“What is your favorite hair transformation of all time?” I ask Priscilla Valles, personal hair magician to every celebrity you follow on Instagram. “Jake Gyllenhaal for ‘Prince of Persia,’” she replies. “Using individual extensions to get a man with short hair to have long hair is amazing.” I’m surprised, because I had no idea Gyllenhaal had extensions (I assumed a wig or his own hair), or that Valles had styled him. That, and because her reply overlooks the obvious answer: “And taking Kylie [Jenner} platinum for the first time.” Ding ding ding.
Valles worked with Jenner on the nine-hour bleach job that captivated social media. Armed with “lots of Olaplex,” Valles was able to take Jenner from her dark base color to a true platinum. “Her natural hair is a bob, so we colored it and then put extensions in for the rest,” explains Valles. Colorists were mystified that the makeover happened in one fell swoop. (Conventional chemistry wisdom holds that you shall not go from very dark to very light in one sitting, for the sake of hair’s integrity.) Beyond the revolutionary dye job, Valles is famous for her elegant approach to hair extensions–a service that can sometimes evade sophistication. But not for Valles, who counts Chrissy Teigen, Hailey Bieber and Christina Aguilera as celebrity clients. And now, mere plebeians like you and I can experience her expertise at Las Vegas’ the Salon at Palms.
The entire Palms Casino recently received a $690 million face-lift, including the spa–which now offers massages and facials aimed at combatting Mercury retrograde (like the one we’re currently in) and balancing your star sign’s chakras. Valles was tapped as a partner for the Salon at Palms, where she hand-selected and trained a staff of experts. While in Vegas to christen both spaces (I try to never miss a spa opening), I had the privilege of sitting down in Valles’ pristine chair, eager to learn about the world of high-roller hair extensions.
The allure of having instantly fuller, longer and thicker-looking hair is not lost on me. And while many fulfill that desire with a $40 blowout, others opt for extensions, which last for weeks and can achieve dramatic effects. “As I’m doing a client’s extensions, it’s really nice to watch their body language,” says Valles. “It starts to change once you put in the hair–they feel sexier.” Extensions are adhered directly to your own hair, though, and many people worry about damaging it in the process. Valles’ clients experience the opposite: their hair gets healthier. “The whole point of extensions is to put less stress on your own hair,” explains Valles. “With extensions, you have a whole head of hair that air dries beautifully.” When I consider all the smoke and mirrors that go into making my own hair look fabulous (dry shampoo, volumizing spray, curling irons), it makes sense that popping in rental strands could actually give your hair a break.
It takes only one trip to any mall in America to see that extensions can also go awry. When not properly maintained or cared for at home, the line between your own hair and your loaner set becomes blatant. To keep extensions looking glamorous, Valles recommends brushing, which is probably the last thing I’d think you should do. “Some clients are afraid to brush, but you absolutely should to keep extensions from getting matted or tangled.”
You also shouldn’t leave extensions in past two months. “Don’t stretch it out, it’s not worth damaging your own hair,’ advises Valles. Visiting a professional for regular maintenance and removal helps your hair remain healthy underneath. Valles also recommends hair supplements to all of her clients. “Everyone should be on hair vitamins–male or female,” says Valles. “They all work.” Valles herself relies on Nutrafol For Women ($88; amazon.com), which is ironically the same one I’ve taken for years. I know we are supplement soulmates when she asks, “Why would I ever stop taking it?”
Valles is styling my hair into a relaxed waves with a deep side part, what she refers to as “Jessica Rabbit.” My look is being constructed sans extensions, but my curiosity is piqued. What extensions would Valles choose for someone like me? “I love your length,” she says. “And your color is one of the prettiest blondes I’ve seen.” (Shoutout to colorist Sophie McGinness at Warren Tricomi salon in NYC.) “I’d add pieces to fill you out and add more volume, maybe a bang swoop like Hailey Bieber’s.” I immediately understand why her celebrity clients love her; Valles treats everyone like they belong on the A-list.
If you’re interested in trying extensions, there’s no time like the present. “Summer’s trendiest hair is really long hair, like bikini beach hair,” says Valles, which explains all the butt-grazing styles I keep seeing on my feed. Just be sure to go to reputable stylist, like Valles and her team members at Salon at Palms. They’re so talented that you can’t go wrong–and you might even run into Kylie Jenner.