I have been doing some form of hair replacement since 1991. I have seen it all: $4000 toupees glued, stitched and woven onto/into clients, surgical transplant procedures, scalp reductions, falls, wigs, clip in curls and snap on ponytails. Nothing shocks me at the length people will go to have a fantastic mane of hair. What DOES shock me, is how little research potential clients do....at least until they get burned, and getting burned in this business can mean BIG BUCKS. Human hair of good quality is expensive; there is no way around that, however, the mark ups and charges for labor in this genre of beauty can reach epic proportions, and folks often have no idea how to know if they are receiving quality hair and services for their hard earned money.
I'm not going to speak to any forms of hair replacement, other than hair extensions, in this segment. They are my expertise, and I am very familiar with what is out there. My clientele consists of two sorts of clients: the ultra diligent shopper, who has done her research online and has a clear idea of what she wants and expects, and the other is the recovering 'burned' patron; this client shelled out $3000-4000 for a head full of poor quality hair, poorly attached, by a poorly trained stylist (if they had any training at all, besides YouTube). I have spent hours crying with a client while we struggled to soak out the brittle, crunchy hair that someone had glued into her own fine, delicate locks. That client's experience borders on criminal.
Dealing with the well studied shopper always leaves me feeling great, because we both know that the she got all the information she needed up front, no smoke and mirrors, and that she has purchased excellent quality and extremely skilled service, for a strikingly fair price. Everyone is happy. I like to be happy. Clients expect to be happy.
The heartbreaker is the 'burned baby." This client has handed over her entire bonus to someone who has given her poor quality hair, which magically transformed into dog fur after 6 weeks, and attached it with something just shy of Krazy Glue, only to find herself, now in my chair, with less hair than she started with, starting over from scratch. It's bittersweet when I complete the service and she sees what she could have had, the first time around, for a fraction of her bonus.....it's sad, and wonderful, all at the same time. Lesson learned.
I'm going to give you a list of three secret question to ask, before making an investment in the magical world of goddess hair. You should ask LOTS of questions, but the reaction you get from asking THESE three can be very telling:
1.How long does the extension service take? This is a KEY question. A skilled, experienced extensionist should be able to put in a full head of extensions in just a couple of hours, on average (that is for a strand by strand, micro-beaded or fusion attachment). If they expect you to book the entire day, or give you some crazy response, like 6-8 hours...run for the hills! If it takes anyone an entire business day to do your hair, something is wrong, and it may also explain their need to charge an outlandish fee. Time is money.
2. Does this hair have the cuticle intact? If the person you are dealing with is knowledgeable and honest, they will not be put off by this question. Many hair processors strip hair of its outer layer (the cuticle) to avoid having it tangle. Unfortunately, this leaves the hair unable to retain moisture and elasticity, therefore becoming brittle and broken quickly, even with good care. Someone can always lie about this, but chances are, if they are happy to answer you, and don't seem stumped by this question, it's a good sign.
3. Will you remove the extensions if I change my mind? This is a fun one to throw out there. If they are going to take the time to put 100+ strands of hair into your head, and claim that it will in no way damage your own hair, then they should have no problem volunteering for the supposedly uncomplicated, non-damaging act of simply removing them, right? Wrong, in many cases. If you are told that there will be a "removal fee" of any kind, especially if that fee is dependent upon the time it takes to remove their work...run for the hills, again. Any form of attachment that is non-damaging, should be easily removed in a very short period of time, and you should never EVER be charged if you decide they are not for you and you want them removed properly.
At the end of the day, making any big investment into our appearance is always a risk; be it hair, nails, skincare, Botox, plastic surgery, whatever....nothing is guaranteed when it comes to customizing ourselves. The best we can do to take care of ourselves is to be well informed, do your research, ask questions, talk to friends and get referrals, and always, ALWAYS ask to see an extensionist's portfolio of before and afters. An experienced stylist will have loads. After all, you wouldn't let a surgeon alter your body without seeing some patient before/afters or asking how many surgeries they had under their belt, right? YOU ARE THE CUSTOMER, it's your hard earned money....and it's a jungle out there.