All it takes for men to get hair like Fabio is a handful of cash, an hour of their time and a bit of hot glue.
Thanks to the miracle of modern science and one hair stylist on the lower East Side, luxurious locks once reserved for rockers and the covers of romance books can belong to just about any man.
Yes, New York City is now home to male hair extensions.
"Men come in wanting to achieve the look of Brad Pitt, but their hair is only halfway there," says celebrity hairstylist Adel Chabbi, who is known in the industry by his first name only. "Now they can get the other half instantly."
Since opening earlier this year, Adel Atelier has attached hair extensions to nearly a dozen male clients, ranging in length from an inch to half a foot. Adel says many of his clients work in entertainment or fashion and are looking to stand out at auditions or have better presence on camera.
"Most men don't even know this is an option," Adel says. "But if it works so well for women, why not men too? It's a huge boost of confidence."
Women's hair extensions are as common as bangs these days. Adel served as a judge in the Miss Universe Pageant and claims 90% of contestants supplement their natural beauty with hair extensions. He also alleges Hillary Clinton relies on them. (A spokesman for the former secretary of state calls that assertion "Absolutely false.")
But on men, they're just starting to sprout.
Hair extensions are not a cure for male pattern baldness — customers need at least 6 inches of hair for the extensions to attach properly and look natural.
But for those with the prerequisite locks, extensions offer a way to dramatically change their looks, or perhaps live out '80s rock-star fantasies, since they come pre-dyed in a rainbow of colors, from traditional black and blond to bright pink and neon green.
The process is simple. The hair comes in bundles with glue on one end. Adel heats the glue and affixes it to a client's real hair. It doesn't take long to finish a whole mane, letting guys step out of the chair in about an hour looking like modern-day Samsons.
"Everyone is always commenting on my hair and asking how long it took to grow," says Delong Le, 27, who doesn't like 'fessing up about the provenance of his 6-inch extensions. " 'Oh, it took forever,' I tell them."
Le is a theater student and believes he has gotten parts because casting directors like his cascading black hair, which, thanks to the extensions, reaches well past his shoulders.
Turns out, it's not just a great look for guys who want to wear their hair down — extensions can also work as the male answer to updos.
"I've seen guys who have a mohawk and want to get it a little bit longer, so they put in extensions and it looks great," says Le.
Adel uses hair from the Great Lengths brand, which gets its locks from the Temple of Seven Hills in India, where devotees donate their manes, knowing they will be sold by the temple and the money will go to charity.
This real human hair doesn't come cheaply, however. Adel's extensions range from $500 to $4,000.
Le says Adel's high-end hair is well worth the expense.
"I've had lower-quality extensions in before that start smelling like a dog when they're wet," he says.
Some customers, like Louis Chabbouh, 47, say the quality of these tresses is higher than their own natural strands.
"It's even better than real hair, actually," says the Los Angeles resident. Chabbouh got extensions from Adel when he visited New York earlier this year. "It has more life and is smoother on my skin."
If women are willing to shell out for the procedure, Adel doesn't see any reason why men shouldn't.
"If the trend of hair extensions for men doesn't happen in New York City, it's not going to happen anywhere," he says. "Guys here just have more polish."
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Article written by Justin Rocket Silverman for Ny Daily News