Many of you know that I searched for 2 years for cosmetic options, so I'm going to share what I learned about various hair replacement solutions (I had a similar post stickied on the old board that did not make it with the 'remodel'). Can we sticky this? Wigs: Cost: Anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand depending on hair type (human or synthetic), quality (asian, indian, remy european, etc.), size, thickness and supplier. Pro's: You can change your style at will and they are generally easy to put on and go out the door. Con's: It is sometimes hard to find the 'perfect' look and the process can be overwhelming. Go to a wig shop if you have one in your area. Full wigs can be hot. Comfort: Again, this depends. There are several different bases to choose from. Vacuum sealed wigs look awesome and stay on your head remarkably well but are extremely hot in warm weather. A mesh or lace base is much more breathable but sometimes more difficult to concele and the lace is fragile and must be vented (more hair added) and/or replaced often. Attachment: Some wigs have a strap in them that you fit to your head as well as clips to clip on to your remaining hair. Vacuum sealed wigs require a shaved head for the seal to work. Some are 'tight fit' so you pull an elastic strap tights and it holds it on. Look: Many wigs can look very natural. Bangs are usually the best way to go to hide the front edge, but you can get a lace front if you do not want to go the bangs route. The lace front is a super fine mesh that when manufactured correctly is undetectable (the hair looks like it is growing from your scalp). You then tape or glue the front down daily, but this shortens the life of the piece. Some wigs and toppers have the option of a replaceable lace front so that when the front wears out you can send it in and they will put a new front piece on rather than having to replace the entire thing. Synthetic wigs generally do not hold up as long as human hair wigs from a frizz-factor standpoint. One of the nice things about a full wig is that you don't have to mess with coloring or blending your own hair, you just plop it on, style and go. Maintainance: Reventing as needed. Most people do not sleep in thier wigs as it is hard on the wig and on the scalp. Thus you need to have a head dummy to put it on at night and to use for styling, drying, etc. Deep conditioning is needed periodically for human hair wigs to keep them from drying out. ____________________________________________________________ Toppers: Like wigs, but smaller. Toppers are designed to be blended in some way with your own existing hair and are much smaller than a full wig (a few inches long and wide). My personal opinion is that if you are needing some sort of hair replacement go with a topper before going with a full wig so that you don't end up with more hair than you need. Cost: Varies from a few hundred to several thousand, depending. Pro's: If blended well they look very natural. You only have to cover trouble spots rather than you entire head. Con's: If not blended well they can look fake or poofy. Clips can be stressful on your natural hair. Comfort: Usually you do not have as much of a heat issue with toppers since they cover much less of your head, though they can get a bit toasty depending on what the base is made out of. Attachment: Clips, bonded with tape or glue, attached using extentions (the piece is put on your head and then a stylist uses extensions to attached pieces of the topper to pieces of your natural hair...this is a nice way to go if you are freaked about shaving any of your natural hair off which is usually necessary for a bonded piece). Look: Toppers can look very natural if they are cut in and blended with yoru natural hair, especially if you place it right behind your hairline (even a weak hairline can still be blended into a topper if done correctly). Maintainance: Similar to a wig, depending on the method of attachment. Bonded pieces must be rebonded about once a month whereas clips are simply done and undone as needed. Most people with clips take their topper off nightly. Bonded pieces can be washed and dried with your natural hair, though it is suggested that you only wash a bonded topper every few days rather than daily to extend the life of the piece. You can also go the lace front option with a topper which means glueing or taping daily. ___________________________________________________________ Bonded pieces from HRS, Apollo, Hair Club, Farrel, etc. Cost: You'll generally start at around $1,000 and it goes up from there depending. Some places have a 'club fee' where you pay monthly (usually starts around $150-$200) which covers the cost of new pieces as needed plus montly maintainance. I've come to the conclusion that the initial sticker shock of such services turns many people away when in reality you would generally pay almost as much for a high quality wig or extensions. Pro's: I'm biased since I have one and now I can't imagine life without it. Since they are bonded on there is no way for them to fall off or slump and if done well the look is VERY natural. By having a professional fit and attach it you don't have to do much legwork yourself. They are easy to maintain since you wash and dry them right along with your own hair (and less traumatizing to have to 'take off' your hair nightly). Con's: Some of these places are rip-offs (such as Hair Club...DON'T GO THERE, too many people have had bad experiences with them!!!) and I think that some of the various salons are more experienced than others. Check them out carefully, and if you don't get a good feeling then go elsewhere. Make sure that you do a test patch of the glue that they use so that you are not at risk for an allergic reaction (very rare, but it does happen from time to time...and you don't want that time to be right after you have shaved some of your hair off!). Comfort: I have a bonded piece on my head from HRS (same as Apollo) and I love it. I don't even notice it is on my head except for the day after I get back from maintainance when it is a bit itchy from the hair starting to grow out underneath. Most of these bonded pieces require you to shave some of your natural hair. Attachment: The stylist shaves a track or a circle where the piece is to be attached and bonds it with surgical adhesive. It won't come off for anything, in fact they have to 'shave' it off during maintainance. The piece will start to 'wiggle' a bit (not noticable to anyone but you) as your hair grows out underneath the piece and that's when it is time to go in for reattachment. Look: For the amount of money that you pay for these things they damn well better look good. However, it is money well spent from a natural look that you don't have to remove more than once a month. If you have a weak natural hairline bangs will cover the front edge. I have long sweeping bangs that I clip to the sides and they look great. Maintainance: Usually once a month you go in for reattachment and cost varies per salon. I pay $84 which includes cut, blending, color, conditioning of the piece, etc. There are certain brands that they recommend...I use Redkin, which is available at Fred Meyer's so it's readily available. Spray-in condition is a must to keep the piece from drying out (same for any human hair wig, topper, etc.). You can get a lace front on these as well as long as you are willing to glue or tape it down daily for a natural look. Resources: hrsofportland.com, Apollo Hair, Hair Club, Farrell Hair ________________________________________________________ Hair Integration Systems: These pieces look kind of like hairnets with hair attached. You pull your remaining natural hair through the holes. Cost: Varies as much as wigs and toppers depending on the product and the company. Pro's: You have your own hair pulled through to better match color and texture. Con's: It is hard to get an integration piece to look natural. Mine looked like I had stiches in my head because the holes were too big. You have to spend quite a bit of time daily pulling your hair through the holes with what looks like a giant crochet hook. I think that integration pieces sound great because it integrates your natural hair but in reality are hard to pull off for someone who is thinning (especially on top). That being said, I have seen some topper/integration combo pieces that are mesh on top with integration 'netting' along the sides and back so that you have the best of both worlds in a sense. Comfort: Mine was terribly uncomfortable, but I can't do clips so that was the biggie for me. It was also very heavy and pulled. However, my entire Sequence experience sucked from beginning to end, so there ya have it. Anyone with positive integration experience please let me know how comfortable it is so I can add that here. Attachment: Clips or 'anchors' (they sew or tie sections of it down in various places). Look: Integrations look great on people with a normal amount of hair who want to add length. It's tough to pull of an integration piece on top if you don't have enough hair to pull through and blend with the piece. Maintainance: Depends on the type of piece. If you have clips you'll need to go in as needed for color/trim/touch-up type stuff. If you have anchors you'll need to go in montly for tightening. Resources: For the love of god DO NOT GO TO SEQUENCE!!! There are a handful of us here who got completely screwed over by them to the tune of several grand. ___________________________________________________________ Extentions: Note - I have had several consultations for several different types of extensions. If you do not have enough hair on top to cover the bonds, links, clamps, etc then you are not a good candidate for extensions (even if a salon tries to tell you otherwise). Be realistic about your expectations when it comes to extensions and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. I have seen way to many girls on the board pay tons of money for extensions that did not work out for them. On the other hand, there are several ladies here who have had great experiences with extensions, especially when it comes to the thickness factor. Just keep in mind that if your hair is super thin it will NOT cover the bonds. From what I have heard, extensions are fairly comfortable once you get used to them. To me, the Great Lengths extension (glue-in, placed down lower) was less noticible to me than the Hairloc extension (metal clamp extension, up higher on my head next to the scalp)...however, notice that I only had one of each for trial. Maintainance for extensions varies from person to person and on the type of extensions you have. Most extensions need tightened every 4-8 weeks, though some can go longer. It is usually simply a matter of how fast your hair grows out. Great Lengths Extensions: These are extensions that are bonded in with glue. They are fairly large extensions and many salons cut them in half to give greater coverage. It is also possible to have a topper 'bonded' to your hair using these extensions. Cost: $200 for minimal hair, and it goes up from there depending on length and amount. Attachment: Great Lengths uses a glue bond. The glue around the bond is heated and then wrapped around a section of you hair where it cools to a hard shell. There is an acetone based solution used to weaken the bond and then plyers are used to 'crack' it when they are taken out. The same hair can be used 3 or 4 times before needing replaced. Pro's: They are generally fairly quick to put in and take out. They are high quality and most people who have them love them. Con's: They are attached using a glue which is somewhat sketchy for some people. More to come soon on Hairlocs, Hair Dots, Shrinkies, Hair Integration stystems, etc...but I'm tired and need to go to bed! Please please please feel free to add anything that I have missed!