We sat with Great Lengths CEO Rob Aubin to ask him about not only the history of Great Lengths brand but how it stays at the very premium level in the marketplace spanning over almost 30 years and delivering the highest quality hair extensions available worldwide.
When Great Lengths came to Australia what other hair extensions were on the market at the time and what were their systems?
Great Lengths was the first company to create pre-bonded single strand hair extensions. While there was, I believe, another manufacturer that was selling single strand extensions they were actually apply by dipping a number of strands of hair -which may not of been remy – into a pot of wax and then somehow applying those onto a small section of the customers hair. It was very slow, it was messy, and the result was not very good. Great Lengths invented the first pre-bonded keratin hydrolyse keratin bond that was much faster, cleaner, and easier to apply.
Great Lengths pre-bonded keratin hydrolyse keratin bond
How has the Great Lengths brand maintained their status as a top tier and hair extensions since this first invention?
Great Lengths has always been at the forefront of technology. In fact, it’s innovation over the years really started obviously with the big first company to have a pre-bonded hair extension, but it’s never really stopped since then. All the various different types of application methods that Great Lengths has created are, in many cases, the world first. Where people have tried to copy it, it’s been far inferior to what Great Lengths created and so it’s really never been usurped.
For example, the Great Lengths hot machine which was the original single strand application machine is like a heated tong -very much like other heated tools- then Great Lengths pioneered this use of ultrasonic vibrations which can soften the same keratin bond.
This meant that stylists didn’t get burnt and they didn’t hurt their fingers modling the bond around their clients hair. The use of ultrasonic vibrations was actually faster and just a whole lot neater.
Great Lengths pre bonded hair extensions applied by @reneeyates_hair using the Great Lengths hot machine
Obviously other than the application technology while the single strands and their bonds have remained the same what has changed completely -and consistently changes through improvement processes- is actually how the hair is manufactured. Other than collecting the raw
hair, which has somewhat changed from a process perspective, it is how the hair is treated and that’s actually changed dramatically over the years. From the use of microwave drying technology and now more than ever use using scientific processes such as electron micron scanning microscope, we can identify issues with hair before it even comes into the production process. It’s much more scientific than many people imagine and certainly a lot more detailed than most companies who are just bleaching the hair and pushing it through as quickly as fast as they can.
In respect to the technology then what does this mean for the end consumer? How is the hair better for them?
The developments in the quality production of the hair are ongoing and so what is noticeable over the time is although, of course, there are some differences with every single hair strand because they come off a living person in colour or even texture, the average quality increases every year due to the constant re-evaluation and improvement of the process. It’s a process of harm minimisation. Harm minimisation is all about creating less stress on the hair and less damage to the cuticle. Less damage to the hair and the cuticle creates a softer more natural result.
Great Lengths often uses the term ‘source to salon’. We understand the story that the hair comes from willing donors in India what are the other details of the processes at Great Lengths that maintain control over the production through the journey and the entire lifespan of each strand?
The vast majority of extension companies across the world use distributors who hair manufacture hair that comes from various sources around the world. Great Lengths is unique in that it sources and produces all of its own hair right through the manufacturing process. What this does is create a chain of custody where we can verify not only where it came from, but how each and every hair strand was treated through the process. This concept of harm minimisation maintains the integrity and we know is 100% beautiful quality.
What does this mean for the consumer? What this means is consistency and hair quality for Great Lengths over all the years has actually improved. This speaks volumes when compared with other manufacturers have no control over the purchase or the process of their hair.
In a nutshell, how are Great Lengths hair extensions different to other hair extensions in the market?
It’s very clear through almost 30 years of this hair extension business in Australia that many of our professional hairdressing partners are still with us today. The reason for this, we believe, of course, is the absolute commitment to quality and sourcing and production and also
technology. All of this culminates in consistency of the product so that if you get hair extensions today and you get them again in five years, you’ll feel to Great Lengths difference. Both stylist and consumers are like trust Great Lengths because of its long-standing commitment to quality
Finally to end on the light note let’s talk about the funny things that happen behind the scenes with hair extensions. What’s the funniest and common piece of misinformation that you come across in the world of hair extensions?
Ha ha, there are so many of them, but one of the best ones I love is Russian hair extensions and when we think of Russian hair extensions we think of these absolutely amazing Instagram blonde haired models. Of course we are Australian and many of the hair extensions we sell our blonde the true fact of the matter is that the parts of Russia with his hair extensions are collected are not the wealthy suburbs around the major cities. They are the far-off zones on the Chinese border and, in fact ,Russian hair is sold as European blonde hair when in fact it is Asian round cross-section black hair. Asian hair does not make great hair extensions for extensions for Caucasian hair because it doesn’t lie with a natural wave, but is very straight and hard to blend into Caucasian hair.
But on a serious note there are a lot of claims that people make about hair extensions. The fact of the matter is there is no regulation around any hair extensions or their terminology and, in fact, much of the terminology like ‘remy’ and ‘double drawn’ are words our company used to describe our hair over 30 years ago. Other brands have copied these terms, but truly do not understand what those concepts mean and they market them without having to back them up.