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Enough is enough, I have to live ! (Hair Replacement Systems)

posted by Con Seannery E-mail, Mid-Atlantic USA, 25.06.2012, 04:28

I'm 28 and I started going bald in high school.
I used to use concealers such as Couvré and Toppik with limited success (they will make your hair look thicker, but if your hairline is gone you're out of luck. Also messy).

I started wearing a hat all the time, which made people suspicious, and I also tried shaving my head, which didn't look right on me and people could tell where the balding parts were when when the stubble grew out.

I got a toupee when I was 21, and I actually thought it was great. I could go out and not have to wear my hat and I'd look good. (You could feel the edges though, and when the adhesive tape came loose it would get sticky and slide around).
That one was actually just a front piece though, which is a little easier to work with than a full top piece. That one looked great, except that at the time they were telling me to soak it in isopropyl alcohol to clean it, which was a bad idea and made it eventually look course and faded.
The downside to this hairpiece was that the tape I used would eventually get really gluey and messy when its adhesive came loose, and if the adhesive was loose the thing could slide down my forehead a little (which one time gave me the appearance of having a bald "gash" from ear to ear when it slid a little too far).

Another downside was that it was frickin' expensive to buy. It was like $600 for one unit, but I bought two so I'd have a spare. Maintaining the hair quality wasn't too bad; when the hair came out or got messed up I could mail it back to them (and wear my spare) and they would put brand new hair in it for like $100 (usually every few months).

I eventually switched to a full top unit (not "full cap", but covering the whole top of my head) because I was thinning in the back. I've been using polyurethane "skin" bases, which I personally find to be much more comfortable than the typical monofilament bases ("skin" units really feel like you're not wearing a hairpiece if you fit them and apply them properly).
I get them for a lot less now than I did before because I buy them online instead of going in to a shop. I do NOT belong to any sort of hair club.

Full top units are a little more difficult to take care of because it's much more critical to get them fitted and applied properly or they will look unnatural.
You can make your own template pretty easily using plastic wrap and tape, but you're better off having a pro do it if you can find one who is willing to do it without you buying one of their hairpieces (good luck).

If you get one with a skin base, you'll have to be a little careful about the hairline, because it looks pretty good while it's full of hair (although if you're an older guy and/or have thinning around the temples it might look unnaturally thick), but when the hairs start coming out the edge starts to become visible (it's very thin, but accumulated dirt and broken hair roots can form a thin, dark-colored line). Skin units' hairlines look best with thicker hair, which only works for some people. They can look very convincing at the hairline sometimes, but other times, not so much. Of course, if you comb your hair down over the hairline nobody will notice that.

I usually use a dab-on tube of medium-strength adhesive that only lasts a day or two and isn't too messy. I just pull it off (peel it up from the front by the base) a day or two later and spray some alcohol-based adhesive cleaner on the base and my scalp and clean it up. The skin units stick really well with this weaker adhesive, but it doesn't seem to work quite as well on the typical "monofilament" units. I also have a jar of heavy-duty waterproof adhesive that I wear when I'm swimming, traveling, or participating in any situation where my hair is likely to be grabbed. It's a much stronger bond and lasts about a week, but it's a little bit messier to clean up, and once you put it on and let it settle, it's not coming off for a few days. I use to put it on all the way up to the hairline, but it would eventually seep and make the hair clumpy and gummy. Now I only use that adhesive a little bit farther from the the edges and put the weaker adhesive near the edges, which prevents that problem. It also helps to try very hard not to use too much of the stuff, and spread it around, and wait until it dries to put on you hairpiece. It can be very messy to apply though if you're not used to it.

I've been doing this for years now and I'm pretty comfortable with it, so it's not too big a deal for me, except for when I get a unit that doesn't seem to fit quite right and then I have to mess around with it a lot to get it to look right. (This is why you should have a pro make your template).
Also, as far as hairlines go, it's easier to make a more deeply receded hairline look natural.
You can also do some tricks with the base design like "scalloping" the front hairline or making it a little bit irregular to avoid the look of being too perfect/abrupt.

There are also now "hi-definition" swiss lace systems that can give you a more natural-looking hairline because they can give you thinner hair in the front without a base showing, although if you get an inferior one or it starts peeling, you can kind of see it. They're also purported to be incredibly delicate. I've never worn one and can't tell you what it's like to own or wear one.

If you decide to start wearing a hairpiece, you'll have to get it replaced or re-haired every 1-6 months (depending on how well you take care of it/hide the damage). "Skin" units usually have to be replaced altogether rather than having hair added, but if you get them online the cost isn't too bad.

Remember to buy two so that when one of them starts to look crappy you can wear the other one while you're getting it replaced.
Actually, I would just get one at first, to make sure your template works, and then get the second one made once you're sure. It also helps if you can get it professionally cut in when it's new (although, again, good luck finding a pro who will do that without you buying their hairpieces). Sometimes if you get a skin unit that fits really well and is applied perfectly, you can get it cut at your local barber/hair salon and they don't know any better. But if it's not quite so perfectly applied (crooked, raised edges, etc.), sometimes they do find out and then they do a crappy job and it looks bad and they think that's ok because it's a hairpiece.

I would give you more tips about specific products and companies to look into, but I seem to remember the web site taking issue with that a few years ago.

Bottom line; a hairpiece can be a good solution if you get a good, well-made one, but it might take a little getting used to and a certain amount of maintenance.

Con Seannery is located in MID-ATLANTIC USA and he is available to meet: NO

29 Year old
Totally bald in front, thinning on top and back.
I'd give you the Norwood number but the charts don't seem to agree with each other anymore...
Also I've been shaving off what's left and applying a hairpiece for years so I'm not sure if the apex has become a real "bald spot" yet or if it's just thin.

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