Here’s something I’ve learned in adulthood: Some things are expensive because they can be, and some things are expensive because they should be. Case in point: hair extensions. I never gave them a shot because a) I’m really lazy and b) they’re so damn expensive. But plenty of other editors around the Allure offices swear by them. Like editorial assistant Maddie Aberman, who’s worn tape-in extensions that looked so good I wanted to steal them off her head. So when we both recently visited a more affordable walk-in extension bar, let’s just say things got interesting.
RPZL is like the blowout bar of extensions (though it’s worth noting that they do blowouts, too). You make an appointment, the stylist color-matches your hair, and then you can choose between real human hair clip-in ($250), tape-in ($350-$550), or bonded extensions ($550-$850). Maddie and I both went with clip-ins, a good option if you aren’t ready to make the full commitment. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I went to RPZL with very low expectations. I have a chin-length, blunt haircut and thick hair—I knew it was going to be a challenge to blend in a set of extensions and have it look natural. Maddie, however, has medium-length fine hair and has had no issues wearing extensions in the past.
Maddie brought a clip-in set that she had color-matched on RPZL’s website. (After submitting her picture, one of RPZL’s stylists had matched a set of extensions to her hair color and sent them to her through the mail.) They matched perfectly. I waited until the appointment to color-match. My stylist keenly noticed that my ends were bleached, and she recommended that we match the extensions to my lowlights instead—she was right! Mine matched perfectly as well. After a wash and blowout, the clip-ins were, well, clipped in.
Section by section, our stylists teased our hair at the roots and sprayed a ton—and I mean a ton—of hair spray. A few uncomfortable tugs and snaps later, our extensions were in. Because my hair is thick, I asked my stylist what she was doing to help it blend a little better. She said she was positioning the wefts of hair closer together than she normally would.
Once all the wefts were snapped in, our stylists began curling our hair to help it blend. But unfortunately, it didn’t really help, at least in my case. The way the salon is set up, there’s no mirror directly in front of the chair. So I couldn’t see what the extensions looked like until the very end. Maddie finished before me, and her extensions blended well and looked great, but they were way too long. A small trim resolved that quickly. When my stylist turned me around—the big reveal!mdash;I was a little disappointed. The color looked perfect, and the curls were soft and bouncy, but all of that couldn’t hide the fact that the texture of the extensions just didn’t match my own. You could clearly see my blunt ends poking through in all directions. It looked like I had combined two separate haircuts.
Before Maddie and I left, we took some funny pictures in RPZL’s digital photo booth. In the shots, our hair looks blended, thick, and glossy. So would I try extensions again? Probably. But now I know that I’m going to need the really, really expensive kind in order for it to look natural IRL. Maddie left feeling OK about her extensions—they weren’t as high-quality as her previous tape-ins had been, but they looked much better once they were trimmed to match her natural layers. As someone who’s had extensions before, she can tell you how important it is to cut them once they’ve been placed in your hair. So the extensions weren’t perfect, but the experience was fun. And at least now we know what happens when two Allure editors walk into an (extension) bar…
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