Last Thursday, I lost approximately 40% of my hair.
Oh, don’t worry: this isn’t the story of some traumatic event that made my hair fall out overnight (Although, to be totally honest, the thought of having to live with my natural hair after 6 months with extensions WAS pretty traumatic…): it was just time for me to have my Great Lengths hair extensions removed – and a sad day it would’ve been, too, if it weren’t for the fact that… I’ll get to that shortly.
This was a day I’d been dreading since the moment I had my extensions fitted, back in June, but I knew the time had come, so I headed back to Taylor Ferguson, in Glasgow city centre, feeling a bit like Samson must have when he woke up and realised he’d been de-haired.
The removal process itself was really straightforward: and, sure, it took two stylists the best part of an hour to remove all of the bonds (They apply liquid to dissolve the glue, then use heat to gently slide them off the hair…), but other than the occasional bit of gentle tugging, I didn’t feel anything at all – other than a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, obviously, every time I glanced into the mirror and saw another strand of hair being pulled from my head. So, I basically spent the whole time just sitting there repeating the mantra, “IT’S NOT YOUR HAIR, AMBER. IT’S NOT YOUR HAIR.”
NOT MY HAIR.
As alarming as it is to see “your” hair literally coming out in clumps, this is, of course, the removed extensions, and the good news is that, once removed, they’re gathered up, and then donated to the Little Princess Trust, who’ll use the hair to make free wigs for children affected by hair-loss. So, as sad as I was to see my beloved Great Lengths go, I’m really happy to know that they’ll benefit someone else in this way -it’s a great cause, and one I’m really happy to be able to support.
I have to admit, though, I was REALLY nervous about seeing my natural hair again without the extensions. When I had them fitted, I’d been reassured by both Great Lengths themselves, and by the team at Taylor Ferguson, that the extensions wouldn’t damage my own hair in the slightest: there’s always that tiny bit of doubt in your mind, though, and I knew that, even if the hair underneath was totally fine, it was going to feel super-thin without the extra help it had been getting for the past six months, so, yeah: I was worried.
Luckily, though, I was – as is often the way with me – worrying about nothing, because here’s my hair once the extensions came out:
PHEW! Still there, then!
(And no, they didn’t curl it: I was instructed not to bother washing it before my appointment, so this curl is from about three days earlier…)
This looked a whole lot better than I’d been imagining, but it FELT really thin, compared to what it had been like with the extensions in. It wasn’t actually any thinner than it had been when I started this process, of course (So, no, the extensions didn’t cause any hair loss or bald spots, and really shouldn’t, as long as they’re good quality extensions, which had been properly applied. This is why I’m glad I went with Great Lengths,and had them fitted at a salon I knew I could trust – you really don’t want to take any risks with your crowning glory, do you?): it was just such a contrast that I think I’d have cried if I hadn’t known what was coming next…
As for what WAS coming next: well, first of all, there was the best shampoo I’ve ever had in my life, not even joking:
I guess the one downside of having hair extensions is the fact that, while you DO obviously wash them, you never really feel like you’re giving your scalp a good scrub, because you’re having to try your best to be super-gentle and avoid damaging the bonds. So, as much as I was dreading the day I’d have to have my extensions removed, I was also secretly looking forward to running my hands through my hair, and having it shampooed properly. So, yes, this was absolute bliss, seriously. And, afterwards…
It was time to start again. Because, luckily for me, in one of those moments where you have to pinch yourself just to make sure you’re not imagining things, when it was time for my original extensions to be removed, Great Lengths asked me if I’d like another set.
Umm, lemme just think about that for a second…
I wrote a fairly in-depth post about the application process last time I had Great Lengths hair extensions applied, so I won’t repeat myself. What I did want to touch on here, though, were the reasons why I was so happy to be able to repeat this process: and why I genuinely felt heartbroken at the thought of having my original extensions taken out.
See, the fact is, this year my self-confidence – which has never been very high – hit rock bottom. Any time I mention this, most people assume it’s some kind of post-partum body image crisis, but, honestly, my figure has been the least of my worries. I think I got pretty lucky in that respect: sure, until I lost the baby weight, I feel pretty crappy about myself, but, once the weight was gone, I more or less stopped thinking about it. My clothes all fit me again, and while I know a lot of women say that, even when they lose the weight, their body just looks different, mine looks pretty much the same to me (Albeit with the addition of an attractive scar across my abdomen…), really. I’m not saying I’m 100% happy with it – I mean, what woman IS, really? – but I’m not any more UNhappy with it than I was before I got pregnant… it’s everything ELSE I’ve been unhappy with.
I’m not going to give a list of all of my flaws here, because, well, I’m not 14 years old any more, writing Dear Diary entries about how none of the boys at school will ever like me, but suffice it to say that there have been times this year when, if I could’ve covered up all of the mirrors in the house, I would have. I know that probably sounds odd coming from someone who frequently posts photos of herself on the Internet, but it’s true: for every photo I’ve posted here, there have been at least 50 I’ve deleted, because I looked like Gollum in them. Truth.
And, I mean, I’ve always felt a bit like that, to be totally honest: but, in the days BM (Before Max), there was generally something I could do to make myself feel a little bit better. I had time to wash and style my hair every day, for instance: time to put on a full-face of makeup, even when I wasn’t planning to leave the house; time to plan outfits, or shop for things that were just right. Now, by contrast, I don’t have time for any of that. Sure, there are days when I do manage to pull something together and look vaguely presentable, but there’s a good reason why outfit posts have been a bit thin on the ground this year, and it’s that, 6 days out of 7, I’m so short on time that I end up leaving the house wearing something I just threw on at the last minute, and without any makeup. I get told I look tired a lot. It’s actually just how I look without makeup.
So, in short, I know it’s not the done thing to admit this, because we’re all supposed to be body positive these days, and constantly banging on about how we’re ALL BEAUTIFUL, but this year I REALLY haven’t felt beautiful: in fact, I’ve barely even felt passable most of the time.
But I’ve had good hair.
And I honestly think it’s the one thing that’s saved my sanity on the worst days: the ones where the bags under my eyes have been suitcase-sized, and I’ve gone out in public looking like it was the baby who dressed me, rather than the other way around. This year I have not looked my best, to put it mildly.
But … I’ve had good hair.
And the fact that it wasn’t actually MY hair didn’t really matter to me, because it was thick, and swishy, and it held a curl for days on end, and didn’t have to be washed every day. So I could get up every morning, release it from its messy sleep bun, and instantly be like, “Hey! I don’t own a single item of clothing I don’t hate, and I look like I’ve recently been exhumed, but my hair is ON POINT.” And it – normally – was. It was as if EVERY day was a good hair day – and without a whole lot of effort, either, because, although hair extensions do require more maintenance than natural hair does, once I’d got my routine down, I found I only had to wash my hair a couple of times a week – if that – and the rest of the time, I didn’t even have to think about it. I could just trust that it would look OK, every day, without me having to do much: and that was kind of life changing, really – insofar as hair can ever really BE life-changing. (And I think we all know that it CAN, amiright?)
All of which is to say that when Great Lengths kindly offered me another set of extensions, I felt a bit like I’d had a last-minute stay of execution: I know I’ll have to go back to my natural hair soon… but I don’t have to do it RIGHT NOW, which is a pretty big deal for me, really.
This time around, I decided to go for 20″ extensions, rather than the 18″ I’d had last time – mostly because, as you can see from the ‘before’ photo above, I knew my own hair had grown almost as long as the original extensions had been, and I wanted to be able to see the difference. I mean, go big or go home, right?
It took stylist Leanne a good couple of hours to fit the new hair, and then it was time for a quick trim by Taylor himself:
Here’s the finished result, right after the extensions were fitted:
And here it is a few days later, styled with a loose wave, which is how I normally wear it:
As with the last time I had Great Lengths, I’m so impressed with the colour match: the extensions blend seamlessly with my natural colour, and, as I had long hair to start with, I don’t think anyone who hadn’t read my blog would realise I was wearing extensions. And that, I think is the best result you can hope for with something like this: for people to look at you, and, simply think, “Great hair!” rather than thinking, “Great extensions!”
So, thanks again to Great Lengths for allowing me to have decent hair for another few months – and, of course, to the team at Taylor Ferguson for, once again, doing such an amazing job of fitting them for me!