I’d never considered hair extensions until fairly recently. I’ve always had long hair and have occasionally used clip-in hair extensions to give a little more length and mostly volume to my hair.
My long hair was boring me, I couldn’t quite get the volume I wanted….so I finally took the plunge and had my hair cut to my shoulders. I liked it. At this point, a friend of mine told me about a hair extensions expert she knew who was looking to do a swap – a website for hair extensions. My other half had just asked me to marry him and although I liked my new shorter hair, I did want my hair long for the wedding. What can I say? I’m more of a Princess than I thought! So, I agreed to meet him. I vowed that I wouldn’t do it if I thought there would be damage to my hair. I’d heard some less than pleasant stories in maagzines.
So, I met with Anthony Fellows, one of the UK’s leading hair extensions experts, who is based in Huddersfield….and this is the story of my experience.
Fitting the hair extensions
We started off by Anthony taking a good look at my hair. He tested my hair to see if it was strong enough to hold the extensions, tested my scalp to see if it was sensitive and asked me about my hair care routine. All these questions are because Anthony is very passionate about making sure he only fits hair extensions safely.
Making sure the hair extensions do not damage your own hair or scalp
Like I said, I’d heard stories of people having trouble with hair extensions, including cases where the extensions damage the person’s natural hair or scalp. This is because the hair extensions had not been put in properly. The main culprit for this happening are hair extensionists that put too much hair on one bond. The heavy hair pulls on the scalp creating discomfort and damage. Many companies (including some very well known ones) and individuals offering hair extensions do this and they give hair extensions a very bad name!
Anthony Fellows is studying to be a trichologist – an expert in the scalp – so I felt very comfortable with him looking after my locks. He uses the Racoon Hair Extensions system for a few main reasons. One of the key reasons is the type of bond used – the bonding used for Racoon International hair extensions is an inert polymer, which means you can’t be allergic to it. The bonding is not applied to the skin or scalp – it is applied 1cm width from the scalp and can’t travel via the hair shaft.
These bonds also allow hair to shed – if not, bonds can get too heavy and can cause foliculitus or more serious traction alopecia leaving small areas of scalp denuded of hair through tension.
…and of course, all the hair is ethically sourced.
We looked at the different hair colours and chose two different colours that combined together give a natural look which matches my own hair colour.
Anthony then reduced some of the weight in the ends, so the hair extensions would blend well.
Applying the hair extensions
It takes a few hours to fit the hair extensions, it’s worth having a few magazines or a good book to read at this point!
Click on the images below to see them larger
Getting used to / caring for the hair extensions
You can’t wash hair extensions everyday, but that’s cool with me because I only like to wash my hair a few times a week. What I was suprised by is how heavy the extensions felt after the first wash. It does take a few weeks to get used to having them….well, it did for me anyway.
Sleeping on them at first is a bit weird, that took a bit of getting used to. The bonds felt a bit hard and odd. This only last a few days though, it doesn’t cross my mind these days.
Anthony talked me through how to wash the hair extensions – for them to last as long as possible, it’s important to wash them in the right way. Luckily for me, this was pretty much how I usually wash my hair. You basically have to be careful to only use the Racoon shampoo / conditioner and then dry the bonds carefully before styling your hair. At first, I went a bit OTT on the drying of the bonds, Anthony showed me that I was getting the bonds a bit too hot with the hairdryer, softening them. To combat this, a blast of cold air from the dryer cools them down nicely. It’s important to only use hair appliances at 160 degrees or under to keep the hair in tip-top condition and only use the correct Racoon-approved hairbrush (it won’t pull at the bonds).
What I was most surprised about was the the hair shedding. One of the reasons why the Racoon bonds are so good for your hair is because they absorb water over time and allow the hair extensions to be shed. This means as your own hair sheds, the hair extensions won’t become too heavy and cause damage to your hair and scalp.
Rotation / maintenance appointments
My rotation appointments with Anthony are roughly every 5 weeks. At this appointment, he removes about a third of them and then reapplies more. This means the hair extensions stay in great condition and the hair looks full. The Racoon bonds break down easily in the removal solution. No heat is used, they just slide out.
What’s next for me?
I’m three months in now and I’ve really loved having the hair extensions and found it to be a great learning experience. Working on Anthony’s website has really helped me up my knowledge in this area and I do know that he is really very good at what he does! He’s really passionate about hair and getting it right, which is refreshing.
In a week or so, I’m having all the extensions removed and getting my hair colour done all over. After a week, I’ll then be getting slightly longer extensions put in. My hair is longer now, so I can get the longer extensions. When I get them done, I’ll post some more photos :-)