Ever since I was thirteen years old, I’ve had an obsession with hair extensions. My addiction started with my first purchase of tatty monofibre hair from a local fashion store, and before I knew it, I was hooked. I loved how I was instantly transformed – even if it only looked good for a day or two.
Once I turned 20, I started to invest in human hair extensions. Clip-ins, ponytails- anything except the semi-permanent styles. And, as I grew into a young lady and entered the workforce, I would spend hundreds on clip-in human hair extensions, desperate to maintain my long flowing locks. It got to the point where I wouldn’t even dare to venture as far as my local Tesco without my clip-ins firmly in place.
Now, at twenty-three, I’ve decided to take the plunge and try bonded hair extensions for the very first time. No more running into town last minute before a night out to buy some clip-ins, no more feeling like a fool walking to Tesco with dolly hair, no more pony tales. Just beautiful, long, silky hair – for five months.
When I get the offer to review Great Lenghts extensions, I jump at the chance because I recognise the name as the celebrity choice. And while I I feel extremely lucky to receive this treatment, I still have my reservations. What makes me hesitant to try them?
To put it in a nutshell, I am concerned about how the hair is sourced. We’ve all heard the horror stories about hair that has been stolen from children in countries such as China, Russia and Brazil, so I want to get to the root (pardon the pun) of where this hair has come from.
I am also worried that they won’t be as long as the blonde 22 inch extensions I normally go for, that they will hurt when I sleep and that they may damage my hair. So many questions…
So, on a dark-too-early Wednesday evening, I venture out from my current Dublin home to No. 84 Salon located on the main street in Bray, Co Wicklow. Open for just over two years, it’s earned its reputation as ‘Bray’s Favourite Salon’, and once I step through the door, I instantly understand why.
I am greeted by the award-winning hairdresser Niav Brennan, Great Lengths stylist extraordinaire. With eight years of experience in every aspect of hair design, Niav hosts a very impressive, solid clientele. She has also been awarded the Great Lengths ‘Hall of Fame’ title for her expertise, so I’m relieved to know that I’m in safe hands.
My first question to Niav is about how the hair is purchased.
She explains that the hair is 100% ethical, as it is sourced from Indian temples where, during a religious ritual, the hair is offered. A fair price always is paid to the local communities for the hair.
She also tells me that the extensions last up to five months when they’re looked after properly, and once they are removed they can be donated to the Little Princess Trust. The trust makes real-hair wigs for children who have suffered from hair loss due to cancer or alopecia.I feel relieved to learn this – as it had been one of my greatest concerns.
Before I know it, Niav sits me down in a comfortable chair and picks out all of the different hair strands to use. She has ordered in their second-longest length, 45cm, to create the Rapunzel-style look I have in mind. To create a natural-looking balayage effect, five different shades of blonde are also used to bring out the natural hues in my hair, ranging from bright platinum to caramel.
Niav starts the treatment with a thorough cleanse, really massaging the scalp for pure indulgence. Her array of Bed Head products make me delightfully nostalgic; I’d forgotten how good they smell! Once towel-dried, Niav blow-dries my hair smoothly and straight and begins to apply the bonds.
Each bond is attached to a bunch of strands measuring about one millimetre across, about one quarter length away from the scalp to prevent tension on the scalp. Once the bond is placed on the hair, a hot iron tool is used to melt the Keratin bond onto the hair. The karatin on the bond has been proven not to damage the real hair, making it the most popular type of semi-permanent extensions out there.
For those of us who get bored easily, this is a lengthy treatment which takes about three to four hours. However, Niav’s bubbly personality makes the time fly by. “If I can advise you one thing to do with these extensions, it’s to brush them,” she says, “don’t be afraid to get right into the root to prevent tangling at the bonds.”
One of the perks of this treatment is that included in the €800-€900 price is a Great Lengths special brush, Great Lengths special shampoo, a free follow-up appointment and free removal. She explains that Great Lengths extensions cause no damage to the hair and being 100% human hair, they are remarkably easy to look after.
The four hours I spend with Niav are not only fun and informative, but the hours of work she put in pays off. The result is astonishing, and I love my new hair extensions, mostly because they look so natural and glossy; my hair is much thicker, longer and healthier looking.
I leave the salon feeling excited to show off my new hair, and delighted that I can look so glamorous for the next five months. Will I go back to clip-ins? Nope. I have completely bonded with the bonds.
For more information, please visit http://www.greatlengthshair.