Hair is a such huge part of our identity, whether we choose to grow it out, shave it off, dye it—whatever we're feeling in the moment. For some, the fate of our hair doesn't lie in our hands, and while the result may shape our outward identity, it's not necessarily a representation of how we're feeling on the inside.
In any event, we all have a very personal relationship with our strands and a vision of how we perceive them to look best, so when we have a bad hair day, a bad cut, or a situation that's transformed our hair into the opposite of what we wish it to be, this can mess with our inner confidence. Personally, I've been quite comfortable in my hair because it was always the same—long, layered, and, come college, artificially blonde in places. But after recently deciding to take off a sizable amount of length, the aplomb I was accustomed to had dissolved.
Let's bring it back: In September, I got the urge to get what I call "The Olivia Munn," or a fun, textured lob. I've never cut my hair above my shoulders before, but I was itching for a change and wanted to join the cool club of lob-wearing celebrities and tastemakers who were probably able to get ready in half the time I was. I impulsively called a salon I was somewhat familiar with, booked the appointment with whichever stylist was available, and watched as long pieces of my dirty-blonde hair fell around me. Considering how polarizing of a change this was, I was oddly serene and excited for the end result.
But when the stylist passed me the mirror to check out my new chop from all angles, I told her how much I loved it, even though I was pretty dissatisfied. We've all been in that gray area—how do you balance not hurting the stylist's feelings while staying true to your own? I chalked it up to her not styling it the way I wanted to and decided I'd play with it once I got home until it was a bit more Munn-esque. Though as I walked home, I caught a glimpse of myself in a store window and started to panic. I hated it.
When I walked in my apartment door, my boyfriend could read the immense regret all over my face, and I disappeared into the bathroom for a half hour while I wielded my Ghd curling iron, wrapping small sections in opposing directions around my head and misting my roots with Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray. I also worked a bit of V76 Molding Paste throughout the mid-length and ends by warming it up against my palms and sliding my hands through section by section. After zhushing and tossing my hair around, I finally was in a place where I liked it. In fact, I was starting to love it—so much that a series of selfies commenced (evidence of one below).
As the comments and likes started to roll in, I felt validated. Co-workers, friends, and family gushed over my new 'do as well, and for the time being, I was living on a high of a completely refreshed look and vibe. But as the weeks wore on, I began to fall out of love with my new short hair—hard. Instead of taking less time to style it, I found myself running later and later in the mornings trying to get my hair to cooperate just to toss my hands up in the air. I even started chewing biotin gummies hoping my hair would grow like a Crissy doll, of course to no avail. My only hope of having my length back was to get extensions, something I've never tried before but felt like would act as the perfect Band-Aid for my situation.
The problem? Extensions, especially the bonded variation, are expensive. Sure, I could've bought clip-ins, but I didn't trust my own abilities, worried that I'd turn out looking like Cynthia from Rugrats, and wanted a professional to work their magic. But then I heard about a foolproof, user-friendly brand called Hidden Crown Extensions, a line of 100% Remy human hair (the highest-grade human hair on the market) that comes on one large track with a fishing line–type wire that circles around the top. All you have to do is place the "halo" around the top of your head, and then use the accompanying rattail comb to pull your own hair out around the top, and then style it as you please. (Take a look at this demonstration by celebrity hairstylist Justine Marjan to see the process in action.) I immediately hopped online to place an order.
Instead of using the company's color chart, I sent a picture of the back of my head to a representative (something you can do, too!), and they mailed me 12 inches of my absolute perfect hair match with highlights and all. The fishing line is adjustable, so I pulled it until the hair laid just where I wanted it and trimmed the excess wire. Once on my head, I styled as I normally would with a curling iron section by section. All in, the styling process took about 10 to 15 minutes. When I took a final look in the mirror, I instantly felt a huge jolt of confidence—like I was myself again.
As far as care goes, the brand recommends you only wash them when necessary, or every two to four months. Admittedly, I've had mine for a little over two months and haven't washed them yet, and they're still fresh as a daisy. I don't wear them every day, though, so I'm sure if they saw more daylight, I'd have given them a rinse. When you do clean them, it's recommended to use a sulfate-free shampoo and a hydrating conditioner, and then hang them dry or lay them flat on a towel.
Styling products are actually discouraged from being used directly on the extensions, though I've found that they hold a curl incredibly well, so I don't even need to use hair spray. If I want to use product on my actual hair, though, I'll do so first before applying the extensions. When I take them out each night (don't sleep in your extensions!), I give them a gentle brushing if needed, and then either place them in the bag they came in or hang them on a hanger, which is also provided.
The 12-inch extensions are $275, which is a bit pricey, but considering regular extensions require so much upkeep whereas Hidden Crown extensions can last up to a year, I think they're a worthy investment. Plus, there's no damage to your natural hair. Above all, though, the ease of which I was able to regain confidence made choosing Hidden Crown an incredibly worthwhile decision.