Why have wigs, hair systems, and hair pieces changed in design? The answer is evolution. What does that mean? Hair additions (wigs, hair systems, hairpieces and hair extensions) have evolved in how the hair is processed as well as how natural the hair addition is perceived.
Hair processing has changed in the last 40 years. Different hair types are available. Indian, Indonesian, Burmese, European, Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Remy are all descriptions of hair type and processing. Remy simply refers to leaving cuticle on the hair so it is more natural and less processed. The other names or “places” are where the hair originated from. We did not have several choices of where the hair originated and the factory did not disclose this information. Hair was simply hair.
Most hair was original sewn into weft, a line of hair commonly used in less expensive wigs or extensions. Now hair is hand sewn into net, silk, urethane, or another type of base material so it looks more natural and is more versatile in application. Hair systems, hair pieces, mono top wigs and handmade wigs use a more natural base material so the appearance of the hair “addition” looks more realistic. Lace fronts, skin units and other types of handmade materials were not readily available years ago so the systems were heavy and thick in appearance and not as natural looking. In the 1980s the hair market actually had a shortage of human hair, thus giving rise to mass production of synthetic fiber for use in hand made hair goods.
Synthetic fiber was a suitable replacement for human hair until……..clients realized it could not tolerate heat, friction and could not be colored. Furthermore long synthetic fiber when worn over clothing will get frizzy over time. So we went back to human hair and found alternate sources of supply. Today human hair is still used extensively BUT many wigs and hair systems are so lightweight and realistic looking that their life span has become reduced, thus giving the birth to program hair or disposable hair. That is topic for another time!
A hair transplant is a surgical procedure where hair is removed from the back of your head and transplanted to the front, top or crown. If you look at a bald man, they generally keep the hair on the sides and back of their head. That hair is “formulated” differently from the hair in front or on top, and therefore when transplanted, generally stays and recurring hair regrowth is almost automatic. That hair does not really recognize that it in a different spot on your head and continues to grow normally. If hair loss occurs in the transplanted areas, it could be a result of scalp trauma or the original non-transplanted hair reacting to DHT in the scalp.
There are three methods of transplantation: mini-graft, FUE and the plug method. The plug method is an obsolete method not used often today. A physician literally removes a plug of hair from the back of the head which may have 15 or more hairs in it and that entire plug is transplanted to the front. The hair roots and generally over time it will grow normally. Over time, often these patients appear to have a “baby doll” unnatural hair line. This method was more commonplace thirty years ago and is seldom used.
The mini or micro graft method is a procedure whereby a physician removes a strip of hair from the back of the patients head and that graft is cut into mini and micro grafts. The mini grafts may have three or four or five hairs and are good for the center of the head. The micro grafts have one or two hairs and are used primarily for the front hairline. Skilled technicians separate the hairs in specific sections of mini and micro grafts so the physician knows what graft to place in what section of the patients scalp. This procedure is commonplace today.
FUE or follicular unit extraction is where the transplant may be assisted by a computed and the hair removal and placement is done with one or two hairs at a time from extraction to placement. The benefit of this method is there is little or no scarring and the area of hair “harvestation” is much larger. This is, however, the most expensive method of hair transplant surgery and requires a skilled technician for extraction and placement. The hair grows normally and the patient may return for a second surgery to increase the density of the transplanted hair.
Transplants are not for everyone. Some people are simply too bald all over to be a good candidate. Patients with alopecia are not candidates. Often there simply isn’t enough hair to move around the head to show adequate density and maintain good density in the harvested area. Think carefully about your finished hairstyle, density, length, donor area density, and age when considering this surgery. It can work but sometimes you may be better off with a non-surgical solution.
When designing a new hair system, it is important to match the system hair texture to your own natural wave pattern. If you have curly hair, you need to have a curly hair system. If not, there will be a definite line of demarcation and the hair replacement will look phony. If you straighten your hair permanently, then you can get a straight hair system. If you have wavy hair texture and don’t blow dry it straight and your hair system is straight, the “layers” of hair will separate. On a day when the weather is humid, your natural hair will curl up and your straight hair system will look funny! Separation will occur between the processed hair in the hair system and your own growing hair. Not good.
Be consistent with your hair. If you have a wavy hair system with wavy hair, you can straighten both together (assuming the system is made of human hair) and look natural. My point is this: I feel it is best to match the system to your most regular-worn hair style. If you wear straight hair you can curl your hair and the system with a curling iron if you want. But at the onset, match the the system texture with your own growing hair texture to ensure consistency, blending, and to achieve the most natural look possible.
Non-surgical hair additions are made to augment (supplement) an individual’s hair if they want more density due to thinning, length challenges, or alopecia of some kind.
Sometimes they don’t fit and are too large. Why?
A proper plaster mold or tape template must be taken tightly off the individuals head. It is then sent to the factory where a foam block is made so that there is a hard foam form for base manufacture in terms of size, shape and contour. Occasionally the base of the wig or hair system isn’t made snug to the foam block and the system is “sloppy” and loose. An experienced technician can size the unit and take tucks in so that the system fits more snugly. Sometimes the system when it is well worn will stretch out and also needs those same tucks. An analogy would be how socks age after 100 washes! They droop at your ankles as the elastic is worn out and the material is all stretched out.
If the system or wig is too loose when new, sometimes it needs to be remade. Of course I am assuming that the mold was made properly and didn’t stretch out itself. If the technician is using an old mold, it can deform over time due to exposure to heat and cold. That is why it is necessary to take a new mold from time to time so that the fit is exact when a new order at the factory goes into the foam making stage.
There are other explanations why a system or wig doesn’t fit but the above examples are the primary reasons. Questions? Email me@firstname.lastname@example.org
Grey hair in hair systems and wigs can be tricky. There is a “white” grey and a “silver” grey. If one needs a white grey, it is best to have a little synthetic (sometimes all synthetic) to keep the brightness in the color. An all human hair unit will tend to get ashy due to oxidation. It is recommended to use a bluing shampoo (it looks purple in color though!) to help retain the crispness to the white. Too much bluing, however, can stain the hair a blue tone so it is best to dilute the shampoo at first to avoid any staining. As always though, best practices would be to consult with your hair correction professional before making your decision.
At the back of your head. Get a hand held mirror and look at the back of your head! Just because you have styled your hair system from the front doesn’t mean the back of your hair is styled properly. Many people forget to give the back of their hair some “lift”, especially in the crown area. It can make the system look flat as if you have “pillow hair” and can be a giveaway that you aren’t styling your hair system properly.
Take the time to look!
Two words: Trim them!
Men and women sometimes have pronounced eyebrow hair. Women tend to pluck or wax them, but men must trim them, otherwise they may look a bit crazed! If the eyebrow hair is bushy or long, it may call too much attention to that feature and thus may not even match the hair system. I often use the highlight from someone’s eyebrows, especially if they are lighter than ones head of hair, to lighten the front hairline of a hair system or wig to help it look more real. And ear hair? Ugh! Get rid of it! If you take the time to have a fabulous head of hair and you are well groomed, make sure all UNWANTED hair is attended to. It can detract from your overall look….
Whether you are a man or a woman, when wearing a hair system it is important to choose an easy, flattering and low maintenance hair style. Do you spend little time styling your hair? Are you a very busy person with no time to waste? Obviously you need a “wash n go hair style. Are you a man of leisure? A gentleman farmer with time to kill? Than you can pick a hairstyle that will take a bit of time to get perfect, and hopefully have the wallet to maintain it!
Seriously, when choosing a style, be real with yourself. If you are conservative, it may not be consistent to pick that aging rock star look. If you are a model, maybe longer hair with some “electric” highlights are in order. Most importantly think about who you are, how much time you spend grooming your hair and what visual presentation you want to make to your colleagues, customers and friends.
The same goes for hair color and wave pattern. If you are a mortician it is unlikely you are going to get fire engine red hair. If you are 60 years old, that Elvis pompadour may not be appropriate or believable. Finger waves went out in the sixties. You don’t see many Jeri curls in public. If you are greying, please don’t use too dark a hair color on your hair! Look at your skin tone and if you are very fair in skin tone, blonde may not be the right answer.
The whole key is to have a hair style that complements your features. Accentuate your eyes, jawline, lips or nose. Hair shapes the face, like the frame of a fine painting!