Support & Advice Men's Resources Introduction to Alternative Hair Solutions for Men The men’s grooming and skin care market has seen huge growth over recent years and with that comes investment in more advanced techniques and improvements in products and services. Increased advertising and social media presence in men’s grooming is a big step in the right direction, helping to reduce the historic stigma around the use of alternative hair products. Alternative hair solutions such as wigs and hair pieces, sometimes referred to as ‘hair systems’ are now more accessible and, for some, it can be a way of managing hair loss. It can be overwhelming when you are embarking on your hair loss journey to get to grips with terminology around products you may not have come across before. In this section, we hope to cover some of the basic information below. You might have heard lots of different terms to refer to the different hair options for men – wig, toupee, hair piece, hair system. Confusingly, some of these terms may be used interchangeably. For example, a hair piece can sometimes be referred to as a toupee or topper, and some refer to wigs as hair systems or hair pieces! It’s not at all helpful. Unfortunately, there can be negative connotations or old-fashioned views associated with ‘wigs’ or ‘toupees’ so there has been a shift away from these terms by some companies. You might see products advertised as 'alternative hair', which is what we have used in the overall title for this section of our website. Ultimately it comes down to the terminology of the supplier – in our experience it often differs which can make it difficult to know what products are being offered at a glance. See our terminology section below for details of how we have defined each one. Terminology: Alternative hair terminology can differ from place to place, but here are the most commonly used terms. WIG: Covers the entire head by way of a full ‘cap’. Suitable for those with a number of bald patches or total hair loss HAIR PIECE/TOUPEE/TOPPER: A smaller piece that is designed to cover a smaller area of hair loss rather than the whole head. These are most commonly used by men with androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness. HAIR SYSTEM: This is generally used to refer to hair options that are fixed to the scalp. Hair systems are sometimes referred to as permanent solutions but this doesn’t mean permanent in the sense of ‘forever’. Hair systems are not removed in the same way as a wig or clip in hair piece, they can be worn for months at a time and you can do your everyday activities in a hair system such as showering and swimming. The hair system requires regular maintenance, and you need to discuss what this entails with a hair replacement specialist. READY TO WEAR: A wig, hairpiece or hair system that is ready to go straight from the box. CUSTOM MADE: A wig, hairpiece, or hair system that is made bespoke for your individual needs. Options for Men: In the alopecia community, alternative hair options are often talked about more by women than men. However, there are some very realistic options available for men. Choosing a wig, hair piece or hair system can feel daunting as there are different options available, including different materials and attachment options. We hope that by providing information about these you can become familiar with the terminology and options available. We would recommend visiting a supplier to chat through available options and find the right one for you. We also suggest having a thorough look online. As well as Google, Instagram and YouTube can be a good place to find inspiration and advice. For example, we like Paul Bowen’s honest (and often entertaining!) videos about his wigs/hair systems. Check out his channel here. Types of attachment: Alternative hair options can be attached in several ways: GLUE: Can last up to 6 weeks. You can usually swim, play sport and carry out daily activities. You will need to be skin tested for this method to check for any allergies to the glue. For the best results we recommend having one hair piece to wash and one hair piece to wear. If you have a system glued, you will need to have your stylist take off the piece and replace it with the clean one. The removed hair piece will be cleaned before your next appointment, usually 4-6 weeks. Glue should only be used on areas with no hair. Some people learn the skills required to maintain at home with the correct aftercare, such as de-bonder. TAPE: Can last up to 4 weeks. For best results change at least once a week. Tape should only be used on areas with no hair. CLIPS: These are clipped into any existing hair to create an anchor. Types of hair material: Alternative hair options are available in the following materials: SYNTHETIC FIBRE: This mimics hair, however it’s man-made fibre. You cannot usually use heat on synthetic fibre. It doesn’t colour fade and requires little to no styling; however, can be prone to ‘friction frizz’ as the piece gets older which can mean it looks worn and unnatural toward the end of its shelf-life, which will vary depending on regularity of use, care and conditions exposed to. HIGH HEAT FIBRE/CYBER: Life-like synthetic fibre that you can use a mild heat on to style. Usually no colour fade, however, can be prone to some ‘friction frizz’ when the piece gets older. These are great for grey styles, or styles with a grey percentage. HUMAN HAIR: Different human hair types from around the world. The hair varies in quality and price, depending on how it is sourced and treated. Human hair requires more styling than synthetic fibre. Since COVID, human hair is harder to obtain and prices have increased significantly. How long do alternative hair options they last? Ensuring that you follow the correct aftercare procedure, alternative hair can last anywhere between 2 months to 1 year. It all depends on the attachment type, the material used and how you maintain your alternative hair. For example if you have your piece glued on, you will be wearing it in bed, which can half the life span. Human hair is typically longer-lasting than synthetic, however there is more maintenance required such as colouring over time. Summary Please keep in mind that all wigs, hairpieces and systems require maintenance to keep them looking their best. This can include colouring, cutting, styling, adding hair, conditioning treatments and more. It is important to get the best advice you can before choosing the option for you, considering your lifestyle, time and budget. Ensure you gain a clear understanding of any ongoing maintenance costs, if applicable, so you are not surprised by unexpected costs. You can style and maintain the alternative hair yourself or use the services of a stylist experienced with these products and services. If you are unsure about alternative hair, book a phone or video consultation with a supplier to get a better understanding of what’s involved. Remember, you do not need to commit to anything if you are unsure.