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Feeding the Mane Vain

[whitespace] hair extensions

Extensions give hair junkies the quick fix

By Diana Rupp

Ever wonder how celebrities like Madonna and Toni Braxton seem to grow hair faster than the rest of us? They're either superhuman or, more likely, just hip to the fabulous perks of hair extensions. I went straight to Mark Lewis of Spaghetti & Ravioli Project International to get the 411 on extensions and offer up my own hair in the spirit of hard-hitting, investigative beauty journalism.

The Setup. Although curling irons are off limits and you can't change the color once they're in, the synthetic hair looks and feels like the real thing. Plus, extensions don't fade, which is a huge bonus. Each strand is applied near the roots with a four-strand braid, then heated with a clamp--this changes the monofiber into plastic, making a hard seal around the braid--and you're good to go. When you want to take them out you simply crack that little seal and unbraid them.

Wash and Wear. As with natural hair, the amount of time spent in front of the mirror depends on the cut. As far as products go, Dome monofiber shampoo, conditioner, spray-in conditioner and hairbrush are mandatory for a full and half-head of extensions and costs around $65.

Everybody's Doing It. According to Lewis, the question isn't who's getting extensions--it's who isn't? "We've seen everybody from a 6-year-old girl who wants to get a few pink streaks to designers like Betsey Johnson to someone with very fine hair who wants to add fullness. Most popular, and I save this for last, length."

Out There Hair. "Almost our entire history has been funky, organic shapes, avant-garde color, worm dreadlocks, everything. Our original test model had green hair with purple highlights," Lewis explains. "Now, we're attracting a more subdued clientele compared to punk. And it doesn't make any difference to us. Because as an artist, you really need to know how to do that natural head of hair."

Bottom Line. Going from Louise Brooks to Lady Godiva takes two hours, runs $350-$650 and lasts about two to four months. First-timers are encouraged to do spots, which are a few--or a partial, which minimizes the pain of those dreaded in-between phases. All-over highlights can be had for a reasonable $60-$150, and individual strands go for a mere $8.

The Results. So how did my extensions turn out? Fabulous. A half-dozen streaks of vibrant red-violet added dimension and body to my previously straight-out-of-the-bottle color.


Spaghetti & Ravioli Project International is located 210 Fillmore, 415/863-7843.

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From the July 13-26, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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