Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hair Extensions And The Swan

Fox TV's reality show The Swan takes plain Janes and turns them into pageant-ready beauties. The transformations take some three months to complete and include plastic surgery, cosmetic dentistry, laser eye surgery, personal fitness training, hair and makeup consultations, life coaching and psychotherapy to the tune of around $250,000 per contestant.

The one interesting thing that all of the made-over women seem to share is long, flowing tresses. No matter what their hair looked like when they began their transformations, it has always ended up below the shoulder. One could conclude that the show's producers and makeover experts consider long hair to be the beauty standard.

Of course, the contestants aren't growing their own long hair in just three months since hair grows an average of just 1/2 inch per month. They benefit from hair extensions, which add instant length, fullness and shots of color.

The exact method of extension application used on The Swan isn't known, but it's most likely either bonding, cold fusion or weaves.

Bonding: Bonding is considered the "traditional" way of applying hair extensions. Sections of hair are hot glued at the root and the results last for up to four months. The cost is relatively low - about $300 - but can feel unnatural due to the glue's stiffness.

Cold fusion: Cold fusion is a relatively new method that uses a keratin-based polymer to attach extensions to the root. The polymer is more flexible than hot glue and lasts up to six months. They can cost between $1,500 and $3,500 and are considered to be very natural looking.

Weaves: To apply weaves, a stylist braids extensions underneath the natural hair. Some people find the end result to be lumpy and unnatural looking. A good weave costs about $1,200 and last about a month.
Hair extensions may give instant gratification, but the expense and time involved can be great. It can take up to five hours to apply the pieces and they must be replaced every few months.

When the extensions are removed, there is usually some damage - in the form of breakage and splits - that has been done to your natural hair, no matter how careful the stylist is. If you want long hair for a special occasions, extensions are probably fine. But those who want long hair for an extended period of time are better off growing their own.