Tracey Oseman, 48, is divorced and lives in Kent. She is a full-time housewife, with three children and five grandchildren under four.
Tracey Oseman, 48, is divorced and lives in Kent. She goes to Gold Hair Extensions, who also do Martine McCutcheon’s hair. It costs £150 every 12 weeks in maintenance and £500 three times a year for a whole set
- One in three women now has hair extensions, a recent survey found
- Gone are the days of glued or woven-in strands of real or synthetic hair
- FEMAIL met eight women whose hair – real or fake – is their pride and joy
One in three women now has hair extensions, says a recent survey. But these glued or woven-in strands of real or synthetic hair have come a long way from the footballers’ WAGs of the Nineties.
Nowadays, they are so natural-looking it’s virtually impossible to tell whose hair is real and who’s had a little help, meaning professional, middle-class women are just as likely to be secret ‘extenders’.
Alice Smellie met eight women whose hair is their pride and joy. Can you guess who is faking it and who’s the real deal?
Some women have a weekly manicure; others go for Botox. I choose to have beautiful extensions. I go to Gold Hair Extensions, who also do Martine McCutcheon’s hair. It costs £150 every 12 weeks in maintenance and £500 three times a year for a whole set.
They use what’s known as Remy hair – human hair that’s been conditioned so all the cuticles lie flat and point the same way.
Individual strands are fixed to my natural hair close to the root, using tiny metal rings. In total, it adds up to around £2,000 a year, and I also have a £75 cut and colour every six weeks.
All women have a beauty focus as they age, and there’s no question that my sole vanity is my hair. I think extensions have become a key tool for women who want to age gracefully. People often mistake me and my daughters, in their 20s, for sisters.
I’ve had extensions to my waist in the past, but now I stick to age-appropriate shoulder length. Unless I let anyone into my little secret, no one need know my hair is not strictly homegrown.
Genevieve Nikolopulos, 54, is a PR/communications consultant. She is married to sales director Thomas, 51, and they have a son, 20.
When I think back to my 20s, I recall the sheer effort it took to make my hair look decent. You may envy the amount I have, but trying to tame it without the tools we have now was impossible. It’s only in the past few decades, as friends my age talk about thinning hair, that I’ve learned to see my thatch as a blessing.
I’m often asked if my hair is real: people have a feel, just to be sure. It’s very high-maintenance – much more so than extensions. I usually wash it once a week. As it retains so much water, I let it dry naturally for half-an-hour, before blow-drying then tonging.
I have it cut by Larry King, who does model David Gandy’s. A few decades ago, hair wasn’t such a vital part of your looks. Now I’m known for my thick locks, and am rather grateful that my once-loathed frizz is my crowning glory.
Sharon Pink, 50, a mother-of-four, is married to builder Tony, 53. She is a wedding organiser and fosters children.
When I looked in the mirror after my first set of extensions two years ago, I felt like crying with joy. My wispy hair had been transformed into thick, natural-looking locks. I was over the moon.
Nobody can guess my hair has had ‘help’, and I certainly don’t rush to enlighten anyone. My natural colour is blonde, but it has become very thin as the years have gone by.
I used to think extensions were just for celebrities, but then my daughter had them – they looked amazing. So, two years ago, I went to Vixen & Blush, off Oxford Street, and I’ve never looked back. I go every three months. It costs more than £400 a time, but it’s my only beauty indulgence.
There are a lot of misconceptions about hair extensions. But I follow the instructions from my salon – I don’t put my hair up too much as it puts pressure on the bonds, and use a special shampoo and a Tangle Teezer brush. I’ve never had so much as a snapped strand.
Jane Boyce-Flay, 58, from Sevenoaks, Kent, is married to Joe, 65, with whom she runs a business.
In 2014, a short trip to Spain turned into a stay of a couple of years when I fell and banged my head. In hospital, the doctor insisted on what I felt were random tests, but I was admitted instantly with lung cancer.
After nine months of intensive treatment, I’m down to three-monthly check-ups. But as a side-effect of chemo, I was losing clumps of my long, thick, red hair. It used to take an hour to dry, but this was soon just 15 minutes. I didn’t go bald, but I was surprised by how traumatic I found it.
My husband, who slept by my hospital bed for weeks, never stopped being sympathetic. While I didn’t look that different, I felt so changed by my cancer – my hair falling out was the final insult.
Earlier this year, I was at my salon when I commented on my stylist’s lovely hair – she told me she had extensions and put me in touch with mobile specialists Gold Hair Extensions. My first appointment cost £495, and I have £295 top-ups every three months. It’s a lot of money, but I feel great. I get such a thrill looking in the mirror. I feel like I’ve got my personality back.
Suzi Diamond, 46, is an occasion cake baker. She lives in London with her four children, aged between 14 and 19.
At least once a week, someone asks me if I have extensions. Sometimes, people even try to touch my hair. It’s flattering, like being a minor celebrity.
Clearly, it’s genetic. I have three daughters with beautiful hair and a 17-year-old son who has won the genetic lottery with thick curls. Sadly, he gets it cut short.
I do have a secret weapon: I used to be a hairdresser, so doing my own blow-dries is a breeze.
Great hair is a way of looking and feeling groomed at all times.
Claire Woodward, 41, is a personal trainer. She lives in Chelsea, London.
As a personal trainer, I think people have certain perceptions and expectations. Clients come to me wanting to look and feel great – and they expect a trainer who replicates these values.
My hair is naturally thick, but to get added volume I go to a salon in Kensington specialising in extensions. It’s run by Tatiana Karelina, who really appreciates the importance of self-image. The hair used is Russian and is ethically sourced.
The extensions cost up to £800 a time, and are changed twice a year, with touch-ups every 12 weeks.
Tatiana uses micro-rings to attach them to the hair, so there is no damage from heat or glue. It may sound high-maintenance, but it is important to feel body confident.
Singer Rose-Marie, 60, lives in Blackpool and London.
My hair is my trademark. I’ve always had these flame-like locks, and my tumbling red curls are as famous as my husky voice. I’ve sold 17 million albums, and a vital part of every cover was my hair flowing around my face. It’s not just hair – it’s a brand.
Growing up, I always wanted to perform. I started in working men’s clubs and ended up on TV. My hair was always commented on and, with my voice, it made me distinctive.
When I met Princess Diana in the Nineties, she said my hair was beautiful. You don’t get a better compliment than that!
I have very little help with my appearance but, as the years go by, hair can become finer – the menopause is a cruel thing – so a few years ago, my hairdresser suggested I have a few discreet extensions to help with thickness and length.
I have three strands on each side, held in place with a metal ring. The cost was minimal, and they only need maintaining every six months. No one has ever noticed. But the best thing is that my face is properly framed, and my distinctive hair remains my crowning glory.
Vicki Psarias, 35, is an award-winning blogger. She lives in Leeds with her husband Peter and two children.
I’m well-known on Twitter for my nice mane, so I don’t take many selfies on a bad hair day! People often think I have extensions. But my mother said I was born with big hair and it never dropped out.
My mass of curly hair represents my personality and my heritage – I’m a British Greek Cypriot, so thick hair is part of my DNA. I once had a bob, but not out of choice: the stylist got scissor-happy. I was 25, but people said I looked much older, so I resolved to grow it out.
When my hair looks its best, I feel more confident – more for myself than anyone else.