Do Hair Extensions Really Work? I Got Kim Kardashian's Look
If I could have anything in the world – more than a boyfriend, a dog, or a strong sense of self-worth – it would be Kim Kardashian's hair extensions.
WAIT, DON'T LEAVE YET. Let me explain. It all started when I was 13 years old.
It was a cloudy afternoon back in 2001 – 2 p.m. to be exact – (just go with it) when I decided to look my prepubescent face in the mirror and say, "You know what, you're ugly as hell. But I think we can fix this."
I pulled out a pair of scissors from my desk drawer and decided to cut off roughly seven inches of my hair. It was freeing at the time and I truly thought a shorter 'do would make me look like Lizzie McGuire in Season 1 without the crimp. CLASSIC MISTAKE.
I immediately regretted the move, and straightened my hair to try and salvage any length that was left. It was in that moment I felt a true, intimate connection – deeper than I've ever felt with a man – to my hair straightener. I needed it, I wanted it, but I wasn't aware how much it would ruin my life.
Haha, sounds like my ex. *High five* (I dream about you every night... )
Fast forward 11 years and here we are! It's me, you guys – a 24-year-old celebrity editor who spends nine hours a day stalking the Kardashians. Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kylie, Kendall, and even Rob give me life when I need to feel better about my own. I LOVE THEM ALL.
Obviously, Kim is the OG, so we have to talk about her first. That woman's hair is so luscious, I have dreams about running my fingers through it on the reg. (Too much? My b.)
She's always switching up her look and isn't afraid to rock hair extensions even if it requires 50 million dollars and frequent visits to the salon. GIRL'S DEDICATED AF!
Since I was 13, I've desperately tried to grow my hair back, but it just won't get to the length it used to be. It's frizzy and damaged, and I'm also stressed, so that probably doesn't help. I'VE TRIED EVERYTHING: avocado masks, apple cider vinegar, vitamins, oils, crying alone in the bathroom.
But one thing I've never tried before is tape-in hair extensions with Paul Labrecque. Yup, if you haven't heard about Paul and his salon, then you better take a seat.
Paul Labrecque Salon & Spa was founded in 1988 by Paul himself. His boutique started on the Upper West Side of NYC and has since expanded into three full service salon & spas in Manhattan, and one in downtown Philadelphia.
This quote by Paul literally sums it up:
My passion is making my clients look and feel their best. It is what I love to do... making people feel confident, beautiful, sexy and full of life.
Honestly, how could you not be sold? Paul is an expert when it comes to hair extensions and celebrity-inspired styles. That's why I knew he was the only person who could do this job right. If Paul couldn't save my hair, no one could.
I first arrived to the salon a week before my scheduled appointment for a hair consultation. Paul and I briefly discussed why I wanted extensions, so I told him it was for a few inches of length and a whole lot of volume.
(Make me prettier, Paul. Please, I need you.)
A consultation is important – and honestly, mandatory – for anyone who wants hair extensions, so your stylist can color-match you and also know how much hair to order.
During your consultation, I do a color match. The extensions are only good as the match of their hair color and they should never go darker than the hair at the end, especially in today's fashion. The idea is the brown [my hair color] should be a slightly lighter color.
He shared with me all the possible styles that can come from adding extensions: You can highlight, change the color, and really do anything.
We can also give you ombre extensions ... if you didn't want to ombre your hair because you didn't want chemicals on your hair, I can order you ombre extensions that will ombre your hair for you. So, a lot of celebrities -- because they don't want to put bleach -- go light or dark ... [and] a lot of it is done with extensions.
After our short chat, I left the salon already feeling like Kim Kardashian's twin. A week later, I returned to the salon and was ready to have the outer match the in. He he he. I'm garbage, I know.
Paul told me I would be getting surgical tape extensions, which happen to be his all-time fave compared to micro-beads, protein polymers, and sew-in extensions (a weave).
For my hair specifically, surgical tape extensions were the best option because they lie flat on the head and, according to Paul, won't damage the hair as much as beads.
The metal beads have a glue inside of the metal like an epoxy. You squeeze it and the epoxy lets go and holds to the hair, and because it winds onto the hair ... It creates a pretty bad 'knottage' in the hair [that's] hard to get out, but they last about three months. People think the beads are healthier but they're not, there's something in them to make them stay on.
Surgical tape extensions, on the other hand, last 10 weeks and have an easier removal process because there is less knotting. They're also more secure. Paul explained,
It's the kind of tape they use for a wound on your body to hold the wound shut. It doesn't let moisture in. You get it wet and it won't open up, there's no chance of it opening.
Sounds legit to me. Paul, I know we just met, but I trust you with my life.
The next step was straightening my hair to help it blend with the new extensions. Once my head was lookin' shiny and sleek, Paul and his assistant attached small batches of the hair extensions (about an inch wide) to my head.
Here's how it works: Each section has a double-sided adhesive that's used to attach the bond to your natural hair. Your real hair lies right between two of the add-on pieces, so the extensions blend in perfectly.
Here's a close up pic, just so you can see what I mean.
It was a super easy, super painless procedure that took a little over an hour. THAT'S IT. I honestly didn't even feel them touching my head.
Once each strand was attached and in place, Paul curled my hair using a Good Hair Day (ghd) iron. LADIES, if there's one thing you need keep in your closet, it's this.
ghd Professional Classic 1" Styler, $101.19, Amazon
Paul explained the iron is the perfect tool for celebrities because it can straighten or curl your hair all in one:
It straightens [and] it curls just by bending it, so I can get a nice curl on the hair... If I pull straight, I make it straight... but the minute I wrap the hair around the iron, I make it curl sort of like how scissors go down a ribbon. Celebrities love to use it because they love to have one thing they do everything with when they travel, and it does wonders with extensions. Just move slow, you won't see where one ends and one begins.
I'm not trying to exaggerate, but I actually looked like a model. Kim Kardashian, is that you?!
(Also, these pics were taken two weeks after I got the extensions. THEY'RE STILL GOING STRONG, YOU GUYS.)
If you've ever been concerned about adding heat to extensions, don't be. Anything you can do to regular hair, you can do to these babes. They're real human hair, so curl dat ish up!
I then asked Paul to give me his best haircare tips for extensions, and he laid them on me.
First, never let the hair knot. Be sure to brush your extensions and make sure they don't tangle. I've had my extensions for almost two weeks now and I haven't had any issues.
The second tip is to style your natural hair and the extensions together. If you want to curl your hair, take a piece of both. Don't treat them separately. As Paul puts it, "You want them to infuse together so they'll look very real."
The third tip is to only go four to five inches longer, MAX. Paul says you don't even have to go longer with extensions – you can get them cut to the same length as your normal hair and just have them added for thickness.
However, if you choose to go longer than Paul's recommendation, he warns the extensions might not blend as well and look less natural. Paul's a pro, you guys. LISTEN TO PAUL.
Now, I'm not gonna lie: Extensions are a lot of money, but there are affordable alternativies. For people who can't spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on their hair, Paul recommends Halo hair extensions.
Here's how Paul says it works:
I can put an extension on you and cut it into your haircut so everyday it falls into the same place and it will be perfect... [The Halo extension] is put on with fishing string because there's absolutely no damage, and you take it off to sleep. There's no hidden cost. Extensions, maybe you can afford them once, but there's a cost every five [to ten] weeks. You come in for coloring because it's still custom. You have to look for a salon that represents Halo and you go in for a color match and I match your color. It's very imporant with these, the color must match identically.
Paul says the Halo does have limited color options, but his salon specializes in making custom colors for clients. Prices range from $199.99 to $500 depending on length, color, cut, thickness, and style.
Before I left the salon and showed off my new locks to every random man I passed on the street, Paul also showed me the "Angelic Hair In An Instant" ponytail Halo.
Yeah, you want to know how Ariana Grande gets so much hair swinging from that pony? Well, it's a hair extension.
The ponytail Halo runs for $270 and I'm buying it immediately. LOOK AT HOW MUCH HAIR YOU GET. I'ma look like Ariana Grande and the Mac Millers of the world are gonna hit. me. up.
So, should you get hair extensions? HELL YES. I'm obsessed.
Tape-in extensions are low-maintenance, won't damage your hair and look unbelievably natural. Legit no one knows I'm walking around with human hair taped to my head. It's genius!
You can also hit up Paul Labrecque Salon & Spa for other services including facial and body treatments, spa packages, wax and hair removal, nails, makeup, and more.
Thanks again, Paul. I can finally look in the mirror and not hate my life.
PS. This isn't the first time I've tried to be like the Kardashians. Check out my other experiments below.