since many of his clients visit him from all over the U.S. Having a salon near several major highways makes it easier for his clients to reach him from the DFW airports.
The charming pony tailed hair extension expert met Jane and I at the door of his salon with a big smile and a warm welcome.
He graciously invited us into the room where he weaves his magic hair art. He then spent close to one hour answering lots of questions and explaining how hair extensions work.
Jane and I asked a lot of pointed questions about hair extensions. The expert explained that "one of the big differences between great hair extensions and terrible extensions is based on the type of hair that is used and the individual skill of the extension expert".
Good extensions made with 100% real human hair that is applied by a skilled extension expert looks just like real hair.
To prove his point, the hair extension expert insisted that Jane and I feel this thick, shiny, healthy ponytail. We were a little puzzled at his request until he told us that his ponytail was made of extensions.
I personally could not believe it. His ponytail was soft, silky and was perfectly matched to his real hair. Many men desiring long European looking thick ponytails would die for this guy's hair extensions.
Good Hair Extension Artists Are Hard To Find
Great extension artists are hard to find. This expert has been doing extensions for close to 20 years and has received extensive training. (Before photo: Step #1 to the right)
Not only has he been creating extensions for many happy clients, he and his wife have been both wearing them, as he put it, "forever". That is certainly a good sign.
Many stylists or other hair professionals that do extensions have very little training in the technique. Also, those same stylists that may do extensions, may never wear them in their own hair and don't have the first hand experience with them.
As he pointed out, "the difference between great extensions that look real and last a long time and those that look fake, is the knowledge and skill of the person applying the extensions". He also pointed out that great extensions are pricey.
His hair extension fees start at $1,500 and go up depending on what the client requests. Depending on the length and type of hair and other considerations, extensions can cost as much as $10,000. The first year's maintenance and upkeep is generally equivalent to $4,000 - $6,000 dollars a year.
Because of his excellent reputation, he is constantly busy with clients and has a large number that fly into Dallas from around the country to see him and have him work on their hair. (Step #2 to the left)
While the hair extensions can be reused, because natural hair grows at a rate of 1/2 to 1/4 inch per month, after approximately 4 months, the extensions need to be removed and reapplied.
This is because natural hair growth causes the extensions to lose their natural shape. The good news is that the 100% human hair extensions that this expert uses can be re-applied time after time.
Properly Applied Hair Extensions Do Not Harm Your Hair
The hair extension expert told Jane and I that his application and subsequent removal of his hair extensions (in the manner which he does it) DOES NOT harm the natural hair. This is not true about all extensions.
Some stylists use a form of hot glue that guarantees potential hair damage. Also, many extensions are not composed of 100% human hair. Synthetic or "plastic hair" usually can not be used more than one time. Depending on the application of synthetic hair, there can be the potential of some damage to the native's hair or ends. (After - beautiful long thick hair)
He did warn that long term use of extensions (for several years straight) may result in overall scalp and hair damage because of the additional tension that the added hair will cause. This does not happen in all cases and depends on a variety of factors. A skilled extension master can monitor the situation over time and make adjustments to avoid this potential complication.
Jane and I were fascinated by all the great information that this man was willing to share about hair extensions.
We sat mesmerized while he provided more details than I could remember at one time. (After - front view of long thick hair). Jane and I did ask him about extensions for our own hair.
He told me that because of the extensive length and thickness of my natural hair I would not be a good candidate for extensions because of the additional weight the extension hair would add.
He stressed the fact that the only hair he uses is 100% human hair from Italy. While he did agree that virgin 100% human hair from Russia is considered the best, it is also extremely expensive and hard to get. His preference is for the Italian hair which is very high quality, easier to find and kinder to the average pocketbook.
He will not even consider wasting anyone's time with synthetic hair. He mentioned that many stylist doing hair extensions use "plastic ponytails" which is usually cheap synthetic hair.
Hair Extension Attachment Techniques
This hair extension expert uses a variety of attachment techniques (e.g. corn-row-weft method) depending on the type of extensions desired (for length versus thickness) and the condition of the hair receiving the extensions.
With one of his weaves you will never have to deal with tight, uncomfortable, ugly knots or seams. Adrian's technique eliminates the use of any glues or waxes and he avoids the damage that so many other systems can cause to your hair.
His micro strands permit the most natural volume in difficult to disguise areas of the hair.
The system that he uses is done just a quarter of an inch from the scalp with strand of human hair. All the hair is custom color matched to the natural hair.
Who Visits Hair Extension Experts?
Woman with damaged hair from a bad perm or chemical process, people with breakage from bleaching, those with fine hair or no volume or people who want TV start quality hair. Also with the current hot trend towards longer hair, many people are going to hair extension experts for an instant long hair fix.
Much to her sadness, Jane discovered that you must have hair that is a minimum of 5-6 inches to quality for extensions using this man's technique.
Both this man and his wife are huge fans of extensions. He has personally worn extensions for several years. His gorgeous wife has been wearing extensions for 8 years and has had then in all different colors.
Once you have hair extensions you must take good care of them just like regular hair. You can treat your extensions just like regular hair, but you must take standard hair care precautions.
He reported that after spending thousands of dollars on extensions, some people ignore standard care suggestions which can result in damage to the extensions.
Extensions Are Hot In The Movies
Entertainers, movie stars and people in the public are also primary hair extension candidates. Extensions are not only added for length, but also for thickness and fullness. He pointed out that many movie stars in California will have extensions applied for movie roles.
The studios will historically pay for the hair additions and they can cost as much as $25,000. At those prices and with the studio picking up the tab, what celebrity wouldn't agree to have extensions?
Well Cameron Diaz for one. In several published interviews after the Mask, Cameron noted that because of the addition of major hair extensions for the movie, her scalp bled and ached for days. Cameron has since refused to have extensions added to her hair and will only agree to wigs (Something About Mary) or clip on hair.
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- Revised Publication Date: 01/18/2010