I want to start this blog post out and tell you about my previous experience with hair extensions versus my recent experience with tape-in hair extensions – which are both very different experiences! This will help give you a background story of how we arrived here, today with the tape-in hair extensions (GL tapes) I have right at this moment.
I used to want really long, flowing waves about 7 years ago or so. Long hair, to my waist and very thick. Waves – yes I have – so that was covered but thick? Definitely not. I’ve got fine hair so thick hair has never been something I can genetically possess naturally. On a trip to Vietnam years ago, I made a decision I was going to get bonded hair extensions put in while in Saigon. It was inexpensive compared to Western prices so I thought that my dream of getting that thick, flowing hair was finally within reach.
The truth is I did get thick flowing hair but the hair wasn’t the same texture as mine – it was East Asian hair which is very different to my own Caucasian hair texture. It also HURT. It hurt while they put the extensions in and it hurt when I slept on them – so much so that they gave me headaches. The hair was also super heavy, being down to my waist and much thicker and longer than my normal hair ever was. But I had gotten what I wanted right? Well, yes but at a price.
A few months later as I was snorkelling in Borneo my long hair got caught in my snorkelling goggles so badly I had to cut them out. The relief I felt with shorter hair cannot be described. A month more or so passed and I realised that I really wanted to get the rest of the extensions taken out. I had them removed and when they were all taken out my own hair was so thin I nearly cried.
I only told you that story because I wanted to show you the bad experience that you can have with extensions if you don’t get them properly put in by a specialist and also if you don’t use the right hair for your head.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I was in Percy & Reed in London with Hadley Yates to get my GL tapes (tape-in extensions) put in. I did loads of research about tape-in extensions prior to booking them in simply as I had had such a terrible time with the bonded extensions that were badly put in on my travels (partially my own fault for requesting hair to my waist!). Great Lengths tapes don’t damage your hair which is what I was most concerned about, especially considering my previous experience. I’ve included some photos of my hair before the tape-in extensions were put in so you have a reference to compare to.
I went for the GL Tapes technique, Fill It which is all about adding natural volume to hair. My own hair is pretty fine so adding a bit of thickness and volume sounded good for me. I searched far and low for ways to add volume to fine hair and this was the solution! I only wanted hair the same length as my current hair and therefore the tapes were first applied by Hadley to my hair after washing (tapes have to be applied to freshly-washed hair that doesn’t have any natural oils or conditioners on it) and then cut to the length of my own natural hair.
You can get tape-in extensions for a variety of reasons – for volume, to add length or even different coloured strands. Volume to me was key! Hadley applied the tapes to my hair in less than 10 minutes – the entire process is so quick. The hair is attached to a medical-grade tape that attaches to your own hair. I was so pleasantly surprised that the hair was so lightweight and felt so natural. And also the tapes are invisible! You can’t see them and also barely feel them. Because I was just choosing volume, I didn’t need a full head of extensions – the tapes were expertly placed only where I needed them which is why the Fill It method is so good.
I also like that tape-in extensions are temporary – they last about six weeks (eight weeks if you are looking after them really well). You can also get them put back in your hair and re-used another three times so once you get the hair, it can be cost effective as you can reuse it. You can also style and wash your hair as normal – it is just advised you do not use any shampoos or hair products with sulphates, which I tend to avoid anyways.
Another concern I had with the hair that I did research prior to getting tape-in extensions was where the hair was sourced from. I wanted to know that the hair that was going to be attached to my head was ethically-sourced. Fortunately, the hair from Great Lengths is 100% ethically-sourced human hair of the best quality and fully traceable.
The hair is sourced from India from a Hindu temple in Tirumula where hundreds of people voluntarily donate their hair in a process called ‘tonsuring’. This is a joyous offering and a way of saying thanks. This hair is then sold to Great Lengths at a fair price and the money goes back into the community to medical aid and education. The hair then goes to Italy to be purified and colour treated. The full traceability story is here if you want to read it.
And this is my hair after the tape-in extensions were applied…you can see a big difference right?
Honestly the whole process with the GL tapes was so easy at Percy & Reed and this is coming from someone who was super scared of extensions! I’m really so happy with my tapes and love that they give a lot of extra fullness and volume to the hair. No one would ever know I had tape-in extensions unless I told them – this is the beauty of the GL Tapes.
So far, I am 4 weeks in with the tapes and have had no issues at all. I’m using the Great Lengths aftercare shampoo and conditioner as well as the Great Lengths paddle brush (which I LOVE). Once I’m ready to have my tape-in extensions removed, the extensions will be donated to the Little Princess Trust charity where they will use the hair to make wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer or other illnesses. So, it’s a process that makes a full 360-degree journey which is in the end about giving. And how nice is that?
If you want more hair posts make sure you read my Best Hair Products for 2019 post too!
*Disclaimer: I reviewed the GL Tapes (tape-in extensions) which were applied for me complimentary as part of a press review however all my words/opinions in this post are my own