[Disclosure: my extensions were provided and fitted free of charge]
A few days ago, then, I opened up my Instagram Stories to questions, and, as a result, here’s everything you wanted to know about Great Lengths hair extensions…
Why do you get hair extensions when you have long hair anyway?
Fair question: my extensions don’t actually add any length to my hair (Or not much, anyway…), so, for me, the benefit is purely in terms of the extra volume they give it. My hair has always been long, but while it’s not particularly thin, it’s never been been thick enough to give me that ‘big hair’ look I’ve always coveted, and that’s where the extensions come in. One of the stylists who worked on my hair this time around actually told me they have more clients requesting extensions for volume than for length these days, so it’s definitely not the case that you can only use extensions if you want long, Rapunzel-style hair – they can work with a variety of different lengths and styles.
What type of extensions do you get?
Mine are Great Lengths extensions, which are applied as individual bonds. The stylist carefully wraps each bond around a small section of your own hair, and then fixes it in place with a Great lengths application machine. You can also use tapes to attach hair extensions, but it’s a more temporary method, which only lasts for around 6-8 weeks, whereas the bonded extensions I use can last up to 6 months, with proper care.
What’s the price range?
This is one of those, ‘How long is a piece of string?’ questions, unfortunately. Because each set of Great Lengths extensions is tailored to the customer, the price will vary from person to person, and depends on how many bonds are used (Leane used around 100 bonds on my hair to create the look shown above, which, believe it or not, is considered a ‘half head’ of extensions…), as well as on the length of the hair (The longer, the more expensive…), and you also have to bear in mind that the application process is pretty lengthy (excuse the pun) too: it took around three hours to fit my extensions, then they have to be trimmed and styled on top of that, so… yeah, it’s not going to be cheap, let’s put it that way. Luckily, most salons offer a free consultation, so you can find out the exact price for you, before committing to it, but, as a (very, very rough) guide, Taylor Ferguson quote prices starting from £450 for a half-head of extensions, and £850 for a full head. Again, though, your mileage will vary, so please don’t quote me on that!
(Just to reiterate here, my own extensions were free of charge, in exchange for blog and social media coverage. Yes, I am very lucky…)
How easy is it to match the colour when you’re a redhead?
If you’re using bespoke hair extensions, like Great Lengths, it’s really easy (No, seriously!); if, on the other hand, you’re going for clip-in extensions bought online, though, I’d say it’s pretty much impossible. Over the years I’ve been blogging, I’ve had tons of hair extension manufacturers contact me with offers to review their products, and, honestly, not a single one of them came even close to matching my natural colour: in fact, most of them didn’t seem to stock ANY red hair at all, which is why, up until Great Lengths first contacted me last year, I’d assumed that hair extensions were one of those things I was never going to be able to try.
Luckily for me, though, because Great Lengths are matched to your own hair colour, I was able to go ahead without any issues at all. My extensions are actually made up of three different shades, which were selected by the salon during my consultation, and then expertly blended to match my hair. The results is an almost perfect match, which people are always amazed by when they discover that not all of my hair is ‘mine’: even if I grab a handful of it myself, and look at it, I find it impossible to tell the difference between my own hair and the extensions, so, as I said, with this particular brand, it’s super-easy to match the colour!
Does it harm your existing hair or make it thinner?
This was something I really worried about with my first set of extensions: in fact, when I went in to have them removed, I was silently panicking the whole time, completely convinced that they’d take out the extensions and I’d be left completely bald. Thankfully, though – and, as with most of the things I tend to worry about – my fears turned out to be unfounded, and here’s my hair immediately after the first set of extensions came out:
So, definitely not bald, then, and, actually, there was no difference at all in the condition of my hair: which there really shouldn’t be, assuming you’ve looked after the extensions properly, and had them fitted and removed by people who know what they’re doing, and have been properly trained. This time around, my previous set of extensions had come a few months before the current set were fitted, and my hair was in much worse condition than usual, purely because, well, I’d completely neglected to have it cut in… actually, on second thoughts, let’s not even go there, OK? The roots, however (Which is where the extensions are attached, obviously) have no damage at all: there’s been no hair loss, no breakage, and basically no difference at all in the condition of my hair before and after the extensions: phew!
(I always worry when a product was free or sponsored that people will read my review and just think, “Well, she WOULD say that when she got it free, wouldn’t she?”, but I really want to emphasise here that, not only would I not be able to sleep at night if I thought I’d recommended something that would damage someone’s hair, I definitely wouldn’t have agreed to repeat this process three separate times now if I even suspected it was damaging mine!)
Did you have to change hair products or use special shampoo?
Yes! This is one of the downsides to getting hair extensions, really: you can’t just throw any old shampoo and conditioner into your cart as you’re walking around the supermarket – instead, you have to pore over the label to make sure the products you use aren’t going to make your precious extensions fall out. The most important things to note here are that you can’t use products which contain sulphates, which can cause the bonds to break down – so, basically, the gentler, more natural your hair products are, the better, really, With my first set, I used either Great Lengths own-brand products, or the Kerastase Extensioniste range (*affiliate link), which was recommended by the salon. This time around, I’ve just discovered the Shea Moisture range (affiliate link), which is available at ASOS, and is sulphate free, so I’ll be giving that one a go, too.
Are they hard to maintain?
Yes and no. The type of extensions I have are real hair, so, in theory, you basically just look after them the same way you’d look after your own hair – with the important caveat that you need to choose products that are safe to use with extensions, obviously. In practice, though, I do find them harder to maintain than my own hair, purely because there’s just SO. MUCH. HAIR, to deal with. I mean, I thought my own hair took ages to dry, for instance, but, with the extensions I basically have to block out some time in my diary just to do my hair, and that’s definitely a bit of a pain, especially given that time is something I don’t have a lot of right now.
Do you find they make your hair feel heavier?
Only if I’m wearing it up (Which I don’t do very often, to be fair,,,), at which point it can feel a bit heavy/weird: when it’s down, though, it doesn’t feel any different from my own hair: I guess that could just be because I’m so used to it, though!