What to Look for When Choosing a Wig or Toupee
There are some cases where a hair transplant or non-surgical hair loss treatments may not work for a patient or may not be the best solution. In these cases, we like to work with patients to figure out the best way to ensure that they are comfortable with their situations and even discuss recommendations for other methods of camouflaging their lost hair.
Wigs or toupees can be a great option for when a hair transplant isn’t possible, for whatever the reason may be. They help restore some of that lost self-esteem that can come from thinning hair, as well as provide a more confident look in those that don’t feel comfortable without a full head of hair.
Wigs and toupees, a.k.a. “scalp prosthetics” or “hair systems” may not be for everyone, but it is always an option for those that do not qualify for other hair loss treatments. Choosing a wig or toupee can be tough, and those that have never been in that situation may not know where to start.
As hair loss specialists our job is to ensure that we do everything we can to give our patients the results that they are expecting. In some cases, certain procedures or hair surgery aren’t possible, or shouldn’t be performed, in which case we will explain to our patients why we feel that way and what other options they may have.
There are surgeons and doctors out there that will move forward with hair transplant surgery regardless of a patient’s situation, but we pride ourselves in being up front and honest with our patients. We will never do a hair transplant on a patient for the sake of making money when it is ill-advised or frankly harmful to a patient. Hair loss is almost always progressive, some patients are too young or too bald, some have scarring alopecia, and some patients simply have unrealistic expectations of what a hair transplant can provide. At Limmer Hair Transplant Center, we feel strongly that it’s better to disappoint a patient by refusing surgery than to disappointment them with an expensive surgery with permanent irreversible consequences. Sadly, not all clinics act this way and we have counseled many patients that underwent a regretful surgery or hair procedures done elsewhere.
Let’s take a quick look at why a person might not be a good candidate for certain hair loss treatments and procedures, and then discuss what to look for when choosing a wig or a toupee.
Why Wouldn’t a Person Be a Candidate for a Hair Transplant?
There are a couple of main reasons as to why a person may not be a good candidate for a hair transplant. These are completely out of a person’s control and typically boil down to genetics and/or age.
While this may not influence whether or person can’t have a hair transplant EVER, it will influence whether they should undergo a hair transplant at their current point in life.
When your doctor tells you that you may be too young for a hair transplant it’s not because they don’t believe that your hair is thinning, it’s because they want to be sure they understand the thinning pattern better.
When you’re young and you start to lose your hair, it may be harder to tell how your scalp is going to look as you age. While you may seem to be losing hair early on the top of your head, and the regions around the sides of your crown are still full, we can’t always predict that those areas on the sides won’t lose hair as you get older.
If a hair transplant were to be performed while your hair is still thinning, you could be left with an unwanted and unnatural thinning pattern on top or a patchy donor area in the back.
Not Enough Hair in the Donor Area
The other main reason you may not be eligible for a hair transplant is that the hair around the sides of your head, where most people excise donor hair follicles from, has already become too thin or too small.
If this area of your scalp has already thinned out too much, or has receded down to a small “horseshoe”, then excising hair follicles from this area is just not practical. As Dr. Krejci says, “For a hair transplant you have to borrow Peter to pay Paul, and sometimes Peter is broke.”
When it comes to hair follicles, you are born with all of follicles on your body that you will ever have. New hair follicles do not sprout up throughout your lifetime but they do change in response to puberty and aging. So, if you remove them from the donor area of your scalp to place them elsewhere, you will never grow new hair where the follicles were removed. There is a finite, or limited, amount of hair follicles you can move around or “loan” to yourself. (At least not until cloning a reality and not just science fiction)
This is why it’s important that you have enough existing follicles in the donor area to cover where the transplanted follicles were.
Scarring Hair Loss
In the case of scarring alopecia, rare diseases like Lichen Planopilaris or Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia cause the body to attack your hair follicles and destroy them. These are autoimmune-type conditions and if they are undiagnosed, or untreated, a hair transplant would quickly fail as the inflammation attacks the newly grafted hair after surgery.
Setting Realistic Expectations
As we mentioned before, you have all the hairs on your body at birth that you will ever have in your life. If you are looking to get a “full head of hair back” a hair transplant cannot replace your original density. A hair transplants can create an illusion of fuller hair and definitely fills in bald spots nicely but another favorite saying of Dr. Krejci is, “A hair transplant is not a time machine. I cannot return your hair to your high school yearbook photo.”
So imagine if you have lost all the hair on the top of your head, you only have 50% of the hair left on the back. Even if you took half of that, you would only be left with 25% of the original density now in both places, the front and the back. Hair transplants involve a lot of strategy of how much hair to borrow to leave the donor looking natural and where to utilize those precious grafts for the best cosmetic outcome. If a patient doesn’t understand these limitations, they are likely to be disappointed in the results.
How to Choose the Best Wig For You
If you are in the unfortunate situation where you don’t qualify for a hair transplant, then one of the best options for you may be a wig or a toupee.
This can be a scary situation for a lot of people, especially if you’ve never had to shop for hair before. Knowing what style you want, what color, how to ensure that it doesn’t look too fake to other people; all these things are things to consider when purchasing a wig.
In some instances, you may also be dealing with temporary hair loss due to medical conditions or health issues, the following tips will also help you make the best decision for your current situation.
Here are some tips on how to ensure that you’re choosing the right wig or hair piece for your lifestyle and look.
Understanding Your Needs
Before diving into the world of wigs and toupees, it’s crucial to understand your specific requirements.
- Type of Hair Loss (Temporary or Permanent)
- Determine whether your hair loss is temporary, such as due to chemotherapy, or permanent, like male or female pattern baldness.
- Temporary solutions may include wigs, while permanent hair loss might require a scalp prosthetic, toupee, hair system or other hairpiece designed for long-term use.
- Style Preference
- Think about your preferred hairstyle and look. Are you seeking a wig that mimics your natural hair, or do you want to experiment with different styles and colors?
- Comfort and Lifestyle
- Assess your daily activities and lifestyle. If you lead an active life, consider options that stay secure during physical activities.
Choosing the Right Material
The material of your hair piece plays a significant role in comfort and appearance.
Synthetic hair can be more affordable and comes in a variety of styles and colors. It is low-maintenance and retains its shape even in humid conditions. It does not need the washing and styling like human hair and they are more durable which means they will last longer. However, it may not have the same natural look and feel as human hair but there is a WIDE range in the quality so some higher quality pieces can be indistinguishable from human hair.
Human hair wigs and toupees provide the most natural appearance and can be styled, colored, and treated like your own hair. They do require more washing and the break down faster meaning they will need to be replaced sooner. They are often more comfortable to wear for extended periods but come at a higher price point. There are also options like ethnicity of the hair used to make the wig and the directionality of the hairs sewn into the wig, all of which affect the price tag.
Blended hair combines the best of both worlds, offering a natural look with some cost savings compared to pure human hair.
Choosing the Right Cap Construction
The cap construction of your wig or toupee affects how it fits and feels on your head.
Lace front wigs and toupees have a fine lace material at the front hairline, creating a natural look where the hair meets the forehead. They are breathable and comfortable but may require more delicate handling.
Monofilament caps are made with a soft, breathable material that mimics the look of a natural scalp. They are an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin.
Full lace wigs and toupees offer the most versatility and comfort. They are entirely hand-tied, providing a natural appearance, and allowing for various styling options.
Considering Maintenance and Care
Proper care and maintenance are crucial to extending the lifespan of your wig or toupee.
Washing and Styling
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing and styling to prevent damage.
- Invest in quality wig care products to keep your hairpiece looking its best.
- Store your wig or toupee on a wig stand or mannequin head to maintain its shape.
- Keep it away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
- Clean your wig or toupee regularly to remove dirt, oils, and styling products.
- Avoid excessive brushing or combing, as it can cause damage.
- Some hair salons will include the washing and styling of your wig in their services since oftentimes clients will need a haircut or color at the same time to keep the hair piece fitting and matching if their native hair is incorporated into the hair piece.
Adhesives: Finding the Right Option
Another tough decision regarding wearing a wig is how you plan to secure it. The choice of adhesive or clips can significantly impact your comfort and confidence. There are many different options when it comes to securing your wig, so be sure to look into all of them and understand how they may affect you.
Wig tape is a popular choice due to its ease of use. It typically comes in rolls or strips and can be applied around the edges of the wig’s cap. The adhesive strength can vary, allowing you to select the level of security you need. However, wig tape may need frequent readjustments, making it suitable for short-term wigs.
Wig glue, also known as wig adhesive, provides a strong bond and is ideal for those seeking a more long-term solution. It’s applied to the scalp or hairline, creating a secure hold that can last for days or even weeks. Be sure to choose a medical-grade wig glue to minimize skin irritation. Proper removal is essential to prevent damage to your skin and wig.
Wig Grips and Bands
For individuals who prefer not to use adhesives, wig grips and bands offer a reliable alternative. These accessories fit snugly around your head, providing a non-slip surface for the wig to attach to. They work well with both short-term and long-term wigs and are particularly comfortable for extended wear.
Clips vs. Glues: Which is Right for You?
The choice between using clips and glues largely depends on your lifestyle, preferences, and the type of wig you have.
- Quick and easy attachment.
- Ideal for those who switch between wigs frequently.
- No adhesive residue or skin contact.
- May not be suitable for very active lifestyles.
- Can feel less secure than glues.
- Can cause traction alopecia or hair loss due to friction over time from pulling on the native hair
- Provides a strong and secure hold.
- Suitable for long-term wear.
- Minimal adjustments needed.
- Requires proper application and removal techniques.
- Some individuals may experience skin sensitivity.
Long-Term vs. Short-Term Wigs
Another thing to look at when considering whether to use adhesive glue or clips is the duration for which you plan to wear your wig:
Long-term wigs are designed for extended use, often lasting several weeks or months. They are typically secured using wig glue or a wig grip. These wigs offer stability and are ideal for individuals looking for a more permanent solution to hair loss.
Short-term wigs are best suited for occasional or temporary use. They can be attached using clips, wig tape, or wig grips. These wigs are more versatile and can be easily removed and replaced. Short-term wigs are an excellent choice if you enjoy changing your look frequently or need a wig for specific events, or plan to remove your hair piece at night.
Wigs and toupees come in a wide range of price points. Consider your budget and find the best quality option within your financial constraints. Remember that a higher initial investment may pay off in terms of durability and a more natural appearance.
Buying and Wearing a Wig with Confidence
The most important thing to consider when purchasing a wig or toupee is your confidence level. If you try one on and don’t feel comfortable or confident in the hair piece, then move on and try something different.
If this is a permanent solution, you’re going to be wearing this for a long time, if it’s a solution to a temporary issue, then you may want to play around with it and go a little bit out of your comfort zone.
Whatever the case may be, make sure you do your research, try on several different options, and have a professional help with the initial fitting and styling to ensure you’re getting the best look possible. A knowledgeable stylist is crucial to finding, fitting and maintaining the right hair piece.
There is nothing wrong with wearing a wig or a toupee these days. Redefining them as a scalp prosthesis or hair system also helps remove the stigma from these hair loss solutions. Find one that’s right for you and nobody will even know it’s a hair piece. You’d be surprised by how many people out there wear wigs on a regular basis and you’d never be able to tell. Things have changed since the old days of your grandfather’s obvious and sad looking toupee sitting on top of his scalp.