Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
If you've ever been envious of the luscious manes found on stars like Kate Beckinsale, Chrissy Teigan, and Christina Aguilera, give props to Priscilla Valles. The stunning, Beverly Hills-based extensionist is single-handedly erasing the negative stigma associated with this secret hair-lengthening method, thanks to her human hair arsenal, meticulous application, and flawless results.
With an elite clientele that also includes Kylie Jenner, Nicole Richie, and Suki Waterhouse, Valles has quickly become Hollywood's best-kept secret, offering high-quality hair transformations for films, photo shoots, and red carpets across the globe. Here, Valles reveals her journey to success, why extensions are surprisingly addictive, how to maintain like a pro, her most memorable celebrity clients, and who she'd love to get her hands on next.
What were you doing before hair?
Nothing! I have been doing hair since I was around eight years old. I use to get in trouble for cutting my cousins hair because "I wanted to make them prettier," then fast forward to my first job at 16, which as a receptionist at Jose Niera Salon in Studio City. I signed up for the the R.O.P. program my junior year in high school for Cosmotology. So, I started with hair young.
What led you to specifically become an extensionist?
I started assisting one of the pioneers of extensions, Sheila Stotts, at the age of 18—fresh out of beauty school. I took the "Great Lengths" extension course and became a Certified Extensionist. I learned a lot about extensions and knew I wanted to specialize in them. From day one, I was addicted to the ultimate hair transformation.
You're beautiful! Have you modeled or ever been offered to be on screen?
I've been asked to do some stuff here and there and I didn't like it. It's just not my thing. I'm always flattered, but my passion is being on the other side of the camera. It's where I belong.
Who was your first celebrity client, and what was the experience like?
The first celebrity I had ever worked on was Julia Roberts! It was for a removal of extensions. I was 23 and I said two words: "hello" and "goodbye". I was so nervous. I couldn't believe I was working on the star of Pretty Women! What a charismatic beauty; I was enamored by her presence. She was so lovely. I remember getting in my car when I was done, feeling like a creep. I was like "Ugh, why didn't I speak?!" She left me speechless, which doesn't happen very often. Anyways, I ended up working with her again on the film August Osage County. She remembered me after all those years.
Who are some of your favorite celebrities to work with?
They are all my favorite. I am very lucky to surround myself with so many intelligent and interesting women. They are all such hard, hard workers. They inspire me daily—it's infectious. When working with my clients, it never feels like work. I feel very fortunate and grateful.
I have worked with Christina Aguilera the longest—it's been about 14 years. We were babies when we starting working together! Through the years, I am lucky to call her one of my best friends. I cherish our friendship so much.
What is the wildest celebrity extension job you've been called in for?
Prince of Persia with Jake Gyllenhaal. Although the job was easy for my eyes, I had to literally build a wig. We started with two inches of hair and had to extended to collarbone length. It was an action film, so lots of head-flipping shots close up. Not one extension fell out of place during the whole film. If you haven't watched it, I highly recommended that you do, for the sake of the extension job!
Which celebrity would you love to see extensions?
I would love to see Miley Cyrus in extensions. She is so adorable, but I would just like to add a little more length and soften her hair a bit.
What sets your service apart from everyone else?
My OCD! Precision is everything when it comes to extensions. You have to make sure the color blends and the weight of the hair that you are adding is evenly attached. Hair textures must match. I love adding a lot of hair even with short lengths. Hair can get lost on camera, so it's always good to add more then enough.
Also, I respect the privacy and intimacy of my service. Yes, extensions have evolved over the years, but my clients don't want the world to know they are wearing someone else's hair. I'm very low key about my work. Loyalty is a huge part of success in the entertainment industry (and in life, for that matter). Look, I would love to post all my jobs and if I asked my clients to they would do that for me, but I don't because I know it's private. It's different being a hair stylist than extensionist. Also, extensions take hours—it's easily a three-to-six hour day. Because of this, it's important to have good energy. I always try to make it fun. I'm a silly girl and I live for a funny story. When a client's in my chair, it's always a positive, happy, safe place.
What's your advice for extension newbies?
I would tell them to get ready to get addicted! There is no turning back once you have had extensions. It's an expensive service, but you get what you pay for. iI someone is cheap, well I promise that they're putting in cheap hair and it's not going to be a fun experience. Make sure they are using 100% human hair. Do your research, too; extensions have a bad reputation because of the application not because of extensions! Extension are meant to be less stress on your hair. If you use good hair, receive a good application, and maintain them well, you can achieve that luxury.
What are some top tips for maintaining your extensions?
Take care of them! It's your responsibility to maintain them. Don't go over your appointment date. Never, ever wear them longer then they are suppose to be in, depending on what method was used. Keratin bonds usually last bout two-to-three months. Make sure you brush and condition them, and braid them when you are in a pool or in the ocean.
What is the biggest mistake people make when trying to maintain extensions?
People get afraid to brush. They think they are going to fall out, so they end up with knots. Brush, brush, brush!
To book an extensions appointment with Priscilla Valles, email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a one-month waiting list and rates range from $500 to $3,500.