Once I graduated college, I realized that my hair stopped growing completely, possibly from my birth control. I took vitamins, every hair-growth pill on the market, and even changed my diet for healthy hair to no avail. My hair was shiny and strong. But long? Nope. When I started at POPSUGAR, I decided to use clip-in extensions. It’s interesting, because extensions are a bit taboo. Some feel women are “conforming to society” if we want long hair. Or, on the flip side, we (women) don’t want to admit that we want long hair but can’t achieve it on our own – that we had a little help. I’m all about embracing your God-given beauty, but hey, if you want long hair, what’s the big deal? Extensions make all the difference. In fact, Enzo Angeleri, the man behind Charlize Theron and a bevy of other Hollywood A-listers, applied a few to my hair for this tutorial and insisted I keep them for fullness. Extensions are the norm on red carpets and photo shoots. They can add instant length or make your hair full and voluminous – or both. I became addicted. I wasn’t just wearing them for shoots, I was wearing them every day! I loved my long hair. I could create works of art that I was never able to achieve B.E. (That’s “before extensions.”) But at the end of the day, they would be removed with just a clip. Here’s the thing: I didn’t mind taking them out. It was nice to have versatility with my hair: shorter, Courtney Love waves one day; long, mermaid strands the next. But to keep the clip-ins in place and to help hide them, backcombing (or “teasing” to some) the hair is crucial. It did some damage to my roots and, ultimately, affected the integrity of my hair. So I stopped wearing them altogether. Then I ventured to the mecca of hair extensions here in Los Angeles, Nine Zero One salon. Nikki Lee and Riawna Capri built this salon five years ago, bringing on a bevy of expert stylists and colorists, and have made themselves a reputation for serving A-List clientele. Some of the stars who have extensions, cuts, and color from the salon? Oh, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Julianne Hough, Emma Roberts, and even Steven Tyler, to name a few.
In a matter of an hour and a half, two extensions specialists, my girl Nicole Leal, and her partner, Shaylee Blatz, applied keratin-tipped bundles of hair to my natural hair. Sixteen inches, to be precise. Once applied, they cut and styled my new locks, and off I went, with hair I couldn’t grow myself, that will last three to five months. All in less than two hours.
I have to admit that it wasn’t just a “pop in and book an appointment” experience. I had been color matched for my extensions a few weeks prior – crucial to the process – then went in and had them applied. The color matching is essential, given you shouldn’t color your extensions and, chances are, you’ll want them to match your natural hair color.
A few things about hair extensions: I love them. You can’t wash your hair for 48 hours after application. Once you do wash your hair, focus shampoo directly on the scalp, and conditioner at the ends of the hair. Applying conditioners directly to the bonds can loosen them up and make them slip through your hair. They’re very secure, though. But when you brush your hair, be gentle. Brush your hair twice daily to avoid tangles; sleep in a loose ponytail with a ribbon tie. Sleep on a silk pillowcase if possible. Don’t apply heat directly to the bonds. If you curl or straighten your hair, apply the heat a few inches away from the bond.
Kirbie Johnson: Hi! It's Kirbie. If you have read a magazine or seen a red carpet, chances are you have seen hair extensions in action and you didn't even know it. I am at Nine Zero One Salon, the Mecca of hair extensions in West Hollywood to learn what the hype is all about and to get some of my own.
So Nicole, what makes professional hair extension so appealing to Hollywood; I know that Selena Gomez and Emma Roberts, they both come here to get their extensions? Nicole Leal: The main thing I think with why it's so popular is its instant gratification; someone could come in and in a matter of two-and-a-half hours have longer, fuller hair. Kirbie Johnson: Now, what about clipping extensions, because you literally just clip those and go, but what makes professional extensions better? Nicole Leal: It's the longevity, so versus something that only lasts one night, you have great lengths that are going to last three to five months. Kirbie Johnson: Okay. So you come to Nine Zero One, you decide you want extensions, what's that process like? Nicole Leal: When you come in for a consultation, that's when we tall you basically what's realistic. So whether you want it for length or you want it for fullness, that's kind of where we gauge it, and then we also discuss whether they put their hair up or down. If they are constantly putting their hair up, then we want to put them in a way that nobody sees that they have extensions. Kirbie Johnson: Yeah, you want to cater to their lifestyle. Nicole Leal: Exactly! So we just clarified your hair three times, so your hair is nice and clean and there's no oils. We didn't condition it because that's part of the application. So we want to make sure that your hair is crisp and clean. This is probably one of the most important steps in the application. So we are going to start blow drying and trim up your hair, flatiron and start the application process. Kirbie Johnson: Now, is the application process really long, because I have heard it can take up to eight hours? Nicole Leal: Well, I think what makes us really unique here at Nine Zero One is we team up. So if you went into a salon and one person did it, it might take five to eight hours; we take a piece of your hair with the extension piece and it's a keratin tip, so basically we are adhering hair-to-hair. Kirbie Johnson: Oh yeah, because your hair is made of keratin. Nicole Leal: Coming here at Nine Zero One, you can have them done in about two-and-a-half hours. Kirbie Johnson: Oh my God, that's so quick! That's like getting a facial and a massage and then you are out the door. Awesome! Nicole Leal: With like 10 inches of --Kirbie Johnson: Yeah, longer and beautiful hair, that's perfect! Well, thank you Nicole, I feel like a brand-new women! And that's all from me!