I’m generally pretty reluctant to make dramatic changes to my hair, especially something risky like hair extensions. We’ve all heard – and seen – the horror stories (sorry Britney Spears, we’re thinking of you). Inevitably, though, I got so fed up with my hair stubbornly refusing to grow that extra two inches that I decided to try hair extensions for the first time.
Before taking this big leap of faith, I was determined to do my research. I firstly learned there are two types of human hair extensions. Virgin hair extensions are 100% human hair, cut off in one ponytail, and have never been processed in any way. By comparison, remi (or remy) extensions – the most common type across Australia – have been chemically treated to achieve a different colour and/or to set all hair follicles in the same direction.
Further research taught me the different ways hair extensions can be applied. My hair is already quite damaged, so I wanted to avoid tapes and glues that would need to be removed with acetone. Meanwhile, weaves are more suited to people with shorter, coarser hair. That made microbeads (or microrings) the best option for my new do. The latest innovation in this type of extension is the minikin bead, which is about one-tenth the size of a regular microbead.
Like a virgin
At my initial consultation at Lady Boss Hair in Sydney’s Newtown, it was recommended I get a full head of minikin extensions, to add both volume and length. The actual application process took just under three hours, including hair colour matching (Lady Boss Hair claims to use only virgin Russian hair) and a cut and style at the end.
A month down the track, I’m pleased to report that my experience with minikin bead hair extensions has been mostly positive. I’ve certainly received lots of compliments from loved ones about how healthy my hair is looking, how much it has grown, etc., so the virgin hair was obviously a good call. Personally, I’m also pretty pleased to be rocking my favourite styles with longer, thicker hair that everyone else thinks is my own.
Keepin’ it real
Some specific maintenance is required to naturally integrate the minikin extensions. For example, your own hair needs to be strategically styled to mask the beads, especially with ponytails and other up-dos. (This is probably partly why stylists won’t apply extensions to hair shorter than 10 centimetres.)
The virgin hair extensions also need to be washed with non-sulphate products, which may be an added expense for some. And whilst the extensions can be blow-dried, straightened, and curled like your own hair, a wide-tooth brush or comb is required to avoid tugging at the extensions. That’s fine if you’re happy to wash-and-wear, but a proper blow-dry takes longer than normal because individual sections need to be carefully separated and lifted to limit pull on the beads. Even with these precautions, I found that individual extensions started dropping out after a couple of weeks. So far, it has only happened when I’m washing my hair, but I am returning to the salon to have my extensions re-fitted/adjusted after just four weeks – well ahead of the prescribed six-eight weeks – to avoid any embarrassing situations.
Minikin extensions? Yes or no?
I’d certainly recommend minikin bead extensions if you’re looking to add natural-looking volume and/or length to your hair, but do beware of the time and costs for ongoing maintenance. You’d also better sign up with a stylist you like because you’ll be undoubtedly be spending more time in the salon chair each month.
By Deanne Jackson