Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Concealing Hair Loss with Fibers, Sprays, and More : Experimenting with styling possibilities , Sprinkling on fibers and powders , Spraying on your hair , Looking at other ways to thicken your hair and Using concealers after a hair transplant

Concealing Hair Loss with Fibers, Sprays, and More

In This Chapter

  • Experimenting with styling possibilities
  • Sprinkling on fibers and powders
  • Spraying on your hair
  • Looking at other ways to thicken your hair
  • Using concealers after a hair transplant

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could thicken your hair with just the wave of a magic wand? Although we can’t tell you how

to pull a new head of hair out of a magician’s hat, in this chapter we show you a few ways to pull some sleight of hand — or in this case, head — by applying products such as spray-on fibers and spray-on concealers and paint on masking products that give the illusion of more hair without resorting to the expense of hairpieces or hair transplants.

You do, however, need to have some existing hair for these concealers to work.

Styling Some Basic Hair “Thickening” Tricks

Before you start spraying your hair or painting your scalp, try some simple styling techniques to help conceal hair loss or thinning. For example, get rid of the old comb-over that only emphasizes your hair loss and try a shorter cut to give the illusion of more hair. Or just shave it all off so that it looks like bald is your choice and not the result of failing hair follicles.

Hair and skin color can also play a subtle role in achieving the appearance of fuller hair. A sharp contrast between the color of your hair and the color of your skin will accentuate a thinning hair line. You may not be thrilled with your graying hair, but gray hair actually blends your hair and skin tones well, which results in your hair appearing fuller.

The combination of blond hair and fair skin makes your hair look fuller than black hair and light skin. Many men and women choose to color their hair to a lighter or darker color to bring down the contrast between the hair and scalp color. Going blond is good, or consider a slow transition to a sandy hair color if you have a light skin tone. Platinum blond and glistening white hair reflect light, making it more difficult to see through the hair to the scalp. Proper use of hair dyes can produce such changes.

Keeping your hair shiny can help it appear fuller as well. The shine allows the hair to reflect light better, whereas dull hair allows you to see through to the scalp easier.

The added body of curls or waves in the hair can also help it appear fuller. Some men and women who have naturally straight hair perm it to achieve the appearance of more volume and full- ness. Many women whose hair has begun thinning with age make their hair appear fuller by perming, teasing, and lightening it (all of which can cause damage; see Chapter 3 for more). Men are starting to go this route as well.

Hair shaft thickness also plays an important role in styling and imparting a fuller hair appearance. A coarse hair shaft provides more coverage than finer hair. There are many hair thickeners available and some shampoos and conditioners will also promote thickening. Other products such as hair wax, pomades, horse tail grooming products, and gels that can help your hair appear fuller (see Chapter 3 for more on products).

Fooling Around with Fibers

Feel like shaking some new hair onto your head? It may not be as good as the real thing, but topical products made of colored protein fibers can conceal hair thinning. These fibers, which come in pepper shaker-type bottles, adhere to bases of the hair follicles and the scalp, adding bulk to the hair shaft. See Figure 8-1.

These mostly stay in place by static electricity but fixing sprays are available that add more holding power. The results can be dramatic, and the process is quick and easy.

imageWatching hair grow before your very eyes

There are many types of fiber products that can make hair shafts thicker; two of the more well-known products are Toppik and XFusion. These products are comprised of organic keratin fibers with a similar chemical makeup to human hair. You apply the prod- uct by spraying, painting, or sprinkling it on your scalp, where the fibers cling to your existing hair and create an illusion of a thicker and fuller hairline. The fibers stick to your existing hairs by static electricity, so you don’t have to worry about it coming off.

After the product is on your hair and scalp, it’s very difficult to take off completely — except with a thorough hair wash. See Figure 8-2 for an example of a fiber product at work.

imageToppik and other hair fiber products should blend in with your own the hair color, so choose the right color for the best results. The subtle addition of the extra fibers will diminish any contrast between your hair and scalp color. The drastic improvement also comes from the fibers adhering to the fine vellus hairs — shorter hairs which have little or no pigment — which can make your hair look thicker. In all, it’s a great illusion.

Apply the product before you put on a white shirt. And remember to comb through your hair to ensure the fibers are fixed firmly.

How well these products work depends on how much natural hair you have to work with. They obviously won’t work very well if you’re bald or nearly bald with only a few hairs. In that case, a limited hair transplant can give you enough hair to use this product successfully. These products are excellent for making a hair trans- plant look fuller and may forestall more surgeries.

The problem with most fiber concealers is that they may not work at the hairline, but with a template placed slightly behind where the thin hair starts, you can create a reasonable illusion of a frontal hairline. Both Toppik and Xfusion offer spray applicators which can be used with their hairline templates.

Facing the elements

Any time you apply something to your head, it’s normal to worry about it coming off at an inopportune moment, which can lead to embarrassing situations.

Fiber products are pretty difficult to disengage (depending upon the manufacturer), with the following caveats:

  • A light rain won’t affect fiber products because the fibers don’t dissolve in water. But getting caught in a monsoon and being literally drenched in water may be a different story.
  • Wind shouldn’t affect the fiber concealer because static electricity keeps the fibers clinging to your existing hair.

However, we wouldn’t stick our heads out of the car going 60 mph to test this theory, and you probably shouldn’t either.

  • If you sweat heavily, some products will not run, while others may. Try not to run your fingers through your hair in public (or let someone else do it!) if you’re not confident in the product you are using; test your fiber concealer at home (rather than in public) to see just how far you can push it with a sweaty head or with your fingers running through your hair.

If you still worry that the fibers may shed or loosen and cause an embarrassing fallout, you can always use hair spray for that additional safety cushion.

Some ‘fiberhold’ products are made by the companies that make these concealer products just for that purpose. Practice with the product you choose so there’ll be no surprises.

Making fiber cover ups part of your routine

The obvious point of using any form of applied concealer to mask baldness is that it’s temporary. It may be a quick fix to your problem, but it’s only a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

However, the sad reality about balding is that once it starts, the chances of returning to a full head of hair are almost nil. So when you start concealing your vanishing hair line, it’s likely to be a part of your daily grooming routine for the rest of your life.

You may get to a point where you become addicted to the product because it can make such a dramatic difference in your appearance. Unlike other addictions, this one isn’t a bad thing, really. The product can be miraculously undetectable as long as you have enough hair for the fibers to cling to.

However, as you go through the balding process and lose more hair, you may come to a point when the fibers may be visible to the discriminating eye. At that point, you may have to give up the fibers and deal with thin hair that looks even thinner because you no longer can use the fibers to conceal the thinning effectively. This is when it’s a particularly good idea to look at alternatives.

As we mention earlier in this chapter, even a limited hair trans- plant can give you enough fibers to continue to use the product.

Taking the time to apply the product

One of the problems with fiber concealers is that they can be time consuming to use. Toppik, for example, boasts of a 30-second application time and when you become experienced with it, you may find that estimate to be accurate. But it doesn’t include the time it takes to style your hair and wash out the fibers at the end of the day.

Whether you can apply Toppik in only 30 seconds is debatable because different people have different needs based on how much hair they currently have. Obviously, the less hair you have, the longer it will take to apply and the more important your skill in applying the product will be.

Spray-on Hair

Who doesn’t remember those hair-in-a-can ads on TV in years past? Although those made-for-TV products were the butt of many jokes, the concept made sense.

The goal of many of these spray on solutions is to darken your scalp to the color of your hair and fill out your thinning hair to make your scalp disappear. The original products may have been laughable, but now there’s a new generation of colored sprays. The best known is Fullmore. It uses aerosol propellant to spray tiny color-matched fibers that cling to your existing hair and darken your scalp.

Sprays are quick to use and offer probably the fastest way to camouflage large areas, but you need some hair to have them work well. On the downside, they’re not as precise as dab-on concealers, and not quite as natural in appearance with keratin fibers like Toppik in an area with more natural hair still left.

You apply products like Fullmore by holding the spray can around eight inches from your head and spraying while moving the can around for an even result. Put a towel on your shoulders to avoid any overspray. The results are quick, if not quite as convincing as fibers.

Be careful when going out in the rain, as there is some run-off potential in downpours.

After application, you should apply a FiberHold Spray (designed to bond fibers to hair) or a good hair spray. Once sealed, the product won’t flake or come off, and you can brush through it without worry. It will not blow out in the wind or run from perspiration. Like all other concealers, it washes out with vigorous shampooing.

Feeling like the real thing

Face it: As much as the chemical makeup of fiber concealers is similar to human hair, the actual feel and texture of fibers on your hair may not be the same as a real, thick, full head of hair. Fibers tend to be finer than human hair, which can lead to flyaway hairs under certain conditions (which you should test in private; see the earlier section, “Facing the elements”).

You may be self-conscious about how the fibers look and feel on your head and therefore constantly worry about your hair. And heaven forbid if someone you’re dating wants to run their fingers through your fibrous hairs — be very careful about that no touch zone!

Applying Foundation

Using a fiber concealer to add fullness to your remaining hair still leaves you with another problem: covering your hairless scalp. If you’re an artist, you may have contemplated painting a hair scene on your balding head. Fortunately, you don’t have to be artistic to apply foundation makeup made specifically to cover shiny bald skin and blend the scalp color with the hair color.

Coloring your head

Foundations that conceal hair loss are best compared to women’s cosmetic foundation or pressed powder. Essentially, foundation for your scalp is created from coloring and emollients (moisturizers) and is applied in much the same way that foundation is applied to the face.

What foundation does is conceal the whiter or lighter parts of your scalp. This masks your hairline, making it look as though your hair isn’t thinning because the scalp coloring is brought closer to your hair color.

Like fiber concealers, scalp foundation will only work to conceal thinning hair if you have hair in the area to begin with. This material can’t be used on the hairline to address your hairline problems; the hairline is a separate beast you have to deal with.

Using a sponge applicator, you simply shade in parts of your scalp where your hairline is thinning.

Accepting the limitations

One of the problems with foundation products is that they don’t add fullness to your actual hair like fiber products do. However, foundations do reduce the visibility of the scalp through what hair you have, and this effect may work well if you just have minor thinning. But if you have a relatively large area that needs covering, a foundation may leave you with an imbalance of hair to scalp ratio. Hair systems (see Chapter 7) or hair transplants may be the only option for those without enough hair.

Using a foundation can actually expose your thinning hair (at least to yourself) because a close look in a good light, like the bathroom, may reveal the painted-on look between the hairs.

You can combine foundation products with fiber concealers, thereby tackling both the hair and the scalp imbalance. This works when the amount of hair that you have isn’t quite enough for the fiber sprays. The foundation darkens the scalp enough so that it doesn’t show through after you use the fiber sprays like Toppik to thicken the hair that you still have.

Taking the time to paint

As with fiber concealers, foundations can take some time to apply. You may find it easier to apply over a wider area, painting with broad strokes, but precision control of specific spots may be more difficult. If you use a fiber in combination with the foundation, then the foundation should be laid down first.

The hair you have is always styled after you apply the foundation and before the fibers are used. Many foundation users find that they don’t have to put it on every day. Some of the products may even last through a shampoo.

Scalp foundations are a temporary fix to a long-term problem. Certainly, masking and concealing something that may be a source of insecurity is one way of coping with the problem at hand. However, you should keep in mind that there’s no longevity to this solution; you have to do it again every day or every other day, depending upon your own situation.

Comparing Cover-ups

Many hair loss concealing products, whether they’re powder- based or fiber-based, perform similar functions, so how do you choose the right solution for you? Table 8-1 lays it all out for you, comparing features of three products on the market.

Many people use combinations of the various products, either in different areas or together in the same area. We recommend that you try all the products to find the right product.

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Trying Thickeners

Do hair thickeners work? Yes, they do! But their effects are only temporary, and they have some limitations. Some men who are thinning use wax and pomade to make their hair look fuller. These products are the same as those that were so popular in the 1950s when the popular style for young men was slicked back hair.

In addition to achieving the slick look, these products also add extra thickness to your hair and provide the feeling and appearance of fullness.

A thicker hair shaft increases the fullness of one’s hair exponentially. Even small increments of added thickness can have a major impact on the fullness of the hair (refer to the section, “Fooling Around with Fibers,” earlier in this chapter for products that increase hair shaft fullness). Doubling the thickness of a single hair will increase the overall bulk fourfold. So, thickening each and every hair shaft may produce four times more bulk than having more hair!

Medications such as Propecia works so well for much the same reason. Propecia not only has the potential to grow new hair, but it also thickens tiny miniaturized hair to provide more coverage. You can read more about drugs such as Propecia in Chapter 9.

Some shampoos and conditioners can also make your hair look thicker by leaving a thin film of nutrients and oils on each hair strand. The film makes each hair fiber look shiny and healthy, which certainly can give your hair bounce and a feeling of fullness.

Some products also hydrate the hair shafts, adding increments of volume to them as they swell from absorbing water. But these products have limitations when your hair is thinning and you don’t have enough to build upon as a foundation.

In short, the hair thickeners don’t provide the dramatic results of fiber and powder concealers. Hair thickeners work best if you have very early thinning and lots of thinner hairs.

Using Concealers after a Hair Transplant

The impact of concealing agents can be remarkable, but they don’t work in a bald frontal area or places where there’s just not enough hair to work with. If you decide on a hair transplant to supply some needed hair, the concealing agents can work for a lifetime because the hair from a hair transplant lasts a lifetime.

Concealers that darken the scalp work well with transplants even if there’s either not enough hair or enough money to cover the whole head with transplanted hair. Figure 8-3 shows a man who would have been completely bald had he not had hair transplants. Unfortunately, he didn’t have enough donor hair to get the fullness he wanted, so he applied a concealing foundation to his scalp.

imageNote that the see-through appearance in the first and third pictures in Figure 8-3 show the thinning that the concealer masks in the second and fourth pictures. The hair transplant gave this patient his frontal hairline back, and with concealers and a combed back hairstyle that gives the illusion of more hair he has achieved his hair restoration goal and is a happy camper with minimal inconvenience.

Combinations of hair thickeners, hair fibers, scalp coloring, and hair transplants can contribute greatly to achieving the goals of an illusion of hair when, in fact, the hair isn’t all there.