As I mentioned previously, my hair has thinned drastically since I went off birth control a year ago. I tried lots of things to make it less obvious, from supplements to special shampoos to a hair cut and none did anything noticeable. I became so self-conscious about it and hated my hair so much that I stopped wearing it down entirely. For the past few months, I’ve been pulling it back or pinning it up just so no one would see how bad it had become. I became so frustrated with not being able to do anything with it, and I really missed wearing it down, but I just couldn’t. It looked thin and limp and pathetic.
My doctors did say they see new growth (finally) coming back in, but it sure is taking its sweet time growing out. I was sick of waiting, so I decided to do something drastic. I got extensions. I think the below pictures speak for themselves.
What a big difference, right? I feel so good about my hair again and I feel so much freedom in being able to wear it down. Extensions were foreign to me, and I’m still getting used to them, but I can say with confidence that they’re worth it as I wait for my own hair to grow back in again.
Going into this, I had NO idea what to expect. None of my friends have extensions, and the only ones I’ve noticed on others before looked terrible — you know, those DIY clip-in ones that you can totally tell are fake. I was terrified about that. But as you can see, these actually look natural and blend in.
First, I had to find the right place to get my extensions. I knew of several salons that offered them, but I found one in particular that specialized in hair loss solutions for women going through medical challenges (such as alopecia or cancer). I wanted someone who “got it” and knew what they were doing. This wasn’t just a fun beauty enhancement for me. This was my last-ditch effort to not go off the deep end, emotionally, about my hair. (And yes, I know I’m being dramatic. For the record, I acknowledge that it must be even harder for women going through awful things like cancer, but for me personally, I needed something to make me feel pretty again, because I just felt really ugly and down about myself like I never had before.)
Luckily, April at Final Touches in Fargo, was the perfect person for me. Because this is her specialty, she really knows her stuff. She gets it. She’s sympathetic and she wants to help make women feel beautiful again.
We had an initial consultation, where she explained why my options were, what to expect, offered more advice about how to naturally get my own hair growing back in quicker and let me ask a bajillion questions. She felt my hair, heard my story, and said that I was a great candidate for tape-in extensions.
She told me about the other kinds, but after hearing about how the others worked and felt, I agreed tape was the way to go. She swatched my hair and noted my shade so she could order my new hair in my exact current color. I told her that I didn’t want anything drastic. I just wanted something to make my hair look like how it used to before it thinned. No high-end European hair, no highlights, no curls, no long length. Just enough to blend in well so I could wear it down without looking pathetic (see above before photo).
For reference, this is what my natural hair used to look like before this birth control mess:
When the day come to get the extensions in, I was so nervous. I was scared I’d still hate them. I was scared you’d be able to see them. I was scared it would hurt. I was scared they wouldn’t look natural. But I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
That morning, April washed my hair because it needed to be super clean before applying the extensions. I got blow-dried, then she pinned everything up so just a little was left down near the base of my neck.
The extensions themselves are real human hair, but they’re treated and cut into small sections about an inch wide, with adhesive at the top, kind of like double-switch tape. With each bit, she peeled off the paper and applied the sticky side of the hair to my own hair. There are about four rows of hair that were applied at the back of my head and two rows on the sides. She left a nice layer on the very top of my head free so that it would cover up the tape.
The extensions came in pretty long — I think she said they were 16 inches. Once all the sections had been applied, she cut them down to the length I wanted, which was just a bit below the shoulders, and added some subtle layers and face framing to blend it. Then she styled it all, and that was that!
Now that they’re in, I love them. In fact, I think they look better than my hair ever did before!
I can still wash, comb and style my extensions; I just have to do it more carefully than without them.
This application should last for anywhere from 1 to 3 months, depending how fast my hair grows out and how well I care for the extensions (frequent washing breaks down the adhesive, so I’ll try to do it only a couple times a week). Once they start getting loose or visible as my hair grows, I’ll go back in and April will take them out with a special solution that gets rid of the adhesive, then re-apply them. I can wear this same batch of hair about four times if I care for it well. That should get me a full year’s use of them if all goes perfect, though it likely will be more like 9 months.
Sleeping with them is a little awkward because I can feel the tape parts pressing against my head on the pillow, so I just arrange my head till I find a good spot to lay. Though it’s weird, I did sleep well enough in them, so that’s good. April did say that with some of the other kinds of extensions, sleeping can be much more uncomfortable.
Otherwise, going about my daily business, I do feel them in but it’s not too distracting. There’s a slight pull because the hair is hanging on to my roots, but the more I wear them, the more I get used to it. I can pull it back into a loose pony, but I can’t wear it up high or else the tape pulls up, and since it’s supposed to lay flat, that just doesn’t work very well.
There is one piece that is close enough to my ear on one side that I can’t tuck it behind my ear, so I think I might have her remove that one. Although I do love all the volume of hair, I may also get one less layer on the bottom in back next time so it’s less to worry about and is closer to my usual thickness anyway.
She did say that the very first time is kind of a trial to find out how it feels, how to best care for it, and how I like it done. Now for the re-application in a couple months I’ll be better able to tell her how I prefer it.
My hope is that after this batch is no longer usable, my hair will have grown out enough on its own to not even need them anymore. I do not want to have to wear these forever; it’s more of a short-term solution so I don’t hate myself as I wait for my own hair to grow back. In the meantime, I’m very thankful that this solution does exist and works so well, and that April was so talented to apply them beautifully.
It’s really nice to have hair that makes me feel confident again, and overall, the experience has been great! Now I just wait and see how long these last, what the re-application process is like and how long it takes my hair to grow back.