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|Hair Replacement Options|
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Hair Replacement Systems
Ideal hair replacement systems
Feeling secure – securing Hair Replacement Systems to the scalp
The hairpiece can be held in place in a number of ways and each method has some advantages and disadvantages. In truth, though, none of the attachment methods are ideal. Some hair replacement systems, especially older ones, are held in place with a friction fit. Think of an elastic band on a shower cap but better fitting all around. Friction fit toupees are easy to place and easy to remove. Unfortunately friction fit hairpieces may be too easy to remove and may come off accidently or inadvertently.
If you have natural hair remaining, metal clips can be used the secure the hairpiece to the surrounding hair. The metal clips should be large enough or plentiful enough to secure the hairpiece. On the other hand the clips should be discreet enough that they cannot be seen by the casual observer.
For people that have natural hair, another option to secure a hairpiece to the head is a weave. A weave is a hair replacement system that “weaves” the hairpiece hair with the person’s natural hair. Newer weaves done by expert stylists are very difficult to detect.
The more permanent adhesives work very well, but at the expense of the health of hair and skin. The adhesives used may accelerate hair loss because of their effect on hair follicles. Also, when the scalp is covered in this way, the normal processes that skin goes through are interrupted or prevented. Skin cells migrate from deep within the skin towards the surface. Once of the surface, cells break away and slough off. Also pores release various oils that migrate towards the surface as well. When a hairpiece is tightly secured with an adhesive, these cellular processes can function properly, hair and oils are trapped, and the underside of the hairpiece can be prone to infection. Even with a semi-permanent hair replacement system, the piece should be removed periodically (once or twice a week) and the scalp thoroughly cleaned. The adhesives often leave behind residue that should be removed completely. Also, the underside of the hairpiece itself should be gently cleaned according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Back to bases – Two choices for the base of Hair Replacement Systems
There are two main choices of materials for the base of the hairpiece, each with advantages and disadvantages. The first type of base material resembles a fabric and forms a mesh. It is synthetic, usually made of nylon or polyester. Fabric hairpieces are lightweight and comfortable to wear since air can circulate through the base. The other option is a polymer plastic base, like polyurethane or silicone. These hair replacement systems are easy to attach since adhesives bond very well to the plastic base.
Mesh fabric hairpieces generally look more natural at the hairline and at the scalp than polymer pieces. Some polymer bases have “lace” designs which can provide a more natural look, but they generally fall short of mesh bases cosmetically. Since those who are seeking hair replacement are a cosmetically minded bunch, the improved cosmetic appeal of fabric bases comes at a cost—fabric hairpieces are more expensive than the polymer types.
Despite being more expensive, fabric bases are less durable than their polymer counterparts. The mesh tends to react with the oils and acids in hair and the scalp, which degrades the material. Therefore mesh fabric hair replacement systems need to be replaced more frequently.
Where did you get that hair? – Donor vs. synthetic Hair Replacement Systems
Human hair, the hair used in the more expensive and more natural looking hair replacement systems, is a biological substance. Since it is a natural substance, it is prone to wear and tear more quickly than synthetic materials. All hair replacement systems will need to be repaired and maintained, including synthetic hair; however, the human donor hair will require more frequent maintenance.
The source of the hair actually makes a difference, also. Most people in the industry would agree that the best human hair donors for hairpieces come from European hair donors. In fact, Central and Eastern European donors tend to provide the best donor hair since they are available in a variety of colors and styles. European hair does not need to be treated, colored, or styled in most cases. Asian hair tends to be stronger than European hair though it is almost always available in only one style: straight black. This means that it needs to be colored and styled to meet the preferences of most users. The styling and coloring tends to weaken the hair overall. It can also change the texture and shorten the time that it can be used in the hairpiece. In general hair from Asian donors is less expensive than hair from European women (the primary gender that donates hair).
The cost of Hair Replacement Systems
Unfortunately hair replacement systems can be a sensitive subject for some people, so it is sometimes difficult to get honest, candid opinions about various manufacturers. Be aware though, that while there are countless retailers of hair replacement systems, there are relatively few manufacturers. As long as the person that you use for a custom fitted device is skilled and professional, products with the same features should be comparable in price.
In general, a reasonably high quality hair piece can cost between $400 to $900 US. The base is usually first chosen at a cost between $300 and $600 and then specific features are added to this cost at a rates of a few hundred dollars.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael T. Spako is an M.D. who chose to pursue a medical writing career instead of a doctors practice. I am pleased to have him as the principal writer for this hair replacement / hair restoration site, and look forward to his further contributions. Donald Urquhart, Psychologist, Editor.