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What Have you Done

My friend eyed me suspiciously over the dinner table. ‘You look different,’ she said. ‘Sort of polished and put together. You don’t look as tired as normal 2 layered hair both. What have you ever done ’

Within the assembled firm, I felt cornered. Yes, I used to be trying marginally less tired, even if I say so myself, however the explanation for my makeover of sorts was not a trip to an expensive spa, a week off in bed or perhaps a sneaky dabble with Botox — it was something far more unlikely.

My skinny, mousy, straggly hair, never worthy of comment, had been boosted with secret hair extensions. That’s proper: that TOWIE staple, the WAG magnificence must-have, alongside orange spray tans and fake talons.

Catherine Ostler sporting her hair naturally (left) and with a a lot fuller head of hair with extensions in (proper)

However what most women don’t realise is there’s one other, extra delicate version obtainable, that’s extra Chelsea than Chigwell. They’re favoured by Hollywood actresses and It-women, but additionally by professional girls and West London mothers like me, which is how I got here throughout them in the primary place.

A number of months ago, on my option to a celebration at a gallery with an Oxbridge-educated historian and fellow mother of small children, I commented on her hair — barely tousled, glossy, mane-like — and she let me into the secret.

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Like me, she’d been cursed with fantastic hair and a rat’s tail as a substitute of a pleasant fats pony tail, and so she’d had extensions. Not the waist-skimming, artificial-wanting ones (worn like a badge of honour, with ostentatious designer labels and handbags, by girls determined to let the world know they’ve money to splurge), but discreet extensions that gave her a greater, thicker head of hair.

The scales fell from my eyes. Out of the blue I obtained it. All those ladies on television, in magazines, with lustrous hair — Victoria Beckham, Kate Beckinsale, Elle Macpherson. These dressed-down French editor sorts, in silk shirts, jeans, and the supposedly low-upkeep ‘natural’ look

Catherine had all the time dreamt of getting luscious locks like Elle Macpherson’s (left) or Kate Beckinsale’s (right)

These glamorous Russians who all look 2 layered hair so rather more high-octane than their British counterparts Well, they all — or nearly all, anyway — have hair extensions on the sly. The cheats! Indeed, in France they’re so accepted that one of many leading manufacturers of hair extension merchandise is Balmain, the style house.

Around the same time, a male hairdresser who was styling my hair — I feel he was additionally having a nasty day — virtually threw a tantrum because it wouldn’t do what he wished. ‘It’s not your fault, darling, but your hair really is impossible!’ he stored muttering.

He had a degree. I’ve the form of high quality hair that may shake off an expensive blow-dry in minutes and would nonetheless flatten itself in case you bolstered it with concrete. My natural hair scoffs in the face of mousses, gels, sprays and all those fiddly volumising things, seeing itself because the bastion of lifelessness.

I believed it was something I simply had to live with, till my friend confessed her secret.
So it was with some trepidation that I finally found myself in the chair of Stephanie Pollard at the Chelsea Hair Studio. Extensions don’t come low-cost — from around £400 for real hair and from £250 for monofibre, the synthetic equal. Stef advised a ‘volumiser’ — around 100 small tresses — of real hair, the identical size as my very own. Hair donated by Spanish women would supply one of the best match.

Taking a look at them, laid out like dogs’ tails, I did really feel strange. Whose hair was this What was their story Why did she choose to sell it I will never know. It feels bizarre — like an organ transplant with out the health excuse.

The extensions are caught, tress-by-tress on to your own hair a centimetre or so from the scalp, utilizing a blob of melted resin heated by a gun-like contraption.

As I sat in her chair, Stef and that i flicked through Hello! journal and she analysed who’s had what. I’m telling you, they’re all cheaters. It’s like real-life airbrushing and it provides them all a decade drop in age each time.

Naomi Campbell famously suffered from bald patches after wearing her weave too tight
British aristocrats, starlets, tycoons’ wives, self-made women . . . Stef’s shoppers range in age from their early 20s to an academic who’s 86, and most of them keep their extensions secret.

As my hair took form, I had several bolts of panic when I believed: ‘I am making a ludicrous and expensive mistake.’

Why the sudden burst of silly vanity, I questioned.
Two hours later, although, I had lighter, thicker hair that regarded fully pure. On the stroll home, I loved the sensation of slightly weighty hair bouncing on my shoulders for the first time.

I hadn’t informed my husband, and that i wasn’t sure he would discover. However he mentioned my hair regarded ‘nice’, which was momentous as he doesn’t normally say anything.

The next morning, however, I woke as much as the practicalities of extensions. You can’t run your arms or a brush by them in the same method. You do brush it, but more gently. It’s thicker but messier, which I rather like. I still washed it each different day, however used an acetone-free shampoo that wouldn’t weaken the resin.

I loved my extensions; the largest satisfaction was gathering it into a ponytail and feeling it, thick and heavy as a horse’s mane. I’ve had the perfect reaction, which is being asked: ‘What have you ever done You look younger . . .’ with out anybody truly guessing the truth.

I was warned they would wish replacing after three months. So, round 12 weeks later, back to the salon I went for an additional £400 ‘fix’.

That’s the problem: they’re addictive. One good friend even says she has an alter ego when she has them in: she calls her ‘Madame Swish’.

She’s had extensions for six years. She says that with swishy, cascading hair she thinks she will be able to wear a tracksuit and still feel superb. ‘Swishy’ in fact.

‘Trouble is my husband doesn’t like Madame Swish. He prefers me as a dowdy, natural type. He says he’s horrified by the idea, but truly I feel he’s horrified by the associated fee,’ she says.

It’s such an costly habit that she will need to have spent almost £10,000 over time.
There have been famous examples of hair extension habits going incorrect. Naomi Campbell’s shocking bald patches have been blamed on her years of too-tight hair ‘weaves’ (where a patch of hair is sewn into the present locks) — one thing Stef assures me can not happen with my extensions because they are much lighter.

My good friend is on a break from extensions. Her hairdresser thinks her hair would profit from ‘lying fallow’ for a bit, however is determined for more. She says: ‘I actually am dependent on them now for confidence.

‘I felt they took me from a four out of ten to a six. I just have a greater time when I’ve them in.’

I sympathise completely, and worry I may be heading into full-on addiction. I don’t understand how long I can justify my new habit, however I’m already dreading being with out them.

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