Hair extensions for curly hair: is it manageable?
One of the biggest questions I get asked is about hair extensions for curly hair – at least, that is, when people realise that I once had them! Looking back now, it's tough to imagine myself with long hair; after all, my current 'do couldn't be further removed from the mermaid tresses I once sported. But I've been there (I have the selfies).
In June of 2014, I was working as the editor of Creative Head Ireland, a salon-only magazine based around the hair industry. If you think you know about hair, try going over to the other side – Creative Head taught me so much about the business side of hairdressing that I had never even thought about! But I digress!
I worked pretty closely with a range of different brands, Great Lengths being one of them – and when they offered me a full set of hair extensions, well, I jumped at the chance. Valerie at Cowboys and Angels in Dublin, one of the first salons in the country to offer hair extensions, kindly offered to handle the application, and off I went.
Hair extensions: the application
Great Lengths are bonded hair extensions, which essentially means that each "strand" is attached to your own hair by means of a specific tool. What it looks like is as if the extensions have been glued to your hair with teeny tiny bits of glue.
What it means, from an application point of view, is that it takes ages. Add to that the fact that my head is enormous – and I was in the Cowboys and Angels chair for eight hours. Bear in mind, though, that I went from bleach blonde to the caramel brown you see above and below, so the dye job came first!
Hair extensions for curly hair – is it possible?
Absolutely: I'm proof! When I got my hair extensions I was told that the hair would kind of "fit" into my own hair, and that my own curls would be tamed by being moulded by the new hair. Needless to say, I thought that was BS and I was convinced I'd spend hours every day straightening my own curls beneath the extensions.
As it happens, no one was lying to me – my own hair did really calm down and almost went kind of wavy. That being said, I still got the odd frizzy patch and I spent a lot more time blow-drying my hair than I would have before, but that's a lot to do with the fact that you can't leave hair extensions to dry naturally. Which leads nicely on to...
There are certain things you should and shouldn't do with hair extensions – for starters, this hair loves being brushed. It can be tough to untangle if it gets in a mess, so you brush it regularly to keep the strands separated and prevent knots from forming.
When you wash your hair extensions, you've to make sure you dry the bonds completely; wet hair is weak hair, and if you brush it wet, or snag it, the hair can snap, snapping your own hair with it. The logic there is that your own hair suddenly has a lot more hair weighing it down and is under a lot of pressure, so you need to be gentle!
Shampoos and conditioners must be paraben- and sulfate-free. If they're not, they can mess with the bonds of your extensions. Great Lengths does its own range of shampoo and conditioner and they've also endorsed Bio A+OE, a new range of vegan and organic haircare.
Lastly, you have to do the hun bun when you sleep – otherwise your extensions can get tangled and knotted while you snooze. Valerie showed me how to twist it all up and use a scrunchie (who knew scrunchies would come in handy!) to tie it so that, the next day, it would be all wavy and smooth.
So: hair extensions for curly hair – would I recommend them?
This is kind of a tough one because, for a while at least, I loved my hair extensions. I never thought I would say this, but I felt really pretty and feminine with them (which makes me feel dumb – having long hair doesn't make you pretty or feminine). I was also convinced that people – okay, I mean men – treated me differently when I had long, flowing princess locks.
Other than the kind of childish princess fantasy side of things, I didn't love having extensions. I missed being able to scratch my scalp without getting my fingers tangled in the bonds. I missed brushing my hair normally (that is, in the shower) and sleeping with my hair down. I grew to really hate blowdrying it (in general, I like to let my hair dry naturally).
Ultimately, I think my dislike for extensions is down to the fact that I am inherently lazy and like to consider myself low-maintenance. To me, hair extensions are not low-maintenance!
My hair extensions were provided FOC by Great Lengths and applied by Valerie at Cowboys and Angels.I will always disclose if a post is sponsored, features freebies or contains affiliate links; for more, check out my disclaimer.