meriamid hair

(GIF: Rebloggy)

I’ve talked about my hair woes many a time here on The Gloss, so by now you should know all about my issues. If you’re new, or if you just haven’t been paying attention, here’s the Cliff Notes version: while I’ve learned how to tame my frizzy, sometimes annoying naturally curly hair, it’s still incredibly thin, and no matter what I do, I haven’t been able to change that. I’ve tried using dry shampoo and texturizing creams and sprays to thicken and roughen up the texture to no avail, and it was starting to wear thin (puns!) on my patience. After all, I am, in the end, relatively low maintenance when it comes to my hair, so fighting with it has never exactly been my cup of tea.

(Related: These Are Spring 2016’s Hottest Cut and Color Trends)

So, when the idea of using hair extensions to add some much-needed to fullness to my hair popped into my head, I took it to the street (or, well, the Internet). After some resounding encouragement from all of you, I booked my appointment at RPZL (Get it? Like Rapunzel without the vowels? OBSESSED.), a salon in New York City that specializes in extensions, blow-outs, and braids.

Upon entering the salon, I could immediately tell that it was unlike any other salon I’d been in:

rpzl salon 1

The entire salon was an open floor plan, and it looked more like the genius bar at the Apple Store than any hair salon I’d ever been to.

Once there, I met with Lisa Richards, one of RPZL’s two co-founders, who gave me a tour of the salon and a rundown of the concept. Basically, she and co-founder Monica Thornton saw a demand for a salon that offered what I think I can best describe as an “outpatient” hair extension services—go in, work with your stylist to find the right extensions for you, both type- and color-wise, have the extensions put in day-of (instead of having to go back in days or weeks after the initial consultation for the actual appointment), and leave with your new, glorious hair. She also told me that a whopping 40 percent of women in NYC wear hair extensions, which, while not entirely surprising, is still kind of fascinating when you think about it. That girl on the subway with the perfect hair? It might not even be entirely hers. 

RPZL offers tons of different services, but as far as extensions go, keratin, tape-in, and clip-in extensions (I chose the latter, which they call Gorgeous In An Instant!, exclamation point included), all made from real human hair sourced from India, and each application comes with a shampoo, blowout, and style, which was QUITE the delightful experience.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. After talking to my Headmaster, Kelly, (that’s what the stylists called at RPZL and I love it) about what I was looking for—I didn’t want to go too long, and I was really after that full, thick, mermaid-esque hair à la Blake Lively—she color-matched me from their massive stock of extensions and set to work on giving me probably the best blowout I’ve ever gotten:

before clip-ins edit

If I wasn’t there for the extensions, I could have left the salon happy with just those waves. But alas, that was not my purpose.

(Related: Getting Over my Fear of Haircuts, One Snip At a Time)

After the blowout, she laid out my clip-ins. Each set comes with 16 clips (seven pieces in total), and honestly, they look a little creepy when they’re just lying around, being their natural, hair extension selves:

extensions

I’ll admit that I was a little freaked out. How could all that extra hair get on my head without looking overwhelming and totally unnatural? Kelly assuaged some of these fears when she explained that she wouldn’t be applying all of the extensions because she, too, thought it would be a little too much. With that, she got to work.

Click to the next page to see how it all turned out!

As Kelly went along, she explained how to use the clip-ins properly. Each extension come with a different number of clips, either four, three, two, or one, and the one you use depends on which part of your head you’re working on. The wider the scalp, the more clips you use. So, since Kelly worked from the bottom of my hair up, she start with two clips, then three, using the four-clip extension at the widest part of scalp, from ear to ear.

To apply them, she sprayed my hair at the roots, lightly teased them, and sprayed them again to give the clips something to hold on to. Once they were in, she curled them along with natural hair to give me an even blended look. Kelly also color-matched my extensions PERFECTLY. Even she was surprised by just how similar the colors were. By the end of the whole process, which only took about 45 minutes from shampoo to finish, Kelly left me with the most wonderful, majestic mermaid hair in all the land:

after clip-ins edit

IS IT NOT GLORIOUS? It just looks exactly like my own hair, but so, so much better. Here’s a view from the back:

back

(Related: To Poo or Not to Poo: Experts Weigh in on Cleansing Balms, the New Wave of Hair Cleansers)

In the end, Kelly took me about six inches longer than my natural hair, and I’ve never felt prettier. I’ve always been one of those girls who associates beauty (outer beauty, that is) with having long, luscious, Victoria’s Secret Angel-level hair, and I was so excited that I could finally have it. The best part? Because they’re clip-ins and they only take 5-10 minutes to put in once they’re styled, I can have that perfect hair in no time.

Here’s the side-by-side before-and-after shot you’ve all been waiting for:

extensions before and after

I’m honestly just so impressed. My only real frame of reference for hair extensions up until this point has been Jersey Shore‘s obviously fake ones and the bright, colorful clip-ins worn all throughout Lizzie McGuire, but RPZL’s extensions just make me look like I’ve had that perfect, wavy, bombshell hair all my life. Needless to say I was flipping hair left and right all the way home, much to the dismay of just about anyone standing near me.

Watch out, Blake Lively. I’m coming for you.

(Photos: Sara Steinfeld/The Gloss)