If I’ve learned anything about living in Hollywood for more than a decade, it’s that natural beauty is anything but god-given. That’s fine by me, though: I’m all about the good kind of fake — the undetectable tweakments that can enhance what you already have. I’ve done Botox and lip filler, for instance, but until last month I hadn’t yet tried hair extensions (nope, not even clip-ins).
The more I looked into the world of faux hair, however, the more I learned that practically every celeb you see on TV or in the movies is wearing extensions — a handful of whom who turn to Violet Teriti. Also known as @chaviv_hair on IG, the extensionist is known for her use of micro bead hair extensions that includes A-list fans like Kim Kardashian, J. Lo, and Megan Fox. Obviously, I had to book an appointment with her to see what the fuss was about.
One February afternoon, I walked into the West Hollywood Hair by Violet Studio where different colored wigs lined every wall. There were even stacks of shiny hair on the marble coffee table — the same glossy lengths I’d recognized from Kim K.’s Instagram story, thanking Teriti for sending her “the best” hair.
As I sat in the chair waiting for Teriti to start, I felt a little nervous to see what my hair would look like with extensions — but knowing they’re Kim K.-approved eased my mind. Read on for what it was like to get micro bead hair extensions from a celeb-beloved pro.
My hair has always been a pain point for me. I spent the majority of my 20s bleaching it so much that by age 30 it had all but fried off. I’ve let it grow out for the past two years, and even though it looks healthier than it has in a very long time, it’s still stringy, frizzy, and nothing like the sleek mermaid strands of the Kardashians. Little did I know many of the people I envied were actually wearing extensions.
What Are Micro Bead Hair Extensions?
Micro bead (sometimes called individual) extensions are small discreet beads of hair that are color-matched to your strands and clamped into place, one by one, right at your roots. It’s a pretty tedious process, but you wind up with seamless-looking and longer-lasting lengths.
According to Teriti, celebrities get all different kinds of extensions. “Some prefer wefts, tape-ins, or even clip-ins because it’s a quicker installation — but they only last a few days to a few weeks,” she tells me. Wefts, for instance, are one of the more popular options. These involve one long strand of individual extensions that are connected and sewn together on the scalp. The weft is a lot heavier than individuals, explains Teriti, and can cause damage — which is why Teriti doesn’t offer them.
If you’re going for longevity, micro bead individuals are the way to go: The hair lasts for 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 top recommended service (she also offers tape-ins). “I prefer the individuals because it’s the only technique that looks and feels like it’s your own hair,” she says. Unlike tape-ins (that have to stay laying flat), with micro beads you can pull your hair up into a bun, ponytail, or braids without the bonds showing, she says.
Teriti’s method is fully customizable. For your first appointment, she tells you to show up with air-dried hair so she can match your natural texture. From there you can decide the length, color, and fullness levels you want. For my transformation, we decided on 18-inch light brown extensions that had been subtly lightened at the ends, which were a perfect match to my natural hair color, and the ends tied in perfectly with the few face-framing highlights I had. I wound up getting about 150 individuals total (about six bundles of hair), which sounds like a lot but it’s about the average number Teriti’s customers get.
The installation itself was completely painless — just time-consuming, as she meticulously hand-places each tiny strand. It took a little more than three hours from start to finish.
Caring For The Extensions
For the first week or so, the extensions felt 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’s recommended to put your hair in a loose braid to keep them from getting matted, but I just left my hair down underneath my sleep mask without any problems. As for maintenance, you should ideally wash your hair at least twice a week. You’ll find that having extensions makes your grooming routine much easier: There’s less frequent washing and less of a need to style since the hair holds really well.
When I do wash, I like to double cleanse, then sparingly apply a conditioner from the 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 oily, as Teriti says oil will make extensions slide down.
I really baby my hair in between washes. After each wash I typically let my hair air dry and 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 keep my extensions from getting tangled, I brushed 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 on my ends every day to keep them from fraying. Another staple? Ouai’s dry shampoo for a boost of volume at my roots.
Who Is A Candidate For Extensions?
Teriti says anyone — whether you’re looking for fullness, a change, or length — can be a good candidate. Her tip: When picking extensions, be sure to find a hair texture that matches your own — or at least one that’s close. At her salon, she customizes everything for the client so the results are seamless, but the process will vary depending on where you go.
Do Micro Bead Extensions Damage Your Hair?
One of the biggest misconceptions about extensions is that they ruin your hair, but you have nothing to worry about as long as you have them installed properly and remove them gently. She actually showed me a few videos of clients’ natural hair before and after extensions and I was shocked to see that their real strands had flourished 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 strands — a perk if you’ve always wanted to experiment with your color.
How Much Do Micro Bead Extensions Cost?
Getting micro bead extensions is a customized service, so there’s no set price — but expect to shell out a decent amount of money. “If you want 100% human virgin hair from one donor, each bundle, depending on the length and weight, is $2,000 to $12,000,” says Teriti. On the plus side, the hair is reusable for up to a year — you’ll just have to factor in the cost of reinstallation.
“Installation is $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the fullness,” says Teriti. In my case, for instance, my hair cost $5,000 and each installation runs $2,000. If you figure you're installing the same hair three times a year, that’s $6,000 plus the initial $5,000 down payment on the extensions themself. Annually, that puts you at roughly $10,000. As I said, it’s not cheap. However... when you see how they look, it’s hard to argue with the results.
Are The Extensions Worth It?
I have no doubt in my mind that I look a whole hell of a lot better with extensions. When they were removed, I felt naked. The long hair that felt exaggeratingly long at first quickly became my new normal; I often forgot it wasn’t mine. I also loved that I could finally be blonde without damaging my natural strands. Sure, I’m still shook over the exorbitant price tag, but, like my mom says: It hurts to be beautiful.
How To Get The Look At Home
If you’re not in Los Angeles or simply don’t want to drop thousands of bucks on new hair, you could always try clip-ins. Or you could get a taste of Teriti’s extensions: The hair pro is launching a line that’s less expensive than what she offers in her salon. Each tape of extensions will cost between $200 and $600 a pack, depending on length — stay updated on her line by bookmarking her website.