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Hair Extensions 101: We Road Test Great Lengths Ethical Hair Extensions

Hair Extensions 101: We Road Test Great Lengths Extensions

If I had a cent for every time I get asked about hair extensions — "Should I get them?" or "Do they hurt?" and "How long do they last?" are just some of the questions that get fired at me anytime somebody finds out I'm a beauty ed — I'd be a rich little lady. So, instead of answering these questions on an individual basis (at last count I'd helped 2,716 people) I thought we'd do a series on the different types of hair extensions, from clip-ins to bonded hair and everything in between, to make things a little clearer. First up, Great Lengths, an ethically-sourced global hair extension company which was orginally developed and patented in London in 1991.

Keep reading . . .What is it? 100 percent human hair.

Where does it come from? It's the only human hair extension company that sources all of its own hair to ensure it's the highest quality. The hair must have a healthy and intact cuticle and be the same density from root to tip. The virgin hair (meaning it has never been colour treated) comes from Indian temples, where women shave their hair in a daily religious ritual called Tonsuring. The hair then has its natural pigment gently removed and is re-coloured to match one of the shades available in the Great Lengths range.

How many shades are available in the range? 54.

How does it get attached to my hair? The hair is attached using patented keratin bonds. These are close to your hair's natural molecular structure, meaning the bonds aren't weakened in water and sunlight.

How long does it take to attach the extensions? Each hair extension, which is about 1/2 inch wide, is attached using its own bond so it depends how many hair extensions you will have. I had approximately 50 hair extensions in and it took about 40 minutes max.

Is heat used to attach the hair extensions? Does that dry out the hair? Great Lengths' latest application machine is the Ultrasonic 5000, which uses a cold fusion method. There's no heat involved, except for pre-styling — your hair will be washed and blow-dried before the extensions are put in. In my case, my balayage was dyed back to my natural hair colour so that I had the perfect colour match to the extensions.

Can you have multiple colours or do you have to have one block of colour? The stylist will normally recommend using multiple colours (2-3) to create a blended look. I had a dark brunette colour all over with a lighter brown and a reddish brown also worked throughout to create a natural-looking hue.

How long do they last? If you care for them properly (see tips below), you can get up to 8-10 months out of them.

How much do they cost? Prices vary depending whether you're looking for extra length or additional volume. If it's just volume you're after, extensions start from $300, ranging up to $2000 for full length and volume. As it's a tailored service, a consultation is neccssary first and this will determine the exact costing for you.

My before and after shots:

Things I learnt from having the extensions done at Bauhaus Hair:

  • They're actually quite heavy for the first couple of days but you do soon get used to them!
  • You don't have to treat them like they're fragile — you can brush and wash them just as you would normally
  • You MUST brush your hair at least twice a day otherwise they will get knotted and tangled
  • Other brushes will pull at the extensions, so use a soft brush, like the Great Lengths one that is recommended
  • Always wear your hair up at night, whether it's in a braid or top knot. This really does help stop the extensions from getting tangled and matted
  • Don't wash your hair for the first 48 hours after getting them in as this can weaken the bonds
  • It's fine to heat style your hair, just make sure you're not blow-drying heat or putting the straightener directly on the bonds
  • You will be able to feel the bonds if you pull your fingers back through your hair, but you can't see them. Even when your hair's up in a ponytail. Result!
  • You can swim with the extensions, but you need to use a special product afterwards to help ensure all of the chlorine is washed out. Speak to your stylist if you're a regular swimmer
  • The extensions look natural. Unlike some others I've seen, there isn't a clear line or block mark between your hair and the extensions
  • If you want them for an occasion like your wedding, we recommend getting them at least a month before so that you're used to the feel and weight of the extensions, and that way you've had your two-week maintenance check-up that will ensure all of the bonds are secure
  • If an extensions falls out, keep it and take it back for your next maintenance session
  • You can rock a chunky side braid! Forgive my excitement — this is the first time in my life I can say that!
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