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Glitter for your hair: Tinsel extensions

Escape Hair & Skin Studio offers a new way to sparkle

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The folks at Escape Hair and Skin Studio recognize the sparkling power of tinsel -- and want to use it to make you glitter this holiday season.

Tinsel is the latest craze of hair extensions to hit the styling scene; it wasn't long ago when we were seeing women with feathers in their manes. Now that the holiday party season is upon us, a glint of shimmer is a stylish complement to that sequin cocktail dress.

"Feathers were fun, but I felt like for the holidays, feathers aren't going to go with formal wear," says hair color specialist Kelly Thomas, who brought tinsel extensions to Escape (1440 S. Tryon St., Suite 102; 704-375-3131; www.welcome2escape.com) after spotting them out in California.

Thomas says the ability to customize the look, whether you want something subtle or something a little more noticeable, is what attracts people.

"Sometimes, trends come and go, and sometimes they're not for the faint at heart, but this is something [that can appeal to] everybody," she says. "You can make them look as natural as you want, so if you're in the right light, it's just a light shimmer. If you're more bold and daring, you can choose bold and daring colors so you stand out more."

Courtesy of the hair product company Hair Flairs, tinsel extensions are 20-inch long, individual strands made from 100-percent, high-grade, heat-resistant polyester fiber — meaning you can shampoo, blow-dry, flat-iron and even curl them. They're thin and lightweight ("They feel like they're plastic or vinyl," Thomas says) and come in a variety of colors. If you're looking to go more of a subdued route, you can choose champagne, gold, copper or brown. Or, for the glittery holiday effect, you may want to go with silver. Or, if you're like me and just want people to go, "Wow!", pink or red might be your pick.

The average appointment lasts about 30 minutes, if you want eight to ten strands tied in, but you don't necessarily have to do a full head. (They tie in at the root, so fine-tooth combs are not recommended.) Each strand costs $4, and the extensions can last anywhere from two days to six weeks, depending on how well you take care of them.

If you're a regular client at Escape, you've probably seen Thomas and stylist Jennifer Misenheimer sporting the tinsel extensions for a while now. Thomas started wearing them back in September to get her clients used to them.

"As a hairdresser, I always get the comment, 'Oh, it looks good on you, but I couldn't do it.' I wanted our clientele and people in general in Charlotte to feel comfortable with it, so it isn't so foreign."

Now, she is weaving them into the hairstyles of teenagers going to homecoming dances, ladies going to holiday office parties and even little girls whose mothers promised them the tinsel if they behaved for their haircuts.

As Thomas says, "Tinsel: It's not just for trees anymore."

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