Hair system bases are one of the most crucial parts of a hair replacement system. Unfortunately they can also be the most confusing.
Strand-by-Strand, Skin Grafts, Hair Graft, Cosmetic Follicle Therapy, Follicular Hair Replacement, Clear Skin, Invisible Thin Skin, Super Skin, Silk Base, New York Lace, Hollywood Lace, High Definition, Wig, Men's 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 System Bases... 3 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.
Hair System Ventilation
Ventilation has a lot to do with both the appearance and durability of your hair replacement system. Knowing a little bit about ventilation and how the hair is attached might help you achieve a better looking hair system.
How is the hair attached? The most popular types of ventilation are called knotting, injection and looping. Knotting is most commonly used in lace hair systems but can also be used with poly hair systems as well. Injection and looping are often confused with one another. Both types are only available in poly hair systems as they appear as if the hair is growing from the scalp.
Injection Ventilation - is most common in poly hair systems as it requires a thicker base so the hair can be sealed between a layer of polyurethane and silicone. The best part is there is no hair return. That means all the hair follicles go in the same direction so tangling is rarely an issue.
Looping Ventilation - on the other hand means the hair is sewn through the base almost in a V or U pattern. There is a hair return with looping and it isn’t as strong as injection. However, the polyurethane layer can be much thinner.
The Hair Knotting Process
Knotting is most common in lace hair systems. The hair is tied around the mesh material in very tiny knots. These hair knots are usually available in a few different sizes: double knots, single knots and half knots.
Double Knot - is ideal for a very thick hair system density with lots of volume and height. The bigger hair knot size makes it difficult to lay the hair down flat so the hairstyle should be fuller.
Single Knot - is the easiest to lay flat and best suit a freestyle hair pattern.
Half Knot - is the smallest and most undetectable hair knot and provide some lift. The half knot is even smaller than a single knot and can also be used in a slick back hair style.
Bleached Knot - is bleaching which takes out most of the colour leaving a virtually invisible hair knot. The drawback is that it can weaken the hair knot reducing the lifespan.