Hair extensions: yes or no?

Susanna Norris weighs in on the hair extension debate...

3rd December 2018

Last week, one of my housemates tagged me in an article saying Ariana Grande had cut her hair (I know, totally news-worthy). The comment she tagged me in read: ‘People really don’t understand what hair extensions are lol’. And – she was right – they don’t. The comment, and even the article itself, all referred to the fact she had ‘cut’ her hair. But the thing was, her hair was never real in the first place.

To set the record straight, I’m not bashing Ariana for this choice. In fact, I love the fact she’s openly discussed the fact she wears extensions. She regularly points out all over social media that her hair isn’t her own. And, as someone who wore extensions for near enough five years, I totally respect this.

So – given the confusion that seems to surround hair extensions – it got me thinking about whether they’re worth it. Naturally, I want to say yes, as I don’t want to believe years of wearing them (plus an investment of thousands of pounds, not kidding) wasn’t worth it.

And – for me – they really were worth the investment at the time. I’ve always had fine hair that seemed to refuse to grow, so extensions were my go-to. And, they served me well. It sounds tragic and cliché, but the confidence I got from long, princess-like locks was unreal. I felt they suited my look perfectly and felt happier I could finally have the hair I wanted given my hair never grew. Having hair extensions also helped me embrace my natural colour. When I was at school/sixth form, all my friends had fair hair. It sounds stupid now, but in the context of a school dynamic, having very dark hair made me feel like I stood out from the crowd. And – as is the case with many school kids – all I really wanted was to fit in and look like part of the crowd. But suddenly - with my long, gorgeous hair - I felt confident enough to look different.

Similarly, when I got to university, long hair was all the rage. So, I invested in yet more sets of extensions to keep up with what I considered a fashionable look. I did it for myself too, but by now I was so convinced I looked bad with short hair that I almost had to keep up with wearing extensions. This was, of course, quite problematic. Whilst having extensions made me feel confident and made me love the way I looked, it meant that I could never have a break from them as I hated my natural hair.

I’m well aware of how ludicrous I sound. At the end of the day – it’s just hair – and in the iconic words of my favourite Kardashian: ‘Kim, there’s people that are dying’. But it is crazy how dependent I became on extensions to keep up with what I considered an imperative beauty standard. I’d love to say that I have short hair now because I feel more confident and happier in myself. And, to an extent, that is true. But I also like having short hair because it’s the fashionable thing to do at the moment.

What it comes down to is beauty standards change. And, I really don’t think there’s any harm in trying extensions. I know I will again at some point. If they improve your confidence and give you the new look you wanted, there’s no harm in that. But I also think there’s something good about seeing more people embrace their natural hair and erasing certain beauty standards. Turns out Ariana’s statement of removing her extensions might me more important than we initially thought.

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