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In defense of hair pieces

There is an article receiving relatively wide circulation within various bald sites on the internet, such as The BaldMan’s Homepage, and the newsgroup alt.baldspot.  The article relates the very unpleasant experience the writer must have had with a hair system, and it relates the horror story of the kind of system with which he is familiar.  As a well-known politician often says, “I feel your pain”.  HOWEVER, I feel I must write in rebuttal of the broad conclusion of that other writer. His conclusion is, simply stated, that all hairpieces/systems/toupees, etc., are rip-offs sold by unscrupulous people and that they all look bad and that they are humiliating/embarrassing/confining/hard-to-care-for, etc., etc., etc.  Those conclusions are NOT valid, as the kind of piece being written about in that article, the “permanently attached” kind typified by Hairclub for Men, is probably not worn by more than 10-20% of the hairpiece-wearing public.

Therefore, in defense of countless of thousands of hairpiece-wearing men, I want to comment on each of the points raised in the article in question:

1) much is made of the “hairpieces worn by actors”. I don’t believe this has any bearing on anything. It’s not true that actors who have hairpieces are followed by an army of stylists, and I don’t accept that it’s true their hairpieces look any better or worse than the general public. Would any of us want to be seen in a hairpiece like Sam Donaldson’s???

2) The average person can only afford an off-the-shelf type of hairpiece, which means “shedding, fading, no swimming, no other strenuous sports”.   OK. I wear an off-the-shelf type of hairpiece. Occasionally I buy a custom-made one, and occasionally a “stock” piece when the color match is perfect for mine. I’ll address each of the so-called deficiencies:
a) Shedding.  No such thing!!   I pay about $500 for a hairpiece and I keep for about 2 years.  In that time (and by the way, I’ve been wearing a hairpiece since I was 23 years old, which is 32 years!!) I have NEVER had a shedding problem, whether the piece was human or artificial.  Perhaps if I had kept a piece longer I would have, and if there IS a shedding problem, hair can be added. It’s no biggie.
b) Fading.  The newer synthetic pieces, which are all I buy now, have not given me any fading problems at all. I did have one human piece that had a fading problem, but out of what is probably a total of 16 hairpieces, I don’t think that’s too bad an average, and YES, that does include a lot of outdoor exposure.
c) You most certainly CAN swim and play sports in your hairpiece. I have SNORKELED in mine (but you DO have to be careful when taking off the snorkel mask!).   I bike in it, I swim in it, and I do anything I want in it. (Yes, I did lose one in the ocean once, but again, after 32 years, that’s not a bad average).  It really irritates me to see the statement that with regard to sunning, swimming, skiing, that “every wig/system wearer knows that these activities are just a dream”.   That’s an outrageous statement and so totally false it really illustrates the problem with objectivity in the whole article.

3)  Now let me address what is presented as a REAL horror story, the
question of ATTACHMENT!!!  I can speak only about the traditional kind of hairpiece that I have always worn, not the Hairclub for Men type. Let me say right here that I have never liked the Hairclub concept, and I don’t like the idea of the semi-permanent attachment; but, I do know people who are very happy with their Hairclub system. So, I’m not taking a stand about that which I know nothing personal (perhaps this would be a good practice for all of us?? hint…hint…)   Anyway, when I got my first piece I still had some hair on top, and I would not let the barber shave it off. So, for the first several years I applied my piece with tape over the hair, and yes, I had to be careful taking it off, or I would be saying OUCH a lot.  Alas, after several years that remaining hair was gone, and ever since, I have used the standard double sided hairpiece tape to attach the piece to my head.   My head is NOT shaved, super glue is NOT applied, and the piece does not stay on for 3-4 weeks!!!! It comes off each night, and I wash my head along with other appropriate body parts in the shower!!  My head has NEVER been shaved, and no track has ever been made.  I have never used clips or weaving, only occasionally glue (NOT super glue, acrylic hairpiece glue, which you can put on the tape to prolong its life).

4) The wind is your enemy. If you sweat of if it rains it looks ratty.
Well, if you put your tape on right, it’s awfully hard for the wind to take
your piece off. Mine has never come off in the wind.  Doesn’t the hair of many people look ratty in sweat or rain? Of course it does! Are we being OVER sensitive here?   Personally I think sometimes my windblown hair looks more natural than ever!

5) OK, I will concede the point that you have to be careful about people
running their fingers through it!

6)  There is a real sense of paranoia about being “busted” (that is
spotted) or found out as a hairpiece-wearer, etc. Well, this is a very
personal thing and everybody, I suppose, reacts differently.  I guess I have a pretty good sense of humor about it. My friends kid with me about it, and they know it doesn’t bother me. Do any of you kid friends who are short? Or chubby? Or have a funny accent? People, if you can’t laugh at yourself, it’s very sad.  The spottability of a piece is going to vary very widely, and if you take care of your piece and wear it right, and if you buy it with a good color match, most people will not spot it!! And do you know why? Because most people aren’t thinking about hairpieces!!!!

7)  The next part about the salesmen in their fancy hairpieces, and their memorized spiels and their fancy brochures and the like, I cannot comment on at all because in all my 32 years of buying hairpieces I have NEVER, EVER been in a place like that. I have bought every one of my hairpiece from a barber shop! When I have moved to a new city, I have looked in the yellow pages under hair replacement, or wigs, and selected a barber shop. In each case what I have done is to call for an appointment to discuss hairpieces. When the appointed time arrives, invariably it will be after regular hours or I will be taken to a private room in the back. There the barber will show me samples of the kind of hairpiece he sells, to get an idea of the kind of base, the kind of hair construction, etc., etc.  In only one instance has the barber himself worn a hairpiece?  I have never had to sign a contract or any other document.  OK, if I am buying a custom-made piece, a mold of the head is made much as described in the article (except Reynolds makes Aluminum foil, it is SARAN plastic wrap).   Anyway, that mold is made and the snipped of hair is taken (is all this big deal???)  And about 4-6 weeks later, the hairpiece arrives. I go in and the barber takes about 30-45 minutes to “cut it in”. That is, he puts it on my head. At this point it has WAY too much hair and so he cuts and styles it to my liking.  That’s that! Poof!  Now currently for the first time in my life I bought 2 hairpieces at once (because there was a discount on the second piece). Previously I only had one “good” piece (although I always save 1 or 2 old ones in case of emergency or if I want to wear an old one to the beach, or whatever). So, with one good piece, I simply shampoo it when needed, once or twice a month depending on weather, etc.  It’s again, NOT a big deal. I shampoo it in the sink with regular shampoo, put it on its Styrofoam head with a towel over it for about 45 minutes, then I style it with a dryer and it’s all ready to go. The whole process takes about 1 hr. to 1.5 hours, and could be done quicker if necessary. Now with two pieces, I always have a nicely cleaned one styled and ready to wear.   There are no extra hundreds of dollars, no monthly maintenance costs. None of the fuss and bother that has been so graphical described elsewhere.    Now, the remainder of the ‘other article’ is devoted to the writer’s paranoia about being “spotted”. I’m not going there again, because as I mentioned above, this is a very personal thing, not only with the fear of being spotted but with the kind of piece worn, etc.  I also can’t comment on motorcycle riding and his not being able to do that with his system, but once again he says he couldn’t swim, and that is DEFINITELY NOT TRUE with the kind of hairpiece most of us wear.  I am convinced that that majority of people do not go around trying to spot hairpieces, and that fears of exposure are greatly exaggerated. However, I personally feel that I so detest my un-wigged head that even IF some people spot the rug, to me that is preferable to my un-wigged head being spotted by ALL.
Just a few more rebuttals:
-The other article says that “anyone who really has experience with
wig/systems and has nothing to gain financially will never recommend one as a viable solution to the hair loss problem”.  People:  I have 32 years’ experience with a hairpiece, I have NOTHING to gain financially, and I DO RECOMMEND ONE AS A VIABLE SOLUTION TO THE HAIR LOSS PROBLEM.

-The other article says “wig/systems are just not the answer. Many in these new groups (sic) will try to tell you they are.  Be cautious of such news bearers.  People: I am not here to tell you that a hairpiece is or is not the answer for you.  Only you can decide that. I am taking the time to post this way-too-long article because I am frustrated by the amount of misinformation in the other article and in ITS purpose to discourage anyone from considering a hairpiece. Whether or not is for you, is for you to decide, but IT IS A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE that deserves consideration.
And finally, the “other article” says, “be wary of anyone who tells you
that wigs/systems are the way to go. They are usually naive individuals who lack much of the knowledge contained herein”.  Once again, I defy anybody to claim I am naive or lack much of the knowledge contained herein. I’ll only concede one point, as mentioned above. I don’t like the concept of HCM and would never go that route, but it’s not fair to use that to damn all hairpieces.


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