Last week, my friend Jo and I were talking about those painful life lessons that seem to always be girl-specific, like learning that makeup isn’t the be all and end all, but also that if you want to wear minimal makeup, you shouldn’t shave off your eyebrows.
(Yeah. I get it. It’s a very “DUH” sort of thing. But not when you’re 13.)
Then I remembered the time I got hair extensions.
It still pains me to talk about.
I got it in my head one day when I was 14-15-ish (?) that I wanted hair extensions. Not only that, I wanted braided hair extensions.
I’d show you a photo, but I’m too vain, so here’s one of Christina Aguilera with braided hair extensions, which actually look similar to what I got.
Now, I should mention that leading up to this, I had had very, very short hair (like my hair is now, basically) and I was bleaching it blonde every 3-5 weeks so that I could dye it various colours (purple, red, pink, yellow, etc., etc.). Eventually, I had decided to stop at bleach-blonde and let it grow out just a bit (i.e. a few inches).
My hair was tired. And while I had a lot of it, it was also very fine and soft.
But I wanted extensions.
So I looked up places I could get this done and I found one. I asked them NUMEROUS times if they thought that braided extensions would work on my hair, not only because it was still pretty short, but because it was so fine. Bottom line: I had serious white-girl hair and I was going to a specialized African hair salon to get extensions.
“Yeah! No problem!” They assured me.
So I went in. All I remember is that the lady doing my hair was super nice and funny, but it took ALL AFTERNOON and the cost kept adding up and adding up and adding up like crazy. And then after four or five hours, they dropped it on me that I had to pay in cash. And I didn’t have enough, so I had to call my brother or send him to the bank or something. It was super complicated and it involved me borrowing money from one family member or another to shell out the $300+ they charged me.
I was happy with how it looked, and it felt amazing to have long hair again. I thought it was worth every penny. Especially because I was told the braids would be good to go for 3-6 months.
A few hours later, though, the extensions on the back of my head started to feel kind of loose. I worried, but I remembered what the salon told me and assured myself it would be fine. By the following evening, however, I had already lost two braids. They had literally just slid off my real hair. I was horrified.
The next morning, it had gotten even worse. Now the braids were coming half-off all over my head. My hair no longer looked neat and tidy; it looked frizzy and messy. I called the salon to ask them what the hell was going on.
“Oh, maybe your hair is too fine or too short. If you come in we can re-do them, but the same thing will probably happen. Some hair is just not suited to extensions.”
I wanted to say:
“WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?!”
But instead I hung up and I cried. I sat on the floor of my bedroom and cried. I called my mom. She told me I should probably take them out, which I knew was true. I had to do it. I had already lost a random assortment of braids and my hair looked like shit as a result.
What I wasn’t expecting is that as I took out the braid extensions – which were so loose they basically just fell off my head – I would start to see clumps, handfuls of my real hair coming along with them. I could feel during the process of getting the braids that my hair was being pulled very, very tight, but I didn’t think it was being pulled clean out of my scalp. I thought wrong.
By the time I had carefully removed all of the braids from my hair, I estimate that I had also lost about 60-65% of my natural hair along with them. I was so lucky to not have any gaping bald patches, but to this day, I had not regained the volume of hair I once had. Hell, it took years before it even looked somewhat normal again.
I learned many, many lessons that week, and I think they’re all obvious.
P.S. Even today, I still mourn for those $300+ I spent. I’m thinking about it right now and I’m angry.
P.P.S. Share you stupid beauty experiences with me! Let’s bond over this shit, because I know every girl’s done something like this at least once. AT LEAST. So OWN UP!