As an artificial blonde, my ultimate hair wish list is to have flowing, strong and healthy-looking locks. I’m someone that gets highlight foils every few weeks and have done so for the last couple of years, so growing long hair that’s shiny and soft feels near impossible. I’ve tried a countless number of at-home remedies and professional haircare products in the forms of tablets and serums to help me reach my luscious hair goals but to no avail, so I’m always on the lookout for new ways to improve the quality of my hair.
Recently, a very interesting email popped up in my inbox: it was introducing the new Kérastase Extentioniste Protocole “training program”, which consists of a few in-salon appointments and a set of at-home haircare products to repair damage, prevent split ends and help your hair literally reach new lengths. In fact, the brand suggests that you might get four centimetres of hair growth in 12 weeks… and trust me, I was more than happy to put my hair on the line.
With such impressive claims, I was happy to commit fully to the entire 12 weeks of the program. This meant that I couldn’t cut my hair within these 12 weeks (so I had a quick trim before I started, and have booked myself a follow-up appointment in *gasp* September), and that I could only use the prescribed Kérastase products over the three months.
I’ll be documenting my journey, and will be checking in with you guys throughout the training program, at: Week 1 (below), Week 2, Week 6 and Week 12 - so don’t forget to check back!
Week 1 / The in-salon consultation
For the first step of the Kérastase Extentioniste Protocole training program, I headed to a Kérastase salon and had my scalp diagnosed. As confronting as that sounds, it was actually a breeze to sit through: a high-tech camera took photos of my scalp and strands, and analysed the density, hair diameter, sensitivity, sebum and dandruff levels of my scalp, as well as the erosion, dryness and shine of my hair lengths. Turns out my concerns were warranted - I did have damaged and dry hair, and I was desperate to reverse the signs of it.
This was then followed by two shampoo applications using Kérastase Bain Extensioniste, where interestingly, the second shampoo application was left on for two minutes to invigorate the scalp.
Next was the absolute highlight of my treatment. Two reparative in-salon treatments (a liquid and a cream) were distributed and then massaged into my scalp and lengths to activate the solution. I usually find it hard to fall asleep in facials or during head massages, but this part of my treatment was on another level; I could feel my eyes glaze over and my eyelids felt so heavy within a minute of the massage (which focused on my pulse points). The cherry on top was the hot towel that was placed over my scalp. Similar to a steam machine that’s used during a facial, this comforting step was incredibly relaxing and encourages your scalp’s pores to open up and absorb the deep-conditioning properties of the above.
To finish, I was whisked back to my salon chair and had a few pipettes of Kérastase Serum Extentioniste massaged into my head to strengthen my scalp and hair. This product, I was told, is loaded with ceramides to promote smooth and soft hair from the inside and out, and is key to encouraging hair growth. As for the finishing touch, my hair was promptly blow-dried and styled, and I was out the door within an hour and a half.
I was also given four Kérastase products to use at home - Bain Extentioniste (shampoo), Fondant Extentioniste (conditioner), Masque Extentioniste (mask), and Serum Extentioniste (scalp and fibre serum), and will be reviewing these in my next post… so stay tuned!
Week 2 / Using the products at home
I’ve been using my take-home products for two weeks now, and I’m absolutely loving it so far. Overall, my hair feels really soft and manageable, despite using a lot less products than I’m used to.
Before taking on the Kérastase Extentioniste Protocole program, I was using a Kérastase Bain Satin 1 Irisome shampoo, L’Oréal Professionnel Smartbond Conditioner, Redken Pillow Proof Blow Dry Express Treatment Primer Cream on damp hair before blow-drying and O&M Know Knott Conditioning Detangler on dry hair in-between washes, and have now switched to the four products prescribed to me: Kérastase Resistance Bain Extentioniste, Fondant Extentioniste, Masque Extentioniste and Serum Extentioniste.
Bain Extentioniste is a shampoo that feels luxurious from start to finish; squeezing the transparent formula from the bottle was a breeze, it lathered beautifully in my damp hair, and washing it out was a cinch.
I usually shampoo once when my hair just needs a quick rinse, or do it twice to remove any build-up when I know that I’ve been using lots of styling products like dry shampoo or hairspray. I kept in mind what I experienced at the salon, and left the second shampoo application in my hair for an extra minute to give my scalp that extra fresh feeling.
When it comes to hydration, I prefer using a mask over a conditioner, so I’ve been using the Masque Extentioniste a little more than Fondant Extentioniste. The mask is lighter in texture than I’m used to, so whenever I’ve used it I have to remember to have self-restraint and not overload my hair with too much product! I usually start with less than a 50 cent piece-worth of mask, then add a tiny bit more if needed. After all, as it’s such a beautiful product, I want it to last as long as possible.
The final step of my new hair-washing routine was the most interesting. I applied a few piquettes of Serum Extentioniste into my scalp after towel-drying my hair, and used my fingertips to massage in the solution. And what a relaxing treat this was! I have to admit… it took some getting used to to remember this step, but after the first time I did it, I couldn’t wait to do it again. I usually wash my hair after dinner, so the scalp massage was a nice and relaxing touch to cap off my night.
The best thing about using Serum Extentioniste is that it doesn’t require too much precision. New users should follow this guide: try two pipettes on fine hair, or four for thick hair, and apply the product in a straight line from the front to the back of your head. Then, use your fingers to massage the serum into your scalp, and follow through by blow-drying your hair.
To my surprise, the serum melted into my scalp really easily without leaving a film of residue behind. After blow-drying my hair, I couldn’t even tell that I had applied a serum onto my scalp at all.
Week 6 / Progress check at the salon
For this story, I was really determined to stick to the Extentioniste program the entire time and use nothing else as I didn’t want anything to hinder my results. So, that meant that I could only use the prescribed Kérastase Extentioniste products, which included just the Kérastase Resistance Bain Extentioniste, Masque Extentioniste and Serum Extentioniste, at home over the course of 12 weeks.
The six-week mark has just ticked over and I’ve been happy with the condition of my hair so far. Not only is it still feeling really soft, but it’s looking shiny and is totally manageable, despite the lack of post-wash products I’m using. The only thing I'm applying after washing my hair is the Serum Extentioniste, which I massage into my scalp to help maintain the health of my hair and improve blood flow, which in turn can assist with hair growth.
I also had a progress check at AlanaKristian as I’m halfway through the Extentioniste Protocole program. The check-up was really similar to what I experienced in week one, without the consultation and photos with the high-tech camera. Overall, the entire process was easy, painless and totally indulgent, and I was able to walk out of the salon in under an hour and a half (with a beautiful blow-dry, might I add).
The most interesting thing I noticed during the halfway mark? I started to see impressive results with my hair’s length. Over the last two weeks, I started receiving comments from people - not only from my team, but friends outside of work, who all unanimously said one thing: that my hair was looking pretty long. I didn’t think anything of it, as I regularly throw my hair into a ponytail then take it out, and then put it back up into a ponytail again; but the following photo made me stop dead in my tracks…
Talk about SHOCKED! I really didn’t expect to see so much progress, as I’m not even close to the end of the program yet! I can’t wait to do a final measure at 12 weeks and let you guys know exactly how long my hair has grown.
Week 12 / The end result
I’ve finally come to the end of my Kérastase Extentioniste Protocole journey; the last 12 weeks have absolutely flown by. To conclude my experiment, I had one last appointment at AlanaKristian, where I we went through the same process as Week 1: a scalp and strand diagnosis, serum application and blow-dry.
Here’s a comparison of my hair health from Week 1 to Week 12. The erosion of my hair went from damaged to normal, and my shine level went from normal to shiny. The overall health of each strand has improved, too: I went from having white dashes (which symbolise damage) that ran long-ways through the core of my hair, to barely having white dashes or spots at all. My hair also feels incredibly soft, and I’ve only noticed a few split ends here and there despite not having a hair cut for more than 12 weeks. That’s an incredible feat for someone who is very artificially blonde!
Ok, so I bet you’re also wondering how much my hair grew during this process. Check out these results…!
It turns out that my hair grew five centimetres. The length of the back of my hair was 40 centimeters to start with and is now 45 centimetres long. Who knew my hair could grow this fast in such a short amount of time?! The results are seriously staggering.
Overall, I’m very happy with my results. I didn’t expect to see so much growth, especially for something that’s available in a salon and not prescribed by a doctor. I really like that it’s an accessible service, and that it’s a relatively low-commitment process to stick to - I just had to go to three appointments over the course of 12 weeks and use the correct Kératase products at home.
I’m loving the extra length of my hair at the moment but I do have my eye on a fresh new cut… perhaps a curtain fringe and choppy layers is on the cards? Watch this space…
For those already with long hair, here are three ways to boost volume in your locks.
What's your secret to growing long hair? Let us know in the comments below.
Main and inset image credits: Sevak Babakhani
Iantha is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor, and has been part of the team since the site launched in 2016. Besides pinot noir, she has a healthy obsession with fake tan smell, wispy false lashes and CND Shellac in the shade Romantique. Her words and styling can also be found in Virgin Australia Voyeur, Women's Health, and previously in SHOP Til You Drop and Cosmopolitan.