Royal fans were left stunned when the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out with glossy, voluminous curls that cascaded past her shoulders earlier last year. Could it be that the Duchess is simply blessed with luscious, healthy hair? Possibly, "though it's likely she has hair extensions," reveals Olia Cutz, founder of The Extensionist and hair extensions expert.
LOOK: Kate Middleton debuts stunning new hair transformation - and royal fans have questions
I initially jumped at the chance to get hair extensions fitted at The Extensionist, desperate to transform my naturally extremely fine, wispy, (and admittedly bleach damaged hair) into the princess-like mane I had always dreamt of. Though I admit, I had my reservations. Will hair extensions make my hair thinner? Will they look bulky? Will people be able to tell I have hair extensions?
Olia instantly addressed my concerns, promising me a weft of glossy long hair ready for the red carpet. Her answer to making hair extensions safe for fine hair is ultra bonds, a new method of extension pioneered at The Extensionist that uses a micro keratin bonds to make extensions almost invisible.
Curious? Here's everything you need to know about ultra bond extensions…
What are ultra bond hair extensions?
"Ultra bonds are our smallest hair extensions," explains Olia. "We use strands of human hair so tiny the bond is almost invisible." Experts at The Extensionist apply the ultra bonds meticulously, strand by strand, using a bespoke micro extension fusion machine specifically designed for the application of the tiny bonds.
Incredibly popular with celebrities due to their "virtually undetectable" bond, ultra bonds are quickly becoming the most popular method of hair extension.
MORE: Everything you need to know about hair extensions - pricing, aftercare & more
"They can add thickness and length to any hair type, but are so subtle they are incredibly hard to detect individual strands of keratin bonds. You can hide them perfectly, no one will ever see them, even if you wear your hair up!" Olia revealed.
Like other types of extensions, including tape-in extensions and micro bond extensions, you can air dry, straighten, curl, and style ultra bond hair extensions with heat just like you would with your own hair - perfect for those who love a low-maintenance 'do.
How long do ultra bond hair extensions take to apply?
As the saying goes, "good things come to those who wait". Depending on the thickness of your extensions, applications can take several hours. I opted for a full head to achieve both the length and volume I was hoping for, which took around three hours to fit when they were first installed.
Re-fit appointments can take much longer, especially if you're topping up your highlights or refreshing your balayage in between, but trust me, the wait is definitely worth it!
How long do ultra-bonds last?
Unlike other London salons, The Extensionist allows clients to reuse the bonds, paving the way for a far more cost-effective and sustainable method of hair extension.
My first set of ultra bond extensions lasted me a solid four months before I really started to notice their growth, which is a much longer time frame than tape or micro-bond extensions, which last for around eight weeks. It's recommended that the hair is replaced with a fresh set of extensions every year, but if you look after your extensions with minimal heat, regular hair masks, protective sleep styles and the right brush, they can last for much longer.
READ MORE: How to remove tape extensions and keep your hair super healthy
Do ultra bond hair extensions ruin your hair?
It truly was my biggest fear that I would get hair extensions and never be able to turn back. I was convinced that I would be left with bald patches and extreme hairloss after my first set had been fitted, but I was reassured that "minimal damage" should occur if you see a trained professional to fit and safely remove your extensions.
My hair extensions give me length and volume
I'm now on my third re-fit of ultra bond extensions and I've never loved them more. My natural hair is longer than it's ever been, and is far less bleach damaged due to having a year free from full-head highlights. Admittedly, my hair does feel slightly less voluminous than it was before, and could definitely do with a good chop to restore its healthy bounce once I *eventually* decide to part ways with my 23-inch Russian Remy wefts, though I don't think there's been any real change since starting my hair extension journey.
If you're worried about getting extensions, talk to a professional about the best method for your hair.
How do you look after your hair with ultra bond extensions?
"When you have hair extensions, you do have to treat your hair a little more carefully than you would normally," explains Olia.
Always use an extension brush to help protect the bonds and avoid breakage.
Balmain Hair Extension Brush, £13.64, Amazon
"We always tell our clients to plait their hair for bed at night to prevent any knotting. I'd also recommend using silk scrunchies and metal-free hair ties, not the rubber band type hair bobbles that damage hair."
"You could take it further and get a lovely silk pillow to sleep on to protect the hair, we love the Blissy silk pillows," Olia adds.
Do you predict ultra bonds will be the next celebrity-favourite method of extensions?
"YES, they already are!" Olia says. "Celebrities never want anyone to know they have extensions. As an extension professional, it’s so easy to spot when the likes of Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and other A-listers are wearing extensions, but the untrained eye would never know.
"There is a perception that hair extensions are just for length, but they are for volume as well. We love what they can do for someone's confidence, and giving our clients that celebrity hair is what we're best at."
How much do ultra bond hair extensions cost?
"It is always our priority that the very finest quality hair with softness and shine is used and we source this double drawn hair from small rural communities," says Olia. Prices for a full head of hair extensions start at £380, and that includes the price of the hair as well as the fitting and bespoke colour match.
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