MANESPIRATION: Kelly Oxford’s Extension Makeover by Sarah Conner
What does a NY Times Bestselling author do when she wants a hair makeover? Come to Mane Addicts of course! When we heard social media icon, writer, and bona fide beauty, Kelly Oxford wanted to try extensions for the first time, we couldn’t help but step in. Rule of thumb: if you’re getting extensions for the first time, go to an expert. So we put Kelly in the trusting hands of Meche Salon’s Sarah Conner [also known as the Los Angeles hair extension whisperer] for a full fledged makeover.
Let us preface by letting you know that Kelly didn’t exactly decide to get extensions. It was gal pal Jen Atkin who swayed her. She actually sent Jen “a photo of a very drastic, short bob that I wanted to try, but Jen knew I had been growing my hair out for over a year. So she said, ‘why don’t we try the opposite first?!’”
If you’re thinking of following in Kelly’s footprints, there’s a few things to take into consideration. When choosing the type of extensions, Sarah explains first and foremost how important it is to take your own lifestyle into account. “If a client travels all the time, or works out everyday, I take that into consideration during the consultation and ask lots of questions! I want to make sure I match the choice of extensions to their personal life as well.”
Other factors include how the actual extensions feel on your head. “Some clients prefer the way the tape feels because it lies flat on the head. However, a lot of the time they can be scattered across the head, and I have some clients that don’t like to feel extensions all over everywhere, and that’s where the sew-in kind is great because it sits like a halo toward the back of the head and those can go a bit longer without having to redo them.”
“The tape method is my favorite because of its versatility, but I also do custom hand sewn weft and I think that method’s great too. They’re both really low-maintenance as far as damage and wear and tear to the hair.”
Sarah’s experience with extensions began with her mentor, Kacey Welch. “I worked with her for two years and she taught me how to do the sew-in method. Then one of our girlfriends, Kiara Bailey created this method called Hair Lingerie, so when that came out I took the class. Then I, in turn, actually taught Kacey how to do the tape, so we taught each other the different methods,” she says.
One of the reasons Sarah’s so fond of the tape method is because it’s so versatile. She explains “other methods can limit you in terms of placement, whereas with the tape, you have the freedom to put them virtually anywhere. Right at the top of the head, virtually at your part, or you can even use them to fill in certain areas if you got a bad haircut and you want to grow it out.”
“When people think of extensions, they think of Barbie or Playboy and that they have to have 20-inch hair and commit to them forever, but the great thing about tape is if you got a botched haircut, you can fix it without a full head of extensions,” says Sarah.
They’re also great for ageless beauty. “A lot of mature women start to naturally thin out on their sides and they lose that volume and density to their hair. I can put just one or two tape pieces on the sides and it will totally change their whole look. So, I have clients with two pieces and clients with twenty-two pieces, it just depends on the person.”
When choosing the right method, it’s all about that texture! “I chose the tape method for Kelly because the texture of the extensions matches her actual texture so the two are really flawless and seamless with how they feel in the hair.” She goes on to explain, “just like with the color, you want the texture to match so that the weight of the extension hair and the weight of the client’s hair match. It looks really unbelievable if the client has super thin hair and then all of a sudden they have these thick extensions at the bottom.”
The icing on the cake is that the application’s so fast, you’ll be in and out of that salon chair in no time! “You can apply a full set of extensions in under an hour.”
When preparing extensions, Sarah emphasizes that flawless, cohesive color is key. “A lot of extensions are textile dyed so it’s unpredictable how they’ll color, but what I love about Hair Lingerie is that the extensions are like raw hair, so it’s bleached like actual human hair would be and they take color just like real hair does. I custom order the extensions to match the client’s hair as best as possible, and then I’ll go in and give them some highlights, lowlights, or I’ll even give them a little bit of a root.”
So does it hurt? Kelly said it “really felt like she was just taping something to my head, and then the second her hand was gone I didn’t feel anything.” And was she happy with the final result? Ecstatic! “I cannot believe how long they are and the color’s perfect! It’s insane, the weight of my hair feels like it hasn’t changed at all. Jen’s a genius for telling me to try this!”
The key to great extensions is “for them to look as natural as possible and for no one to even know you have them in.” Well with the right cut to blend in the hair (by Meche’s own Joseph Orozco) and that precision application, we wouldn’t think twice about the finished look not being what Kelly just woke up with.
Photos: Desirae Cherie @desiraecherie