Celebrities are notorious for wearing a head full of extensions. They change their style, color and look almost on a daily basis. As a teenager growing up I would notice Britney Spears with short hair so I cut my hair to match hers… only to find out that next month her blonde locks were now brown and past her waist. One can only imagine the devastation I felt. It was about six years ago that I discovered the world of wigs, hair pieces and extensions. There are so many options out there that it is hard to know what is the best fit for you. Throughout this article I will endeavor to guide and inform you on the many options in the world of voluminous hair. Have short hair? No problem! Have thin hair? Easy! Have a wallet full of money? That’s fixable too!
I was first exposed to the world of extensions by my best friend. I wanted to achieve that larger than life look so thickness and length were my priorities. North America has become so obsessed with big hair that there are even times when I feel self-conscious about my natural shoulder length wavy hair. Nonetheless, how much am I willing to pay to experiment with my newest interest? My friend was paying a lot more money ($500+) than I had wanted to spend. Therefore, I began my journey with an affordable synthetic option.
Synthetic hair is used for a variety of reasons. From our first exposure as children with Barbie dolls to Halloween costumes, we have been playing around with synthetic hair whether or not we have noticed it. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word synthetic means: “to imitate a natural product” and that is just what it does. The hair is made to look and feel like real hair, although many would argue quite the opposite as the hair is made of plastic fibers. I have personally worn a few synthetic wigs in the past and no one could differentiate. I did not have any assistance by choosing one out via a professional, nor did someone teach me how to wear it properly. I simply went to the nearest beauty supply, chose a style I wanted and made it work for me. A headband was key as it helped me blend the piece. The purpose for my wig purchase was for a performance I was in. When I showed up to the wrap party with barely shoulder length blonde hair, instead of my long brunette locks, everyone was amazed with the sudden overnight change. The compliments came pouring in as people wondered how I could pull off so many looks. The great thing about synthetic hair whether it is a wig or extensions is that it requires little to no styling. Believe it or not, it is exempt from bad weather such as humidity, wind, and rain- within reason of course! Wearing a wig for the show saved me at least forty minutes everyday from my usual hair routine. The synthetic style was sturdy so its best to purchase one that you absolutely love and do not want to change. Unless specified on the label, many synthetic pieces cannot be colored or straightened/curled as the heat will melt the hair right off. Ladies, our ultimate goal is to have fuller, bigger and sexier hair right? So read the label! These man made fibers also do not last as long as real hair…who would have thought? I would give the lifespan of my wig approximately two months as I wore it day in and day out. With the low cost you cannot really complain. My favorite wig cost me thirty dollars and when I went back to get another, it was discontinued but I managed to snap the last one on sale for ten dollars; talk about a steal! To extend the life of your synthetic hair, rest assured special care products are available. Overall, if you are looking for a quick fix/ one-night look every now and then, you can most definitely get away with a synthetic piece without breaking the bank. Essentially it just depends on how often you need to wear one and primarily how you care for your ‘hair’. Whether used as extensions or a wig, synthetic is always an option for the person on the go.
Now that you have the 411 on synthetic hair, lets tackle the world of real human hair. At this point in my modeling and acting career I have successfully made the switch from synthetic to real human hair for shoots and major events. Ultimately I look for quality products that can be altered at any moment and for all intents and purposes a product that will last for a few years. From the merchandise that is out there it all can be very overwhelming, which makes it hard to know which one will last and work for you. I have found that ‘Axia Hair’ has been the right fit for me over the past eleven months. I was first introduced to this product at a photoshoot where I modeled their funky hair color line. When given a pack of extensions to take home, I immediately fell in love with how they looked. Since then I have found them to be durable, silky, easy to style and blend exceptionally well. Axia hair is 100% remy human hair which means it is free to color, cut, and style to your hearts desire. According to Tradesecrets.ca: “The main distinction between remy and non-remy hair is that the hair cuticles are left in tact. When cuticles are in tact and in the same direction, hair tangle is minimal. Hair is stronger and less likely to break, increasing the life of the hair extensions”. Of course there are many companies that supply remy hair, I can just vouch for this brand as I have tried it. Therefore, remy hair is known as the best hair on the market because of the thorough and careful sorting that the hair undergoes before reaching the consumer. My Axia hair extensions are clip-ins and are my favorite as they can be taken in and out at any moment, in comparison to the extensions out there that are sewn in or glued in.
My sister, Dalia (age 20), had extensions sewn in a few years back and everything was nice and snug in there. A definite pro is that you will never feel worried that they would fall off. Excellent! A con? Unfortunately, she was resorting to Tylenol to ease the pain during and after the initial process was completed (which the hair stylist even suggested!). The process consists of a stylist sectioning your hair so its half up and half down and then braiding some hair along the scalp line while sewing tracks of hair into the braid. Livestrong.com suggests: “oiling your scalp whenever your scalp feels itchy because of the tight braids. Spread a little coconut oil on your fingertips and apply it to the affected areas of the scalp. Do not scratch at your head, which can result in frizzy roots and noticeable tracks” (2014). Dalia had it retouched once after as the braids loosened but swears to “never do it again”. She used extensions as she wanted a quick fix to her hair that seemed to be ‘stuck’ at a certain length. Since then Dalia has switched to fusion extensions. I would like to give a special thanks to my sister who let me interview her about the process… and who says little sisters aren’t useful?
Fusion extensions are human hair extensions attached to your own hair through fusion bonding- via glue, micro beads, etc. It is a more permanent solution that lasted my best friend, Melissa (age 24), just over “3 months and cost about $1200.00”. Melissa is an avid extension user for the past six years due to thin hair and has tried it all. She remains loyal to the fusion procedure as it looks the most natural with minimal to no pain. Getting fusion done is extremely popular in our day and age, especially among-st my female friends in the 20-30 year category. The process of attaching the glue to your hair strands and extensions, can be done in hot and cold fusion which varies in price as the cold fusion application is less damaging on the hair. Melissa has stopped using the fusion glue option, as the glue itself would begin melting in her hair while she was at the gym or simply sweating from the heat. Since she cannot be bothered with those complications as she lives in a very warm climate, Melissa has now switched to micro beads to hold the hair together and likes that method best. The micro bead clamps have lasted her “4.5 months and cost approximately $600.00”. Of course everyone is different and preferences vary, so chat with your friends and stylist and make an informed decision.
I hope I have not lost you by now with the number of extension options out there! I am lucky enough to speak with Maryanne Da Costa, hairdresser at Fortelli Salon and Spa in Oakville, Canada. She answers a few frequently asked questions.
Olivia: How many different extension options does your salon offer?
Maryanne: The salon I currently work at offers fusion extensions and we also offer clip in extensions.
Olivia: Do clients usually show up with a specific request for extensions or are you finding you need to suggest clients use one method over the other? Are they usually aware of all the different types?
Maryanne: Yes, I believe clients are looking for a specific method. From my experience they do their research on extensions i.e what they are about, how they work and so forth. Sometimes I believe the information on the Internet is more negative as I never see any positive comments about extension methods in general on there.
Olivia: Maybe this article will be the first!
Maryanne: Many of my clients get a variety of information on the different types of extensions but once they inquire we have a full consultation. During our meeting we explain the entire process and also clear up the myths versus the facts.
Olivia: Is every stylist in an established and reputable salon trained to do extensions? Where did you train to do them?
Maryanne: Most of our stylists are trained in extension application. The certification in hair extensions all depends on the brand of extensions you work with. For example: My boss is a Euro So. Cap extension technician trained by Euro So. Cap themselves. Now that he is certified, he has trained all of us at the salon under his certification. Then we as stylists became certified with the Euro So. Cap company as well. Depending on what method of extensions we were trained on, that will determine which one you can apply on consumers. I was trained as a technician in hot and cold fusion extensions. Although they cost a bit more money, I personally recommend cold fusion for individuals for thinner and more fragile hair.
Olivia: I didn’t know that. Thank you for taking some time to speak with me Maryanne!
My best advice is to go to a professional salon and ask questions! Also, visit a hair salon to apply and to remove all sew in and fusion based extensions. You could save a few dollars and leave it be… but to be left with uneven hair, hair patches and a lot more stress defeats the purpose of getting extensions. As with every extension piece there will be reports of broken hair so take care of them and be gentle. “If your hair shows signs of damage, such as broken hair at the roots, ask the stylist to remove… and allow your hair to rest for at least six months” (Livestrong.com, 2014). Keep in mind that extensions are supposed to be fun and make you feel like the superstar you really are. Experiment with the many options that are available to you and remember that not everyone is wearing a piece for ‘fun’. Some people need extensions as they are battling serious health conditions that affect their hair. Are they to feel bad for spending hundreds of dollars to fit in? No. When you feel great, your best you can truly show. Treasure it, care for it and love it!
**Check out my weekly ‘on set interviews’ with industry professionals. Today I speak with my hairstylist on how we created the look you saw in the photos with Axia Hair extensions:
**Care to order your own set of extensions? Contact Axia Hair at www.axiahair.com for more information.
© 2014 Olivia Gudaniec
Model: Olivia Gudaniec
Photographer: Vince Cianci
Hair Stylist: Maryanne Da Costa
Extensions: Axia Hair
Photoshoot Assistant: Sabah Shaikh