A surprising number of people have asked about it, so here’s the deal with the hair extensions.

Why did you do it? I served as a bridesmaid in a big formal wedding this past weekend. I think my last hairstylist regarded me with contempt because I just gave him a blank look when he asked me how much time I spend on my hair every morning — so he gave me this wash-n-wear faculty-wife ‘do that is impossible to dress up in any way. We’re wearing pretty dramatic dresses, and the other bridesmaids are all getting their hair done, so I was worried I would look stupid and pinheaded and insufficiently femmy standing next to them. Plus I’ve always just liked the idea of changing one’s looks through technology… so scifi!

How did you find the stylist? A friend of mine has really nice extensions, so I asked her for a recommendation. Turns out the work was done by a coworker from her law office who does hair on the weekends.

Is it real hair? Yep. I just didn’t grow it myself — but it’s mine now!

Where did you procure the hair? Wig shop. There are a lot of brands, ideally your stylist will come with you the first time to match your color and texture. It costs between $40 – 110 per pack, and most people need only one pack. You can use the hair over and over.

What is involved in the procedure? I understand that the “normal” process is to put in several rows of thin horizontal braids and then sew the hair to those. My particular stylist prefers a technique in which she basically sews several horizontal rows of knots to my hair with thread and then sews the hair to the knots. It kinda feels like a net under there. In addition, because my hair is so straight, she also used some kind of special hair glue to stick the fake hair to my real hair.

How long did it take? 4 hours — but we were drinking beer and watching TV and stuff. I amazed them with my knowledge of old-school hip-hop lyrics (“I’m expressing with my full capabilities, and now I’m living in correctional facilities”… awwwww yeah!)

Did it hurt? It didn’t hurt me except for some pulling, but I have a high pain tolerance. It feels tight and itchy for a couple days, like you had really tight braids put in.

What’s the maintenance like? Immediately afterwards I dyed my hair because the colors didn’t match perfectly and it made the gradient more obvious. You really want to go a shade darker than whatever color you’re rocking now, because the fake hair doesn’t take up lighteners and pigments exactly the same as real hair — especially if you’ve been coloring for awhile. On a daily basis, the big thing is that I must blow-dry because my natural hair is pin-straight while the fake hair is wavy. People with naturally wavy hair would have less trouble with this.

How long does it last? I understand it lasts about 4 – 6 weeks before it starts to look icky. You can have the extensions taken out and then immediately put back in.

Would you do it again? Yep. It was a lot of trouble, but I think I achieved my goals.