Can a Low Maintenance Businesswoman Rock Barbie Locks?
Words Hannah Kane
It seems like every Instagram babe worth her influencer status has hair down to her peachy, squat-honed bum these days, and frankly it’s easy to find yourself having a touch of hair envy. Indeed, more often than not, the pop starlets we shoot for PHOENIX get extensions put in to add some extra wow factor. On one occasion the poplet forgot her hair clip-in extensions so we had to send an emergency courier to retrieve said hair from her flat. True story.
I had long hair from childhood right up until I finished my undergraduate degree, that is before I began a career in Fashion and chopped it all off in a pixie cut to rival my (then) favourite model Agyness Dean. I toyed with various incarnations of short hair for the next decade, only starting to grow it when I started hankering for a long swishy mane again. Hair though, takes a long time to grow. I researched hair extensions online, but various horror stories of traction alopecia (bald patches due to tension) dissuaded me from giving them a go.
That was until I heard about Russian tape hair extensions at Beauty & Melody which promised little to no damage to your real hair. Celebrity fans of the tape method include Olga Kurylenko and Game of Thrones actress Laura Pradelska. The first step was a consultation at their Marble Arch salon, a sleek oasis of oyster and pearl tones a stone’s throw from the bustle of Oxford Street. They inspected my natural hair colour and took a few snaps for reference.
A week later, my hair had arrived and I was back in for the fitting. The stylist Mel, a super chatty and nimble-fingered Aussie, got to work washing my hair, drying it, and fixing the virgin Russian hair (virgin as in untreated, not relating to the promiscuity or otherwise of the hair’s previous owner) using surgical grade adhesive tape, sandwiching my real hair in between two narrow wefts. The whole process was remarkably speedy, I was done in less than two hours and left with bona fide princess hair half way down my back. Mel told me to not wash my hair for 48 hours and that to care for the extensions properly I should use sulphate-free products and nothing oil based or I would loosen the adhesive.
The aesthetic effect was dramatic, on my way home I swear people were staring at me and smiling, perhaps they thought I was some bird they’d seen on Instagram. The men in my life were clueless. The boyfriend didn’t notice for two days until the difference was pointed out, but I can tell he likes the “new do”. My Dad asked where the join was, *bless*. Feedback from the girls however was excellent, who commented that the colour match is impeccable – exactly the right mix of blonde tones. The extensions look so natural people at parties keep saying to me, “it must have been ages since we last caught up, look how much your hair has grown.”
For the first week the tapes felt rather tight, and I had a minor headache I attributed to the extra weight on the back of my head. I soon got used to them though, and as they grew out a couple of millimetres the tightness eased. I’m being careful to brush my hair with a large Mason Pearson natural bristle brush and braid it in a loose plait before bed. I also treated myself to a silk pillowcase which prevents bedhead tangles with the added bonus of helping prevent wrinkles. Living with extensions is easier than expected. You wash and style them as you would your normal hair (although drying takes much longer, obviously), and most importantly for me, I can still wear my crash helmet for riding.
Four weeks in I had a major freak out when one of the tapes fell out unnoticed on the kitchen floor. I had to move fast to retrieve it from the jaws of my curious Pom, who presumably thought it was a small furry animal that needed to be hunted. On closer inspection a clump of hair had come out by the root. Over the course of a week 4 more pieces fell out by the root, which worried me immensely – was I going to be left with bald patches? I rushed back to Mel who said she had never seen this happen, and concluded that I naturally shed a lot of hair, taking the extensions with them. We all naturally shed around 100 strands a day. She fixed them back to thicker sections of my hair and, touch wood, everything seems to be fine.
Six weeks in and the tapes are starting to grow out, the salon recommends having them refitted every 8-10 weeks, and the hair is good for up to 2 years. I’ve definitely noticed an extra confidence boost from my new found luscious locks – they’re not cheap but there’s a lot to be said for having a good hair day Every Single Day. Will I get them refitted? Yes, I plan to. After a while they really do feel like an extension of yourself.
Prices range from £300 for a half head, 14 inches length to £795 for a full head, 26 inches length. Beauty & Melody, 19 Great Cumberland Place, W1H 7AS.