Lengthening our locks changed our lives! Four women reveal how they found happiness in their HAIR extensions
They were once the preserve of WAGs and glamour models (and were so fake they could be spotted a mile away), but hair extensions have grown-up. Today, they are increasingly used by stylish women wanting a subtle boost of length or volume.
Here, five women with very different reasons for wanting extensions take the plunge at Jo Hansford, one of London’s top salons, and give their verdicts on their new looks…
Charlotte Marrable, 31, is an office manager who lives in Loughton, Essex, with her husband James, a 31-year-old sales executive.
She says: ‘I always had beautiful,
waist-length, wavy hair, and it was my stand-out feature. It made me
feel pretty, feminine and gorgeous. But in April this year I had it all
deliberating about doing it for nearly a year, ever since getting wed in
June 2010. Being married felt like the start of a grown-up new chapter
in my life. I’d had long hair since I was a girl and fancied a radical
change – something more sophisticated.
so, the decision to do it was very sudden – I finally plucked up
courage while walking past a high street hairdresser one day. I realised
it was ‘now or never’.
Happier: Charlotte Marrable regretted cutting her long hair off on a whim – and now says she feels like herself again (Left, after, right, before)
As the stylist snipped my hair into a chin-length bob, my initial feeling was one of liberation. I was thrilled with my new look and James was delighted too. I felt sleek and sophisticated, which was exactly what I’d hoped for.
But, as the novelty wore off, I started to regret having my hair cut. I had to blow-dry my new style every day, which meant getting up earlier, and never having the lazy luxury of just tying it back.
I resented the extra time it took, and it got to the point where I didn’t even want to look in the mirror, I hated it so much.
It was made worse when, three weeks after my haircut, Kate Middleton married Prince William. I envied her gorgeous hair and felt so angry with myself for ruining mine. I wanted long hair again, so I bought temporary extensions and wore them on nights out.
I couldn’t wear them in the daytime because not only were they were too fiddly to put in, as you had to clip lots of strands of fake hair into your own, I thought they looked cheap and fake in the harsh light of day. I liked having long hair again so much I decided to get permanent ones put in.
I feel so much happier with long hair. It’s quick and easy to style, looks so realistic and pretty, and finally I feel like myself again.’
Emma Scanes, 36, an administration officer, lives in Hayling Island, Hampshire, with her 37-year-old husband Anthony, who works in customer services, and daughters, Lucy, nine, and Katy, seven.
She says: ‘I’ve had trichotillomania
for 20 years – it’s a condition where people pull out their hair,
eyelashes, or eyebrows. I rip hair from the same two places – behind
each ear – and try to hide the resulting bald patches by having a short
bob which covers them.
was about 16 when I first started pulling out my hair. I don’t know what
caused it but when I was younger I was always shy and uncomfortable
about the way I looked. All my friends seemed so attractive and
self-assured, but I was insecure about my appearance.
I discovered my first bald spot, a few months later, I was horrified,
but I couldn’t stop what I was doing to myself. My mum was shocked too
and tried her best to discourage me but although I felt angry,
frustrated and embarrassed, I just couldn’t break the habit.
Emma Scanes had suffered from trichotillomania for 20 years, so was delighted to cover the resulting bald patches with extensions (Left, after, right, before)
I was 21 when I met Anthony, and I managed to hide my condition from him for two years. At that time I was very happy, so I pulled my hair out less frequently and was able to style my hair carefully to disguise the baldness.
But the problem never went away, and eventually I told Anthony the truth. He was concerned but supportive: he wanted to help me cope with what I was going through.
Then I saw something on television about trichotillomania. Anthony and I did some research and we realised that’s what I was suffering from. Sometimes it’s more severe than others, and it’s definitely at its worst when I’m stressed. It improved when I was pregnant with my two daughters, but I vividly remember pulling my hair out when both of them were born prematurely after difficult births.
Over the last year I’ve made a concerted effort to stop and I’ve largely been successful. My hair grows slowly because pulling it out has weakened it, but I’ve managed to get two inches of re-growth on my bald patches, which was long enough to have the extensions put in.
I felt overwhelmed when I saw my new look, and feel I can finally be proud of my hair again. Conquering trichotillomania has been a life-long struggle for me and the extensions are symbolic of what I’ve managed to achieve.’
Chantelle Williams-Hall, 24, lives in north London with her fianc, Daniel, a 24-year-old foreman for a construction company. They have a three-month-old son, Jaiden.
She says: 'I was thrilled to find out
I was pregnant last year, but I hated what pregnancy did to my hair.
It’s naturally very curly so I’ve spend the past 10 years “relaxing” it –
using chemicals to permanently straighten it. But I had to stop once I
was expecting Jaiden as I was worried the chemicals might harm the
I knew I was doing
the right thing, but the downside was that my hair looked shapeless
while I was pregnant. It was frizzy and impossible to style, which did
nothing for my self-esteem. /01/13/article-2086300-0F13E38700000578-250_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”'I'm no longer just a tired new mum': Pregnancy made Chantelle's hair fall out – but she says her extensions have made her feel like a new woman” class=”blkBorder” />
'I'm no longer just a tired new mum': Pregnancy made Chantelle's hair fall out – but she says her extensions have made her feel like a new woman (Left, after, right, before)
I was elated when Jaiden arrived, but three months later, I wanted to get myself out of the post-pregnancy bubble with a fun new look. First and foremost I’m a mother, but I’m still a 24-year-old woman too. I felt it was time to start looking my best again.
I began thinking about new styles and remembered the temporary shoulder-length weave I’d had glued into my hair last autumn, before I fell pregnant.
I’d loved it and I felt so much more stylish. I’d only worn it for two months because it wasn’t great quality and quickly started to look tired but I realised I needed something like that to jolt me out of my ‘new mummy’ rut after Jaiden was born.
So I decided to get some extensions. I now feel like a new women with my long hair, I’m already starting to make more of an effort getting ready in the morning again. It’s reminded me that discovering motherhood doesn’t mean I need to leave the old me behind entirely. I feel like a young woman again, and not just a tired new mum.’
Maria Gregory, 63, is retired and lives in Hornby, Lancashire, with her husband Brian, a 64-year-old company director. They have two children, Terry, 44, and Rebecca, 26.
Maria says: ‘I had waist-length hair
for most of my life but after having my daughter when I was 36, I
started to feel it was no longer age-appropriate. So when I was 40 I had
ten inches cut off: I wanted my hair to reflect my maturity and my new
responsibilities in life. It was a dramatic change, but I loved my new
As a busy mum, I
found an above-the-shoulder cut more practical and less time-consuming
so, for the 20 years since, I’ve worn my hair short but in different
styles – and I haven’t always played it safe.
Funky: Maria Gregory wanted a textured style to look fun and feminine. 'There's no reason a woman in her sixties can't wear extensions,' she says (left, after, right, before)
I’m a grandmother but I don’t see that as a reason to have granny hair – when I was 60 I asked my hairdresser for a funky cut that’s short at the back and ultra-trendy. I loved it but, three years on, I wanted to update my look for my daughter Rebecca’s wedding next March.
Rebecca suggested extensions. I was unsure at first, thinking they were probably more suitable for younger women, but as I thought about it, I loved the idea of instantly having longer hair.
I knew I’d never have the patience to grow my hair long, so they seemed like a wonderful idea.
No-one wants to look like mutton-dressed-as-lamb, so I chose this textured style as a perfect compromise. It looks very natural – it’s fun and feminine, but still funky.
I hope I’m living proof that there’s no reason why women in their sixties can’t wear hair extensions. My husband’s thrilled with them, and my daughter thinks they look great too. Now I can’t wait to show them off at her wedding.'
Rocky Scott, 57, is a property consultant who lives in north London with her husband, Andy, a 62-year-old storage manager. She has a son, 23, and two step-daughters, 38 and 33.
She says: ‘In December 2008, when I
was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it was such a huge shock and for one
brief moment I could feel my inner strength and resolution crumbling.
a strong person, but when the oncologist said he wanted me to start
chemotherapy in two weeks time, I cried for half an hour. I told him:
'I’m not crying because I’ve got cancer, I’m crying because I’m going to
lose my hair.'
Positive: Rocky was devastated when her cancer diagnosis meant she would lose her hair with chemotherapy. Now her new longer hair reminds her that she fought back (left, after, right before)
It may seem strange to react like that but I’ve always taken pride in my appearance, and I really care about my hair, make-up and clothes.
I may have been going grey but my hair was always stylish and the thought of losing it was awful. But eventually I wiped my tears dry and reminded myself that it was only hair.
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF HAIR EXTENSIONS
There are many types of extensions
on the market from temporary ones you clip into your hair then remove at
the end of the day to permanent ones.
extensions can be made from either real or synthetic hair and used to
add body, length or both to your style.
Natural hair must be 8-10 cm
long before they can be added. Extensions are attached to existing hair
either by being woven in or glued. It is time-consuming – expect to
spend three hours in the chair if you’re having a whole head fitted.
fitted, real human hair extensions can be washed, dried and styled
normally using a hairdryer and appliances.
Heat devices like
straighteners cannot be used on synthetic hair. They are more difficult
to remove, often look ‘fake’ and can cause distress to hair.
last for around three to four months and cost between 400-1,200
depending on the length, quality and how many you’re having fitted.
seek advice from a trained professional before having permanent
extensions fitted. For further advice contact The British Hairdressing
Chemo began in January 2009 and I had six cycles of it over 18 weeks. One week before the second session, my shoulder-length hair started to come out in clumps. I knew it was going to happen, but it still came as a shock although in a way it was worse when the hair all over my body started falling out – even the tiny ones in my ears and nose.
But I was determined to put a positive spin on what was happening, so I bought myself wigs and changed my make-up too, swapping natural-pink lip colours for bright, dramatic reds. I also had eyelash extensions at the start of chemo even though I knew it wouldn’t be long before my lashes fell out.
My beauty routine was important because it allowed me to feel normal, and I was determined not to surrender my life to cancer. There wasn’t one day when I wallowed in bed, and I coped by regarding chemo as an inconvenience.
After my treatment finished I went on holiday to Greece for a fortnight and my hair started to grow back. When I saw stubble on my scalp, it was a joyful moment.
I wore my wig for six months while my own hair grew back. The great news was that my once frizzy, grey-tinged hair grew back black and poker-straight – suddenly I had the hair I’d always dreamed of.
I grew it into a bob, but started thinking about having extensions to make it look fuller.
I’m a great believer that when you look your best, you feel your best. Losing my hair was distressing but I fought back, and my new look is a constant reminder of that. I have a check-up every three months and that will continue for six more years, but I’m staying positive.’
Hair by Marcio Oliveira at Johansford.com (020 7495 7774); Extensions by Hairdreams.com