Microbead Hair Extensions Gave Me My Dream Length
If I’ve learned anything about life in Hollywood over more than a decade, it’s that natural beauty is anything but divine. That’s fine with me though: I’m all about the right kind of counterfeit – the undetectable tweaks that can improve what you already have. I’ve done Botox and lip fillers, for example, but until last month I hadn’t tried hair extensions yet (no, not even clip-ins).
The more I looked into the world of fake hair, however, the more I learned that virtually every celebrity you see on TV or in movies wears extensions – including a handful who look to Violet Teriti. Also known as @chaviv_hair on IG, the extensionist is known for her use of microbead hair extensions that include A-list fans like Kim Kardashian, J. Lo and Megan Fox. Obviously, I had to make an appointment with her to see what it was all about.
One afternoon in February, I walked into the West Hollywood Hair by Violet Studio where wigs of different colors were lined up on every wall. There were even piles of shiny hair on the marble coffee table — the same shiny lengths I recognized in Kim K.’s Instagram story, thanking Teriti for sending her “the best” hair.
As I sat in the chair waiting for Teriti to begin, I felt a little nervous about what my hair would look like with extensions — but knowing that it’s Kim K.-approved gave me peace of mind. Read on to find out what it was like to get micro bead hair extensions from a beloved celebrity pro.
My hair has always been a pain point for me. I spent the majority of my 20s bleaching it so much that by 30 it was anything but fried. I’ve let it grow out for the past two years, and while it looks healthier than it has in a very long time, it’s still stringy, frizzy, and nothing to do with the Kardashians’ sleek mermaid locks. I didn’t realize that a lot of people I envied actually wore extensions.
What are microbead hair extensions?
Microbead extensions (sometimes called individual) are small, inconspicuous hair beads that are color-matched to your strands and secured in place, one at a time, directly at your roots. It’s quite a tedious process, but you end up with seamless and more durable lengths.
According to Teriti, celebrities get all kinds of extensions. “Some people prefer wefts, adhesive strips or even clips because it’s a quicker install – but they only last a few days to a few weeks,” she tells me. Wefts, for example, are one of the most popular options. These involve a long strand of individual extensions that are connected and sewn together on the scalp. Weft is much heavier than individuals, Teriti explains, and can cause damage – which is why Teriti does not offer them.
If you’re looking for longevity, individual microbeads are the answer: hair lasts about a year and requires reinstallation every three to six months, depending on how fast your hair grows. They’re also the most customizable (read: look the most natural) and — as Tereti points out — her most recommended service (she also offers adhesive recordings). “I prefer individual hair because it’s the only technique that looks like your own hair,” she says. Unlike tape (which needs to lie flat), with microbeads you can pull your hair up into a bun, ponytail, or braids without bonds showing, she said.
Teriti’s method is fully customizable. For your first date, she tells you to show up with air-dried hair so she can match your natural texture. From there, you can decide what length, color, and levels of fullness you want. For my transformation, we opted for 18-inch light brown extensions that had been subtly lightened at the ends, which matched my natural hair color perfectly, and the ends perfectly tied with the few face-framing highlights I had. I ended up having about 150 total (about six strands of hair), which sounds like a lot, but that’s about the average number Teriti customers get.
The installation itself was completely painless – just time consuming, as she meticulously places every little strand by hand. It took just over three hours from start to finish.
Take care of extensions
For the first week or so the extensions were tight against my scalp, although they didn’t hurt – that said, it took two or three nights to get used to sleeping on them. At night it is recommended to put your hair in a loose braid to keep it from tangling, but I just left my hair under my sleeping mask with no problem. As for maintenance, you should ideally wash your hair at least twice a week. You will find that having extensions greatly facilitates your grooming routine: there are less frequent washings and less need to comb your hair since the hair holds very well.
When I wash, I like to double cleanse, then sparingly apply conditioner from mid-shaft to ends, avoiding the roots. The idea is to keep your roots clean and your ends moisturized – you don’t want your hair to get too greasy, as Teriti says the oil will cause the extensions to slip.
I really style my hair between washes. After each wash, I usually let my hair air-dry, then use a curling iron to style it into loose, beachy waves. Unlike my naturally straight hair, the extensions can hold a curl for days without any touch ups. The main addition to my hair care routine was an increase in brushing: To prevent my extensions from tangling, I brushed them in the morning and before bed. I also invested in a good hair oil (my favorite is SH-RD’s Shine Serum) and was diligent about applying a small amount to my ends every day to keep them from fraying. Another must-have? Ouai dry shampoo for a volume boost at my roots.
Who is a candidate for extensions?
Teriti says anyone — whether you’re looking for fullness, change, or length — can be a good candidate. Her tip: When choosing extensions, be sure to find a hair texture that matches your own — or at least one that’s close. In her salon, she customizes everything for the client so the results are seamless, but the process will vary depending on where you go.
Do microbead extensions damage your hair?
One of the biggest misconceptions about extensions is that they damage your hair, but you have nothing to worry about as long as you install them correctly and remove them gently. In fact, she showed me some videos of clients’ natural hair before and after extensions and I was shocked to see that their real locks had bloomed while wearing extensions. “They will actually help your hair grow better because most of the time you can let the extensions air dry and avoid heat styling,” she says. You can also add blonde, ombre or highlights to your hair without bleaching your natural locks – a plus if you’ve always wanted to experiment with your color.
How much do microbead extensions cost?
Getting microbead extensions is a personalized service, so there is no set price, but expect to shell out a decent amount of money. “If you want 100% human virgin hair from a donor, each bundle, depending on length and weight, costs between $2,000 and $12,000,” says Teriti. On the plus side, the hair is reusable for up to a year – you only need to factor in the cost of reinstallation.
“Installation costs between $1,500 and $3,000, depending on fullness,” says Teriti. In my case, for example, my hair costs $5,000 and each installation costs $2,000. If you think you install the same hair three times a year, that’s $6,000 plus the initial $5,000 down payment on the extensions themselves. Annually, that puts you at around $10,000. Like I said, it’s not cheap. However… when you see what they look like, it’s hard to argue with the results.
Are extensions worth it?
I have no doubt in my mind that I look much better with extensions. When they were removed, I felt naked. Long hair that seemed overly long at first quickly became my new normal; I often forgot it wasn’t mine. I also loved being able to finally go blonde without damaging my natural locks. Of course, I am still shaken by the exorbitant price, but, as my mother says: it hurts to be beautiful.
How to get the look at home
If you’re not in Los Angeles or just don’t want to waste thousands of dollars on new hair, you can always try clips. Or you could sample extensions from Teriti: The hair pro is launching a range cheaper than what she offers in her salon. Each strip of extensions will cost between $200 and $600 per pack, depending on the length – stay up to date on his line by bookmarking his website.