I don't really make New Year's Resolutions. Instead, I've started doing something I learned from happiness author Gretchen Rubin, and picking a one-word theme to help guide my actions upcoming year. For 2013, I've chosen "Balance." For a recovering addict, given to excess in the departments of workaholism, gluttony, and overspending amongst others, balance is a continuous endeavor with untold benefits. Balance means more time at home and present (not emailing writers from my phone) with my kid, a revived meditation practice and some kind of attention to my physical health, whether that's long walks or more vegetables.
But before I get balanced, I decided to screw all that and get some sick-ass hair and eyelash extensions. LOOOOOOONGER.
A few days after Christmas, I finally pulled the trigger on a Gilt coupon I'd been eyeing for a full head of hair extensions from Mark on Madison. (If you buy that coupon, read the fine print -- you only have 8 days left to redeem it!) The $1,000 service was marked down to $385, and I had a "Gilt credit" for 200 after returning an ill-fitting pair of boots -- and even though that credit is technically made up of my money, it felt like free money, just sitting around there in my Internet shopping account like it was.
Basically, I couldn't afford not to get hair extensions.
A week later, I saw a similar coupon for eyelash extensions at eyeLure Boutique and UPGRADE 2013 began. And just so you know, independent women, this upgrade is entirely for my own benefit, because let's be honest, no man would ever notice something like eyelash extensions. For that matter, I used to edit a men's site and once changed my hair from red to black without a single dude noticing the difference, even when pressed. This is the gender we entrust with the keys to our nation, people.
The dudes with the warphones literally can't tell the difference between pre-and-post haircut. Unless it's short enough that they are alerted by the shriveling of their boners, and then they've got shit to say. Fuck, I think I just realized I hate men.
Except, maybe, Mark Borukhov from Mark on Madison and ONLY because he gave me long, beautiful mermaid hair and thus I feel indebted to him. (Poor mermaids, I bet some of them just want a nice, low-maintenance pixie cut.)
I met Mark at his Upper East Side salon a few days after Christmas for a consultation.
I think he still thinks I flat-iron.
Mark specializes in several different kinds of extensions, but I was getting tape extensions, which are pretty much what they sound like. Hair extensions that are affixed to your roots with some kind of super-tape that allows you to wash and style your hair as normal. I don't know, it's science.
Since Mark happened to have a match for my hair in stock, we went ahead and did my extensions the same day as my consult.
"I don't normally do this...." he actually said, which made the whole thing feel sort of sexy and illicit. Also, my general oversharing tendencies get even worse around hair stylists, like I just start blurting out whatever fucked up thing I'm thinking like they're my psychiatrist or something and I CAN'T STOP.
Like, "I used to do a ton of drugs but now I'm sober. Do you have a lot of stripper clients? Strippers have the best hair. You're straight, right? Do women ever try to trade sex for hair extensions? Would you still make them pay for the hair? I wouldn't want to pay for shit if I was blowing the guy. I'm guessing I can't get my hair pulled during sex anymore, right?" SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
(The good news is Mark says sexual hair-pulling is fine as long as he's not pulling on like, individual strands.)
After a quick cut, which was distinctive in that Mark had me stand up and move around so he could see how my hair falls and moves while shaping it, he put in the extensions. I had imagined an all-day affair, but it only took about an hour for Mark to tape in a full head of new hair.
I've never had any other kind of hair extensions before, so I can't really compare, but my experience so far with the tape ones has been pretty great. They feel normal, you can't see them and the only real difference is that I can't wear a high ponytail or a topknot anymore. I've been washing my hair like normal, brushing it out (while holding it in a ponytail to keep from pulling at the tape), putting in some leave-in conditioner and then blowdrying the roots for a few minutes while letting the rest airdry, which results in a wavy look like this:
You do have to be careful to put your conditioner only on the ends of hair and not too close to the tape as it can loosen the tape bonds. I lost a piece this way, which Mark said he'd be happy to fix if I wanted to come in before my next appointment, but it's not really necessary. The extensions last 6-8 weeks, after which you have to come back in to have them retaped closer to the root (for a fraction of the original cost). You can use the same hair up to 3 times.
I'm not sure I'll be able to afford more extensions after I use up my discount hair, but I will say that the impact of having gorgeous fucking long hair instead of limp, splayed spaghetti noodle hair on my day-to-day psyche is not negligible, and that if the thinness or length of your hair makes you seriously unhappy, it's worth saving up for. Or you can do like me and watch services like Gilt City or Groupon for good deals on extensions. I was doing the clip-ins so often that it seemed worth giving the real thing a shot, and it's definitely saved me in time doing my hair in the morning.
For the second part of my 2013 Weird Science makeover, I visited eyeLure Brow and Lash Boutique for eyelash extensions. I chose the Lushlash package, which consists of 110 lashes per eye and costs $210 without the deal I purchased, and lasts for 3-5 weeks, with a $70 appointment in between for touch-ups.
So yeah, it's pricey, and addictive, like cocaine, if cocaine made you better looking. There are cheaper (but not cheap) packages which you see here. But if you want to do something to improve your appearance in the New Year, this is probably the most dramatic improvement you can get in an hour.
Plus, you get to lie down in a bed and cover up with a blanket while you get your lashes applied, which takes about an hour. You have your eyes closed the whole time, and for me there was the occasional slight irritation of someone messing with my eyes, but no pain. It's honestly super-relaxing, and you could easily take a nap if you wanted. The ladies at eyeLure are super-nice and I think were kind of excited when I said I liked a "dramatic look." I think most people want to look -- SNOOZE -- natural.
On the left, my eyes all mole-like and mascara-less pre-extensions and on the right, my lashes right after application.
The best thing about extensions is that even for a makeup addict like me, the extensions kind of eliminate the need for eye makeup. I wake up looking like a fucking Kardashian! Between being able to just throw on some lipstick and go, and my newly low-maintenance hair, my upgrades cost me money but saved me a ton of time.
The biggest rule of eyelash extensions is that you're NOT allowed to wear mascara, which you totally don't need anyway. Also, you have to avoid extreme heat like saunas and hot yoga classes. If you're looking for an excuse not to go to a hot yoga class, this is a great one.
For the first week or so, while I was getting used to my hair and eyelash extensions, I felt a little "Look, no touch," but that's kind of true of my general style anyway. Kiss me and you're getting red lipstick smeared all over your face. Stick your fingers all up in my hair, and you're gonna feel something weird. Take my dress off, and I might be wearing a fake butt.
I am held together by a tightly wound system of ropes, pulleys and cosmetics and I'm cool with that. If you too are comfortable with being a bit of a 6 million dollar robo-woman, allow me to heartily recommend these two procedures.
What are you doing to upgrade your insides or outsides in the New Year? I also got a facial at Bliss, got a massage and took a nap (!) at Yelo Spa, and got a new tattoo that was going to be small but somehow spread to cover my whole right arm.