fall fashion weeks around the globe, long, lush locks rocked the runways. But, along with sky-high heels and barely there minis, it can be a perilous look for some of us. While extensions promise the allure of Gisele-like manes to those who suffer from thin, brittle hair or a more serious condition, illusion-destroying tabloid close-ups of Britney Spears’ extensions may have you fearing that if a posh celebrity can’t pull it off, who can?
Elle spoke with stylist-to-the-stars Christian Pare, owner of Toronto’s EMC2 salon, to find out how to get it right.
Elle: Who have you applied hair extensions to?
CP: Chantal Kreviazuk for her L’Oreal Garnier (garnier.ca) campaign last fall, Jennifer Love Hewitt for her movie The Tuxedo, and Jessica Alba for her movie Honey. From Reese Witherspoon and Miley Cyrus to Jessica Simpson and Megan Fox, the desire for long, flowing sexy hair is everywhere.
Some clients come to us because growing their bangs out is too difficult, so we give them longer bangs. For many, their hair is thinning, perhaps from stress or child birth or malnutrition. Others lose their hair due to alopecia, chemo or cancer medication. Once their hair gets three to five inches long, we can add extensions and no one would be able to tell. This is very emotional for the client and for my staff and me as well. Clients can look forward to enhancing their image and their self confidence as well.
Elle: What kinds of hair extensions are available?
CP: Extensions come in many forms: pre-bonded strands for all over
length or volume, braided strips of hair known as weaves, and clip-ins for one-night affairs or simple ponytails.
I prefer the Great Lengths pre-bonded strand-by-strand system, which uses 100% human hair. We apply strands (there are about 25 hairs per strand) to small sections of the client’s hair in rows about a half inch from the scalp and hairline to create a natural look. This extension offers the most versatility for styling hair long, whether curled or flat-ironed, or in classic up-swept styles. With the smallest bond ever, it allows the stylist to use it even on the thinnest hair. But the real difference is the superior hair quality: hand selected, custom coloured and pre-bonded.
Other types of extension systems are bulkier and less natural looking, offer few styling options, and can become dry and brittle over time due to the quality of hair and production methods. They also may not last as long. The price for Great Lengths varies from $400 for volume to $3,000 for longer thick hair, but they can be worn for approximately four or five months. (Extension checkups can be performed at your regular colour sessions, but if you experience tangling due to an active lifestyle or abusive care, you may need more frequent visits to the salon.) Weaves or braids, meanwhile, will last three or four weeks and clip-ins only for the day or evening.
Elle: What extension hair care tips do you pass on to your clients?
CP: Extensions need to be cared for in the same manner as your own hair, but gentler. Wash and condition hair using professional shampoos and conditioners, as drug store brands can be drying and/or damaging. I recommend clients wash their hair every two to three days, as style holds better and longer with extensions. It’s best to avoid shine or silicone products with bonded extension because those products may cause extensions to slide or slip out.
With long wear or permanent extensions, you will need to brush your hair twice daily to prevent tangling. Then style, curl or flat iron hair as you would normally; just avoid the bonding area with hot tools. We also remind clients—especially those with delicate hair—to be gentle with their extensions so they don’t damage their own hair underneath.
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