A guide to hair integration
by Rebecca Dawe
There seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding hair integration and that’s for a good reason. A lot of the salons that offer the solution, charge pretty high prices, use confusing terms and dressed up language to sell something that isn’t particularly complicated . It’s not revolutionary and it’s not new. Afro carribean hairdressers have been using these techniques for decades.
This is a totally honest guide about exactly what it is, what’s involved practically and financially.
Hair integration can be life changing but as with all hair loss solutions there are compromises and it’s important to understand what is involved before committing financially and emotionally.
What is hair integration?
To save confusion this blog is not about the hair pieces also called hair integration units. These units are designed to give volume to hair but are not suitable for patches of hair loss on the crown as the net is completely visible. I have seen salons offering this type of solution, calling it hair integration and it looks terrible on the wrong client.
Hair integration systems are a method of attaching a topper and weft hair extensions to your natural hair when you don’t have enough hair to attach them in the traditional ways. The hair system is attached for weeks at a time, so you can sleep in it, exercise and shower. You never have to see your hair loss again and no one will ever need to know.
Sounds too good to be true right? Well it is a bit. Here’s the stuff you won’t be told but should know.
Here’s the process
A piece of mesh is attached your head by pulling what hair is available through the holes in the mesh and securing with microbeads (these are the same beads used by hair extensionists to apply single piece hair extensions). Good salons will take the time to shape the mesh to your head by darting the material, although I have seen lots that don’t.
Once the mesh has been secured to your scalp a topper (a parting) will be stitched to the mesh. Toppers come in various sizes and qualities. The best ones have a silk base and are larger.
When the topper is secure, weft hair extensions will be sewn around the mesh base. Again the quality of hair extensions varies dramatically.
Some technicians use lace fronts so the units can be worn off your face and you have a natural hairline.
How long does it take?
Although it’s not technically difficult for any experienced hair extensionist to apply, it does take a very long time to install. Typically six hours in the salon chair and more than one stylist is involved.
How much does it cost?
Quality hair is pretty expensive as well as the time required to install the unit, by usually more than one technician, will set the initial cost from £1800, with the large salons charging a lot more. However, you do need to consider that they have high rents and qualified staff to pay.
This is only part of your financial commitment. . Every month there are maintenance costs that, at a minimum, will cost around £80. The hair wefts and the parting will need changing every few months which will cost many hundreds. A lot of salons do not remove the systems regularly so when they do it’s a huge job and yep lots of money. It’s not unrealistic to expect your yearly costs to be around £4000! So before you get attached for the first time physically and emotionally make sure you have the funds.
How much maintenance is involved?
Various salons will have different procedures but it’s fairly typical to be required to attend 6 weekly maintenance appointments.It is vital you attend these sessions to keep your integration looking natural. However, some technicians will only tighten a system or complete any repairs. They do not remove the system, clean everything up and reattach. I’ve heard that some salons leave customers in systems for over six months. Not only is this unhygienic but, as talented as your technician is, they have no idea how your hair is coping with the strain underneath.
It’s not uncommon to have a system removed to discover your hair loss has progressed. The issue is that it can’t be proved the system caused the problem as it may have happened anyway.
How long does a system last?
Lots of salons will claim that a system can last you 2 years, to help justify the spend. However, during this time you will frequently replace the partings and weft hair extensions so the only thing that actually lasts 2 yrs is the mesh base. After 2 years, some salons will insist you need to replace the entire unit again.
Who can have integration?
An experienced technician should do all the checks to make sure your hair is strong enough to support a system. The system is a very good solution for sufferers of trichotillomania and female pattern baldness.
There are lots of places that will install them for any conditions and you will need to sign a contract to say it’s at your own risk.
What does it feel like to wear?
The first few days the system will feel quite tight until it settles in a bit. There is something attached to your head so of course you will be aware of it but, if you love the system, you will be prepared to live with it and forget your wearing it most of the time. At times it can be itchy so it’s best to get into good practices when washing your system and the products you use.
Sleeping in hair integration can take a little time to get used to and you will be more aware of your system in bed than any other time as it’s pressing against the head and adding tension. You may be advised to tie back your hair to prevent tangling. Sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase will help prevent tangling and drying out your hair.
It’s not uncommon, after the initial elation of having hair again, to change your mind and regret doing it. It can be hard to adjust to a new you and you will think everyone can tell it's a wig. If installed correctly they look undetectable and incredible but It can be difficult to see past the new you.
Allow yourself 2 weeks to adjust to the new system. Usually after that period most women realise they love it and it has utterly transformed how they feel about themselves. In fact it can be very difficult to see it removed again!
Washing hair integration
The usual hair care routine for washing hair extensions applies to hair integration. No conditioner on the roots. Use quality products, no rubbing at the hair to wash or dry.
Any hair additions can take a pretty long time to dry. It’s best to leave it to dry naturally for as long as possible before you blow dry it.
Never go to bed with wet hair.
Tips for finding someone to do it
Hair integration is still a niche service and some areas will have more options than others. If you’re struggling to find someone, get in touch and we will try to help. The following is some information I’d gather before committing to a system.
An estimation of your yearly costs.
Have they checked your hair to see if it’s suitable?
Will they remove it regularly and takes photos and check your hair health?
Check the parting piece used. How often do they typically replace these? Is it a silk base?
What hair extensions are used and how long do they typically last?
Ask to speak to some existing clients.
How long have they been doing integrations?
What styling is possible with the hair?
Do you have to purchase their products for shampoo etc?
What guarantees do you get about installation and the materials used?
How much support is on offer?
Hair Necessity hair integration solutions
To address many of the issues in the market place we have developed our own, much more convenient and purse friendly products.
Extensioniser ™ £220
This full hair integration system can be installed in under 2 hours by any hair extensionist and requires just one maintenance session a month, when your hair integration will be removed, reconditioned and re-attached to keep it in tip-top condition. You will need to purchase around 150 - 200g of weft extensions which your hair extensionist can supply or can be purchased from us. Watch video here:
Parting enhancer £275
Not all ladies need to cover a large area of hair loss and a typical hair integration system is not necessary. If your hair loss is just from the parting area why not just attach a quality parting piece. It only takes around 40 mins to install!
Tressform enhancer £350
If you don’t quite have enough hair for the parting enhancer but do have thicker, stronger hair a couple of inches below then the tressform enhancer is a great choice. This unit is a completely hand tied piece and super fast to install.
Confused? Read blog: Which product is best for hair integration/ semi perm attachment https://hairnecessity.myshopify.com/admin/blogs/1861255195/articles/386187919432