Intralaced: the Lucinda Ellery experience


Whilst I know many people have had a really positive experience at the Lucinda Ellery salon and with the Intralace system, as I mentioned in my last post my experience was much more mixed.

When I went to get the system, my hair was very uneven, with some sections less than an inch in length. However I didn’t have any bald patches and my hair is naturally thick – which caused some problems.

My adjustments would need to be done every five weeks, and my realignment after five months, significantly increasing the cost of having the Intralace. As it turned out, within ten days of each appointment the mesh and my natural hairline were showing at the front, making me very self-conscious, especially on windy days!

When weaves go wrong: even supermodels aren’t immune

Because of the thickness of my hair (ironic given that my hair loss was at this point impossible to disguise), I had a lot of hair panels sewn into the Intralace, with my hair concealed under the mesh. This meant that as my hair grew, the system sat further away from my scalp, making it look less and less natural. It also made my hair almost impossible to dry and difficult to style.

Some of my hair was long enough to allow for extensions to blend in with the Intralace. These were attached with polymer resin bonds which were really weak and softened when I dried my hair, despite the care I took to only use conditioner on the mid-lengths and ends of my hair. The bonds would quickly flatten and widen, becoming more noticeable and frequently coming out, or shedding white flakes in my hair. As the sections used for the extensions were so big, as they came out they left noticeable gaps. The salon charged me to reattach each of these.

Both the hair panels in the Intralace and the extensions shed huge amounts of hair.  In the case of the Intralace this would quickly lead to bald patches on the mesh and I needed a new parting every five weeks.

I was worried about the hair loss and felt guilty that I seemed unable to get away from this cycle of shedding, damaged hair – whether it was my own or someone else’s. Every time I went to the salon there was a problem and I was told off and given a lecture on haircare which made me feel terrible. I had the hair examined in the end by an extension specialist who told me that this was a ‘poor quality hair weft’ and likely to be Chinese hair, rather than the Indian temple hair I had paid for.

This was backed up by what the staff at the salon had subsequently told me. I have heard from other salon clients that they have experienced similar problems and it does worry me that the salon weren’t completely transparent about the problems with the hair they use, particularly given the vulnerability of the clients. The prices they charge are at the top end of the market and the hair quality should reflect that.

After five months, I went to my realignment appointment and after a discussion with the team, they decided to increase the number of hair extensions I had and replace the Grade 2 Intralace I had with a smaller Intralace Minima, which would cover the front of my hair and the parting. I was so excited to be able to see some hair growth, although I still had – and have – a long way to go. I was really proud to be able to progress to a smaller system and no longer have the mesh which was so hard for me to disguise.

However, changing the system meant paying another £745, on top of the £2,095 I had paid for the Intralace system, as well as £250 every five weeks for the adjustments.

After two weeks, my hairline was again showing underneath the system and I was feeling very self-conscious. At this point, I decided to go and seek a second opinion. I went to see an extension specialist, who to my total surprise was confident she could help me, despite the varying lengths and quality of my natural hair. She works regularly with film and television studios, often working with male actors with very short hair whose hair she extends to fit the roles they are playing, so the system she has developed allows her to place very fine, unobtrusive extensions right at the top of the scalp.

I was nervous about the cost, given the amount of money I had invested with Lucinda Ellery but I decided at this point I had to cut my losses. The ongoing expenses with the system were so high: not only financially but also emotionally. I found the hair shedding traumatic given my history. I also dreaded each appointment at the salon. Each one uncovered a new problem, which I always felt I was blamed for.

A full head of extensions cost £895 and comprised around 200+ extensions. The hair quality is beautiful – much better than my own hair! – and will last 16 weeks, with no appointments required, or costs incurred, in that time. The extension bonds are very firm, and there is no charge to reattach extensions which do come out. Similarly there is no charge to cut my hair in between appointments, making this system far cheaper than the Intralace.

Best of all I now have one hairline and no mesh!

For me, this feels much more comfortable and natural than the Intralace and I am no longer measuring my life in five week bursts between appointments. But what does this mean for other people considering opting for an Intralace?

For many, I believe it offers a great solution to hair loss, to people with a wide range of conditions. I think it simply wasn’t right for my hair and an initial consultation with one of the salon staff would have confirmed this. (This wasn’t my experience as you can read here). To those thinking about the Intralace, I would still encourage them to consider it as an option.

Styled properly, it is more natural looking and certainly more secure than a wig. The financial outlay is considerable but the costs are transparent, so this is something you can plan for. As for the quality of the hair, for me this is the biggest issue but also something the salon staff should be able to work with you to resolve.

So, are you thinking about a hair replacement system, or do you have one already? Let me know your thoughts below.

Extending your options: seeking advice on hair extensions



Healthy hair at your fingertips!

I wrote in my last post about tricks I’ve found to treat and cover up my hair loss but despite all the time and money I spent on them, unfortunately in my case they only provided a temporary ‘fix’. While my hair felt smoother and more manageable after a treatment, it also continued to break and fall out in clumps, eating away at my self-confidence and making me embarrassed to go out in public.

As the hair loss was ongoing I didn’t feel hair extensions were an option as I wasn’t sure my hair was strong enough for the bonds to hold in place. Another barrier was the fear I felt at the prospect of going to a hair salon full of women with long, glamorous hair and uncovering my broken, damaged and uneven head of hair in front of them – something I had only done in front of my closest family.

Instead, I eventually opted for a type of hair weave specifically designed for hair loss sufferers, on the recommendation of a dermatologist who thought it was my best option, given that she was at a loss to diagnose the cause of my hair condition. The financial outlay was significant and represented a big sacrifice, however the hair loss was so extreme and long-standing and was having such a negative impact on my life at that point that I felt I had to finally address the cosmetic effects of it. The fact that the hair weave had been recommended by a medical professional also gave me confidence that this was a sound decision, as did the fact that the salon specialised in hair loss.

I had the hair weave removed at the beginning of the year, after a very mixed experience, leaving me with just a few extensions on the longer, healthier part of my hair. My hair was still very short, uneven and broken, so I was left with three options:

  1. Remove the extensions and cut my hair into a pixie cut
  2. Put the weave back on
  3. Seek a second opinion

I was very reluctant to cut my hair short. Having struggled for four years to maintain what hair length I had and invested in an expensive hair weave, I felt that it would be too difficult to cut my hair at this point.

Similarly, the thought of putting the weave back on filled me with dread.

So I plucked up the coverage to seek a second opinion. I spent a long time with the consultant talking through my options and her recommendation. Although my hair is incredibly uneven, it was also starting to get back some length and thickness after six months of wearing a weave and she was confident she didn’t need six inches of hair to blend in extensions.

She is recognised as an expert in extensions around the world and I felt very confident about booking an appointment after the consultation. The hair she showed me was great quality – something that hadn’t been the case with the weave – and she assured me that the hair would be really easy to style and to colour match with my own hair.

She set aside an entire day for the appointment and I was the only person in the salon, which I really appreciated. To apply a full head of extensions took five hours but ironically this is because I have (or rather when healthy used to have) a lot of hair. She was incredibly meticulous about blending the new hair in with my own and making tiny connections that are so invisible that I can wear my hair up or pulled back without anything showing.

I’m really pleased with how easy they are to style and care for, how well blended they are and how natural they feel.

I feel they represent good value compared to the weave I had, as this set of extensions should last 16 weeks. They never tangle, although I do plait my hair at night as a precaution.

I invested in oil free shampoo (Kerastase Resistance Volumifique Bain) and the matching conditioner to prevent the bonds from weakening and was given a fantastic argan oil to keep the ends looking shiny, as well as a Revlon leave-in conditioner. As she promised, the extensions are incredibly easy to style and dry really quickly, unlike the weave. Even when my hair is wet, you can’t tell it isn’t my own hair.

As with the weave, I only use a soft bristle brush to protect the hair and the bonds.

When extensions are first attached, they will feel a little heavy and it’s common to have an itchy scalp the week after as you adjust to the new hair but all in all, they have been very easy to adjust to.

I previously got extensions on part of my hair only at Lucinda Ellery and I found that they shed a lot so any time I ran my fingers through my hair, several strands would come out. The bonds were much bigger and less unobtrusive, especially as when I dried my hair they would ‘melt’ a little, making them flatter and thicker. The hair also tangled very easily.

So far, of a set of more than 200 extensions, none have come loose and the bonds all feel very firm and securely attached, so three weeks in, I’m very happy!