We Tried It: Rapunzel-Length Hair Extensions

Shannon Farrell
long hair extensions

Photo: IMaxTree

The bob is having its moment, yes—our current obsession is Chrissy Teigen’s new shoulder length wavy bob (perfection, right?). However, in typical Hollywood fashion, there’s always a new hair trend to shake things up a bit. The latest—incredibly, surreally long hair (think Rapunzel meets The Little Mermaid). In the past weeks Ciara, Beyonce and Zendaya Coleman have all revealed longer than life locks that seem to have grown overnight. Their secret? Tape-in hair extensions.

With beach waves season on the way, extensions offer length without the wait time—and the perfect texture to mold any style. Curious about what it’s like to covet real (errr, fake) Hollywood hair? I actually got the chance to try the extensions that stylists use regularly on celebs—Platinum Seamless. And after just two months with them, I completely understand the appeal. Join as me as I recount my celeb hair days.

Dream Hair, Here I Come…
At the invitation of Ryan Darius Salon, I met with salon owner Ryan Nickulas to discuss my Disney Princess transformation. First order of business: will they ruin my hair when they’re removed? We’ve all heard botched-extension horror stories, and I don’t want to deal with broken or thinning strands. This is my hair we’re talking about! After discussing how the extensions are applied—they’re essentially glued on with a pliable adhesive that sits on the hair, but doesn’t tug on it—I was ready to give it a try.

“What’s your dream hair?” asked Nickulas. “Do you want a lot of volume or length? Or do you want both?”

My dream was Nina Dobrev’s hair, so of course I said I wanted it all.

Darius took out my pre-ordered extensions—they have dozens of colors so you can match your hair color exactly—and laid out the amount he’d need. (They’d later be trimmed to get the appropriate length).

The Process.
As a beauty writer, I’m used to spending time in the salon. But the application process didn’t take nearly as long as a double process color (or even highlights). Ryan simply removed the tape on the extension and secured it to the top of a one-inch section of hair. (Note that the extensions don’t touch the scalp so the hair can continue to grow. The extension just moves farther away from the scalp.) After taping in all of the pieces, he trimmed both my hair and the extensions to blend them together.

When he finished, I couldn’t stop touching my hair. The extensions blended in so well, I couldn’t even see where my hair ended and they began. The texture and color was that spot-on. Unlike clip-ins that can be visible to the naked eye, the salon version replicates real hair because it’s made out of real hair. Since my hair is naturally fine and straight, my extensions were a similar texture. (Platinum Seamless also carries wavy and curly versions for more textured hair.)

“Prepare to be hit on a lot more,” Ryan laughed.

 My self-confidence increased tenfold.

Let’s Talk Maintenance.
There’s always a price for beauty. With extensions, it’s all about putting in the time and providing the proper care. And “proper care” for extensions is basically an entire lifestyle.

“Take care of your hair like it’s a designer handbag,” says Nickulas. “Washing every other day, not letting them air dry, and using a leave-in conditioner are the best ways to extend the life of your hair.”

Most important rule: You can’t let the extensions’ adhesives stay wet for a long period of time. This includes natural oil from skipping a shampoo, water from the shower, and any sweat.

“Sweat is a natural oil,” says Nicklaus. “Oils can loosen bonding that adheres the extensions to your hair and can cause them to fall out.” Not only did dry shampoo become a gym bag must-have, but a purse essential too. Even in the dead of winter, sweat was inevitable. Hot subway, anyone?

Then, of course, the hair can’t air dry. Since I’m a wash and go girl (my hair air dries straight), using a hairdryer daily was a whole new concept to me. And with three times as much hair, the drying process took a whole 30-40 minutes to complete. While Ryan recommends washing at least every other day, I had to do it daily because my scalp is naturally greasy. So my dream hair could also be a pain in the butt.

Saying Goodbye.
The average life of a set of extensions is 8-10 weeks. Like many celebs, a lot of Ryan’s clients return for a new set religiously. Though he wouldn’t say who, he did tell me that he’s had celebrity clients who have had extensions for years. And with the application so seamless (pun intended), you’d never know it.

For me, it was time to return to my low-maintenance hair routine after 8 weeks. Little did I know how much I’d miss them. When the extensions were removed I couldn’t believe how fine my natural hair really was. Is this all there ever was? Talk about a wake up call.

Instead of going cold turkey, I made the transition easier (for my self-esteem) by adding in a few clip-in extensions to build up a braid or make waves appear longer. Now I only use them to fill out especially dramatic hair looks.

Bottom line: Celeb extensions are gorgeous and make you feel amazingly confident (and gorgeous), but they are a whole lot of work. Though I loved feeling like Rapunzel for a couple of months, I’ll save these for special occasions…or for when I can hire an entire entourage to care for my extensions. Hey, a girl can have celebrity hair dreams.

Read more: The Right Way to Cut Your Own Hair at Home