If you’re looking to improve hair volume, add length or enhance your hair colour – oh and significantly boost confidence – you most likely have considered hair extensions.
It’s a simple solution, but can be a costly one, and with so many varieties it can be a confusing one too.
I’ve already written about my decision to get Great Lengths Tape hair extensions here, and in the conclusion I mused about how I knew it wouldn’t be long (pun intended) before I took my relationship with Great Lengths to the next level and went for a set of GL Bonds.
We’ll it wasn’t, and now four months later I’m back with exactly how tape and bonded hair extensions measure up and which variety you should go for…
How they are applied:
First up, regardless of what time of extensions you’re in the market for, is visiting a hair salon that works with extensions for a consultation (such as any of the GL-certified salons). This will help the stylist assess your personal needs, calculate how much hair to order and decide on a perfect shade match.
In terms of application, for the GL Tapes the extensionist takes an inch-long strip of your hair about the same thickness as one GL Tape then secures a tape extension underneath and on-top by squeezing them together. To apply a full-head takes about 40 minutes, plus additional styling time before and after.
This is a big contrast to bonded extensions which can take up to 4 hours to be applied. Each piece of hair comes with an attached keratin bond, which is then bonded to your own hair using a heated tool. My recommendation: bring a book and make sure you’ve had lunch.
Once your full-head of tapes or bonds have been applied, they’re cut into shape to look as natural as possible. I’ve linked two videos below if you want a visualisation of how either process is done.
How long they last:
Tapes can last from six to eight weeks, towards the end of that time the tapes will gradually start to slip out.
“This is a big contrast to bonded extensions which can take up to 4 hours to be applied… My recommendation: bring a book and make sure you’ve had lunch.”
Bonds can last from 3 to 6 months, depending on how fast your hair grows. Of course, the longevity of either variety also depends on how you care for the hair.
How they are removed:
To remove tapes, the stylist just drops removal solution at the root, gently rubs, and they just slide off with no damage to your natural hair.
You can then have them re-taped and re-applied up to three times, which makes them an affordable option of hair extensions.
To remove bonds is a similarly simple process; a drop of alcohol solution is added to each bond, and each extension easily slides down the length of the hair until its out. Finally, the remaining glue is combed out.
How to maintain them:
I personally find both varieties very low maintenance. Just like natural hair, you can wash them, curl them, straight them, brush them, whatever. For example, the main image of this article are my Great Lengths bonds just washed and left to dry in plaits overnight – total lazy girl hair!
With tapes however it is advised to wash as little as possible as this make it less likely that the glue will degrade and the extensions will slip and slide out.
It’s almost the opposite with bonds, my stylist Valerie Patterson of MASK Hair finds that clients who their wash regularly tend to need a new set less often.
With both it is advised to use Great Lengths’ specially developed shampoos and hair brushes – if you’re leaving the extensions quite long the paddle brush will be your new ally in life.
How they look/feel:
Both tapes and bonds made an incredible difference to how my hair looks and feels. As well as length, I suddenly have incredible volume, something that I just was not naturally blessed. The quality of Great Lengths hair is second to none, and it’s double-drawn, meaning it’s just as thick at the ends as the roots.
In terms of how they feel, they are weightless and extremely comfortable to wear so that you’ll barely know they’re there. The GL tapes lie discreetly, and completely flat against your head, whereas with the bonds the connections between your own hair and the extensions feel like hard little beads.
As with all extensions of course they do feel different to natural hair; you can’t run your hands through your hair without feeling them or brush close to the roots and you have to be conscious when tying your hair up so that they are not visible (In this regard I find that bonds are a little less noticeable, practically invisible.) But overall I think these facts are a very small price to pay in my opinion.
So, which one’s for you?
Your choice of hair extension variety is completely based on lifestyle, what you’re looking to enhance and what type of hair you have.
Great Lengths Tapes are great if you’re scared of commitment, don’t want to spend ages in the salon, have a big event coming up you want a new look for, or if you like to change your hair colour from time to time.
“Bonded hair extensions are great for shorter or thicker hair, and the main advantage for me is how long they stay in.”
The other main advantage is that they are said to be more suitable for thinner hair, so if you have super fine hair these might be a better option for you.
Bonded hair extensions are great for shorter or thicker hair, and the main advantage for me is how long they stay in. So, if you want to commit to extensions but don’t want to go to the salon every few weeks for reapplication these are the one’s I’d go for.
Which ever style you choose, Great Lengths hair extensions are of the highest quality and there is an array of shades to match to your hair colour.
How much do they cost?
The cost of the hair extensions themselves depends completely on the length and colour of the hair, plus the number of hair pieces and time required to apply the extensions by the stylist.
GL Tapes are said to be more suitable for thinner hair, so if you have super fine hair these might be a better option for you.
Consultations are free however, so pop into a GL certified salon for a quote if you’re curious.
Where can you get them applied?
Any GL certified salon are trained to fit Great Lengths extensions. I always go to Valerie Patterson at her Grafton Street salon MASK Hair. Valerie has been doing extensions probably longer than any one in country, so it’s safe to say she knows her stuff and knows what’s best for your hair. I don’t colour my hair, but she’s an amazing colourist too!
Great Lengths Tapes:
Great Lengths Bonds:
For more information visit greatlengthshair.co.uk.
To find a Great Lengths certified salon or stylist click here.