Base materials and designs are one of the most crucial parts of a hair system. Unfortunately they can also be the most confusing.
Strand-by-Strand, Hair Graft, Cosmetic Follicle Therapy, Invisible Thin Skin, Clear Skin, New York Lace, Hollywood Lace, High Definition, Wig, Hairpiece, Toupee.... What the?!?
Even though the hair replacement industry uses an abundance of decorative names to market these hair system bases, there really is only two types of basic construction materials: Polymer and Mesh Fabric.
Polymer Base Designs
Polymers create an imitation skin-like material and are commonly referred to as a 'poly' hair system because of their close resemblance to real skin tones.
Depending on the type of polymers used,
polyurethane bases can be extremely durable and because of this are sometimes added to other hair systems to strengthen stressed areas such as the part and the base perimeter. Polymer bases are constructed from two primary materials: Silicone and/or Polyurethane, they are not breathable and can be very hot and uncomfortable.
Silicone by nature is very durable as it repels body acids and other elements. However it cannot be dyed, so achieving a natural skin tone is difficult, plus attaching these hair systems with hair tape or hair glue is virtually impossible.
Polyurethane is not as durable as silicone but it can be dyed easily to resemble natural skin tones and can be more easily attached using hair tape and hair glue. On the downside, polyurethane is vulnerable to body acids and will turn yellow and breakdown over time. To overcome this, silicone and polyurethane are sometimes joined during construction of the base.
Mesh Fabric Base Designs
Mesh fabrics are used to create a fine lace material and are typically made of either nylon or polyester. There are hair system bases constructed entirely of mesh fabric, but more commonly this fabric (lace) is only used in the more exposed areas as they provide a more natural look. Depending on the weight / thickness of the material it may have a shorter lifespan.
Polyester (Lace) - is a multifilament (multi strand) fiber that is knitted, not woven. The knitting process gives it a distinct honeycomb look.
Nylon (Monofilament) - is a monofilament (single strand) thread woven to create the mesh.
Mesh fabric hair systems can be very delicate and easily tear. They are vulnerable to body acids which can cause early deterioration and damage. It is common to replace mesh fabric hair systems more regularly than a polymer hair system. Despite these drawbacks, mesh fabric remains the most popular type of hair replacement system. They consistently provide a natural and undetectable hairline plus they are comfortable and temperature cool to wear.
With hair systems... 3 base design categories reign supreme!
1. Lace Hair Systems - Made entirely of mesh fabric or lace material, these hair systems are the hottest trend in the hair replacement industry as they are the lightest and most breathable and offer the most natural appearance possible. A full lace hair system can be made from many different types of lace materials to increase the durability, however will probably have a limited lifespan and require more regular replacement.
2. Lace / Poly Hair Systems - To achieve the natural appearance of a total lace hair systems yet provide a longer lifespan, there are combination systems using lace material only in the front and hairline area. These poly / lace hair systems are available in a variety of different designs and materials. Mostly lace fronts with poly in the back and top are there to add strength and durability. The drawback is in the way they feel because of the varying weight between lace in the front and poly in the back; running your fingers through the hair will sometimes reveal a small 'bump' at the point where the two materials meet.
3. Poly Hair Systems - Hair systems made entirely of polyurethane are common because of their durability. The biggest drawback with poly hair systems is that they are not breathable. This makes them temperature hot and as a result less comfortable to wear than lace hair systems.