If you’ve followed along with us for a while — you’ve probably noticed that my hair changes in length occasionally. For the majority of the past 4 years it’s been a bit longer than shoulder length, but every once and a while I’ll “grow” an additional few inches overnight. This is one of the many things I love about having hair extensions, the ability to play with my hair style and length. (It’s also been the reason for countless funny work conversations and reactions. Hair extensions tend to confuse my male coworkers…and it cracks me up.)
I’ve had some form of hair extensions for the past four years. However, I didn’t seek out the treatment for length initially. Towards the end of my senior year of college, my hair started to thin and break — pretty dramatically. It got to a point where my ponytails were too thin for even the smallest hair tie, you could see right through my hair when it was down, and I was incredibly self conscious about it all. In seeking out medical treatment I was told things like I should stop using hot tools, bobby pins or braiding my hair. Doctors didn’t take my issue seriously and I was left feeling so frustrated and hopeless. So while I continued to work on uncovering the cause behind my hair change, I began looking into shorter term solutions and stumbled upon keratin extensions. Keratin extensions are a semi-permanent extension that use a keratin bond to secure the hair to your head. Our hair is made of keratin, so this is the most gentle bond out there.
I ended up booking a consultation with Lindsey from Pinup Salon in West Seattle and, well, I’ve been seeing her religiously ever since. Lindsey specializes in extensions for people like me — those looking for extensions to fill out their natural hair and hide any thinning or breakage, not just looking for length. An additional perk of these extensions is that they can serve as a layer of protection from hot tools or styling because the extension wraps around a chunk of your natural hair.
Over the last four years working on my hair health has been quite the process. After a lot of trial and error, I finally discovered that the root cause of it all was a hormonal imbalance, and after getting my hormone health back on track, my hair has improved enormously. Another thing that I attribute my hair improvement to is collagen. I started regularly incorporating collagen into my diet (a scoop in my coffee every morning), and started noticing even greater improvement in my hair growth, shine and strength soon after.
So, once my hair was thicker and healthier, Lindsey and I decided that I could make the switch to tape-in extensions. The main difference between the two? Tape-in extensions are thicker, wider pieces, so your hair has to be thick enough to conceal the bond and for the hair to blend into. The benefit of this is that with thicker pieces, you’ll get the appearance of much thicker, fuller hair with tape-in extensions. Which is why I was excited to make the switch! I decided to go all-in this time, and leave the extensions long. So, once again, I went through the experience of explaining to my coworkers how my hair had seemingly grown 12 inches overnight. Always entertaining.
Products I love for hair care:
A few questions that I receive often:
How does your stylist put them in?
With both types of extensions, the process involves heating up the bond of the extension and adhering it to a chunk of your natural hair, piece by piece.
How long do they last?
Keratin extensions last about 10-12 weeks before I felt like I needed to swap them out. Tape-in extensions need to be re-bonded a little sooner, lasting about 6-8 weeks.
How do they get the color to match?
Your stylist will help you through a color match process. They’ll probably have a collection of extension colors that you can hold up to your natural hair to find the one that works best. This always reminds me of the rings of nail colors at a hair salon! If you don’t find one that works perfectly, hair extensions can also be dyed or toned.
Can you wash and brush your hair normally?
Sort of. The main consideration is just to be extra gentle always. You’ll want to use hair products that are gentle and free of parabens or sulfates. For brushing, you might want to use a brush that is specific to extensions — it’s more gentle on the bonds. As far as styling, I feel like I can still do all of the things I would do without hair extensions! I pull my hair up, braid it, throw it in a bun…I’ve never felt limited.
Do they feel weird?
They do take some getting used to! But similar to when you chop off all of your hair and it feels strange, you quickly get used to it. I always think the harder change is going longer — it’s a bit of a shock to all of the sudden have hair getting caught in your purse strap or all over when trying to wash your face.
All-in-all, I absolutely love my hair extensions. I’m so grateful that they gave me back my confidence through stressful and confusing health challenges, and that they now give me the flexibility to play with my hair length and style at will.
If you’re considering hair extensions and have additional questions about my experience, feel free to reach out! I’m always down to talk hair care.