HAIR HE­ROES

PHOTOGRAPHY SARAH DOYLE STYLIST CATHER­INE CON­DELL FASH­ION EDITED BY CON­STANCE HAR­RIS

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - FASHION -

Hair is a deeply emo­tional is­sue. Most of us see our­selves in a mir­ror at least once a day and reg­is­ter our ap­pear­ance. Of­ten, our hair will be the big­gest in­flu­ence on how good we feel we look.

Hair is made up of dead cells. Its qual­ity de­pends on age, genes, diet, health and stress lev­els. Some of th­ese you can do some­thing about. But a lot of them, you can’t. A lack of lus­cious hair leads men to go through the painful im­plant process and women to spend small for­tunes on colour and syn­thetic hair ex­ten­sions, which are of­ten far from per­fect, look­ing markedly dif­fer­ent, frizzing when washed, dis­colour­ing and even break­ing the nat­u­ral hair to which they are bonded.

Many women with a need for hair ex­ten­sions — those with thin­ning hair, post-med­i­cal treat­ment, or with short hair who want to go long — hate the feel and look of syn­thetic hair ex­ten­sions and suf­fer on.

An en­tre­pre­neur and in­ven­tor, David Gold works in the fash­ion busi­ness. In 1991, David, the son of the late Paul Goldin, in­vented a bond sys­tem for fab­rics, which was used in the hosiery in­dus­try. He then de­vised a ker­atin-bond sys­tem that could fuse hu­man hair to it­self. Next he launched Great Lengths, an eth­i­cally sourced hu­man-hair ex­ten­sions com­pany. Great Lengths buys the hair from tem­ples in In­dia, where Hindu women of­fer it as an act of de­vo­tion (ton­sur­ing). The tem­ples sell the hair to raise money for their com­mu­ni­ties. The hair is then taken to Italy, where it is very gen­tly pro­cessed to achieve its colour.

Great Lengths is a global suc­cess story. David Gold’s sis­ter, Katie-Jane, is the CEO of Great Lengths, and runs The Paul Goldin Clinic.

Though Ir­ish celebs such as Roz Pur­cell, Rosanna Dav­i­son and Kathryn Thomas, as well as stars such as Hi­lary Duff and Se­lena Gomez all have them, or­di­nary women who just want to have a nice, thick head of hair again seem to get the most plea­sure out of hav­ing Great Lengths hair ex­ten­sions.

There are now 86 sa­lons in Ire­land of­fer­ing Great Lengths ex­ten­sions. The cost varies. Short hair, re­quir­ing just a lit­tle vol­ume, can be about €200-300, while a ‘mer­maid’ hairdo could cost over €1,000. The hair will last about five months and the process al­lows your hair to grow with­out break­ages and split­ting.

Sub­con­sciously, hair is sym­bolic of age and vi­tal­ity. Is it such a huge in­vest­ment for some­thing you ‘wear’ ev­ery day?

We asked some of Ire­land’s best-known women to model their Great Lengths ex­ten­sions and to re­veal what makes them happy.

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