From the beginning of time, women have cared for their hair. As 2005’s Most Popular Hair Extensions far back as 4000-300 B.C. Egyptian women and even men are shown with various wigs and elaborate hair styles. Hair is a contributing factor to ones confidence and serenity. Our culture strongly identifies femininity with a thick, lustrous head of hair. Images of full bodied, shining hair are synonymous with female attributes, sexuality, desirability and vigor. Thinning, dry, lusterless hair is identified with illness, old age, and poverty.
Every generation goes through more and more transformations and capitalizes on current trends of Hair Styles. The big Hair Style trend these days is in full swing in Europe and is just starting to spread in the United States. It is the trend of Hair Extensions. Hair extensions involve the attachment of human or synthetic hair to your existing hair to create a more full or long look immediately. Hair extensions can add instant body, length to your look and can also help with hair thinning and hair loss situations.
There are many different methods of hair extensions on the market today, some good, some not so good. Mark Sharp, co-founder and creative director of Mark Glenn Hair Enhancement of London, England and Glenn Kinsey, co-founder and managing director have taken revolutionary steps in developing a fiber hair extension method that not only doesn’t damage the existing hair but can even improve the condition of the hair. They have transformed the lives of women who suffer from varying degrees of hair loss caused by conditions such as alopecia, trichotillomania, genetic factors, stress and post-operative trauma.
The Mark Glenn extensions, commonly known as MG extensions, use no glues, bonding solutions, threads, weaves, injections, and nothing is stuck on the head. They are attached using a very fine braid. A small section of existing hair is split into two. The fiber hair is also split into two to make the braid and is finally wrapped around the base of the hair, protecting it. The fiber is then “sealed on itself” using a heat tool (which is no hotter than a typical pair of curling tongs or crimpers). This creates a tiny plastic seal. It’s important to point out that during this process, your own hair is safely “cocooned” inside the fiber so it doesn’t come into direct contact with any heat. Therefore, your own hair stays in perfect condition. For hair loss or thinning problems, the extensions are applied with non-allergic mesh and the fiber hair is woven through the mesh to create the look.
Glenn Kinsey of Mark Glenn Hair Enhancement has joined us today for a brief question and answer session on their fiber hair extensions.
Welcome Glenn and thank you for joining us today! We have a few questions for you about your wonderful hair extensions.
Question: I understand that you and Mark have previously worked with human hair extensions. Why did you switch to synthetic fiber extensions?
Answer: Several reasons:
1. Weight – human hair is twice the weight of fiber and therefore feels “heavy” on the head – at its worst, this increased weight and stress on the hair can cause “traction alopecia”. In addition, human hair is porous – it soaks up water – which can significantly increase the weight when wet.
2. Tangle – human hair tends to “matt” and “tangle” – this is because the surface of human hair has little “spines” on it, that look like roof tiles under a microscope. Because this “alien” hair isn’t being conditioned by the natural oils that condition your own hair, these “spines” tend to “stick out” and tangle up with the other hairs on your head. Consequently, you do need to use quite intensive conditioners to keep the hair in good condition. Fiber, however, has a smooth surface and therefore is less likely to tangle.
3. Glue – human hair extensions are typically applied with glue and removed with acetone – a recipe for damage, the results of which we regularly see in our studio. Our method doesn’t use any chemicals.
4. Colour match – a stylist using human hair would typically take a swatch of the client’s hair and send it to a human hair supplier who would then pick the closest colour from a specific range. We actually colour-blend our hair with the client in front of us – taking into account all the different subtle shade shifts that may exist in their hair – to get an absolutely perfect match
5. Ethics – there’s a great deal of mystery surrounding the origins of human hair used in extensions and it’s very difficult to track the exact source. A common source for top quality hair is from female Russian prisoners, for example
6. Look and feel – fiber looks and feels just like real hair but is much kinder to the hair and is much easier to style and take care of.
Question: What percentage of your clients gets hair extensions for hair loss issues versus fashion?
Answer: The split is approximately 50/50
Question: You have developed your own branded method (MG extensions) for applying fiber extensions. What is unique about your method in comparison to other methods available? Do you plan to patent your application method?
Answer: We have a proprietary technique for working with female hair loss, for which clients visit us from all over the world. For fashion purposes, we’ve amalgamated several different methods and added our own unique adaptations to create a technique that creates a beautiful look
Question: Why do you feel that fiber extensions are superior to human hair extensions? Could you apply human hair extensions using your method if a client really preferred human hair?
Answer: See above. Apart from using pliers and a metal clip (which is great fun through airport metal detectors and very uncomfortable when you lay your head on a pillow!) the only way to apply human hair is with glue.
Question: What training and education is involved for stylists doing MG extensions?
Answer We work in teams of two people – a “lead” and an “assist”. Team members start out as an “assist” and then, after about 12 to 24 months, progress up to a “lead”. “Leads” are the ones that direct the work. Our training is very intensive and “on the job” to allow team members to experience the bewildering array of both styles and techniques, as well as the differing types of hair loss they may encounter.
Question: What are the legal requirements in England for doing hair extensions?
Answer: Sadly, there are no specific legal requirements for hair extensions over and above those for a normal hair salon.
Question: What are the minimum requirements for someone wanting hair extensions? Length of hair? Stable hair loss? Have you turned down clients for hair extensions and why?
Answer: We regularly turn away clients no matter how much they want hair extensions, if we don’t think it’s going to look sensational! For fashion work, the main reason is length of existing hair – for the best results, the clients hair needs to be at least 4 to 6 inches long. This is because you need existing hair to conceal where the extensions are attached. For our clients with hair loss, there can be a whole range of reasons, from too little existing hair to hair loss that hasn’t “stabilized”.
Question: There are some hair extensionists that don’t recommend getting fiber extensions because of esthetic reasons. Can you describe the quality of the fiber hair, where it is made and why these recommendations are not valid?
Answer: We only use a beautiful, hand-made fiber that is absolutely undetectable from the real thing in look, feel and behavior. It’s actually more expensive than some human hair! Cheap fiber is truly awful, akin to “Barbie-doll” hair. You only tend to spot bad extensions – we pride ourselves on the fact that, in general, no-one even suspects our clients have extensions and we have a large number of celebrity clients that, in some cases, even the media haven’t spotted that their hair isn’t their own!
Question: You mention on your website, http://www.markglenn.com that the fiber extensions do not damage your hair and can even improve the condition of your hair. Can you explain how they can improve the condition of your hair?
Answer: First of all, we don’t use any chemicals. Secondly, your own hair is “cocooned” and protected inside the extension and continues to grow as normal. Thirdly, when the extensions are removed, they just slide off your hair leaving no mess or residue. Because your hair has been protected in this way over a few months, the condition of your own hair often improves.
Question: What is the maintenance schedule for fashion and hair loss fiber extensions? What happens if you do not follow the maintenance schedule?
Answer: For fashion, you’d need to either remove the extensions after three months or have them removed and replaced. Initially, the extensions are attached at the base of your hair. However, your hair will grow at around half an inch a month so the extensions start to grow down your own hair. If you leave it longer than 3 months, there’s a risk that the newly grown hair above the extension may start to matt and tangle and, in the worst-case scenario, dreadlock. For hair loss, the particular technique we use demands that clients visit us every six weeks for similar reasons – the “mesh” can start to feel a little loose if it’s left for much longer than 6 weeks.
Question: If someone has very thick hair and wants only to lengthen it, why wouldn’t you just apply the extensions to the ends of the hair, instead of at the roots?
Answer: Because you’d see a “bump” where the extension is attached.
Question: Can you treat fiber extensions the same as your own hair? I.E. shampooing, conditioning, curling, brushing, etc
Answer: Yes – wash it as normal, blow dry, curl, condition, brush – just like the real thing. And because the fiber is actually non-porous, you don’t need to use expensive products on the hair, e.g. conditioners, because they’ll have no effect on the extension hair itself. The only thing you have to avoid is direct, sustained heat e.g. hot-iron straighteners etc. Rollers etc. are fine.
Question: Are there any restrictions? Can you color or perm the fibre extensions?
Answer: You can’t perm the extensions but you wouldn’t need to – you can achieve the same look using rollers, for instance. Colour has no effect on the extension hair, again, because it’s non-porous. This is great for clients who continue to have their “roots” done, in the knowledge that the colour won’t affect the extension hair.
Question: On an annual basis, what would a typical client pay for Fashion and Hair Loss Fiber extensions including maintenance schedules? Are the majority of the costs associated with cost of the materials or the labor?
Answer: Costs do vary from head to head and style to style. Since we have two people working on a client’s head at the same time, cost is predominantly based on the amount of time it takes with each particular client. On average, a fashion client would pay around GBP £1,500.00 per year and a hair loss client, around twice as much. And bear in mind that you don’t need to visit a hairdresser since we take care of all this during appointments.
Question: Your Hair Loss fiber extensions qualify for funding from medical plans in England. Did you have to go through a certification process for this funding? Have any of your clients outside England received payment from medical plans in their country?
Answer: Because of the way the UK health system works (which is funded by the Government) it very much depends on the attitude of local health authorities rather than a specific “test”. Some health authorities are happy to fund their patients, whereas others are not, preferring the cheaper option of providing wigs. We’ve yet to have someone from outside the UK who’s funded by a health plan etc.
Question: Do you plan to offer training to stylists outside your salon so that other salons in the world can offer MG Extensions?
Answer: Not at present, although it’s something we may consider in the future.
Question: Are there reputable salons in the US that you would recommend?
Answer: Since the majority of our techniques were developed in-house and are therefore unique to us, it’s unlikely you’d find anyone locally who does things in quite the same way. The fact that, currently, we have clients that visit us from 14 different countries, seems to confirm this. I so wish I could recommend others, but we simply haven’t yet come across anyone who provides a similar result to a similar standard
Thank you very much Glenn for your valuable input!! For additional information about Mark Glenn Hair Extensions, visit their website located at http://www.markglenn.com