Hair Replacement Myths

Breathable Polyurethane – Big Myth. Just think about the plastic bags that come back with your dry cleaning. There is a serious reason why they are printed with a warning to keep away from children for fear of suffocation. You put a plastic bag on your head and you can’t breathe. So how in the world could a Polyurethane (plastic) hair replacement breathe? It can’t, it’s impossible. Now there are PU bases with small holes punched through them and from those holes air can come in but breathe—I think not. Also, PU used for hair replacement applications is in no way gas permeable, it is plastic plain and simple. Now silicone is a different story while it also cannot breathe, it is gas permeable, it takes on the body temperature so it is not hot to wear and it is extremely conducive to human skin contact. That’s why silicone is used in the medical world; it’s safe and extremely hygienic in nature. PU breaks down with body oils and acids and is not hygienic in any way that’s why it is extremely important that your attachment materials be of a the highest quality available since they are the buffer between your skin and the PU of your base or tape tab.

Actually the use of the word Breathable in the hair replacement industry is somewhat embarrassing as it is so not possible in the context in which it was introduced to the market and is another one of those “Let’s take their eyes out of their heads and convince them they can see better without them” marketing gaffs that was perpetuated for many years.

Remy Hair – this term has been used over and over and is really not such a big deal. Remy hair means that all the hairs (cuticle) are going in the same direction in the hair piece. Needless to say, all products made with human hair have the cuticle going in the same direction. Therefore all human hair products are made with Remy hair. Also, Remy only refers to hair in our applications; it has nothing to do with base materials or base constructions. That being said…..

Cuticle Hair – all hair has cuticle even hair that has been processed for use in hair replacements, wigs and extensions. This is why all hair is Remy hair. Cuticle hair essentially means that the hair has NOT been processed to “Reduce” or “Flatten” the cuticle to help reduce possible tangling. Cuticle hair, while very nice for a touch and feel, is not recommended for commercial use because of the greater possibility for tangling and the special requirements for ventilation that are not typical for standard production of hair goods. It is also more work and headache for the consumer. Cuticle hair is primarily for film and theatrical use, but is becoming more and more difficult to find in virgin form.

European / Virgin hair – Europe and mostly Italy for many years was the source for the best quality hair. The most coveted hair being “Italian Blue String”. This hair WAS pure virgin hair. There was absolutely no chemical on the hair whatsoever. The hair was collected in regions that had not been affected by the modern world. It was washed only once or twice a week at most, keeping the hair glossy due to natural oils from the scalp. The hair was never permed or colored at any time in its growth period.

If you check the import and export statistics for any one country or all of Europe and you will find that the same amount of Human hair enters the countries as is exported. Therefore the European hair is actually “Processed In Europe” hair. This hair, while “Virgin”, in the sense that it has not been treated to reduce the cuticle, is limited at best. We will see these influxes usually after some kind of war or instability in a region, most recently hair coming out of Eastern Block countries such as Bosnia. Generally speaking “Virgin European” hair is not cost effective for customers, retailers and production facilities. It is extremely expensive if you can find it.

Processed Hair – You’ve probably heard this term again and again, in fact, your probably wearing a piece with “processed hair” right now. There are a variety of reasons for “processed hair, too many to fit on this page.

Synthetic / Man Made hair fiber – for many years most manufactured hair systems were made exclusively of “Modacrylic” man made fiber. These are basically the same fibers used in the production of carpets, tooth brushes and other items we use on a daily basis. The difference in these fibers is mainly the diameter of the fiber and the dying process. The most commonly used names for synthetic fiber in the hair replacement industry are: Kanekalon – the first fiber designed specifically for the use in the hair industry. Toupelon – Kanekalon fiber that is treated for more natural color effects, more color fastness and more human hair like feel and movement.

Elura™ – a brand name Kanekalon fiber mainly used by fashion wig manufacturers.

Cyberhair™ – Cyberhair has some great properties that are not found in Modacrylic fibers. It has been manufactured with a type of “cuticle” treatment to the surface of the fiber allowing it to reflect light like human hair for a more natural appearance and better blending into the growing hair. It maintains moisture, has high color retention and has a much higher melting point than Modacrylic fibers. This means the fiber is stronger and can be curled with a higher heat without having the fiber singe, break or melt. It also means that you can go into a Hot shower or Sauna and it will not go flat.

NextGen™ Fiber – A product similar to Cyberhair available exclusively in the US through HN. Basically the two fibers are very similar in how they function. The main difference is the degree of heat needed to set the curl or wave in the fiber itself. NextGen™ has a high melting point like its counterpart but not quite as high. Why you may ask? We wanted to make this fiber a little more consumer friendly by making it a more flexible to work with. When a Cyberhair™ product is made and the curl has been set in the fiber, it is virtually impossible to change the curl pattern. NextGen™ fiber can be easily manipulated using common styling tools such as blow dryers and curling irons.

There are basic downsides to all synthetic fibers – even the high tech ones – and that is, it’s still synthetic. It will eventually stretch and frizz. With the new high tech fibers you will find that this action will take much longer to occur but eventually it will frizz. Modacrylic fibers will frizz on the ends and the fiber will break. This will happen quite quickly if not properly cared for. NextGen™ and Cyberhair™ fibers, because of their strength, will stretch, and the frizzing usually occurs at mid shaft rather than the ends, and usually will not break. Because the frizzing occurs at mid shaft, the option to slightly trim the fiber will not be a viable solution to eliminate the frizz and the system is basically shot. However, this will usually not occur until the system is very old and high performance synthetic hair will generally outlast the base it is tied into.