Why It Might Be Time To Consider Hair Extensions

Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages.
By Marlee Kula

Have you ever fantasized about waking up to find your hair has magically transformed itself into a full, lengthy mane that seemingly grew overnight? To the skeptics out there who think these long, enviable locks are too good to be true: Please keep reading. While celebrity hair and makeup artists are often in the limelight, extension artists tend to get less recognition, since they're often the beauty secret no star will divulge. Lucky for you, we tracked down Hollywood’s extension guru, Priscilla Valles (the woman behind Christina Aguilera's and Chrissy Teigen’s long Rapunzel locks), to let us in on everything we need to know about extensions.

They Can Actually Repair Your Hair
A common misconception about extensions is that they’ll damage your hair, but in fact, they can be used to easily solve issues related to thickness, length, color, texture, and styling that might be keeping you from having the mermaid mane you’ve always wanted. Priscilla describes why extensions have gotten a bad reputation in the past — typically, this is the result of poor application. But she promises that with the proper type of extensions and precise application, the result is less stress overall on your strands.

The most common request that Valles receives is for thicker hair. She says, "I have so many clients that try everything to make their hair thicker, but no matter what they do, they still struggle to achieve the thickness they want. In this case, I use individual or tape-in extensions, which can thicken their existing hair up to three times.”

Of Course, They Add Length
Who could forget Valles' incredible extension makeover on Emily Weiss? Valles guarantees that “you can have the hair length of your dreams in a matter of hours. If you cut a bob and hate it, no problem! I would say the most common length request I get averages about 16 inches.”

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They Can Change Your Color Or Texture
Valles believes that extensions are great for experimenting with color. If you’re interested in testing out highlights, lowlights, or ombré, but you don’t want to commit to coloring or bleaching your hair, extensions are a great way to add a beautiful pop of color.

Women who have fine, limp, or frizzy hair can get extensions that are different in texture, hold the desired style, and, best of all, have no frizz.

They're Less Maintenance Than You Think
Extensions provide tremendous benefits when styling your hair. Valles explains, “Simply put, extensions give you the luxury of having perfect to near-perfect hair at all times, with minimal effort. For example, you don’t need to apply products or heat to get your hair to look good, which, in turn, is less stress and damage on your own hair. So not only does it look good in a substantially short amount of time, it’s less damage and distress on your strands.”

How To Choose The Right Extensions For You
For fine hair, Valles suggests tape-in extensions or fine keratin individuals. While individual keratin can be pricey, the extension artist promises that when these are applied properly (in clean and perfect sections), they provide the most authentic couture look. They also allow for seamless versatility when styling tight buns or updos. However, if you’re just looking for a little added thickness and you don’t routinely wear your hair up, Priscilla suggests tape-ins.

Of course, it’s always important to have a proper consultation with your extension specialist prior to any form of application, in order to choose the best extensions for your hair type.
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How To Maintain Your Extensions Between Salon Visits
Valles' number-one instruction: “Brush, brush, brush! Really, don’t be afraid to brush. I love my Sheila Stotts brushes, which are specifically made to detangle extension hair. Another great tip I’ve learned is to braid your hair when working out and at night.”

You should never use oily products on or around the bonding method, because oil can cause the extensions to slide out. Priscilla also warns that direct heat on the bonding method should be avoided, since it can reactivate the bond, which causes the extension to slide out.

To ensure your hair remains healthy and luscious, treat your mane to a much-needed mask at least once a week. Extension hair can be costly, and usually, you’ll have it in for a few months; Priscilla stresses that the more time you invest in taking care of the hair by following these steps, the better shape it will be in, and the longer it will last.

How Often You Should Replace/Touch Them
Most of Valles' clients are on a six-to-12-week schedule. These clients remove the extensions and get a new set every eight to 12 weeks, but Valles explains the frequency also "depends on the speed of your hair growth and how often you subject it to heavy styling.”

She explains, “My clients who are filming or shooting tend to have their hair styled daily, which requires more frequent application. These clients are normally on a six-to-eight-week schedule to better accommodate their needs.”

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