What is a bonded hair system?
by Rebecca Dawe
Bonded hair systems are a method of using tape and or glue (usually together) to attach a topper/hair system for several weeks at a time. This type of system is suitable for men and women who have very little hair on the crown. It is also used to cover up bald patches on the scalp caused by radiotherapy.
You can bond on almost any base, except silicon. PU/polly edges around your hair system will provide a much easier foundation for hair system glue in terms of durability and clean up. Lace front hair systems take a little longer to clean up and you must be more careful as they are more fragile. However, for exposed hairlines the extra effort is worth it.
Hair bonding system process
Different salons will use different processes for hair bonding systems. It can be difficult to find an exact match for your hair colour or density so many bonded hair systems will be custom made. Different establishments will have different waiting times ranging from 4 weeks to 4 months.
A mould is taken of your head, either to have the unit made to that exact size, or to use as a template to cut around once the unit has arrived. This will ensure the hair system fits perfectly, which is particularly important with bonding to prevent lifting and ridges around the edges.
Applying a bonded hair system is a two person job, so if you plan to do this at home you will need some assistance to line it up correctly when applying to the scalp. Your head will need to be thoroughly cleaned and scalp protectant used. Usually the stylist will outline where the unit will be positioned on your scalp and then medical tape or glue (usually both) applied around the outline. Your new unit will be fixed and then styled as required.
I have seen the application process where the stylist shaves the area that will sit under the unit. I’ve also seen units directly bonded to the head with hair on. It is obviously easier and cleaner to shave the area but it might not be something you're comfortable with.
Hair replacement glue and tape
I can’t advise you the best glue or tape to use because each one has its own purposes and the composition of your sweat plus lifestyle will determine which is best for you.
Before you try any glues you should do a patch test, usually just behind your ear, for 48 hours before trying it out. There are two types of glue:
White bond for hair systems
White bonds appear white on application and then dry clear. Brands like Ghost bond come in many solutions and are suited to different situations, water proof, oily skin etc. If you’re using a white bond on an exposed lace front please note that the bond will return to white when wet and dry clear again after. If you plan on swimming or know you’ll be exercising for an extended period it's a good idea to have an extra head covering such as a hairband.
Clear bond for hair systems
These are hard bonds such as the brand Walkers. These are strong and far more likely to cause irritation for some wearers.
As with glue there are a variety of brands to choose from. You can purchase tapes in rolls, which is cheaper, or readily contoured which is quicker to apply. The blue roll tape provides a strong hold on PU edges. Lace tape is gentle for lace fronts. I personally use Walkers ultra hold.
Heat, sweat and oils are the biggest issues with hair bonding as they can cause them to unstick.
Everyone reacts differently to tapes and glues and you will probably have to experiment and work out which ones work for you. The design of your hair system will also determine which products you can use.
How long does it take in install a hair bonding system?
Applying a brand new hair bonding system is fairly quick but you do have to factor in the styling time. Approx 60 mins.
How much do bonded hair systems cost?
This largely depends on the type of hair system you're bonding, size, length of hair, how frequently it needs replacing all effect the cost. You will also need to factor in your stylists hourly rate.
A standard bonding unit is typically a monofilament top with a PU edging and they range between £500 - £1000. I’d like to add, at this point my systems do not cost that much! You can expect to get around 6 months wear from them. Stylist charges are around £50 - £80 per hour.
Maintenance of bonded hair systems
The front hairline (if exposed) may need sticking down around every 7 days (as it’s prone to lifting) and this can be done by yourself in the comfort of your own home. Your stylist should advise you how to do this. The whole system will need removing and reattaching at least every month. If you go to the gym and sweat lot, it may need to re-attach every 2-3 weeks.
You may also get a small lifting spot at the hairline from time to time, so it’s always best to be prepared and carry around with you some glue and a toothpick (to spread it on with) just in case. This is only vital if you have your fringe area off your face.
Removal and reattachment should take about 90 mins. The cleaning of the system takes the longest part in this process.
With any attachment you can save yourself an expense if you can remove it at home and clean up your own scalp before going into the salon. If you do not like to see yourself without your hair then it’s best to get the whole procedure done through your stylist.
Who can have hair bonding?
Anyone can have hair bonding systems, provided that you don’t react to the tapes and glues, it’s usually used where you don’t have any hair or very little hair.
What does it feel like to wear a bonded hair system?
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 systems can take a little time to get used to and you will be more aware of your system in bed than any other time. 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 people 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
Some other tips
You cannot get the glue wet for the first 24 hours so after every new application absolutely no gym or showers.
I personally found it was a bit itchy in the heat and after a couple of weeks of application.
Removing and re-sticking any lifting parts is a bit sticky and messy.
Overall though, if you want an attached system and have very little hair on top it’s a great solution. I don’t mind hair bonding and personally wore one for 2 years.
Tips for finding a salon
Hair bonding systems are 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 take photos and check your hair health?
- Ask to speak to some existing clients.
- How long have they been doing bonded systems?
- 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?
- Ask if they use a variety of tapes and glues
- Ask what systems they offer
- Check they do a patch test
- They should ask you lots of questions about your hair and lifestyle.
It may be a challenge to find someone who will do the application if you have bought the system somewhere else. It’s quite unlikely if you approach someone who already offers this as a specialist service.
Start with the salons listed on the NHS referral list for your area. If no luck call the ones listed in the “my New Hair” salons directory. Failing that, learn how to reattach yourself and show a good friend or loved one (it’s actually not difficult) so they can help you line it up properly. You could also ask a mobile hairdresser if they are willing to help.
There is always a way!
I hope now that you have a much better understanding of bonded hair systems. If you would like one made, please get in touch and I can advise the best route to to take. Rebecca@hairnecessity.co.uk