When I mentioned I was getting Great Lengths hair extensions, everyone was a little bit surprised. And by “everyone” I mean, “my mum”. And by “surprised,” I mean, “aghast”.
“What do you want hair extensions for?” she asked, horrified. “Your hair’s lovely the way it is! Are you going to end up looking like one of the Real Housewives?”
And, I mean, I get it – I do. Not the Real Housewives bit, obviously – I don’t watch it myself, but from what I’ve seen, I’m thinking I don’t have the tan or the teeth for it. Or, you know, the boobs. Or the mansion. Or the tiny little dog. Or the bitchy friends who invite me round for coffee just so they can talk about me later. So, yeah, it seems I’ve absorbed more of that show than I realised. Where was I?
Oh yeah: Great Lengths hair extensions, and why I got them.
Honest answer to that one?
I got them because their PR contacted me back in January, and asked me if I’d like to try them out, and I thought, “Well, why the hell not?” And, in all honesty, hair extensions weren’t something that were on my radar at that stage. I was aware of them, obviously, and I knew I’d probably like them: my friend Lindsay had some a while back, and hers were amazing, so I knew extensions had the potential to make you look like a real-life Disney princess, and who wouldn’t want THAT, I ask you? I also knew, however, that hair extensions can be super-expensive, and, as my hair was already long, I couldn’t really imagine there being a time when I’d be able to justify that cost.
Every so often, though, my career as a blogger allows me to do things I’d never otherwise be able to afford, and if that isn’t a good reason to start a blog, I don’t know what is. Like, I seriously wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self, “Listen, young Padawan, and listen well: one day there will be a thing called The Internet, and it will lead to a thing called Blogging, and I want you to get in on that real quick, so that one day you can get Great Lengths hair extensions applied at one of the best salons in Scotland. You’ll thank me for this later. Also, don’t get the perm you currently want: you’ll thank me for that, too.”
All of which serves to explain how it was that, one day last week, I found myself sitting in front of the team at Glasgow’s Taylor Ferguson, while the man himself ran his hands through my hair, to see if it was going to be suitable for extensions.
First, though, I have to rewind 6 months: I was, as I said, originally contacted by the people at Great Lengths hair extensions back in January. I had, however, just had Max at the time, and while my hair still felt fine at that stage, I knew some postpartum hair loss was probably in the post for me – and that it likely wouldn’t be a great idea to attach hair extensions to hair that was about to fall out anyway. Great Lengths agreed, and advised me to wait until now: I’m happy to report that my shedding returned to normal a few weeks ago, and when I went in to meet the Taylor Ferguson team last week, they had a good look, and declared my hair to be strong, healthy, and the perfect candidate for extensions: yay! They then spent a bit of time working out the correct colour to order, then booked me in with stylist Tammy for later that week. Yeah, I was just a little bit excited…
While I’ve never explored the possibility of “proper” extensions before, there have been multiple occasions in the past when brands have approached me with the offer to review their clip-in versions… offers which I’ve been really enthusiastic about, right up to the point where I’ve send them photos of my hair to match the colour, and they’ve just been like, “Er, actually, no, we can’t do that: see ya!” A couple of times, brands have sent me what they felt was their best match, and it’s always been NOTHING like my natural hair colour: as with most things hair-related, it seems that redheads aren’t well catered for by the manufacturers of hair extensions, so I was honestly a little bit worried that the colour match wouldn’t look natural. I needn’t have been, though, because when I turned up at Taylor Ferguson on Thursday, this is what was waiting for me:
And it was EXACT. As in, you could have convinced me it was my own hair lying there, as freaky as that would be. And this, I guess, is why you get what you pay for when it comes to something like this. Great Lengths hair extensions come in a huge range of colours as it is, but the true genius is in the blending of those colours: Tammy blended three different shades of red to create a perfect match for my natural hair colour – which, like anyone else’s, contains a whole range of shades, going from dark red to almost-blonde, and everything in between. Cheaper extensions, like the clip-ins I’ve been sent in the past, tend to contain just one colour, which is why is doesn’t always look real. These extensions, however, are expertly blended, and I was more than happy to have them fitted, safe in the knowledge that they weren’t going to look totally different from my own hair.
Great Lengths Hair Extensions: The Application
After a quick shampoo and blow-dry (Quick shout-out here to the team at Taylor Ferguson, whose “rough blow dry” looked about a million times better than when I’ve spent an hour on it…), we were ready to get started. As I already have a lot of hair of my own (I’ve been really lucky, and, even after the postpartum hair loss, my hair is still pretty thick…), I went for a half-set, which consisted of 100 bonds: a full-set would obviously be double that, and would’ve been INSANE in my hair, but if you’re starting off with less hair, or going for a more dramatic look, you obviously have that option.
My Great Lengths hair extensions were applied as individual bonds: so Tammy took small sections of my own hair, and then fixed each extension in place using a special machine, which secures the bonds. It took around two hours to attach all 100 strands, which was actually quicker than I’d expected. It’s quite a strange experience to go to the hairdresser and actually see your hair getting gradually LONGER as you sit there, but it was also pretty fun, and, as each strand was attached, I could already tell I was going to love it:
There’s quite a bit of artistry involved in this application technique, and Tammy obviously knew what she was doing there, because she managed to apply the extensions in a way that totally blended in with my own hair, and didn’t really require much in the way of styling, afterwards. As you can see from the photo, though, the extensions are a little rough at the edges when they first go on, so they do need a trim – or a complete cut and style if you’re having them for volume, rather than length – and I had a final treat in store here, because my finished extensions were to be trimmed by Taylor Ferguson himself:
Taylor is generally recognised as the King of Scottish hairdressing, and does the hair of many a celebrity client, so, as I said, it was a real treat for me to have him work on my hair, although Tammy had done such an amazing job of fitting the extensions that there really wasn’t much else required.
You can, of course, have your new hair cut into any style you like: my thinking here, though, was that, if I was going to have extensions, I might as well go big, or go home, so I opted to keep as much length as possible (The extensions themselves were 18″ and I belive you can go a little bit longer, with 20″ strands. Totally doing that next time. And yes, that “next time” is a little bit of foreshadowing there for you, because, the whole time they were being fitted, I was sitting there thinking, “Oh crap, I’m never going to want to go back to my own hair now, am I? So this will be a REALLY expensive blog “freebie”…), and just had it tidied up a little.
Ready for the Before & After?
As you can see, the length isn’t too different, but OMG, the VOLUME. It’s just SO much thicker, and because there’s so much more hair, it feels much longer to me, even although it isn’t. It also feels heavier, unsurprisingly, and the first time I tried to tie it back, I laughed, because my hair tie would only JUST go around it twice: so, it’s a LOT of hair, basically – and I couldn’t be happier with it. It’s a my-hair-but-better look, basically, and, as I said, although I went into this viewing it as a one-off that I’d do purely because I’d been given the opportunity, and thought it sounded like a fun thing to try, I’m already dreading the day I have to have them removed. I think I might cry, actually. In fact, I KNOW I will.
Caring for your Great Lengths Hair Extensions:
On that note, my new extensions should last from 4 – 5 months, with the correct care. Great Lengths have sent me a care package consisting of their own products, and Tammy also gave me a ton of advice on what to use. Basically, they can be treated and styled in much the same way you would your own hair: the main thing to be aware of is that some supermarket shampoo brands contain chemicals that can mess with the bonds, so I’ve ordered some of my favourite Kerastase products, which Tammy recommended, and will be taking the rest of her advice, which is to:
01. Shampoo gently, using an “up and down” motion, rather than a circular, “scrubbing” one.
02. Sleep with the hair either tied loosely up, or in a braid: no tight hairstyles, especially for the first few days after application.
03. Be careful with heat products: it’s fine to use blowdryers and things like straighteners, tongs etc, but it’s best to avoid applying heat directly to the bonds, so you want to curl/straighten only the hair that lies below the bond itself, rather than trying to go all the way up to the roots.
04. Brush through the hair at least twice a day, using a Tangle Teezer or similar, and don’t be afraid to brush all the way from the root down. Tammy explained that a lot of people are too scared to brush the roots of their hair when they have extensions in, as they’re worried about pulling them out, but not only would that be pretty difficult (Those things are in there to stay!), it’s also really important to maintain them with brushing, otherwise shedding hair can get caught up in the bonds and tangle or matt. I’d probably have been a “below the root brusher” without this advice (I’m writing this post the day after having them fitted, and I’m still very tentative about touching them!), so I’m really glad Tammy mentioned this!
05. Avoid metal hairbrushes, which can get too hot for the bonds: the salon use Mira wooden brushes, but anything other than metal is a good idea.
For other aftercare questions, Great Lengths have a great FAQ section on their website, which should help you. I’m obviously hoping to keep my extensions in for as long as humanly possible: on the sad day that they do have to come out, though, the hair will be donated to the Little Princess Trust, who create free wigs for children who’ve lost their own hair due to cancer, or other conditions. As some of you know, my mother-in-law lost her hair to chemotherapy last year, so this is a cause close to my heart, and one that I’m really happy to be able to support in this way. My biggest problem, meanwhile, is the small fact that I suspect I’ve just started an addiction to hair extensions: and that’s a hobby that could end up being REALLY expensive. Gulp.
Anyway, I’m only one day in, and am currently wearing my new extensions in a messy topknot, while I write this post (Oh, one other problem: Max is currently at that age where he just wants to grab everything: with my hair being at the very top of his list. Thank goodness for my trusty hair elastic bracelet, huh?): even my messy topnot looks way better than usual, though, with so much more hair to play with, so I’m really looking forward to trying out some different styles, and getting to experience life with “princess hair” for once. (She says, as if she has ANY CLUE AT ALL how to style hair: it’s cute the way I always think I’m going to be able to do stuff like this, huh?) The results of those experiments will no doubt be coming to a blog/Instagram grid near you soon: in the meantime, huge thanks to Great Lengths for allowing me to try these out, and, of course, to the amazing team at Taylor Ferguson for doing such a great job of fitting and styling them: if you’re looking for a salon in Glasgow, please give them a call, and tell them Amber sent you…