HAIRDREAMS HAIR EXTENSIONS & MY HAIRCARE ROUTINE
One of the most complex relationships a woman can have throughout their life (if they're anything like me, anyway) is with her hair. It's the accessory you never take off and is usually the thing that people unknowingly notice first. How many times have you used someones hair colour or style as a way to describe someone, "the blonde girl" or 'the girl with the pixie cut"? My hair journey has certainly not been smooth sailing and has lead to many tears and tantrums over the years. I thought I'd share the highs and lows of my relationship with my hair, my current hair care routine, what I'm doing to improve the condition of my own hair and why I love Hairdreams hair extensions so much.
SPOILER ALERT: I'M NOT A NATURAL BLONDE
I know, shocking, right? I always had pretty non-descript, mousy brown, but relatively thick hair growing up and I actually always hated the fact that my hair took so long to dry because it was thick. I actually can't remember a time when I DIDN'T have a fringe but my hair was always in pretty good condition. It seemed to get thinner when I was a teenager and, as soon as my mum would let me, I started getting blonde highlights through my hair, I've always been a blondie at heart. I always had my hair cut into a bob as it made it look thicker and healthier but I always longed for long locks...
MY HAIR AFTER ROACCUTANE
In my mid-twenties, I started taking Roaccutane, a really strong drug for acne, and that's when the real issues started with my hair.
About six months after I'd completely finished taking the medication, I noticed that my hair seemed frizzier at the top with lots of broken ends which I'd never experienced before. Soon after, I noticed a one inch section at the top of my head which had completely broken off which stuck up no matter how much I tried to spray it down. My hairdresser, Nicole, was also really concerned about my hair too, after she'd noticed a huge chunk missing from the ends of my hair. She was always really cautious with blonde on my hair because it was fine anyway so she knew it was nothing to do with the hair colour she'd used. She asked if I was on any medication but, as I'd finished Roaccutane six months earlier, I said no as I didn't even dawn on me that it could be related.
Just to rule it out in my own mind, I decided to Google 'roaccutane hair loss' and couldn't believe it when I read about so many people who had lost huge amounts of hair after being on the drug. I'd read about so many side effects with taking the medication but I don't ever remember hair loss being mentioned anywhere.
Both myself and Nicole were relieved to at least have figured out why my hair was such a disaster and she immediately stopped putting any blonde on my now very fragile hair.
The journey back to healthy hair was a rocky one and it hugely affected my confidence. Ironically, I'd gone on the medication in the first place because I was so self conscious about my skin so this seemed like a quite a cruel blow to now have much better skin but hair so bad that it made me not want to really go out in public.
THE CLIP-IN YEARS
Once my hair had finally started to repair, I thought I'd try clip in hair extensions when I was going out to add some much needed thickness and a little bit of length.
Initially, this was great and I felt like a different person when I wore them so I gradually started wearing them every day rather than just on occasions when I was going out. At this time, my niece was just at that 'fun' hair pulling stage and, before long, I noticed that my hair had become quite damaged due to the clips being placed on the same hair continually. Wearing clip-ins was now no longer an option so I then tried the Halo hair extension for a while; a giant, thick strip of hair on a wire which sits on top of your head which is less damaging but is completely impractical if you want to go out when it's windy or, you know, move your head without worrying about it falling off.
MOVING INTO BONDED HAIR EXTENSIONS
I'd been following a girl in Glasgow on Instagram for a couple of years called Julia McMillan (go follow her here) who did hair extensions and I was always completely in awe of her hair transformations using bonded hair extensions. Nicole, my (long-suffering) hairdresser at Room 44 Hair & Beauty - who has been as emotionally invested in my hair journey over the years as me, was really against me getting any bonds in my hair because of how fragile and damaged it now was.
I decided to book in for a consultation with Julia anyway just to see if it was even an option or whether she would agree that it would do more harm than good.
My hair at the sides of my head have always been thinner than at the back so Julia suggested that I try tape in extensions at the sides, which is much more gentle, and bonds at the back of my head using a brand called Hairdreams Hair Extensions.
I was so excited and after using clip-in hair extensions so many times, I couldn't believe the difference in the quality of the hair between the clip-ins I'd bought before and Hairdreams hair extensions. I immediately felt like a different person and, although I had some teething problems with the tape in extensions - most notably when I decided that going into the sauna and steam room at the Blythswood spa was a good idea, it was not and they pretty much slid right out - I loved just being able to get up in the morning and not have to footer around with clip-ins or worry about the clips sliding out or showing.
I had 12" Hairdreams fitted and they looked unbelievably natural and I couldn't believe it when I'd actually get compliments from people about my hair!
I got my first set of Hairdreams hair extensions back in April 2013 and I've not been without hair extensions since.
HAIR EXTENSIONS EXPERIMENTS
When I first started getting extensions from Julia, it was always Hairdreams hair extensions for the first few years and then I thought I'd try out a couple of different brands. The bonds were bigger and the hair itself didn't have the same bounce as Hairdreams but they still looked pretty good. I had them for a couple of years but, because the bonds were much bigger, my hair really started to deteriorate again, to the point where Julia didn't think she'd be able to put anymore in if it continued.
She insisted that I had to go back to Hairdreams extensions as the nano bonds are so tiny and it would be so much lighter and safer for my hair.
She's the boss and I didn't want to get to the point where I couldn't wear ANY extensions anymore and I always absolutely loved the Hairdreams anyway so it was an absolute no brainer.
HAIRDREAMS TO THE RESCUE
I was actually so excited to get back to wearing Hairdreams again and I love how tiny the bonds are and how natural the hair looks and feels. It's silky smooth without feeling like fake hair. It's not heavily coated the way cheaper brands are because the quality of the hair is so much better. There's a really interesting video on their website about the processes they use in their headquarters in Austria to sort the hair to ensure the highest quality for every single hair bond, have a watch here.
Considering how against hair extensions Nicole was initially, it is quite miraculous how much she loves working with my hair when I have Hairdreams in. My next set was scheduled for June of this year, just in time for summer, and shortly before this, I noticed that Hairdreams were looking to work with a few bloggers and influencers to showcase the brand.
I don't have anywhere near the number of followers some of their other brand ambassadors have but Hairdreams know how much of a fan of the brand I was anyway and, as they've watched me on my hair 'journey' over the years, they know how much of a huge difference hair extensions make to me so they kindly agreed to provide me with a set of Hairdreams. BEST.DAY.EVER!!
No one actually ever thinks my hair is particularly short or fine until I (reluctantly) show them my before and after pictures. For me, hair extensions aren't just a a handy way for me to add a little length or thickness, they make me look and feel like a completely different person and I actually go into hiding for the few hours between getting my old extensions out and a new set in. Hairdreams offer me a complete transformation and I just don't feel like myself at all without any extensions in.
I know for a fact that a lot of the things I've done in the last few years, work-wise, I absolutely wouldn't have had the confidence to do if I hadn't started wearing hair extensions. It sounds completely ridiculous and shallow but I promise, it's completely true.
I've done quite a lot of filming work which is nerve racking enough without being totally paranoid that my clip-ins are showing or people will be able to see how fine my hair actually is.
As always, Julia fitted my Hairdreams hair extensions for me and I had around 150 18" pre-bonded extensions fitted. As you can see the result is pretty dramatic and the photos really speak for themselves.
Believe it not, I was actually quite pleased with the before picture as this is so much healthier than my hair was a few months before it. But yes, I'm definitely more pleased with the after picture. There are no obvious or harsh lines between my own hair and the extensions and the colour match is just perfect.
The hair is so natural and has kick a the bottom which just makes your hair look really healthy.
MY CURRENT HAIRCARE ROUTINE
I really started to properly look after my hair after that set of extensions where Julia had noticed how much thinner my hair was again and I was determined to try every product on the market for preventing hair loss or damage.
This was my hair in November 2017 and then again in June 2018. My hair was actually in a far worse condition in between these two points in March 2018 (but I don't have a photo) and this is when I went on a hair loss prevention mission and the improvement was huge in just three months.
As a result of trying so many things, I can't actually pinpoint exactly what helped the most but I expect that it's just a combination of all of the following products. I guess results will be different for everyone but I really do believe that there are products which can really help damaged hair in a relatively short period of time, even when you still get your hair coloured.
Firstly, I had bought some vitamins ages ago but was never very good at remembering to take them so I moved them next to my bed so I would see them every night before I went to sleep. I've been taking the NutriPreme Biotin tablets ever since and the reviews on Amazon are all really good. They cost less than £10 for a five month supply so I'd definitely try these out before investing in anything more expensive.
Other than getting regular Olaplex treatments at my hairdressers, I use the L'anza Healing Nourishing Stimulating Hair Treatment (£19.15) and I really like the tingling sensation you feel when you put it on. You're meant to apply it morning and night but I don't always remember to do it twice a day. I really like the fact that this doesn't leave your hair greasy after you apply it, which is perfect if you have quite fine hair which shows up any moisture.
I also use the Nioxin Diaboost but this does leave your hair slightly greasy after it as it has a more oily texture. I only really use this at night if I plan on washing hair the next morning. It costs £24.90 and, again, it has rave reviews on Amazon.
SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER
I've been trying out the Waterman's Grow Me shampoo & conditioner for the last couple of months and again, it tingles when you apply it so it feels like it's doing something and really stimulating your hair follicles. You need to leave the shampoo and conditioner on for a few minutes which isn't ideal if you're in a hurry (which I usually am) but I'm going to persevere with it to see if I notice a difference. It costs £24.95 for both the Waterman's shampoo and conditioner together on Amazon.
HAIRDREAMS - THE LOWDOWN
I had my last set of Hairdreams fitted in June (three months ago) by Julia and both these photos below were taken at the weekend so you can see that my hair still looks in really good condition despite how often I wash and dry and straighten and curl my hair...
I've lost maybe 5 or 6 bonds over the last three months which is normal and doesn't really make much of a difference as I have around 150 bonds.
As I mentioned, I was kindly gifted this set of Hairdreams but I've also paid full price for them on many occasions and the price really depends on what length you go for and how many extensions you need. I think I used to pay around £450 for 125 12" Hairdreams extensions and obviously, if you want more bonds or a longer length then the price will be more. If you book in for a consultation with Julia (who is based in Glasgow City Centre for a few days a month) she'll be able to advise how many bonds you'll need and give you an exact price.
As you can see, hair extensions make a HUGE difference to my hair and overall look and, even although I have extremely fine hair, it still looks really natural too which was really important to me.
If you'd like to see the process of having my extensions fitted by Julia, you can see my Hairdreams transformation video below.
Thanks for reading and a HUGE thanks to my hair dream team of Hairdreams, Julia & Nicole for making me feel so much better about myself!