Back in the 1980s, long before Paris Hilton and Ken Paves became household names for hair extensions, Mahri Martens Tomas was a frustrated client looking for a solution to her own thin-hair nightmare. She went from Beverly Hills stylists to hair shows across the country, spending thousands and damaging her crowning glory with bonding and other procedures. Finally she resolved to build a better mane on her herself, and along with it a beauty business geared toward saving the tresses of other women at their wit's end. Martens Tomas went on to develop high-end hair extension procedures and hair care products, applied exclusively on-location and in plastic surgery offices in Beverly Hills and Denver.
Martens Tomas says by definition, bonding is the adherence of two surfaces together, for example, your real hair and strands or sections of real or artificial hair. She says many professionals in the beauty industry have developed a loose term for the procedure, however, so what you (or your stylist) may be calling "bonding" could in fact be considered "gluing" or something else entirely. Ideally, as in the case of her practice, a thermal bond is used, which allows five to 20 seconds of cure time to form pieces as necessary.
According to Martens Tomas, it's not necessarily the bonding process that wreaks havoc on the hair so much as what's involved in the wear and removal of hair pieces. The best way to see if your bonding procedure will destroy your 'do is a test run. Even if you have to pay for it, have the stylist apply a small section or two that you can wear for a few weeks and then remove. This extra step will be priceless when determining whether a particular bonding process will be comfortable and non-damaging.
Some manufacturers use solvents so harsh, they destroy the hair to remove the bonding agents. Frankly ask your stylist about your particular brand's removal process before you commit to a full procedure. Martens Tomas recommends bringing a bottle of acetone in your purse on removal day and using some of it to dissolve the bonding adhesive before using the manufacturer's solvent. If acetone is ineffective, you're dealing with dynamite. Although her system entails a gentle oil removal process, she once brandished scissors to save a client who went as far as paint thinner in an unsuccessful attempt to take out a bad bonding job!
Martens Tomas agrees with the old adage when it comes to beauty -- you get what you pay for. Search for a stylist within your budget with an exceptional attention to detail. A meticulous bonding application ensures minimal damage. Another good example is in styling products, she explains. A low-cost hairspray may be made with lacquer, which could crack the hair shaft instead of controlling it. On the other hand, a pricier brand will likely have resin instead of lacquer, to stiffen the hair without being brittle. Pay attention to ingredients, where you cut corners now may cost you in the long run.
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