Great Lengths Extensions: feel like a money-burning glorious mermaid princess

I’ve been meaning to share my experience with Great Lengths hair extensions – I got them on two separate occasions – once in 2010 and again in 2011.  I know – its been a while but I still remember the glorious days when I had some stranger’s hair intertwined with my own.  I had short hair and I wanted long hair for my engagement pictures and for my wedding – so I looked into different types of extensions: clip-on, weave, tape, micro-link, etc…  I decided to go with the “Ferrari” of extensions – Great Lengths (http://www.greatlengths.net).

In terms of the basics – when you decide to get Great Lengths, you purchase them in bundles of 25 pieces.  It comes in different lengths (8 to 24 inches) – the longer, the more expensive.  Extensions can be used to lengthen, volumize and/or highlight.  There are many salons that offer Great Lengths and I visited a few for consultations.  I did not have a good feeling about some salons due to the inexperience and lack of confidence of the stylists.  Online and in the salons, there are reports of it taking at least 7 hours to put the extensions due to the precise locations it needs to go, etc…  The salons I did not go with did not give me a good estimate of price – they all told me I had to put a deposit first before they could proceed with the consultation.  Their estimate ranged from $500 – 2000.  Which is ridiculous because that locks you in on a stylist that might not know what they’re doing.  I then found Sebastian at “Village Hair Studio & Salon” (http://www.thevillagehairstudio.com/).  What set him apart from the others was his honesty and professional knowledge.  He knew how many bundles my hair needed to achieve the look I desired – 5 bundles and the 2 shades to get based on the natural highlight I had in my hair.  This was determined in a matter of minutes – I knew I had to go with him.  In terms of payment, a deposit had to be made to order the extensions.  The balance was paid after the service.  At $230/bundle…the total cost was $1150 – not including tax or tip.  I know – CRAZY.

IMG_1582gl_applicatorThis is what my hair looked like in July 2010 – short and shoulder length.  The first thing Sebastian did was put in each extension – each has keratin bonds that are applied to your natural hair with the use of a small heating device.  He cut each bond in half so that it wasn’t too heavy.  The whole process ended up taking about 3 hours.  After burning a hole in my wallet – I had long hair!

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This picture with the falls in the background was taken a few days after getting extensions.  You can see by my neck – the length of my actual hair.  What sucks about the extensions (besides the cost) is the HIGH MAINTENANCE involved with them.  My hair is naturally super straight, the extensions have a natural little wave.  The best way to blend it for me, was to use a straightening iron to curl my hair with the extensions.  I only wash my hair once a week so all I had to do in the mornings was run it through the iron quickly.

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Another issue that arises with extensions is sleeping – imagine 100 plastic like bonds all over your scalp while lying on a pillow.  It’s as comfortable as it sounds…as your hair grows, the bonds move down and it becomes more comfortable.  You also have to be super careful when brushing your hair as you could rip your natural hair with the extension out.  The red dress picture was part of my engagement pics taken and at Centre Island – not sure if you can tell but the ends of the extensions were fried as I was still learning how to use a straightening iron to curl.  Those irons are super hot!  I still remember the scent of burning hair – maybe the setting was too high…but after playing with different heats, it was what kept the curl.  You’ll notice I got better the second year with extensions.

IMG_2537The scariest part of having extensions is when an entire extension bundle falls out or you had to pick it out because of an insane tangle.  You know how you naturally shed?  Well, when you have one extension bonded to like 15-20 of your natural hair…and then say 4-5 shed, that won’t fall to the ground – it becomes extra weight on the extension.  Also, if your hair is silky – some strands will “slip out” of the bond.  So after a while, if you are unlucky or rough with your hair routine – the bundle will fall out or you will end up picking it out.  That is SCARY – it happened like 3 times from July to November 2010.  I had the extensions for 4 months.  The length of time you can have the extensions varies depending on the person (the faster your hair grows, the sooner you need them out).  Here is a pic of my hair on Halloween. – I did get a haircut in that month – hence why it is shorter.  You can tell when they are ready to be out because the extensions become painful as they become heavier and the bonds can be seen depending on how you style your hair.  When you remove them – there is a feeling of freedom but then a sense of insecurity as your hair is no longer as voluminous and you lose your mermaid powers.

Here I am in December 2010 back to normal:IMG_2836

IMG_3407Fast forward a year to June 2011 – one month before the wedding!!! My hair is longer but it doesn’t have the volume I want – I need to feel like a mermaid princess.  This time around, I only got 4 bundles…you do the math – its still CRAZY expensive.  I try not to think of the iMac or multiple iPads I could have purchased instead of some stranger’s hair…lol…anyways – second time around…I got this down.  I am able to take care of the extensions better and know “what not to do”.

For the wedding, I did my own hair – using the same straightening iron technique as the year before but I was better.  Hopefully, this is evident in the pictures below:

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Even a couple of months after the wedding, I was able to rock the extensions.  I was in HEAVEN.  Styling my hair was sooo much fun.  The volume was AMAZING!  I did not want them out even though they needed to be out.  The extensions lasted the same amount of time for me: 4 months (July – November 2011).  The pic with the black jacket was in a month before I took them out.

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So, in August 2012…I was doing my Trash the Dress session and I wanted to be a mermaid princess yet again.  But common sense kicked in and as an alternative, I bought clip in extensions from Sally’s which set me back about $120…I know…like half the cost of 1 Great Lengths bundle.  The first two pics are from the session.  The last pic is what my actual hair looked like without the clip-ins.

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A year later, December 2013 – I reused the clip-ins for Christmas.  Here are pics before the clip-ins & after:

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That was the last time I used extensions.  I still miss feeling like a glorious mermaid princess – but the cost and maintenance does not make it worth it for me.  Maybe if I win the lottery and have some money to burn then I will get Great Lengths once again!  I still go to Sebastian for regular hair cuts.  It is so nice to have a transparent stylist that you can trust 100%.  In 2014, I got a taste of ombre…

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And now 2015 – this is what my hair looks like – with highlights and no extensions.  I haven’t felt like a mermaid princess in a while – but I guess feeling like a regular princess is good enough :p

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