The health and wellbeing of many clients has suffered during the pandemic. According to a study from The Lancet, 22% of Coronavirus patients suffered with hair loss within six months of being infected. The stress of the pandemic itself has led to stress-induced hair loss, explains Nioxin trichologist, Mark Blake. “The stress of lockdown has had a massive impact on hair. Stress causes elevated cortisol levels, a stress hormone that prioritises what the body needs to survive,” he says.
“Hair is non-essential tissue that needs lots of energy to grow, but it has to take a back seat when the body is under stress and needs to survive.
This means that the hair follicles may simply be shut down by the body when it is in its survival mode.”
It’s no surprise that a recent report by Research and Markets found the hair extension market is booming post-pandemic. A combination of rising disposable income and changing lifestyles are taking hair extensions to new lengths. Read on to discover how you can use hair extensions to support clients with their hair loss as well as the solutions you can add to your service offering.
Perfect the consultation
“You need to find out what your client wants and what can realistically be achieved based on the client’s hair condition,” says Rapture educator, Jason O’Sullivan. “The stylist will also need to establish the health of the client’s own hair and will need to complete hair tests such as porosity, elasticity, pull tests and pulse tests to determine what growth stage the hair is in and if the client is suitable for extensions,” he says. “A stylist should find out what the client wants, whether the client wants to extend the length, add thickness or a flash of colour. Based on this, the stylist can move onto discussing suitable lengths and provide a colour match.”
Assess the client’s lifestyle
"It’s crucial to get the right information from clients when recommending extensions", explains Simon Tuckwell, Balmain Hair UK ambassador and creative influencer. “Let your clients do the talking. Asking the correct open questions will allow you to advise the correct system, maintenance and aftercare,” he says.
“Ask questions about their lifestyle, such as whether they attend any sporting activities or yoga, how often they spend on their hair each day and whether they have time to maintain and look after their extensions correctly,” he says. “You should ask if they’ve had extensions before and if they have any questions. This will make sure your clients get the best longevity from their extensions.”
Get to the root cause
"There’s no ‘one-size fits all’ to applying hair extensions", says Taylor Ferguson, Gold Fever ambassador. “It’s a bespoke service and particularly so when dealing with a client who has experienced hair loss,” she says. “We need to ascertain the background to the hair loss – is it permanent or temporary? What’s the cause? Is it agerelated thinning that we’re dealing with – or is there a medical reason?
All these questions must be addressed before determining a client’s suitability,” says Taylor. “No extensionist would want to add to a client’s issues. Hair extensions are very individual – and as such each client must be handled based on their needs,” she adds. “Mini bonds are a fairly recent invention in the world of hair extensions and offer a big benefit, particularly for clients with hair loss or thinning hair, as they help mitigate any pressure on existing hair.”
WHAT IF A CLIENT ISN’T SUITABLE FOR EXTENSIONS?
“Complete a full consultation carrying out all the hair tests and get the answers to the questions you’re asking, if there is something you are unsure about go into depth,” says Rapture educator, Jason O’Sullivan. “If the client is unsuitable and does not pass the consultation, you could ask them to return in three months’ time or advise them to speak to a trichologist to try and find the root cause.”
The psychology of hair loss
“Extensions are seen as something that might cause further damage to clients with fine hair, but you also have to consider the psychological impact that having fine hair can have on an individual,” advises Robert Eaton, creative director at Russell Eaton salons and a Great Lengths stylist. “If extensions can be used as a way of thickening hair and the scalp condition can take it, I believe it should be considered if it will help someone to feel more confident,” he says. However, you should only proceed if you know the hair can tolerate extensions. “It’s important to understand what their hair can take because you don’t want to cause further damage,” he warns. “Clients can lose their hair for multiple reasons and it is important to recognise when and how extensions can help to rebuild confidence and offer a solution,” adds Louise Jenkins, creative and education manager for Great Lengths UK & Ireland.
What about men?
“A man’s hair structure and hair loss pattern is different to a female’s, therefore traditional extensions can work only to a limited extent,” explains Louise Bailey, Hairdreams partner extensionist. “With Hairdreams’ patented MicroLine and hair replacement systems, hair can be added on the upper part of the head, and some male clients see it as a great semi-permanent solution to add more hair and integrate their own hair into the system,” she says.
When in doubt, consult an expert
“It’s crucial to determine what type of hair loss we’re talking about and I would always recommend anyone experiencing hair loss to see their GP or trichologist,” points out Helen Richardson, Remi Cachet ambassador and owner of The Salon in Louth.
“There are many different types of hair loss so it’s important to determine the cause and type of hair loss first. Once given the okay to proceed with extensions, when there is no longer any hair falling, we can look at options with low tension.”
The right installation method
For fragile lengths, choosing the appropriate installation technique is key. “The best method for hair loss is tape extensions,” says Lee Belcher, Showpony UK educator. “It is important to consider how much weight and tension is placed on the natural hair by the hair extensions. For fine or thin hair, you should look for the lightest density of hair extensions,” he says. “It may seem that strand by strand application would be the lightest weight, but you must consider the potential damage caused by bonding individual pieces of hair to thin hair,” he adds. “With tape-in hair extensions, the extensions are lightweight and require no glue, tools or fusion type of bond. With the single method application, the extension is bonded with a piece of tape rather than sandwiching two extensions together. By doing so, the weight is reduced by half which is best for causing the least amount of strain and possible damage.”
Wigs can help clients who are suffering from hair loss or thinning when extensions would not be appropriate. “I make bespoke hand knotted wigs so my clients can wear a piece discreetly and comfortably, removing it at night to allow the scalp to breathe,” says Emma Holt at BCreative, Taunton. “I believe wigs are set to become mainstream, not just for hair loss but as a quick and easy way to mix up colours and styles.” she says.
WHAT ABOUT THINNING HAIR?
“In some instances, clients turn to hair extensions for thickness rather than length,” says Zen Hair ambassador Bozena Sarek, co-founder and creative director at Bozena Sarek Hairdressing. “We would recommend one pack of Zen Hair Tape Extensions in either the Perfect Secrets hand-made invisible tapes or the unique 14” Ultimate Series which offers smaller and more discreet tracking,” she says. Clip-ins are another suitable alternative. “These will provide the client with comfort and confidence when the condition of their natural hair is improving,” adds Bozena.