What Have you ever Completed
My good friend eyed me suspiciously over the dinner table. ‘You look completely different,’ she said. ‘Sort of polished and put collectively. You don’t look as drained as traditional both. What have you ever completed ’
Within the assembled company, I felt cornered. Sure, I used to be trying marginally much less tired, even when I say so myself, but the reason for my makeover of types was not a visit to an costly spa, per week off in mattress or perhaps a sneaky dabble with Botox — it was something much more unlikely.
My thin, mousy, straggly hair, by no means worthy of remark, had been boosted with secret hair extensions. That’s proper: that TOWIE staple, the WAG beauty must-have, alongside orange spray tans and pretend talons.
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Catherine Ostler wearing her hair naturally (left) and with a a lot fuller head of hair with extensions in (right)
But what most women don’t realise is there’s another, extra delicate version out there, that is more Chelsea than Chigwell. They’re favoured by Hollywood actresses and It-girls, short shaggy hairstyles for women but also by professional women and West London mothers like me, which is how I came throughout them in the primary place.
A number of months in the past, on my option to a social gathering at a gallery with an Oxbridge-educated historian and fellow mom of small kids, I commented on her hair — slightly tousled, glossy, mane-like — and she let me into the secret.
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Like me, she’d been cursed with effective hair and a rat’s tail as an alternative of a nice fat pony tail, and so she’d had extensions. Not the waist-skimming, artificial-wanting ones (worn like a badge of honour, with ostentatious designer labels and handbags, by ladies desperate to let the world know they have cash to splurge), but discreet extensions that gave her a better, thicker head of hair.
The scales fell from my eyes. Abruptly I got it. All those ladies on television, in magazines, with lustrous hair — Victoria Beckham, Kate Beckinsale, Elle Macpherson. These dressed-down French editor sorts, in silk shirts, jeans, and short shaggy hairstyles for women the supposedly low-upkeep ‘natural’ look
Catherine had always dreamt of getting luscious locks like Elle Macpherson’s (left) or Kate Beckinsale’s (proper)
Those glamorous Russians who all look so way more high-octane than their British counterparts Properly, all of them — or practically all, anyway — have hair extensions on the sly. The cheats! Certainly, in France they’re so accepted that one of the main manufacturers of hair extension merchandise is Balmain, the vogue home.
Around the identical time, a male hairdresser who was styling my hair — I believe he was also having a nasty day — practically threw a tantrum because it wouldn’t do what he needed. ‘It’s not your fault, darling, but your hair really is impossible!’ he kept muttering.
He had a degree. I’ve the type of high quality hair that can shake off an costly blow-dry in minutes and would nonetheless flatten itself if you happen to bolstered it with concrete. My pure hair scoffs in the face of mousses, gels, sprays and all these fiddly volumising issues, seeing itself as the bastion of lifelessness.
I believed it was one thing I simply needed to live with, till my friend confessed her secret.
So it was with some trepidation that I finally discovered myself within the chair of Stephanie Pollard on the Chelsea Hair Studio. Extensions don’t come low cost — from round £400 for actual hair and from £250 for monofibre, the synthetic equivalent. Stef suggested a ‘volumiser’ — round a hundred small tresses — of actual hair, the same size as my own. Hair donated by Spanish girls would offer one of the best match.
Taking a look at them, laid out like dogs’ tails, I did feel strange. Whose hair was this What was their story Why did she select to promote it I won’t ever know. It feels weird — like an organ transplant without the well being excuse.
The extensions are stuck, tress-by-tress on to your own hair a centimetre or so from the scalp, utilizing a blob of melted resin heated by a gun-like contraption.
As I sat in her chair, Stef and i flicked via Good day! magazine and she analysed who’s had what. I’m telling you, they’re all cheaters. It’s like real-life airbrushing and it offers all of them a decade drop in age each time.
Naomi Campbell famously suffered from bald patches after wearing her weave too tight
British aristocrats, starlets, tycoons’ wives, self-made women . . . Stef’s purchasers range in age from their early 20s to an educational who’s 86, and most of them keep their extensions secret.
As my hair took shape, I had several bolts of panic when I assumed: ‘I am making a ludicrous and costly mistake.’
Why the sudden burst of foolish vanity, I questioned.
Two hours later, though, I had lighter, thicker hair that regarded utterly natural. On the stroll house, I loved the sensation of slightly weighty hair bouncing on my shoulders for the primary time.
I hadn’t advised my husband, and i wasn’t sure he would discover. However he stated my hair seemed ‘nice’, which was momentous as he doesn’t usually say anything.
The following morning, nevertheless, I woke up to the practicalities of extensions. You can’t run your palms or a brush by means of them in the same manner. You do brush it, but extra gently. It’s thicker however messier, which I moderately like. I still washed it every other day, however used an acetone-free shampoo that wouldn’t weaken the resin.
I liked my extensions; the most important satisfaction was gathering it right into a ponytail and feeling it, thick and heavy as a horse’s mane. I’ve had the perfect reaction, which is being asked: ‘What have you ever completed You look youthful . . .’ with out anyone truly guessing the truth.
I used to be warned they would want changing after three months. So, round 12 weeks later, back to the salon I went for one more £400 ‘fix’.
That’s the problem: they are addictive. One good friend even says she has an alter ego when she has them in: she calls her ‘Madame Swish’.
She’s had extensions for six years. She says that with swishy, cascading hair she thinks she will be able to put on a tracksuit and nonetheless really feel superb. ‘Swishy’ in truth.
‘Trouble is my husband doesn’t like Madame Swish. He prefers me as a dowdy, natural type. He says he’s horrified by the idea, but truly I believe he’s horrified by the associated fee,’ she says.
It’s such an costly behavior that she will need to have spent nearly £10,000 over the years.
There have been well-known examples of hair extension habits going incorrect. Naomi Campbell’s shocking bald patches have been blamed on her years of too-tight hair ‘weaves’ (where a patch of hair is sewn into the prevailing locks) — one thing Stef assures me cannot happen with my extensions because they’re much lighter.
My pal is on a break from extensions. Her hairdresser thinks her hair would benefit from ‘lying fallow’ for a bit, however is determined for extra. She says: ‘I really am dependent on them now for confidence.
‘I felt they took me from a four out of ten to a six. I just have a better time when I’ve them in.’
I sympathise fully, and fear I could also be heading into full-on addiction. I don’t know the way long I can justify my new habit, however I’m already dreading being without them.