If you’ve followed The Dupe Diaries from early on, you may have seen a review post last summer of Platinum hair extensions. It was then that I had my first experience of pre-bonded extensions and twelve months on, I’m afraid to say that I haven’t been able to go without them since. To date, I’ve had three sets of Platinum extensions but having most recently used their new ‘Prestige’ range of pre-bonds, I was quite disappointed by the quality and longevity of the new hair so I decided it was time to try something different.
Kelley O’Brien, who has been styling the do’s of The Dupe Diaries (and our entire family and friends) for the last two years or so, recently qualified in Great Lengths application. Great Lengths is a company I’ve been keeping an eye on for the past while, with many celebrities ‘faking it’ with their premium quality hair extensions. I’ve always heard good things about them but with that comes a hefty price tag and I was reluctant to spend so much money on…well, hair. But despite my better judgement and sensibilities, I bit the bullet and decided to sell my soul to the good people at Great Lengths.
The 411 on getting your Great Lengths
The first step in the process was a full consultation. Kelley explained all about the hair, what makes Great Lengths different to other brands of extensions, how to care for them and how long they’re expected to last for. We did a colour match and I signed the (slightly intimidating) aftercare agreement. Now it was just a case of waiting for my new locks to arrive.
Great Lengths are distributed from the UK so two weeks later it was D-Day. It was a long process, as I was having my old bonds removed, colour done and the Great Lengths applied in one sitting, but with the knowledge that I’d soon have my gorgeous new Rapunzel hair, I didn’t mind the wait. The pre-bonded Great Lengths are applied the same way as any other pre-bonds, using a special heat ‘gun’. Kelley applied around 100 strands of 40cm hair to my head. Typically a full head would comprise of 100 – 125 bonds, depending on the thickness of your own hair and the desired look. Applying the Great Lengths took around an hour and a half, by the time Kelley had applied, cut and styled them. I was immediately so impressed with them. A couple of things I noticed instantly – the hair is so light, despite the fact that it is extremely full and thick. It feels just like your own head of hair. I can only compare it to Platinum extensions (and I should say that I do really like Platinum hair. For the price you pay, it is a great option) – for the same number of bonds (i.e. 100 strands), you get a lot more hair with Great Lengths. It is thicker and fuller looking, so you need less hair than other brands to achieve a full, luscious head of hair.
The thing that I was most excited about was the actual bond itself. Again, this is something that I would fault Platinum and many other manufacturers of pre-bonds on. The bonds are often so thick and chunky that it can be difficult to disguise them, particularly as they start to grow out from the root. The bonds on the Great Lengths are much smaller! They’re still noticeable if you go looking for them but unless you go digging, you really can’t detect them. Plus, they feel a lot lighter and slimmer than other bonds when you’re wearing them.
As with any hair extensions, the better you care for them, the longer they will last. There’s no denying, high quality hair extensions cost big money so if you’re investing in them, you should be committed to taking good care of them. Here’s a couple of quick tips for maintaining healthy hair extensions;
- Great Lengths should be washed using sulfate-free shampoo (sulfates can cause the keratin bonds to break down more quickly and therefore, the extensions to fall out). So no more TREsemmé, Pantene or Head and Shoulders! You’ll want to invest in good, salon quality products. My favourite shampoo is the Revlon 45 Days Total Colour Care 2in1 shampoo(€9.99, Terrisales). This is sulfate-free but also great for coloured hair
- Conditioner should not be applied on or near the bonds – again, this can result in extensions falling out
- After washing your hair, you should always dry the roots in order to keep the bonds dry and secure
- To avoid damaging the hair, always use a heat protection spray before using heat tools on the entensions and use a good hair oil or serum. I love the AlfaParf Semi Di Lino Diamante Colour Protections Crystals Leave-In Serum (€18, Strawberrynet.com)
- I brush my Great Lengths regularly to ensure they don’t get tangled or matted. Anyone with long hair will understand how easily long hair tangles in itself. Tangle Teezers (€15.99, Boots) are my ultimate favourite hair brushes and are great with bonded extensions as they don’t catch in the bond
- Avoid picking at or playing with the bonds of your Great Lengths extensions. This can loosen the bond and cause them to fall out
Many people ask if the heat application and glue cause damage to your hair. In my opinion, my own hair has never been compromised by wearing extensions. Both the Platinum and now Great Lengths extensions which I’ve worn are bonded to your own hair with a keratin bond, which causes little to no damage if applied and removed correctly. I’ve always looked after my hair and extensions and have ALWAYS had them professionally removed. As you’ll see from the before and after pictures below, my own hair is in pretty good condition. I’ve always had quite fine hair but after removing my Platinum bonds, I could notice my hair was a lot thicker and way healthier than it had been prior to wearing extensions. I guess it makes sense – the extensions are protecting your own hair from heat damage, colouring and styling so it gives it a chance to repair.
Two weeks on and I am in love with my Great Lengths. They look great and are so easy to manage, air-drying to a nice beachy style wave. They’re extremely comfortable, you forget you’re even wearing extensions. I’ve experienced very little shedding with these extensions so far, losing very little hair so I’m confident they’ll last a long time. Kelley says you can get up to six months from a set of Great Lengths but I’ll keep you posted with updates.