In the world of hair extensions, few names are more revered than that of Priscilla Valles. With more than two decades of experience working in the industry, Valles is the unrivaled queen of celebrity hair extensions, and for good reason: her talent is unparalleled when it comes creating and installing flawless, natural-looking extensions. The enviable manes of her A-list client roster—from Kim and Khloe Kardashian to Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Christina Aguilera, and Megan Fox—serve as proof when it comes to her expertise.
From the covers of the biggest fashion magazines to the red carpet and even the performance stage, Valles’ artistry truly knows no bounds when it comes to showcasing the true magic of extensions. In recent years, she’s lended her influence and rarefied touch to elevating extensions in the industry through the launch of her own extension line with Glam Seamless, as well as her countless masterclasses for up-and-coming stylists. And while extension as a service generally lives behind-the-scenes, Valles is doing her part to bring the once-secret hair-lengthening method to the forefront, in order to help pave the way for the normalization and wide-spread acceptance of wearing extensions in Hollywood and beyond.
The Tease had the pleasure of chatting with Valles about her incredible career working as a celebrity hair extensionist as well as her thoughts about the evolution of extensions in Hollywood. Here, she discusses landing her first big break, what she considers to be the “Rolls Royce” of hair extensions, her partnership with Glam Seamless, the one celebrity she hopes to work with next, and so much more.
The Tease: How did you first get interested in hair, and specifically, hair extensions?
Priscilla Valles: I always knew what I wanted to do in the future, even as a little kid. I was getting in trouble for cutting my cousin’s hair in the closet. I remember as a young child looking at my aunts and cousins and always wanting to make people look more beautiful. They’re already beautiful, but I always wanted to do these transformations and that just started at a really young age.
My first job was when I was 15 and I was a receptionist in a salon. During my senior year of high school, there was an ROP program. I don’t know if it’s even still around, but if you had good grades, the government would pay for you to take classes in nursing or cosmetology. I was so excited when I found out that there was cosmetology. I enrolled and that was my elective during my senior year. So I got my cosmetology license the same year that I graduated from high school. Then, I started assisting this woman who sort of worked in the entertainment industry, but she mostly did color.
One day I saw her do extensions, and I was just like, “Oh my god. This is it.” To me, extensions are the ultimate hair transformation. And this was 23 years ago, so it’s just been my whole life. And 23 years ago, a lot of celebrities were getting extensions done, but I was having to sign NDAs every day because it was taboo. Nobody wanted to talk about it. So it’s definitely been an evolution, but here we are.
What would you say was your first big break working as an extensionist?
Valles: My first big break was Christina Aguilera, who is now one of my best friends. She was the maid of honor in my wedding. We go so far back. I remember I was assisting and I was just so quiet and timid. I was so young and at the time, I was working on Christina Aguilera. We’re the same age and I was like, “Oh my god, this is insane.” One day, she called saying that she was doing color and that she needed her extensions done. She requested me, which was so crazy because who requests the assistant? But she just said that she loved how quiet I am and my bedside manner. So now when I’m teaching my masterclasses, I tell my stylists that you can be the best at what you do, but in order to start working with a different caliber of clientele, you have to have a good bedside manner. You can’t be loud or be acting crazy. At that time, it was also so different in that you didn’t take your camera out and you didn’t take your phone out. I was just there for the job. I did my job, I kept my head down, I loved what I did, and I left. There was something about that energy that made her feel really safe and comfortable. So I would say that was my big break.
Extensions can be such an intimate and vulnerable service for many people. How have you worked to build and maintain trust with your celebrity clients?
Valles: When you’re doing extensions, making someone feel safe and comfortable is really important. It’s a very intimate service and I respect that to this day. I have a private studio in Beverly Hills and my studio has only one station in it. It has a very lofty vibe and there’s no one else in there other than my assistant, the client, and myself. You don’t want to be in public getting extensions done; you want to be in privacy.
It’s also important to be in this career for the right reasons. Even to this day, you’ll hardly ever see me get tagged for extensions on Instagram because there is a vulnerability attached to it and I respect that. I don’t like to push and I don’t ask. On my end, I’ll say things like “inches” or I’ll use code words when talking about extensions to just ensure things are okay. But, eventually, I hope that everyone will be okay with having extensions. We’ve come so far already, but let’s just keep it going.
Over the course of your career, you’ve become known for your incredibly natural-looking extensions. How did you develop your approach to extensions?
Valles: I think every artist has a different vision. My vision of beauty is very timeless, effortless, and natural. I don’t think anyone wants their extensions to even be seen. So I’ve learned over time with extensions that the more natural, the better. And I think that is just my style. Like, how can I make these extensions look like it’s her hair—if it was the healthiest version of her hair or her dream hair? I usually tell my clients to give me your dream head of hair because that’s what I actually want to do. And it’s different for everybody. Some people want royal blue hair or whatever, but I’ll still make it the prettiest, most natural version that it can be.
When it comes to extensions, there are truly so many different options that are available. What kind of extensions do you tend to favor when working with your celebrity clients and why?
Valles: Keratin individuals are hands-down my favorite method for so many reasons. I call them the Rolls Royce of hair extensions because they are expensive; they can’t be reused. I know some companies are cutting off the bond, cleaning the hair, and rebonding, so you lose the inches in hair. I’m really fortunate because I work with the 1% clientele and they’re just like, “It’s fine. We’ll just get a new set.” But keratin individuals are my favorite. They are about the size and the width of a grain of rice. Basically, I build a wig on the head and the entire head is brick layered with these perfect little grains of rice. And this could be done in different colors. We can add highlights or lowlights and we can add dimension too. There’s so much that we can do with them on the head. I can even go all the way up to the hairline as long as I have a tiny bit of coverage hair. They look so beautiful and move so beautifully on stage for my performers. I mean, they move and flow like regular hair as opposed to a clip-in which is a heavy weft of hair. It’s not going to really move and with a tape-in, it’s the same exact thing.
I think keratin individuals have a bad reputation because of bad application. It’s really important for clients and stylists to be responsible about not leaving them in for too long because that’s when you run into damage, which is actually going to cost you more money and resentment. And it’s just not going to be good. Annually, I think when you stay on your six week schedule, the hair gets healthier and better. Also, you can take these extensions out and you can take some breaks, too. They’re just the best. Directors love them because you can get a sleek bun or ponytail and the camera can be really close and you cannot see them at all.
What’s changed about the way in which hair extensions are embraced in Hollywood from when you first started working in the industry?
Valles: Now they are actually being talked about. I remember one of the first times that I had done Chrissy Teigen’s hair, she lost an extension and she took a picture of it. She tagged me in the photo on Instagram and l got all of these followers overnight. I felt like that was such a big deal because then I started seeing people doing it too. Personally, I remember that just opening a door into people being more open about extensions.
In the entertainment industry, wearing extensions is not just for people who have really thin hair. They wear it because they’re constantly changing their look. Most of my clients have amazing, beautiful hair, which is often harder to put extensions in because they’ve got such thick hair. But they could have a bob and be doing a film or have a photoshoot, so you have to give them long hair. It’s not a taboo—it’s not because they have broken hair or thin hair. It’s just because they’re changing it up so much. So I think it’s really cool that extensions are now talked about openly and that’s where it all kind of started.
The overall look of extensions has evolved quite a bit in Hollywood over the last few years. At one time, really thick extensions were in. Now, it’s all about natural-looking extensions. What do you foresee being next, in terms of a set look that people will be aspiring to achieve?
Valles: When you started seeing girls doing extensions and posting different brands and looks on Instagram, I think it started off as natural. And then once a lot of girls were wearing extensions, they were going crazy. The hair stuck out really far and was super thick and blunt—it was crazy! I never really jumped on that trend. Everything was so exaggerated, especially with eyelash extensions too. It was like more hair and more lashes. I love that now we’re back to the natural look. I think the natural look is going to be here to stay. People express themselves differently, so you’re always going to see a lot of different things. But I think the goal is to make yourself look natural, beautifully. With cosmetic surgeries, people are now doing their lips, but not wanting them to be too big. Or, they are wanting eyelash extensions, but considering just tinting them instead. I feel like everyone is moving in this very natural direction. And I think that’s going to stay because I think that women really feel the best when they don’t have to do as much. We are so much more aware of beauty and all of these services because they are right in front of our face on Instagram and social media. I think that at the end of the day, as women, we know that staying a little more natural just makes us feel better. For a while, everyone was really starting to look exactly the same, and that takes the beauty away from each individual. So I’m all about the natural look.
As far as new extension techniques, trends, and applications, what do you think is worth paying attention to right now?
Valles: I’m paying attention to more of the trends of using extensions for thickness instead of length. For example, a really beautiful bob with a little bit of thickness. If you have color damage or really thin hair and you just want to have that French bob, you have to have thick hair for that. So I love seeing people that are not afraid of cutting extensions to achieve a different look. I think it’s great because it shouldn’t just be about length. I love seeing people use them to thicken their existing length. I think that’s awesome. So I think more hair cuts, like real haircuts with extensions.
What are your thoughts on this movement towards extra-long hair extensions that we’ve been seeing for a couple years now? Do you see it retiring anytime soon?
Valles: I think long hair is timeless and it goes back in history as being feminine and romantic. I’ve just always been a long hair girl. I love how it makes me feel. I feel like it’s who I am. I’m very soft and feminine and romantic, and I make women feel beautiful. With doing extensions, I do love the natural look, but I love natural, long hair. So I don’t think long hair will ever go out of style and I don’t think that it should.
With it being award season, could you talk a bit about how you approach creating memorable looks for such high-profile events? What does the collaboration look like between you and the other members of your clients’ glam team, particularly the hairstylists?
Valles: It is such a team effort. Everyone is on board and doing everything that they can to achieve the look. Everyone gets so excited and it’s like the client becomes this canvas. And for every new film or every new album, it’s like everyone creating art together. It’s really amazing. Usually the way that the process goes is that the artist and the stylists and the creative directors, and the photographers come up with the vision. They will sometimes ask the colorist, the hairstylist, and the extensionist, or we will get an inspo picture and work from that. It’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of teamwork, especially with the colorist that I work with. I work with Matt Rez a lot on extensions and it’s just so fun. I love being a part of the glam team and seeing everything come together.
Being an extensionist, you are behind the scenes. You are actually a couple of days before the scenes—you’re not even on set. With extensions, it’s a very early part of the process of a shoot, red carpet, tour, or movie. And we do that maybe a week before the event just to make sure that the placement, cut, and texture is good—that the hair is moving and feeling good too. I work with a lot of virgin hair, which has never been chemically treated, and sometimes the texture is great on paper, but once it’s combined with the client’s hair, it isn’t right. So we have just enough time to redo it all if needed. Luckily, we hardly ever need to do that. But extensions is a process that’s done before the event and there are a lot of people involved with the entire process.
I don’t think a lot of people realize how much of the work gets done before the event. Many people would assume it’s all happening on-site the day of the event, so that’s very interesting.
Valles: Usually on social media, you’ll only see a tag of the people that did the shoot or the day of the red carpet. I’m really looking forward to a time where people are a little more generous with their tagging because of the hoops that we all jump through to get the look. I’m dealing with vendors around the world to find the right texture, the colorists and I are sweating and not sleeping trying to get it right, and there is such a big team effort from our assistants. So hopefully, we can start to turn that around.
In 2021, you launched your own hair extensions line, The Priscilla Valles Collection with Glam Seamless. Before you started your partnership with Glam Seamless, what was your relationship like with the brand, and what made you want to work with them on your own line of hair extensions?
Valles: One of my friends had worked with them and had just done a collaboration. And at the time, there weren’t as many extension lines. Now I feel like there’s so many. But Glam Seamless sent me some samples and they said, “We would love to do something with you.” And then they said that they were thinking of doing a pro line with me. I never did collabs because I only believe in doing things that you truly believe in, but that was something I knew I would absolutely love to do.
I said, “If we do a collab and if you do a pro line with me, I want full quality control.” I wanted textures that are not like the average clip-ins. My hair—the hair for my pro line—is a lot different than Glam Seamless’ hair. I had explained to them that I work with a lot of raw hair and that I wanted the hair texture to match that. I wanted my clients to be wearing my line and be like, “Oh my god, it doesn’t feel that much different than the absolute best.”
So I really put so much heart and so much time into the line. And I really wanted to do the line with Glam Seamless because they were like, “We want to exceed your expectations with this line.” And they truly did. For example, the color—I colored my entire coloring. I sent it to them, they sent it to the manufacturers, and they got all the colors to match. I mean, we went back and forth for so long, but I’m a perfectionist. In the line, all of the colors are perfect, the textures are so beautiful, and the tools are just the best of the best. I used to have to use a removal tool from one company, a purging tool from another company, and then hair from all of these different companies. Now I’m able to have one line that has everything I use and it’s so great. So I’m really thankful to Glam Seamless for being so generous and flexible with me.
In addition to your work with your celebrity clients and Glam Seamless, you also offer various educational opportunities for aspiring extensionists, such as your masterclasses. What inspired you to want to share your knowledge with others?
Valles: Honestly, starting the line made me want to inspire others and teach them. I have these amazing products, but I realized that if people don’t know how to do a proper application, extension cut, and removal, then it’s not going to be good. So I really just wanted to change the whole reputation for extensions. My masterclasses are very hands-on and I make sure that I teach people how to perfect their craft because when you’re doing an extension, you’re dealing with like 10 strands of hair. And if you’re not careful, there is a lot of damage. So that’s why I started my masterclasses.
What advice do you have for any hair pros that are interested in following in your footsteps?
Valles: Take my masterclass. I don’t hold back and I teach everything I know. I’m not keeping any secrets. I’ve built so much confidence in what I do and I just want to see extensions grow as a craft because at the end of the day we get paid to make women feel beautiful. And I think that’s great. But you really have to make people feel beautiful. You can’t damage their hair and then have them be angry with you. You have to know what you are doing and you have to get educated.
There’s been times where I teach a masterclass and I see these kids take the class; they go back to their salon and then a month or two later, they are now teaching a masterclass. And I’m like, “Wait a second! A master has 11 years of experience.” If you’re not going to take my class, you have to make sure that you’re taking it from an actual master who has mastered extensions and has over 11 years of experience under their belt.
You’ve already done so much in your career thus far. What career goals do you still hope to accomplish?
Valles: I would like to do Taylor Swift’s extensions. That’s a career goal for me. And I think that’s the exciting part with having people that you want to work with and then working with them and then seeing yourself be a tiny piece of something so big. So I would say that would be a goal and eventually, having some extension masterclass schools worldwide would be really great too.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
To see more of Priscilla Valles’ incredible work with extensions, be sure to follow @priscillavalles on Instagram.