The Mane Line:
offer greater fullness
Martino Cartier is one of the local salons revolutionizing hair extensions.
Lee before her
extensions were applied.
Lee after her
extensions were applied.
“You’re probably going to get addicted,” says the receptionist as I nervously anticipate what could be the best—or worst—beauty decision of my life. I’d never thought of myself as the type of woman who would get hair extensions. It called to mind the celebrities who first made them popular in the early 2000s, with their impossibly long manes formed from a web of strangely shiny clumps of hair hanging on for dear life to their already overprocessed locks.
But that was more than a decade ago, and those once swingy, stringy extensions have evolved into voluminous locks that seamlessly blend and bend with your own. Ten years had not been quite as kind to my hair, which is just as pin-straight as ever. No amount of teasing or hairspray would maintain any sort of style. Volumizing products promising thicker, fuller strands had long since taken over a prime piece of real estate in my vanity. So, after fully assessing the time, money, and energy I had wasted in my pursuit of model-like hair, I decided to put aside my deep-rooted skepticism and give in to extensions.
Many Philadelphia women already have. At Martino Cartier Salon (1902 Rte. 70 East, Cherry Hill, NJ, 856-520-8777; 304 Hurffville Crosskeys Road, Sewell, NJ, 856-582-6600), extensions are big business—and rapidly growing, thanks to a new line called Hotheads Hair Extensions. The emerging brand is carried by select salons throughout the region and bills itself as “the future in hair extensions” for its fast, easy-to-apply segments of human hair. “Twenty-five percent of my clients get this type of extension, and nearly all of them continue using them,” says Cartier. A lot of their popularity, he adds, “has been based on word of mouth. I’ve seen an aggressive uptick in requests and services.”
I head over to Cartier’s Cherry Hill location and am greeted by the comforting hum of blow-dryers. Before the actual day of reckoning, I have a consultation appointment with him, during which we talk about my preferred look—“fuller, more bountiful hair [not just] length,” I explain—and select the color. He brings out a variety of hair samples to find matches for the multicolored madness atop my head. My roots are dark brown but graduate into a caramel color, since I’m growing out my dyed hair for balayage highlights later this fall. Cartier, without hesitation, quickly finds two matches. “You can’t get better hair than this,” he says.
What makes Hotheads Hair Extensions so much better is that the company has found solutions to many of the problems associated with extensions. “The line is revolutionary based on its patent-pending technology and inability to be detected,” says Cartier. Hotheads uses medical-grade adhesives applied to the hair with a sandwich-like method, no glue or heat necessary, which makes reusing them up to three times—previously unheard of in the world of hair extensions—an easy process. What’s more, the brand is ideal for any hair type, says Kathryn Picraux, owner and artistic director of Privé Salon (5 E. Butler Pike, Ambler, 267-470-4331), another area salon that carries Hotheads. “These extensions apply to every client’s hair texture and structure,” she says. “Other brands weigh on the fine hair strands and actually rip from the scalp. These cause less tension on the hair because they’re so light.”
An assistant leads me to the back for a shampoo rinse, then carefully blows out my hair. A squeaky-clean mane is required for the application process, since the adhesive serves to bond the extensions to your hair. Once I’m back in Cartier’s chair, my hair is divided into segments, and dozens of packets of extensions are laid out. Terrifying as it may sound, the application process is easy. Cartier scales my head, applying the strands at the hair’s roots. For the restless—women who cannot fathom remaining seated in a chair for hours on end—it’s possible to walk out of the salon with gorgeous hair in less than one hour. In fact, mine took a mere 20 minutes. “The time it takes to apply these offsets the cost,” says Cartier. “The Philadelphia woman, after all, is the working woman.”
“My clients can be in and out of my chair in less than an hour, instead of sitting in my chair for three-plus hours with other extensions,” says Picraux. The speed, however, in no way compromises the quality of the extensions. As promised, the locks billow out, the colors blend beautifully, and my hair looks real. The receptionist was right. I just might get addicted.