Before we begin, let me remind you of one of my best performing all-time posts (meaning you guys loved it and keep coming back to reach). Hair Extensions: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know. This is my comprehensive guide to all things hair extensions! It includes the various methods of hair extensions (how they work, maintenance, damage, and cost). Also, how to care for hair extensions and the best products to use. And, my favorite part, your most burning questions and answers to them all. So yes, we love this resource and I’m here for any questions you have!
So, today, I want to share my opinions about the next step in your hair extension journey. And arguably, the most important part. Where to get them! I’ve been to salons all over the country, big and small. I’ve worked with stylists new to extensions (be very careful here), and the most experienced experts (hi Christina + Victoria!). But only in the last two years have I found a salon that does my color, and my extensions in the same place. We call this a one-stop-shop and let me tell you, it is magical.
Finding a One-Stop-Shop:
So let me tell you a story. My hair takes effort. I used to go to someone for extensions, go somewhere else for color, go somewhere else for cut, and it was exhausting. One of the things I love about Olivia Christensen Salon is that it is a one-stop-shop. Sure, you absolutely can, and many do go somewhere separate for color. But there is something to be said for walking in one way and walking out transformed. And DONE, like you don’t have to go anywhere else, at any other time.
Christina works directly alongside Sandra Buttitta for all things cuts, color, and styling, staffing her salon with only the best. Christina herself is a master at matching the extensions exactly to the color you desire, so you may not even need to fully color your new hair. You can discuss all of this in your initial consultation.
My one piece of advice here? Make sure your stylist listens- I said that my hair goals were longer/fuller, with no damage, and the least amount of maintenance (easy client, right?) and that is exactly the result I got with Christina at Olivia Christensen.
How the Process Works:
Starting with an initial consultation, here’s how it goes. You’ll first meet with Christina (and likely her adorable sister Victoria) alongside Sandra. You’ll discuss your hair extension goals, color desires (I always bring a photo… or 5), and talk through the process.
Then, Christina will get the hair two weeks or in stock, and you’ll schedule an appointment for install and color in the same day. You show up, Christina and Victoria have your hair laid out and ready to install. You sip a nice cup of coffee, tea, champagne, and chat with two of the nicest and smartest in the extension industry while your extensions are placed. Then, you’re ready for your cut/color.
A few things to note about coloring extensions. First, not all extensions lift or color the same as natural hair. This is why the quality of the hair and the installation technique is so important, second only to the person who is doing your color. You need someone who knows how to work with extensions and blend them to look perfectly in sync with your natural hair. To note:
- The colorist should first work to understand what the client likes and wants and then based on their hair and extensions. They either try to match the extensions OR color their hair to the desired color and then work to match the extensions. The main goal is to create a flawless blend.
- Olivia Christensen Salon carries the extensions, so the color match will be perfect when using their hair. They also know exactly how they lift and color, so no guesswork there!
- Another benefit of having the one-stop-shop is that if there needs to be slight toning after the fact, Sandra and Christina are together and can do it on the spot. Right then and there. Sandra knows what she used from a color standpoint and then can use that on the extensions. If you choose to go to separate salons for extensions and color, it becomes a guessing game of if it will match/blend.
- Extensions pick up color very easily. If your extensions are already blonde be extra careful. Toners do wonders and can brighten any blonde.
- Many colorists prefer to color with the extensions out and then tone the extensions after. With one exception. If the extensions provide the dimension themselves, they can color with the extensions in and match accordingly.
- Go for balayage if you are looking for less maintenance. I did, and this has helped me tremendously with upkeep.
Keeping Hair Healthy with Color + Extensions:
I spoke, at length, with Sandra about how coloring for people with hair extensions is different and there’s a few important points to note. First, her number one priority is healthy hair. She cuts before installing the extensions to make sure you’re starting out with the healthiest base. In her words “we can’t forget about your hair, and just think about the extensions. We need your hair to be healthy and smooth, making the extensions work harder for you”.
Many of Sandra’s clients have hair issues. Their hair texture has changed due to medical treatments, or they’ve had a bad dye job and there is a ton of breakage. This is especially prevalent with blondes, so the focus here is keeping the hair healthy and helping it to grow. Here are 8 of our tips to keep hair healthy during your extension journey:
- Spend the money on good products. Here are a few we love (including Christina’s own line of color-safe shampoo and conditioner created specifically for extensions). Milbon shampoo and conditioner won’t weigh down hair based in Japan
- Do everything you can to protect your hair. Starting with, not overprocessing (don’t continually go over the blonde pieces until they break). This is a rarity in the extension world, and why we hear so many stories of damage with extensions.
- Get a trim each time. The goal is to get your natural hair as long as the extensions.
- Get a treatment each time you color, with someone who knows your hair. This ensures the extensions don’t slip. Work with your colorist for treatments best for your hair type. For example, I do not have oily hair, so I alternate between Olaplex No. 3 + Kerastase Resistance Masque, Bumble & bumble HIO Mask, and Leonor Greyl Masques at home for continued treatments, but this is not the best option for people with oily hair.
- Minimize heat styling. We both love letting our hair dry naturally. Put in a braid overnight and then let loose. We don’t need heat every day. I love the Living proof Heat Protectant for dry styling and the Olaplex No. 6 for wet hair. Just be mindful of oils in the products.
- If you’re a blonde, use a purple shampoo or conditioner that is sulfate-free. Sandra loves using Finola, but note it’s super strong. First, you must test any purple shampoo on the tip of the extensions because the hair is porous. Try for 30 seconds and rinse before doing your full head. I also love Kerastase Blonde, Amika Blonde, and even Shimmer Lights for more “user-friendly” products. Bumble & bumble just re-launched their blonde products and I can’t wait to try!
- Get a full highlight- only once a year! Sandra prefers to only do a full one time a year. I can tell you most salons will push multiple fulls a year, damaging hair, even if you don’t need it. Then you can schedule regular move up’s and face frames to minimize damage.
- Get a water filter head to rid hard metals and chemicals in your water. Aquabliss has my favorite (so easy to hook up in your shower)!
As you probably can tell by now, I’m super passionate about finding a one-stop-shop for color and extensions. Christina, Sandra, and I are here for any questions you guys have! Just ping me in the comments or on IG @beautydisclosed. Follow Christina @hairgoddessofny + Victoria @victoriaxoliva, Sandra @oc_sandra, and the salon @oliviachristensensalonnyc!