By Ashley Raskie
I have a confession to make: Hair extensions are my favorite procedure as a hairstylist. Don’t get me wrong, I love giving clients a fresh new cut or dying their hair a daring shade of blonde, but for the right client, hair extensions are life-changing. This was true for Helene.** (**Names are changed to protect the identity of my clients.)
Two years ago, Helene came into my salon, desperate. She had thinning hair on the crown of her head. She had been to every salon in her area. She drove over three hours to come to me, hoping I could give her a solution to her problem. No one could help her, and the last thing she wanted was to get a wig and accept defeat. She didn’t want her husband to see her take a wig off at night. She didn’t want to look in the mirror, seeing nothing but her problem areas before she went to bed at night. She wanted to feel good about herself. She wanted to feel pretty.
But I couldn’t help her. At that time, hair extensions were placed in their hair, not on top of the head. I couldn’t help her. And if I couldn’t help her, no one could.
I refused to accept that. So I told her I would figure this out and contact her when I came up with a solution. So I searched. And searched. And searched, until finally, I found a course designed for special hair-extensions techniques. This was it. This was my best chance of helping Helene. So I took an out of state course on specialized techniques. There are only 3 stylists in the state of Wisconsin that offer this advanced technique, so this knowledge isn’t exactly widespread.
When we arrived, we were greeted by four hair models, all with different challenges we needed to help with. One of the models had previously had a brain tumor and survived the treatment, which is amazing, but the treatments had damaged her hairline and she was told she would never be able to grow hair in that area ever again. She was a survivor. Now, it was up to us to make her feel good, so we got to work, learning new techniques we’d never tried before. In the end, we gave her a full head of hair without a wig.
It was overwhelming. I am not an emotional person, especially not in public, but Gwen** had me in tears. We did it. We made her feel good. And we did it again with our other three hair models. It was life-changing. And now I knew I could help Helene.
Not long after that, I contacted Helene, telling her I finally found a solution for her--one I knew would change everything. So I did a private booking for Helene, making sure it was just us two. I combined a hair topper and hand-tied extensions, giving her a full, gorgeous head of hair. And it changed everything. She still comes to me to this day, still travels 3+ hours for her appointment. For her, it’s worth it.
Now, not everyone I treat has such an emotional story, but I do help a ton of women who need extensions. Every time I have these appointments, I empty the salon, so I’m the only one in there with my clients. I am very protective of their secrets and I will do whatever it takes to keep their trust.
That’s because I have a secret, too.
Here’s my secret: I was born with crappy hair. Crappy, fine hair. Growing up, I was never happy with it. I tried everything imaginable to get thicker hair: hair products, expensive shampoos, vitamins. You name it, I tried it. The only thing that ever worked for me was hair extensions. I have been wearing hair extensions for 18 years, which is why this topic is so near and dear to my heart.
Because I can relate.
I’m not just a stylist who applies the extensions, gives you advice and calls it good. No. This is a journey and I’m right here with you every step of the way.
Every client gets hair extensions for different reasons. You might want to change your look up while you’re impatient for your hair to grow back. You might be curious about a new style. Or, like Helene and many other women, you don’t want to focus on your problem areas.
The good news is there are so many options out there these days--more than ever before. But with that comes a bit of analysis paralysis. Do I even want hair extensions? How much do they cost? Which ones are right for me? It’s a lot to take into consideration, but by explaining the different types of hair extensions, hopefully, I can demystify the process a bit and get you on the right track.
The Four Types of Hair Extensions:
Clip-In Hair Extensions
Clip-in hair extensions are, hands down, the most popular type of extension. They're also one of the most affordable. This is because clip-in extensions are easy to apply, usually taking 5 - 15 minutes, depending on the number of extensions, where they are placed, and skill level. They are a good solution if you just want to add length and volume to your hair while you’re waiting for it to grow out. Since it’s easy to take them out and reapply them, they are also a great option if you are looking for a new look for a short period of time, like a special event. Given their affordability and ease of application, they’re also an excellent choice for clients who are new to the hair-extensions process. It is generally not difficult to find stylists who will apply clip-ins for you, and even help you find ones that match your natural hair.
Things to Consider:
Tape-In Hair Extensions
Another popular option, tape-in hair extensions are an alternative to clip-in hair extensions, in terms of affordability and longevity. As the name suggests, tape-in hair extensions are applied to the hair’s root using medical-grade tape. One of the reasons tape-in hair extensions are so popular is because of how discreet they are, since they lie flush to the head and don’t stick out, unlike some other types. They are very quick and easy to apply, typically taking 30 - 60 minutes, depending on how many are being placed. They look very voluminous and natural and are a great option for newbies with fine hair.
Things to Consider:
Hand-Tied Hair Extensions
What do personal trainers, high-quality makeup, and hand-tied hair extensions all have in common? Your favorite celebrity definitely has them. Hand-tied hair extensions are one of the best-kept secrets in Hollywood. Turn on an episode of Keep Up With the Kardashians, The Bachelor, or Grey’s Anatomy, and odds are nearly every woman is wearing hand-tied hair extensions in their locks. But these locks are not just for the Hollywood Elite--at least not anymore. You, too, can achieve thicker, more natural-looking hair with hand-tied hair extensions. So what are they? Hand-tied extensions are wefts of hair that are bound and weaved by hand, integrating with your natural hair. In other words, handwoven. Because they are interwoven into your natural hair, they blend seamlessly and are virtually undetectable to the naked eye. And while they’re more expensive than clip-ins or tape-in extensions, hand-tied hair extensions are some of the most durable. You can even wear them while doing extreme sports, like skydiving and bungee jumping.
Things to Consider:
Unlike other methods that are applied under the hair, hair toppers are specifically designed to be placed on the crown of the head. For so many years, the only option for clients with thin, fine hair on top of the crown as a wig. Not anymore! Hair toppers, or transition pieces, are the ultimate solution for those who want their hair-extensions to blend seamlessly with the rest of their hair. Much like hand-tied extensions, hair toppers are one of the best-kept secrets in Hollywood, with some of the biggest stars wearing them every time they step out of the house or take Instagram shots. But hair toppers are not just for A-Listers, they’re for anyone who wants a long term solution for their thin, fine hair.
Things to Consider:
So how do you know which type of hair extensions is right for you? It comes down to a matter of personal preference, depending on your hair type, your budget, how long you want to wear them, and other lifestyle factors. I would highly recommend consulting your hairstylist before committing to anything, especially ones that are more expensive and long-term. This will also depend on how experienced your stylist is with your desired extensions.
I have experience in all four techniques, but I specialize in hand-tied extensions and hair toppers, oftentimes combining the two methods, depending on the client’s needs, especially for women with thin, fine hair who need the volume.
As I said before, I understand what it’s like to have crappy hair. To be embarrassed when I look in the mirror because I don’t like the way I look. It’s miserable! But if I can change even just one client’s day, by giving them the hair they have always wanted, then I consider my day a success. A day maker, as someone I admire once so eloquently put it. We have the tools. You don’t have to live this way anymore. Because the truth is, you’re not alone. There are more of us out there than you know.
If you’ve made it this far, you were probably born with crappy, fine hair too and you’d like to fix that. If so, join my Facebook group “The Crappy Hair Club”, where I’ll give you practical tips on hair extensions based on your personal needs.
Don’t be shy. By joining this private group, you can use the tools celebrities use every single day to trick us into believing they have Goddess-like hair. No one will ever know your little secret--unless you brag about it.
You can even learn my little secret. You can see what I’m hiding every single day. Because, like you, I have to work at it every single day. And if I can change Helene, Gwen, and my hair, I can change yours too.