Follow Up: Tape-In Hair Extensions Experience

After almost 6  months with long, voluminous, blonde hair extensions, I type this post extension-free and with hair that barely touches my shoulders.  Let me tell you how I got here.

If you want to read about my tape-in hair extension installation experience, click here

braid

The way we were

Do I miss my extensions?  Yes and No.  Did I love having them? Yes and No.  Would I get them again?  Yes and No.  Instead of continuing to play this super fun guessing game, I’ll just give you a list of my pros and cons of having tape-in hair extensions:

Pros

  • The biggest and most obvious pro was the increased length and volume the hair extensions gave me.  It was AMAZING and borderline life-changing.  I’ve always had very thin hair that never grew much past my shoulders, so being able to swing around a long, full ponytail made me feel like Britney Spears circa 2003 and that is never a bad thing.
    Image result for britney spears 2003
    How I felt I looked  (Image Source)
  • I was able to save the majority of the hair extensions.  My stylist, Ashley, sent me home with a bag of hair (not creepy at all!) since the hair itself was still in very good shape.  The tape bonds on the other hand…not in great shape.  Six months of use was all they could take.  But – Ashley indicated that the hair could be re-used as fusion extensions if I’d like to eventually put them back in.  Fusion extensions require less maintenance (no monthly removal and re-installation like tape) and can be kept in for 3-4 months.
  • The extension removal process only takes 20 minutes!  Win.
  • I was a bit scared that I would lose a ton of hair from wearing the extensions so long and from the removal process, but I was pleasantly surprised that wasn’t the case.  However, my hair had not been cut or trimmed in 6 months so naturally the ends looked, well….incredibly terrible and dead when the extensions were removed.

Cons

  • Speaking of the removal process – When the extensions were all removed, I felt like I had no hair.  None.  Zero.  Now obviously I still had hair but the feeling was very odd and unsettling after having long, thick hair for so long.  It was jarring.  I couldn’t stop touching my natural hair and feeling like it was MUCH thinner than it used to be, although really it was basically the same as before extensions.  I had a glass or three of wine when I came home and quickly got over it.

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How I felt I looked  (Image Source)
  • If you color or highlight your hair like me, it can be tough for the stylist to work around the extensions.  Not impossible by any means, just more of a hassle and adds an extra 30 minutes to the appointment.
  • I will preface this bullet by saying that I had my extensions during the dead of winter in Chicago, and that usually deters me from wanting to walk to the gym, but the extensions also added to my increased ability to say “Nope” to working out.

    Getting tape-in extensions wet or sweaty means immediately having to wash and blow dry, and who wants to do that every day when you have super long, thick hair?  I was on a routine of washing/blow drying/styling only twice a week and filling in with dry shampoo the rest of the time.  Hence working out didn’t happen much more than twice a week, either.  Whoops.

alone, bed, bedroom

Who needs exercise when you have great hair tho
  • Say goodbye to running your fingers through your hair when you have tape-in extensions.  Or massaging your scalp.  Or being able to easily scrub that shampoo around in a lather like they do in commercials.  It definitely took awhile to get used to having to be so gentle with my hair and scalp.  And truthfully I missed being able to run my fingers through my hair.
  • Speaking of scalps, that bitch is going to ITCH like you wouldn’t believe, at least for the first week or so after having the extensions installed.  Thankfully after the first week or so the itch went away (and I got used to the added weight of the hair).  At least I now have acquired a new skill – the weave pat.
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(Image Source)

  • The is the most minor of the cons, but I couldn’t put my hair up into a high ponytail or bun anymore.  If I did, the extension bonds would show and no one wants to see that.  This wasn’t all terrible though because it forced me to come up with new half up/half down styles, braids and lower ponytails.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really loved having tape-in hair extensions.  They definitely required a bit of work – and more than a bit of money – but they made me feel amazing and gave me a big confidence boost.  And isn’t that really the point of anything we do in the name of beauty?

Since I was able to keep most of the hair I purchased, and it was v. v. expensive, I may have the extensions put in next fall.  I wanted to give my natural hair and my scalp a break for the spring and summer, at the very least.  So I leave you with the final tip to do what I did – schedule a hair cut for the day after extension removal.  Your natural hair will need it, trust me.

I decided that after having long hair for half a year, I was ready to get rid of all those dead ends and go with a lob (long bob).  My inspiration?  ‘Sex & the City’ Carrie, Season 4, Drunk at Vogue + Betty Draper.  Did I pull it off?

carrie

new

I hope you enjoyed my extension experience review?  Any questions for me?  Let me know 🙂

Review: Tape-In Hair Extensions

*Before you begin reading the post, I suggest you click this video and let the music set the tone*

A little over a week ago, my life changed forever and immeasurably for the better.  No, I did not achieve enlightenment.  No, I did not cure cancer.  No, I did not adopt the golden retriever puppy of my dreams.

I had small pieces of someone else’s hair taped to my head.  And I could not be happier about it.

In my lifelong beauty journey, my hair has always seemed to be the one thing I just couldn’t quite get right, mostly because I was born with what my Mom (lovingly?) refers to as Your Dad’s Hair – i.e., very thin, curly hair that doesn’t want to grow much past my shoulders.  No matter how many deep conditioning treatments and highlights I put my hair though, nothing can replicate the fullness and thickness of simply having MORE hair.

So I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and set up a hair extensions consultation at Chicago Hair Extensions Salon (also known as the same place I have my eyelash extensions done.)  Here’s what I learned:

The Basics of Tape-In Extensions

The very lovely Ashley, my new hair guru, explained to me that I am a prime candidate for tape-in extensions because they are lightweight and easy to hide under my thin, fine hair.  Tape-ins add fullness, length and can be washed/curled/straightened/styled just as I do my own hair.   She told me I would need to come back in 6-10 weeks, depending on how fast my hair grows (Spoiler: It grows incredibly slowly) and she will move the extensions up and re-tape them.  The hair can be used 2-3 times before needing to purchase new extensions.

Here’s how the application process works.  It’s called the “sandwich method”:

I happily threw down my card and paid the down payment (we’ll get to price later…prepare yourselves) and I was counting down the seconds until I came back for application.

Before & After

For the application itself, Ashley instructed me to shampoo my hair twice before our appointment and not use ANY styling products.  Here’s what my hair looked like before extensions – this is also pre-flat iron, I promise I didn’t normally walk around looking this janky:

before

Not the greatest head of hair you’ve ever seen, right?  Well just 1 short hour later, my head looked like this:

after

Do you see the heavens parting?  Can you hear the angels rejoicing?  That is H-A-I-R, my friend.  Lots of it.  My hair is now a good 3-4 inches longer than before and sooooooo much thicker.  I am in love.

Ashley applied the majority of the extensions on the back and sides of my head up to ear level, making sure to leave the crown area alone so my own hair can cover the extension bonds.

I can’t really put into words how happy I was with my new fabulous, long, thick hair but my face makes it pretty clear:

full

And for one more comparison to show you what a difference the extensions make, here’s how my side braid looks before and after:

side-braid-beforeside-braid

Maintenance & Upkeep

I have to admit that it took me a couple days to:

  1. Get used to the added weight – So this is what it feels like to have thick hair!
  2. Walk past any reflective surface without stopping to admire and pet my hair
  3. Update what used to be my 5 minute hair care routine

Hair extensions are expensive so it’s important to treat them as gently as possible to get your money’s worth.  Here are the maintenance and upkeep must-do’s:

  • Use a loop or extension brush – My salon was kind enough to give me a free brush.  It’s crucial to have the proper brush or you can snag your extension hair or get caught up in the bonds when brushing.  Amazon has some great brushes.

    remysoft-loop-brush-for-hair-extensions_thumb155_crop

  • Sleep in a braid or low ponytail on a silk pillowcase – It’s important to keep your hair in a loose braid or low pony while sleeping to reduce tangling and pulling on the tape bonds.  Bonus: Sleeping with a braid gives you lovely waves in the morning.
    While it’s not an absolute necessity, I also highly recommend sleeping on a silk pillowcase to further reduce any snags – and you’ll wake up without those annoying sleep face lines.  I have the pillowcases below and they are amazing (and they stay super cold during the night):

    61dzgoa-8wl-_sl1500_

  • Sulfate-free is the way to be – Ashley emphasized that I can only use a sulfate-free shampoo when washing my hair and to concentrate on the top of my head, being sure not to scrub or pull on the tape bonds.  It’s also best to go a few days between washing to extend the life of your extensions. Batiste dry shampoo continues to be my best friend.

    batisteAfter shampooing, apply conditioner only from ears down and not near the bonds.  Conditioner can make the tape bonds loosen faster and we don’t want that.  I like to spray on leave-in conditioner to the mid lengths and ends each night before braiding.

  • Styling tips – It is a HUGE no-no to go to bed with wet hair when you have extensions, so I make sure to blow dry the bonds and top of my head, letting the length air dry.  Once the hair is dry, I use a heat protector spray and curl or flat iron.  It’s imperative to keep the curling iron or flat iron away from the tape bonds so always leave start an inch or two away from the bonds and you’re good to go.

    back                                                                 Post-blow dry and curling 

Price

If there is one downside to extensions, it’s obviously the price.  They are not cheap.  I don’t want to say the exact price I paid, partially because prices vary by salon, extension brand, applier, etc. and mostly because my Mom reads this blog and if I say the exact price I will Hear. About. It. the next time I’m back home. (Well, once she prints off this post at the tiny library a mile down the road and brings it home to read because my parents shun the internet. I am not making this up.)

I’ll give you a ballpark price of $400-800, which includes the hair extensions themselves and the installation labor. The price will be around $100-$150 every 6-10 weeks to have them moved up and re-taped.

Yes, I know this is expensive and quite frankly kind of a odd thing to do when you really think about it. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have a thing for spending my money on applying hair to different parts of my head. Some people go sky diving, some people bet on sports, some people buy houses. I buy hair and it makes me feel fabulous. The universe is working on all of us.

And there you have it!  My tape-in hair extensions experience thus far.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how things progress but for now, I couldn’t be happier.