We have so many hair styling options that often we’re constantly dreaming of greener pastures at every swipe of our Instagram feed or flip of a magazine page. Either we’re lusting after the newest hair color trend, wanting desperately to grow our bangs out already, or we’re getting scissor-happy at the sight of the perfect lob or pixie—there’s a lot of hairstyles to try. Unless you have a hair team to rival that of Beyonce or are inclined to shave your head and amass a collection of elaborate wigs, changing up your hairstyle in a dramatic way takes lots of patience or a lot of YOLO.
Revisiting that wig idea, something a bit less costume-y and a near-obvious option are extensions. Clip-in extensions are probably the easiest way to dramatically change your hair in a natural-looking way with no commitment. You can get colored ones, super long ones or a slightly lighter shade than your own hair to create an ombre effect. Having sported a bob for the better part of the year, this editor visited the newly opened hair extension bar, RPZL, in NYC for a dramatic hair change herself. Not knowing exactly what to expect, we got the scoop firsthand on how to make extensions work for you at home.
RPZL offers all kinds of hair extensions and blow-out services. There are tape-in ones as well as a keratin-bonded extensions which are attached by ultrasound, and their “Gorgeous In An Instant” clip-in installation service (plus, you can keep the clip-ins and reuse them after you leave the salon). Opting for the latter, our stylist Sandy explained to us the best way to wear clip-in extensions. The ones used at RPZL are 100% Remy human hair. “Remy” hair is considered the best type of extension hair because the hair cuticles are lined up in the same direction hair grows, and are smoothed down for the most realistic and blend-able appearance. Sandy explained that most of the hair that makes their extensions comes from India (culturally, there are lots of hair-cutting traditions and rituals in India, leading to lots of long, healthy virgin hair donations).
The trick with wearing clip-in extensions and having them blend in with the hair that grows from your head is mostly by matching their textures and blending your ends into the extensions. If you have hair that is long enough to put into a ponytail, you can sport extensions. Anything shorter and you risk having visible clips or bonds.
Starting with dry hair, Sandy sectioned my hair, one at a time, from bottom to top. Each horizontal section got a spritz of hairspray where the clip would be placed and slightly teased at the root to give the clip extra texture and grip to hold on to. The hair comes in wefts of various widths with two, three, or four clips along the “root.” You just clip them to your hair at the root horizontally to create a layer of hair. Once clipped in, she dropped my hair over the weft and started another section about an inch above it for the next weft. Generally placing them from bottom to top, with the narrower wefts at the bottom, the widest one at your head’s mid-section (think of it like an upside down pyramid), and then attaching two narrow wefts on each side of your head, is the way to go. You can change placement depending on where you want more volume.
Extensions on straight hair looks best if your hair is past your shoulders. If your hair is chin-length, as mine is now, it’s going to take some texture-camouflage to blend. With a curling iron, curling the ends of my own hair to wrap around the extension hair hides them. Sandy curled the rest of the lengths of extensions to create soft waves and volume. After LOTS of hairspray, I was pretty much Rapunzel (RPZL—get it?).
Going from a chin-length bob to “Venus in a clamshell” princess locks was a very dramatic change indeed. While the clips were very comfortable to wear, and the hair fairly weightless as well, the only thing reminding me that I had tons of new hair was pretty much anytime the wind blew. Hair flips are very satisfying when you suddenly have an extra 20 inches to throw around. The Remy hair felt smoother and silkier than my own, so having cascading waves of it felt very luxurious. I was able to remove them in five minutes before going to bed (sleeping in clip-in extensions isn’t exactly comfortable or good for the hair). And the best part, other than having long beautiful hair? Having long beautiful hair in 30 minutes or less.