A couple of years ago, I wrote an article advising people on how to deal with having little or no hair follicles on your head. It was motivational, it was empowering, and it referred to the towering blocks of sexy manliness of Jason Statham, Vin Diesel and Patrick Stewart.
Less than a year later, I proudly and publicly declared my hypocrisy by purchasing a hair system.
What is this sorcery, I hear you ask? Allow me to explain.
A hair system is a non-surgical hair replacement that uses either a lace front – a base made up of sheer lace – or a ‘skin’ – a base cap made primarily from polyurethane. The hair, which can be either natural or synthetic, is attached to the base and then worn as a wig, held on by either wig glue or tape. I’ve probably made it sound about as appealing as sleeping on a bed of Wotsits, but the results, as shown in the pictures, are spectacular.
When I was going into the process of doing it, I didn’t have a great deal to go off; a friend of mine had had it done and it looked incredible, so I was fascinated by it and went in for a consultation. While the woman guiding me through was extremely knowledgable and helpful, I was distinctly aware that it was her business and she ultimately was eager for me to buy this product – because essentially, that’s exactly what this is – at any cost.
So, thinking about getting something like this done? Allow me to be your hairy godmother, because my furry journey would’ve been a lot easier had I known this.
You will probably hate it at first, but don’t panic – you’ll get used to it
Here’s the thing – we rarely go into situations with our eyes entirely open, and often things don’t quite turn out how you’ve pictured it in your mind. We’ve all done the thing where we see an item of clothing either online or in a store that we fall head over heels for, imagine what shoes will go with it, and then we go to try it on, and we wonder who the fuck managed to get into the room with you without you realising, because that person in the mirror wearing that potato sack is not you.
This was the exact scenario when I saw myself wearing my first finished hair system for the first time.
Of course, like every person who’s ever had a bad haircut in the past, there was absolutely no way I could tell the lovely woman who’d just spent the past two hours making sure it looked perfect for me that I wanted it off my head now, please, I think I’d rather be bald. Instead, I smiled and tried to act delighted that I finally had hair, when in reality all I wanted to do was set fire to my hair and cry hysterically.
Because here’s what you don’t realise at first; when you first get your hair system, it has a lot of ‘bounce’, meaning it looks a lot bigger than it actually is. Obviously it depends on what kind of hair you get, whether it’s straight, curly or wavy, but mine basically looked like a giant Koosh Ball. There’s also the factor that after so long of seeing yourself in a certain way, it’s a massive shock to your system suddenly seeing yourself with actual hair on top of your head. Eventually, your hair will settle and look like it’s meant to fit your head, as opposed to you looking like a botched 80’s hair experiment.
That night, I had a gig to go to in central Manchester, and let me tell you, I have never been so self-conscious in my entire life – I was 100% convinced that everyone was staring at me thinking, ‘Oh my God, that kid has obviously pulled that wig off a dead hooker and glued it to his head.’ After the gig, I went out with some friends and got absolutely blind drunk, and when I got home, I stared at myself in the mirror and finally broke down and cried. All this time of wishing I had hair, and now it had happened, I wanted nothing more than to rip this wretched thing off my head and throw it in the bin.
I got over these feelings as the weeks passed, as my hair settled and I got used to seeing myself with it, but I wasn’t prepared in the slightest for that kind of initial visceral reaction. So stick it out if you feel panicked or second guess yourself – trust me.
Maintaining it can be an absolute bitch
As I mentioned, the hair system is kept in place either via glue or tape, depending on your preference. Both of them are specialist products, so they’ve not just broken into an art class and borrowed some supplies to stick on your head, so settle down. However, having said that, anyone who enjoys crafts knows that glue is the biggest bastard of all when it comes to washing off your skin, and this is a whole other level.
Every month or so, it’s a good idea to let your hair down and give it a good wash, as well as your head and the surrounding areas. And if you’re using glue – which I mostly do, purely because it’s a lot more flexible to manage when it comes to adjusting your hair and getting it on your head – it’d best to use a heavy flannel and a lot of shampoo. They should provide you with a glue release product that breaks down the glue and makes it easier to clean, and believe me, you will need it. If you think you’re using enough, trust me, you’re not. Go. Fucking. Apeshit.
Then there’s the question of washing and styling it. It’s recommended that you don’t wash it too often – once a fortnight is more than enough for me – and when you do, don’t rub into the roots, because that’s where your base is, and it’ll disrupt the elements of the glue. When it comes to styling, don’t be afraid to use a brush on it. I was scared to at first in case I ripped my base skin or too much of my hair fell out, but you have to treat it like real hair, otherwise there’s no point in having it.
It’s a lot cheaper than you’d probably expect
My first hair system cost me £600, which included the fitting and the styling. After that, you can choose whether you want to maintain it yourself, or you can make an appointment to go back whenever you like to have it re-touched and re-fitted for £40 per visit. Learning how to maintain it properly takes time, so I was making regular visits for the first couple of months, but now I go back every three months for a proper re-fit and do it myself the remainder of the time.
Your first hair system will probably only last you about six months, purely because you won’t be used to taking care of it – it’s like real hair, it falls out when you shampoo it or brush it or style it, except it doesn’t grow back like real hair, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. After that, it’s recommended that you replace your hair system with a new one every year – which will cost you £400, or £600 including fitting and styling costs – but it all depends on how well you take care of it. Still, when you consider that the average hair transplant costs anything from £3,000 to £10,000, it’s probably significantly less than you’d expect.
Here’s the big one – it will change your life
This’ll probably sound like a proper ‘first world problem’ kind of thing to say, but getting this honestly changed my life. It’s not like I wasn’t confident before I got it – I’m a bit of a poster boy for self-love and acceptance – but it transformed me to a different level. I finally felt like my hair reflected my character, the person I was meant to be, the genderless alt-model who people looked at in the street wondering what species it was and where it came from. I know that there are bigger things in life to aspire to, to want, and to look toward, but it’s not shameful to want something to make yourself feel better in your own skin, and I can tell you for nothing – well, for £600 – that I have never been happier, and that’s priceless.
And, by the biggest coincidence of my life, four days after I got my first hair system, I met the man who I am getting married to later this year. So y’know, if you want an affidavit, just check out the diamond on my finger, bitch, and know that it’s because of this weave.
For more information on hair systems, or just to gaze lovingly at more pictures of him, you can get in touch with Joshua via his Facebook page. Alternatively, if you’re interested in getting a hair system and want to know more, visit hair4all.com to find a representative in your area.