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Monday, 6 February 2017

1st blog post - My Hair Extension Experience.

So welcome to my first blog post! I have had a few blogs before but not really taken them very seriously, but I was recently looking online for some hair inspiration and got sucked into the world of hair and beauty bloggers. I have worn hair extensions for about six years now (properly) and wanted to share my own experience with different types of extensions online!
There are a lot of horror stories when it comes to hair extensions and I have plenty of my own but, more recently, I have also had some wonderful experiences too. I want to be completely honest and open with anyone who is considering getting hair extensions and give some advice and warnings with regards to my own personal experience.

It seems only fitting to start way back at the beginning when I got my first set of 'proper' extensions. By proper, I am referring to fitted extensions rather than clip-ins. I had worn clip-in extensions a couple of times for parties or nice meals out, but my hair was relatively long anyway. However, it was very, very thin. I have always had very fine hair but when I was in high school I decided to get a bit dye-happy and was constantly dying it myself. Not a good thing to do, but I was young and if you can't experiment with home-dying when you're young and don't have to worry about getting fired then when can you?! The first time I dyed my hair was actually when I was about 11 years old and my mum dyed it for me... it went bright purple/red and although the colour was nice enough it definitely was not what I wanted and I remember washing my hair again and again to try and get it to come out! And my teachers laughing at me the first day back at school... however, it did wash out as it was semi-permanent and by the end of the school year I was back to my natural blonde. I am very glad I do not have any photos of this to attach as it was pretty awful but just take my word for it!
Anyway, fast forward a good few years of dying/bleaching/dying/bleaching my hair, when I was 15 I got a job in a hair salon. This was my first 'proper' job and I loved watching people get their hair transformed by the stylists, and especially loved watching people get their hair extensions done! I had known about fitted extensions before but had always put it off as something only rich people could afford and I knew that they were priced at around £600 (more or less). For a 15 year old on minimum wage of about £3 an hour, this was obviously very unattainable! However, one of the stylists had a free day and said that if it stayed that way and I bought the hair, she would be happy to fit the extensions. These were bonded, 'glue in' extensions, where basically you have a strand of hair with a keratin bonded 'tip' and the stylist sections your hair and takes tiny strands and heats the bond around your hair so it if fixed on. The bonds are very small and basically undetectable in your hair if done properly. I was warned that if I didn't take good care of them they would matt up and potentially cause some hair loss. I was determined to keep them nice and free from any tangles, and they looked absolutely stunning. I had them styled for my year 11 prom and they look really nice but actually very natural.

Excuse my 15/16 year old self in those pictures but as you can see the hair looks really nice and doesn't look obviously like hair extensions. However, I had a bit of a disaster on holiday in Portugal as I went in a swimming pool without tying my hair back and fell asleep on a sun lounger without brushing the hair extensions out... leading me to wake up to huge matts of hair in the bonds! They were literally impossible to brush out so I had to just do my best, leave oil on them and try and brush out as much as possible. When I came back off my holiday it was extremely busy at the salon and nobody really had any time to help me get them out. By the time one of the stylists DID manage to get them out, they were completely matted at the root and absolutely loads of my hair ripped out in the process. The way bonded extensions are removed is by using acetone to break down the bond then brushing it out of the hair. I was told that this would not cause much damage if looked after (and clearly mine weren't AS looked after as they could've been) but I was absolutely heartbroken when I saw my hair afterwards. I literally felt bald, especially after having had such long, thick extensions in for about four months. I had always been self conscious about my hair but this was another level. I had started hairdressing college by that point and as there was still some glue in my hair, the teacher actually ended up having to use hair straighteners to melt it out as it had got stuck in clumps. Needless to say, I was not happy and swore I would never get fitted extensions again. I wore clips for a little while but hated how whenever I took them out I had to deal with my horrible thin hair again. Then, I was introduced to micro-bead extensions. 
By this point I had left hairdressing college and returned to sixth form, but one of the hairdressers I used to work with and had stayed in touch with said that if I bought the hair she wouldn't charge me a lot to fit them. No glue was involved; microbeads are essentially like easilocks in that they use a small ring to 'lock' the strand of hair onto your own hair. As no heat was involved I thought I would give them a go and was happy with them for a good few months! I was dark haired by this point too as after the glued extensions had wrecked my hair I had decided I didn't want to continue bleaching it. 

I didn't really have any issues with the microbeads; I had a bit of matting but nothing like the glued in ones and loved how easy it was to have them refitted. I then decided to go 'ombre' as, in 2011, this was just starting to become popular and I knew that because I was using these extensions they would be able to simply dye the top of the extensions darker without really affecting my hair a lot. I had them like this for a holiday in Florida where it was very muggy despite it being Christmas time, and started to have a few issues.

Unfortunately this is the only picture I have which properly shows them but basically you can see how thin they are compared to the others; this was because, for some reason, the hair just would not stay in the locks. Perhaps they were the wrong size or something, I'm not sure, but they just would not stop sliding out so I came back from America with about half the extensions I originally went with! The only solution my hairdresser at the time could suggest was to try glueing them in, which she did... and although they did not really cause any matts as such, when it came to taking them out the pain was awful. My mum had to get the ones out of the back out of my hair, using acetone and a comb, and it just ripped a lot of my hair out again. After this I went back to using clips again because not only was my mum sick and tired of hearing me moan about them, I was losing a lot more hair than I originally thought I would.
*Just a disclaimer here, I definitely did not look after the extensions how I should've done and if you DO look after them, you shouldn't lose as much hair as I did. Having said that, I properly shouldn't have been allowed to have the glued ones in in the first place as my hair is EXTREMELY fine and prone to matting as it is wavy*
I got used to using clip in hair extensions and actually just bought them from my local market for a while because they did really good hair and usually threw in a little deal if they recognised you. As you can see from the photos that follow, I had a LOT of different hair colours over the years, and some extensions look better than others, but all in all none of them look absolutely horrific considering they were cheap extensions.

In my opinion they all look pretty nice and it just goes to show how real clip in extensions can look if you don't want to spend a lot of money on fitted extensions! I wore clip in extensions pretty much every day until June 2016 where I decided to get easilocks. Like I previously said, I would mostly get the hair from my local market but when I went to university and had a bit more disposable income (aka my LOAN ha) I decided to invest in extensions from HeadKandy/Dirty Looks or whatever they are called now as they seem to change their name every other week ha! I believe they are now called Milk&Blush, but anyway - the point is that their hair extensions are VERY good. They come in a range of lengths and I used to get 20-22inch because I loved having long long hair, and if you aren't sure on a colour you can send them a picture of your hair and they will match them up for you. The hair is non returnable once unpackaged, but they give you a 'spare' piece which you can try out and see if it suits your colour when it arrives so that if you do need to return them you are still able to do this. I didn't have any issues with these hair extensions and they lasted me a good 8 months and I wore them every single day so that is saying something! However, I kept seeing pictures of people having easilocks, and one of my friends actually had them done so I asked her for a recommendation and if they were actually worth it. She said they were, and recommended me a salon in Manchester called Elysium. I was a bit nervous as I had had bad experiences with fitted extensions in the past, but as it was my 21st birthday and I had saved up some money I decided to treat myself!
I had a consultation with a stylist named Lydia who was absolutely lovely, and the salon has its own instagram where you can see all of the work they do. I explained my situation and how I would like my hair coloured (my hair at this point was a reddy-brown colour and my hair had actually grown out quite a lot!). She said easilocks would be fine and once we agreed on the sort of colour I wanted to go, she matched me up to the colour of extensions and booked me in for the following week to have my colour done on one day and my extensions fitted the next.
Now, let me just point out that my hair was pretty wrecked despite me having really toned down on the dying and heat for the past year or so. Also, Manchester prices are always going to be A LOT higher than smaller city/towns. You also need to take into consideration that you do in a way get what you pay for, and I was not at all willing to have my hair wrecked again by paying a cheaper price. The full cost of my hair being dyed/cut/styled and extensions fitted came to nearly £1000. Yes, a lot to spend on hair but I really wanted it doing and knew that I would love the results. I don't have a before photo unfortunately but the after result is this. 

ABSOLUTELY STUNNING PRINCESS HAIR! I was over the moon with how nice it was and got so many compliments on it. However, for me £1000 was very very expensive and I knew that the refitting/dying would be equally expensive so when the time came for me to have them refitted (they should be refitted every 2/3 months to ensure that they do not cause any damage to your hair) I actually did some research to find people in my local area. I live in a town between Preston and Blackpool in England and found a hairdresser named Becky Janade who worked at a salon called Isis in Blackpool. After a few messages, I had a consultation and discussed what I would like her to do with my hair. I knew I wanted to go a bit lighter and after going to Kendal Calling music festival my hair was in need of some serious TLC! Becky lightened my hair a little using Olaplex to ensure the integrity of the hair and refitted the extensions.

My hair on the left is my hair after Becky took the hair extensions out, and the left is the result of the redying and refitting! As you can see, my hair on the left actually looks really long and quite thick (not ridiculously thick but doesn't look too much thinner than the hair on the right in my opinion!). I was really happy with the hair, and for me to have balayage, an Olaplex treatment, my hair cut, washed, blow dried and then all the extensions refitted and styled it came to around £220! A bargain in my opinion - the refitting itself costs £150 I believe so considering it takes about 6 hours for Becky to do all of that, I think it is a very good price! (Of course, my boyfriend and friends wince at that price but they don't have extensions so can't really compare it - especially my boyfriend who pays a fiver to turn up to a barbers and sit hoping he can be squeezed in!). To see how the hair sits on a day to day basis, I've included some other photos other than the ones taken at the hairdressers.

Fast forward a few months and it was time for my next refitting! I was already studying in Italy by this point but was coming home to visit family and friends so booked my hair in for when I was back. This was November so three months after my last refitting and definitely due to be done again! We, again, went a little lighter as I planned to change some of the hair after this specific fitting. This was because even though the hair had kept pretty well, I had some extremely dark strands in there which were starting to bug me as they were making the whole hair look darker than it was! So, this was how the next fitting looked...

A lot blonder! But still keeping with the balayage-y trend to give it a bit of depth. And look how long my hair looks without them in too! These again lasted for three months and I have only just had my most recent fitting, last week. This time I decided to replace the really dark strands with very very blonde ones in order to keep going blonder! This cost a little more as I was replacing the hair, and we also agreed to use a different brand of extensions - BeautyWorks. This was because they did pretty much the same colour as the easilocks ones I had chosen but for less money and more hair... for me it made sense to choose these as the look would be the same! Only time will tell if they hair actually lasts as long as the easilocks hair but Becky assured me it would so I have no doubts in this respect. 

So there you have it! A long post to start on, but I wanted to give as much insight as possible into my experience with hair extensions. I honestly cannot fault the easilocks/beauty works as they have allowed me to have long hair without the hassle of having to clip them in and take them out every single day! I would say that if you get really head sore then be wary as for a few days they can make you head quite sore but it is nothing unbearable at all.  
If you've made it this far then I applaud you and hope you enjoyed my first blog post!
Lauren x

Lauren Gibbins
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[name=Lauren Gibbins] [img=Your Image Url Here] [description=I'm Lauren, I'm a 21 year old student from Manchester currently studying in Italy for my erasmus year abroad.] ( ( (bloglovin=

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