This year's runner up for the Extension Specialist of the Year was Rowan Milne of Row 66 hair extensions in Edinburgh. Her application was highly commended by the judges and even missing her flight home that day, couldn't take the smile off her face. We got in touch with her to find out all about her experience and, of course, how to get that festival inspired look we loved at the competition.
What made you enter the competition? It was on quite a spur of the moment, I felt like a new challenge at the time. I have been doing hair extensions for 10 years now and have owned my own small salon in Edinburgh for 3 years, but I have never entered any hair competitions before. I found out about the competition quite close to the deadline so I had to quite hurriedly put everything together – I’m so glad I made it a priority now.
Did you enter before? I have never entered before. I have been doing hair extensions for 10 years now and have owned my own small salon in Edinburgh for 3 years, but I have never entered any hair extensions competitions before. I will definitely be entering more hair extensions competitions in the future.
What was the inspiration for your look? I am a big fan of the boho/festival inspired look. In summer I had done some colour flashes for a number of clients using hand-painted extensions – so I thought this would be a fun theme. For the competition, I ramped up the look by intensifying the colours and exaggerating the makeup a bit, but it’s basically an exaggeration of a look which would be wearable at a festival.
What were the main challenges for you in creating this look?
One of my main challenges was deciding on an effective but relatively effortless way of styling the hair for the competition. We would only have 35 minutes to re-create our look, and in that time we would be talking to the judges, so I was conscious that I didn’t want to make it too complex, but I was still eager to showcase how easily the hair could be styled without exposing bonds and to create a style which embodied the festival vibe I was going for.
How did it feel to be announced finalist? I was delighted and pleasantly surprised to be selected as a finalist. When I found out there were only 10 finalists out of hundreds of entries, it dawned on me that being a finalist was in itself a massive achievement.
What was the final like? I absolutely loved the final. It was so much fun. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I arrived at Salon International quite early to apply my models make-up. I had considered bringing a make-up artist along, but as we were flying over from Edinburgh, and staying in a hotel, I thought it would be a good cost saving exercise to bite the bullet and do it myself! It was actually really nice being there in plenty of time as it meant we weren’t in a panic.
The competition itself was pretty nerve-wracking. I noticed my hand was shaking a bit as I styled Keryn’s hair. However as soon as I got into it and relaxed, I really enjoyed every minute of it. The judges were all so lovely and put us at ease. They asked us about our application method, placement, the cut, and how we created the overall look. They closely inspected the cut, placement and the bonds.
Whilst I had practised doing the style within 35 minutes, in the competition environment you probably only have about 25 minutes as you spend quite a bit of time chatting to the judges – and they need to brush out the hair to check the cut and to look at the sections and the bonds.
How does it feel to be crowned this year's runner-up? What does it mean for you in the future? I couldn’t believe it when Teresa announced my name! I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day. It really is such an honour to receive recognition from such prestigious experts in the industry. It means a great deal to me to receive an award for something I am so passionate about and have set up my business around.
I have been doing hair extensions for over 10 years now and have honed my technique and developed a deep understanding of trichology, whilst working extremely hard to promote the importance of safe and discreet bonds. This competition puts a strong emphasis on the quality of the application – the bonds and the way they are applied. I am pleased that competitions like these raise awareness of the importance of these aspects of extensions application. I will continue to focus on this as my USP in Edinburgh – there are lots of extensionists out there now, but it really is important to ensure that you have your hair applied by someone who knows what they are doing. To have this validated is great, and I will enter more competitions now that I know this is usually a strong factor in the marking process.
Get the Look
To create this festival inspired look I used Remi Cachet Elegance flat tips applied using the hot fusion method. I chose Remi Cachet elegance hair as I love the soft texture and the beautiful range of colours available. I applied a full head of 20” hair extensions using approximately 150 bonds. I used colour’s DD6/10+22, 8/613 and 22. In addition to this, I coloured some hair prior to application (Remi Cachet colour 60 & 55/60) using crazy colours. I used Capri Blue, Lavender and Bubblegum. I also hand painted an animal print tiger effect on some of the strands using Wella colour 5, 6 and 8. I chose to colour the hair prior to application to promote the adaptability of extensions and to demonstrate the sorts of looks you can achieve with extensions alone – without the need to colour a clients hair. Keryns own hair was not coloured at any stage of the process. This also allowed us to rectify her look quickly and easily after returning home from the competition, by removing the coloured bonds and replacing them with extensions matching her own hair colour.
Whilst I feel comfortable with both flat bonds and cylinder bonds, I decided to do cylinder bonds for the competition (even though I had done flat bonds for my entry photo), as I can make these particularly discreet. I’m really passionate about bonds and feel that it is important that they are safe, smooth/sealed, resilient and extremely discreet. Following application I cut and blended the hair, layering the hair to frame Keryn's face and graduating and texturizing using both scissors and a razor to blend Keryn’s hair with the extensions.
In keeping with the festival vibe, I styled the hair with pleats and soft boho curls. I had blow dried Keryn's hair the night before and then on the day of the competition, I tonged the hair using the GHD classic curve soft curl. I then back-combed the crown area and pulled back a small section of the hair, tying it with a transparent elastic. Then, incorporating a number of the coloured strands of hair I created two soft pulled-out braids which I wrapped around Keryn’s head securing with grips, exposing some of the blue sections underneath. I finished the look off with a flower headband piece.