(Feathers styled by Featherlocks, the official feather of Steven Tyler.)
To get started, you'll need some basic tools. There are two ways you can add feathers to your hair. I'm using hair extension micro beads with loops. You can also use silicone-lined micro beads and a Big Eye wire needle. I'll explain both along the way. You can also just try to push your hair through the bead and insert the feather, but that seems like a really frustrating way to go.
(Smooth needle nose pliers, 2 micro beads and "crimping" pliers)
You'll need a hair clip to section off hair, a pair of needle nose pliers (smooth) and a pair of pliers (textured) for removal. If you happen to have crimping pliers you use to make jewelry, they are perfect.
(A black micro bead on a loop.)
(These feathers are available from Untethered Designs.)
You'll also need feathers. You can get them from a gaschmillion places on the interwebs, but consider purchasing ones that are cruelty-free*. Keep in mind that feathers are a by-product of a bigger industry, so cruelty-free gets a bit murky. Check out stores on etsy for great prices on cruelty-free feathers. I bought mine from Untethered Designs and got great service. Five dollars per feather seems to be the going price. Less than that is a pretty good deal, all things considered (unless you are buying in bulk.) Shop at Untethered Designs and save 10% with check out code GOULDYLOX (through June 30, 2011).
(Feather is placed, but not attached.)
Start out by placing the feather where you would like in your hair. I suggest placing it at least 2 inches or more from your natural part, so your hair can cover the micro bead. Take the time to place the feather and see how it looks in a variety of positions. You can easily move it after you attach it, but you'll just use more micro beads.
Because I have dry, sensitised hair, I like to take as many precautions as possible when doing anything to my hair. For that reason, I've added a silicone shine product to my hair, about an inch away from the root of the area where I am going to attach the extension. I do this so that when I pull the hair through the bead it slips through easier and without damage.
(I did a bad job on the straight line in this pic, but the amount of hair I selected is just right.)
Take a hair clip and secure the hair above where you are installing your feather. Try to make a straight line when you section the hair, so you are only grabbing hair from the right place. Pick up a very small section of hair that is maybe only a few strands (vertically speaking) so it won't pull or feel tight.
(Place hair and feather through the loop, with the bead on top.)
Add the feather to the small section of hair where you want to place the feather. Slide the feather so it is almost but not quite touching the root at your scalp. Take your micro bead with loop (or the wire needle loaded with the bead if you're trying that technique) and slide the hair and feather into the middle of the loop/needle, below the bead. Try to get the bead on to the hair about an inch from the root. You can get a beading "wire needle" from any craft store in the beading section.
(Pulling the bead down, pulls the hair through the bead.)
Pull the bead to the bottom of the loop/needle, which pulls the hair through the "mouth" of the bead. The bead is now loose on the strand of hair and feather. Slide the feather close to the root of your hair and slide the bead up just a few millimeters below the root of the hair. You don't want it to be too tight or it won't lay flat and move with your hair. If you leave too big of a gap, your brush and comb will constantly get stuck in the hair between the root and the bead, causing serious damage to your strands. (You'll still have to be careful combing your hair, though.)
(Gently squeeze the bead flat, close to the roots. You may need to trim the top of the feather.)
Next take the smooth needle nose pliers and gently apply pressure to the bead, closing it tightly around the hair and feather, so it is flat. Your hair should move freely and not feel tight or like you have anything in your hair (minus when you feel the actual feather or flattened bead).
(The feather is attached!)
If you aren't happy with your placement or it feels too tight, remove the bead by squeezing the flat bead in the opposite direction. It's really easy, provided you have a pair of pliers that have a texture of some sort. Your smooth pliers can do the job, but the slippage you'll face is rage-inducing. If you have crimping pliers for making jewelry, these work brilliantly. Your local hair store also sells a similar tool that makes removing these easy.
Treated with care, feathers can last several months - just be gentle! I'm loving the look of feathers, especially since there isn't a huge commitment. What do you think? Do you have any tricks for applying feathers yourself? Please share!
Still not sure you can do it? Check out my video tutorial!
*Cruelty free can mean a few things in the world of feathers. It can mean feathers are obtained from birds who have molted (shed feathers naturally) or it can mean that the birds were raised organically, kept cage-free and killed humanely. It's up to you how to define cruelty-free and who you shop from.