Are hair extensions ever a good idea?

This is not a confession that I’ll willingly make, ever. I am from Essex. Not the orange Sugar Hut part, or the secret private school in a field part (it exists, I swear) but the normal-trying-to-get-on-in-Essex-without-actively-being-from-Essex part. As a blossoming blonde teen, I dabbled in the odd bottle of fake tan, fake nails, fake hair look and, it pains to me to admit this, I was once told that I was starting to look like Barbie. And I was happy about it. Oh, the horror!

Anyway, I eventually ditched the bad tan and the nails after the upkeep became way too much and when I realised that I could never sleep in white bed sheets or comfortably scratch myself again… But the hair, I kept. The reasons for this were multiple. Having extensions in was some kind of blonde shiny cover-up for the fact that my hair’s always been a bit shit. It made me feel better about the way that I looked and I was just happier and used to it by then, and after all, who’s going to happily go from glossy locks to plain and boring flat hair. The second reason was that I’d spent so much money on buying them that I felt it would be a waste to just throw them out or pack them away in a drawer, the third reason was that they were glue ins and had royally f*cked my real hair, but with the weaves still in, you couldn’t really tell.

This was around age 16. Here I am now, 7 years later and I still regret my younger self’s ‘great idea’ of physically gluing strips of hair onto my head. It’s all well and good if that’s your sort of thing, and I have friends with the perfectly polished look and they work it beautifully, but that just so isn’t me now that it all seems quite funny inside my head.

So, I decided to finally take them out around my 19th birthday, after they’d gone dry and actually started breaking at the ends.  Too embarrassed to go to a hairdresser and admit that I had brutally murdered my hair, it took 4 days, 3 bottles of nail polish remover and a bucket-load of tears to remove all traces of fakery with my own fair hands.

My actual hair was tattered, dry and sticky, and other than shaving my head, I didn’t really know what to do with my new gluey ‘do. The only time the weave was dug out again (no, I didn’t throw it away. And no, I don’t know why) was for Halloween when I dressed up as a skeleton and wanted to have a big, dead, white hairdo. The raggedy extensions were ideal for clipping back, and as I was dressed up as a dead person, I thought that dry, tawdry ‘real human hair’ was ideal.

After that final modelling of the fake stuff, I went a good 18 months of tying back my ragtag nest. I bought an astounding variation of hats, wore a huge veil of denial over my head and pretended that I hadn’t killed my once glossy locks.

A year ago, I escaped Essex for the Big Smoke and following a hair epiphany, had most of it chopped off. As the hairdresser tackled my rats tails through grunts, sighs and mutters, for the first time in 6 years, my hair looked relatively healthy, I gazed at myself in shop windows and at my reflection in the tube doors and remembered back to the rapid transition from long glossy fake locks to split end fake hair hell that I had suffered with some years back and was relieved that I had finally recovered from this Post-Weave Traumatic Stress.would soon outgrow the destroyed stuff.

My advice to you Extension Planners is to stay away! At the very least to these glue in disasters, but I’ve heard so many horror stories from having them clipped in (a friend of mine got the clips stuck in and was left with bald patches) or sewn in too (another friend had them removed and the hairdresser took half her real hair out along the way). Sure, it looks good for a bit, but wait til they’re out and you’re left with bald patches and a large receipt for one of those hats with the hair attached. Now that I’ve left the Land of the Bronzed and Weaved, I can see that there really is no good time to attach a horse’s tail to your scalp. Always take care of your hair. Healthy hair is a healthy mind, or something like that, and extensions glued to your roots would be like giving yourself a hairy heart attack.

I’ve still got them though…

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