“From Lack-lustre to Luxe”, Hair Magazine reader Nicola Swain was left with damaged looks from previous hair extension experience, so she turned to the experienced hands of Hair Awards 2013 Best Extensionist, Inanch Emir, to bring her hair back to life. We asked Inanch more about this procedure from her professional viewpoint.

What was the state of Nicola’s hair when she arrived at the salon?

Nicola’s hair was quite fine and dry when she first arrived for her initial consultation. After assessing her hair and scalp, it was quite evident that there were signs of Traction Alopecia caused by pulling of her natural hair from previously applied hair extensions. We also determined that the dryness of her hair was down to excessive bleaching.

Why do you think this had happened to her hair?

By looking at her hair and discussing her previous hair extension attachment methods, the reason for the damage caused to Nicola’s hair was primarily due to the fact that the wrong hair extensions method was used for her hair type and lifestyle. The micro ring hair extensions were causing her own natural hair to be pulled from the hair shaft, as these were too heavy for her fine hair to cope with thus causing breakage. Furthermore, her extensionist at the time should have recommended a different method for her or applied much smaller and fewer micro rings given that Nicola’s job required to have her hair tied up – again applying more pressure from the ring attachments to her own hair. The glue-in method used afterwards also caused further damage to Nicola’s hair as her hair was already in a very weak condition and should have been left alone and treated with the appropriate hair treatments for at least a month.

What did you suggest in the consultation – regarding how to go about repairing the hair and adding in the new extensions?

After assessing the condition of Nicola’s hair we discussed her current lifestyle and how much time she would be prepared to spend on her daily hair maintenance regime which is an extremely important factor for determining what hair extension method to use and how many strands of hair extensions to apply. We also discussed a pre-hair extension home treatment programme and I recommended that Nicola use the Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme treatment, for the 10 days prior to her hair extension appointment. This helped strengthen and replenish her hair prior to the application appointment.

What type of extensions did you use?

We discussed all the methods of hair extensions we use at the salon including finer micro-rings, pre-bonded keratin tips, micro-wefts and clip-ins but decided that the best method of attachment for Nicola’s fine hair and hectic lifestyle was the pre-bonded keratin tips using Great Lengths hair extensions. The Great Lengths extensions are applied using a specially formulated keratin bond that mimics the molecular structure of the human hair and is able to expand and contract with natural hair – making it extremely comfortable to wear and causing no damage providing that the aftercare maintenance advice is followed. To further protect Nicola’s hair from any excess weight from the hair extensions, I cut the standard Great Lengths bonds in to very fine micro bonds using 3 shades of colours to give a natural and seamless effect for the finished look.

What was the process of the appointment and work Nicola had done to create her new look.

  • Step 1 – After the initial consultation and diagnosis of Nicola’s hair condition the next step was to pre-treat her hair prior to the hair extensions appointment with the Philip Kingsley Extreme Elasticizer for a period of 10 days. We also discussed and determined the hair extension method most suited for her hair type and lifestyle, along with colours, hair texture and length of hair extensions. Nicola’s hair density, hair extension bond size and application pattern was also determined at this stage.
    Following the consultation, we ordered in Nicola’s hair extensions from Great Lengths which consisted of 175 strands in 3 colours in 40cm length, which were all mixed and blended together prior to Nicola’s hair extensions appointment.
  • Step 2 – On the day of Nicola’s hair extensions application appointment, we went through the procedures again and discussed the strict aftercare programme which she would need to adhere to in order to keep her hair in good condition throughout the life-span of her new hair extensions.
  • Step 3 – Nicola’s hair was delicately washed with deep-cleansing shampoo to remove any product build-up and rinsed with the Great Lengths Anti-Tap water to help add more moisture and obtain the correct pH balance to her hair prior to the application.
  • Step 4 – Nicola’s hair was then thoroughly dried and pre-cut to remove any split ends from her own hair.
  • Step 5 – I then sectioned off Nicola’s hair following the hair density and application pattern established at the consultation (Step 1). I then began with the application process by fusing the keratin bonds on to Nicola’s hair with the Great Lengths bonding frequency system, working on each section strand by strand.
  • Step 6 – In order to achieve a seamless blend between Nicola’s own hair and the hair extensions, I cut and layered her hair and then styled her hair with the curling tongs to get that lovely bouncy and voluminous look.

What aftercare advice did you give Nicola and would give anybody using extensions?

We provide all our hair extension clients with a full hair extensions aftercare maintenance guide along with a list of the recommended products to use on their hair to prolong the life of their hair extensions. These products are given to the client as part of their extensions service and are also available to purchase through our website as and when required. In addition to the aftercare products, we shared the best advice for caring of the extensions from washing, drying, styling, brushing and tips for sleeping & exercise. We then recommend Nicola returns for a free maintenance check to the salon to check for any issues up until the removal at around 4 months. Removal needs to be professionally done with the correct removal solutions and followed by a treatment for deep-cleansing the hair & scalp.

What are the signs of good/bad extensions?

Good hair extensions should look, feel and behave just like your own hair and give you the freedom to create various hairstyles. They should blend well with your own hair texture and feel extremely comfortable and virtually undetectable. The best hair extensions are always 100% natural human hair and cuticle intact (all running in the same direction to prevent from matting).

Bad hair extensions will look fake and noticeable – especially if they are synthetic hair extensions. They tend to dry and mat over time causing breakage or applying pressure to your own hair. Badly applied hair extensions can cause friction on your own hair (if applied too close to the scalp) or slip off when brushing (if not applied correctly).

What are the signs readers should look out for when it comes to a good/bad extensionist?

A good extensionist will have an in-depth consultation with you and ask questions about your hair, thoroughly assess your hair, ask about your lifestyle and how much time you’re prepared to spend on aftercare maintenance. If your hair is damaged from previous hair extensions or excessive colouring, a good hair extensionist should “put off” the application of new hair extensions and advise on appropriate remedies to improve the condition of your hair before any new application takes place. The best hair extension salons should be able to offer you a range of application methods – not just pre-bonded or micro rings or wefts. Between yourself and the extensionist, you should choose the best method of attachment suited for your own hair strength and lifestyle. Lastly, the ground roots for being a great extensionist is to be a fully qualified and experienced hairdresser and to fully understand all aspects of hairdressing from colour to cutting and trichology (scalp care).

The signs to look out for in a bad extensionist are those that want to book you in immediately giving you no time to think about it and to research other salons.

What should readers do if their extensions go wrong?

Contact your extensions salon immediately and arrange an appointment to have them checked and rectified – don’t suffer in silence! If you do prolong this, you are likely to cause more damage to your own hair which will be harder to repair. A good reputable hair extensions salon will offer all the help and advice as well as an immediate course of action to fix the problem and/or offer an alternative solution.

Read the article in full here with more images and top tips and book your consultation here.