Choices to consider
Hair is a prominent piece of our appearance. To gradually or suddenly lose your hair can be very difficult. Many questions and concerns will cross your mind when searching for answers about hair loss. See FAQ's
Whether you are experiencing temporary or permanent loss of hair, there are many options available to help restore your image and self-confidence. Once you have the facts and the opportunity to study them, you can make the decisions that are right for you.
If you choose to wear wigs, there are a variety of options available that range from machine-made wigs, 100% hand-tied, mono-tops or custom-made. If your hair is patchy, thinning, or has little volume your options include hair-pieces, extensions, or partials. Each option can be made with synthetic fiber, human hair or a combination of both.
Synthetic versus Human Hair Wigs
There are a variety of fibers used to make a synthetic wig. All fibers are fine threads made to resemble human hair. The manufacturer may use a single type of fiber or a combination of two or three. Some of the fibers used are modacrylic or polyester. The synthetic wigs made today are more natural looking than ever, however, as with all products, there are exceptional, good and poor quality.
Synthetic wigs are pre-styled from the manufacturer and require very little effort to maintain with regard to combing and styling. These wigs are easily shampooed and should be allowed to air dry. The synthetic wig is designed to retain the original style and will not accept a permanent wave or colour change. Moderate style changes can be achieved by a professional wig stylist. This should not be attempted by anyone not trained in wig care as it can be permanently damaged by the use of curling irons, blow dryers or hot rollers. Using synthetic products on a synthetic wig is a must.
A human hair wig is the most natural looking option available. Like your own natural hair, a human hair wig can be cut, styled, and possibly permed or coloured to suit your personal taste. Human hair wigs are more durable than a synthetic wig. The downside of using a human hair wig is that it requires more care than a synthetic. When shampooed, a human hair wig will need to be restyled, just as natural hair does. You may use curling irons, blow dryers or hot rollers. If you prefer to use rollers, avoid brush type or Velcro because hair from the wig may be pulled out when removing the rollers. Just as there are different types of synthetic hair, there are different types of human hair used to make wigs.
Types of Human Hair
Human hair is classified into two basic types, Asian and Caucasian which is also called European hair. Both hair types have different genetic material that effects the colour and texture of the hair. The majority of human hair wigs are made from Asian hair. The two hair types are widely used in the wig making industry because the hair shaft is stronger and can withstand the chemical processes used to make the hair softer, smoother and tangle free. It is also less expensive than Caucasian hair.
Caucasian, or European hair, is the softest texture of hair available. It has not been processed in any way. This type of hair is also referred to as virgin hair and is the most expensive hair available. Remy, sometimes spelled remi, is not of specific ethnic origin, but refers to the techniques and handling the hair undergoes to produce a wig or hair piece. The hair has been processed to some degree, but it is processed in such a way that the cuticle is not completely stripped from the hair shaft. Maintaining a portion of the cuticle allows the hair shaft to be protected and maintain most of its original strength and shine. Remy hair is maintained in the same direction when making a wig or hairpiece as when cut from the donors' head, to reduce tangling. Please note, all human hair has the potential to tangle, some more than others.
If you choose human hair, using the appropriate hair products is very important to extend the longevity of the wig. The main ingredient in the wig shampoo and conditioner should be silicon. Silicon will keep the hair strong and healthy for a longer period of time. Do not use regular salon products. Remember the wig does not have its own natural proteins to condition the hair. It is up to you to provide this care!
The fun thing about human hair wigs is that there is more versatility in styling. You can use a blow dryer, curling iron or flat iron. The more you style your wig the more damage it will cause over a period of time so remember, less is best, when it comes to styling.
Wig Bases or Caps
Basically, there are four types of wig bases or caps. The cap can be machine-made (stock), a combination of machine-made and hand-tied (monotop), 100% hand-tied or custom-made. All of these caps come in synthetic or human hair.
Machine-made caps are the most durable. The hair is sewn into the cap using a sewing machine. These types of caps are pre-designed into a specific style and are generally the least expensive because they can be mass produced. Machine-made caps can be warmer, heavier and a little less comfortable.
The construction of the monotop caps varies between manufacturers. In general, the crown is a fine mesh net, a monofilament fabric, or a polyurethane material. It may, or may not, have mesh net sides with a weft back. Monotop wigs are available styled or semi-styled. This type of wig is less expensive than a 100% hand-tied wig, while offering some of the finer features of the more expensive wigs.
A 100% hand-tied wig cap is a flexible mesh on which synthetic or human hair is hand-tied or knotted into the netting of the cap. The crown, or top of the wig, may be made of a finer mesh net, a monofilament fabric or a thin polyurethane material. The advantage of the monofilament or polyurethane top is that the natural skin color shows through the cap and is therefore more natural looking. Hand-tied wigs are normally very light weight, comfortable and fit like a glove. These wigs are generally semi-custom or custom, and either raw (not pre-styled), or semi-styled from the manufacturer. Because of the cost of labour, these wigs are more expensive.
The monofilament top wig cap is the most natural looking wig cap available. It also varies in construction between manufacturers with the basic function remaining the same. It allows for natural scalp color to be revealed, simulating a natural looking head of hair. The hair is hand-tied into the monofilament fabric and gives the illusion of hair growing out of the scalp. The entire wig may be hand-tied, or may have a monofilament top with weft sides and back. Prices vary depending on the manufacturer and if the wig is partially or fully hand-tied.
Custom-made wigs are similar to the 100% hand-tied wigs except they are customized to the shape of your head. The advantage of a custom-made wig is a perfect fit, resulting in the most natural, comfortable,style possible. If you do decide on a custom-made wig you should educate yourself before making your final decision as the cost of a custom-made wig can be quite substantial. Research, ask questions, make sure the person you have chosen to customize your wig is fully trained. Look into their return policies, ask for references. Custom-made wigs can be made from either synthetic material or human hair. Of course, human hair will be more expensive.
Non-surgical hair restoration for men (grafts)
Non-surgical hair restoration can vary from poor to superior.
Superior grafts offer:
Non-surgical hair restoration grafts should be bonded with a light medical grade adhesive which requires maintenance every 4 to 6 weeks. The maintenance consists of removal of the piece, cleansing and conditioning, trimming of your own hair, and re-applying. In the end, purchasing two pieces can save money and time.
Hair Pieces/Integration (augmenting your existing hair)
Women's hair loss differs from woman to woman. Some women lose their hair evenly throughout the top of their scalp, some women thin without recession in the hairline, while for others, the entire hairline can disappear or may have heavier loss in the anterior mid-scalp region. Finally, there are women whose hair may not be thinning but is just naturally thin or limp. What makes the most sense for women with partial hair loss is to augment their existing hair in an attractive unobtrusive manner.
There are pieces that are designed to supplement hair in just the crown area. Some are designed to add volume to the top of the head while maximizing the use of existing hair which is a particularly good solution for women suffering from diffused hair loss. A specific piece also exists for women experiencing hair loss in the hairline and/or anterior mid-scalp area. In fact, there's a integration for every type of women's hair loss including total coverage of thinning hair without reverting to a standard wig.
Human hair pieces (clip-ons)
Human hair pieces are ideal for every day wear and comfort, with very little fuss. Hair pieces can vary from poor to superior. Superior pieces offer:
By using superior quality, the stylist will be able to identically match the hair to your existing colour and texture. Unlike synthetic, you can blow dry and curl your human hair piece.
Synthetic hair pieces (clip-ons)
Look for the same superior qualities as listed for a human hair piece. Even though the fiber is synthetic, there is still a difference between poor and superior quality. The main difference between a synthetic and human hair piece is the cost and care.
Hair extensions can lengthen hair, and add volume, highlights or lowlights. You can achieve almost any look you desire. For people experiencing thinning hair or Alopecia Areata, Ultratress hair extensions are ideal. They don't cause damage to your existing hair and can be removed quickly and easily at a reasonable cost. For others, who are simply tired of their current look and would like to add volume or length, options available are Ultratress, bonding, weaving or, as simple as, clip-on hair extensions.
If you are curious about hair extensions, make sure you do some research. Look for a professionally trained extension stylist. Inexpensive hair extensions are frequently inferior quality. Better quality products and services are available at a reasonable cost. It is best to shop around. Ask questions: How long can I wear them? Can the hair be re-used? Will it damage my existing hair? What type of hair is it?
Hats, scarves and turbans
For those of you who choose to wear hats, scarves and/or turbans, even if you have never worn one, the right hair alternative can give you the confidence to get back to doing what you were doing before your hair loss. For casual wear, try a soft comfortable hat, turban or pre-tied scarf or go for the glam, something with lots of colour and accessories. Personalize your scarf or the brim of a hat with your favorite pieces of jewelry and experiment with different colours. Nothing will raise your spirits more than embracing change with your own sense of style.