Types of wigs and hairpieces
Types of wigs, hairpieces,hair replacement system
Understanding types of wigs, hairpieces and hair replacement systems
Until faced with dealing with hair loss many people have never visited a professional wig supplier or are unaware of the variety of specialist hair loss services and products available. There are some fantastic options and caring experts who provide excellent ideas and solutions for covering hair loss. However this new world of hair loss may seem overwhelming at times. The jargon and terms such as “hair replacement system”, “weft”, and “custom made wig” can seem like a world unknown. You don’t need to be an expert because we are and at Cancer Hair Care we are here to support you!
We have supported thousands of people through their journey to find a wig that works for them. There is a lot of information about various wig and hair systems. It is worth keeping in mind that professional wig fitters and services are available to help you make this choice. Some people like to have a good overview of what is available in advance of visiting a supplier.
May we recommend that you invest some time in understanding the options available for you to maintain your own sense of style. The right wig, hairpiece or hair replacement option can give you just the confidence you need to face treatment and feel that you can get on with your day. Many people have told us that they wished they had of done a bit of research in advance of buying their wig as they may have chosen a different option had they known what was available.
Types of wigs and hairpieces:
- Full wig
- Hairpiece (half wig, three quarter wig)
- Hair extensions and volume systems
- Hair replacement systems
A full wig covers the entire scalp and is the first choice for most cancer patients who experience hair loss as a side effect to treatments. It is a very good way of disguising loss of hair at any stage of treatment. Depending on the type of wig base and accessories used to secure the wig, a full head wig can be worn over a complete head of hair which can help you get used to the situation before hair loss sets in. Equally a wig can be worn to cover partial, patchy or full hair loss and hair thinning.
Full wigs are available ready to wear, custom made in synthetic or human hair. A full wig is the most common type of wig worn by people experiencing hair loss as a side effect to cancer treatments.
Hairpiece (half wig, three-quarter wig)
Hairpieces are available in all different shapes and sizes in both synthetic and human hair, from low cost ready to wear fringes, hair extensions and pieces, to custom made hairpieces to blend a specific area of baldness. Availability of hairpieces, fake fringes and extension clip in pieces has grown as they are now a big fashion accessory. When it comes to wearing a hairpiece to cover an area of hair loss you will need to ensure the piece is secure, blends in well with your own hair and doesn’t cause damage to new growth. There are many professional wig suppliers who have a good variety of hairpieces to choose from. More commonly, hairpieces to disguise hair thinning and hair loss are now being referred to as hair replacements, hair volumisers or hair replacement systems.
Some hairpieces are deigned to be taken off daily while others (e.g. custom made or hair replacement system) can be secured and worn when sleeping, swimming or during any other activity.
Hairpieces are attached to the scalp in various ways. Wig clips are often used when attaching to hair. Wig tape or wig glue are commonly used to attach to a bare scalp. When it comes to custom made new generation hair replacement systems various techniques are used. The base of a hairpiece is the same as for a wig. There is a large variation of base foundations on which a hairpiece can be made.
Having hairpieces cut and customised to blend in with your own hair is essential.
You may also be interested in hair volumisers and integrated hair extensions specifically deigned to blend in hair thinning and cover areas of baldness.
If you need a hairpiece to cover an area of long-term hair loss it really is worth getting some specialist advice. The variety of options has massively increased of late. The wig fitters and hair replacement specialists who can fit and make hairpieces are used to working on both a practical and emotional level with people who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments, medical conditions and other reasons.
You will need to consider the financial and time commitment required for some hairpieces. For example, some options will mean a regular visit to remove and re-attach hairpieces and trim the ends of the hair.
A toupee tends to refer to a hairpiece that is made to disguise hair loss on the top of the head. For men they are described as toupees and for women, top pieces. For more information, read about hairpieces.
Fake fringes are a very flexible and low cost option that can be secured into a hat, cap or head scarf. They are a fantastic alternative to wearing a wig on a hot day or when wearing a wig is not an option. They can be sown onto or attached using wig tape or double sided Velcro tape. Fringes are available in synthetic and human hair.
Hair extensions and volume systems
Specialist extensions and hair replacement systems are specifically to blend in and add volume if your hair has thinned and is not completely lost, or after treatment to attach to new (but stable) hair growth. Additionally, if you have long-term hair thinning or areas of hair loss then a volume system or hair extensions may offer a solution.
These systems and extensions need to be applied by a specialist who is used to working with people with hair loss as opposed to fashion extensions.
Recently the availability of hair systems has significantly increased.
Hair replacement systems
A hair replacement system describes a more permanent solution for long term hair loss and hair thinning, in that the systems can be worn for long periods of time and unlike a wig do not have to be taken off to shower, swim or sleep. In other words you can wear a system as if it were your own hair.
Hair replacements are usually custom-made hair systems that are fixed to the scalp by a specialist scalp glue or hair bonding technique. These systems offer a full hairstyle that does not have to be taken off on a daily basis.
Hair replacement systems are provided by hair loss professionals who specialise in these systems and have the relevant training. Many wig suppliers do not offer hair replacement systems.
There are many different types of systems. For example a hair replacement system may be in the form of a specialist custom made hairpiece that may has a ‘lace’, ‘mesh’, ‘silicone or other base or a specialist extension system whereby hair is attached to your current hair or full system that is glued or attached to your scalp.
It is very important to ensure that these systems are relevant and suitable for you depending on the stage of hair loss and your needs. Many people losing hair due to chemotherapy treatment do not have a hair replacement system because of the cost and time it takes to have a system measured and made. There is usually a process that takes between 2- 3 months (on average) whereby you need to have a consultation, head measurement, custom made hair system fitting, skills session and so on. It is also important to consider the financial cost and maintenance of these systems. For example a custom made hair replacement system to cover a third of the scalp that is integrated with your own hair is likely to cost between £3000 and £5000 a year.
The NHS does not currently offer a prescription for hair replacements and so a private supplier would need to be located.
Next planned review: February 2025