Maybe you’ve been considering helper hair for awhile but haven’t been quite ready to take the plunge. You know it might help you feel better about this whole hair loss thing, but you’ve got some concerns. Hopefully I’ve addressed some of those (Yes! Helper hair can look natural. Yes! There are a ton of styles and colors available. Yes! It’s pretty affordable).
But, there may be one that weighs heavily on your mind. In fact, I’m sure of it because I get emails about this at least three times per week. They usually go a little something like this:
“Ok, Lauren. I’m ready to take the plunge. I want to start wearing hair but I have just one more question for you. Does wearing a topper with clips cause your hair to shed faster? Or, cause bald spots?”
In terms of causing hair to shed faster, that’s an easier one. For me, no, it didn’t cause increased hair fall.
Now, the bald spots…
That’s a loaded question. And it all depends on how you work with your topper.
Let me explain.
Traction Alopecia (bald spots) CAN Happen!
Bald spots can happen. It’s called “traction alopecia”, which is hair loss caused by continual pulling on that hair. You’ve probably seen traction alopecia before: men sometimes get it if they wear ball caps often (the cap rubs in the same place, day after day). Cultures that wear braids often have this issue. Lots of celebrities suffer from this (and regular people, too!) due to hair extensions.
If you’re not careful, it CAN happen to you…as it did to me.
Most toppers will arrive with 3-5 clips already sewn into the piece, and this is a-ok to start with. As you wear your topper day after day, week after week, however, you might find that your more sensitive areas are prone to bald spots. I don’t feel my topper pulling at all during the day, but, it must be…I have the proof, after all.
For me, I noticed this after about three months of continual wear—and while I’ve worn several different brands of toppers, it’s happened with every single one. Traction alopecia doesn’t discriminate, folks! I did sew in additional clips on the very first piece I wore, but I have NOT done it yet with my Milan.
(Interesting note – I only have bald spots in on the two areas in my pictures. The hair in the back of my head is unaffected, likely because it is stronger.)
Even though I noticed it, out of sheer laziness I didn’t do anything about it. I know this will sound crazy, but because I wear hair full-time with no plans on returning back to my wimpy bio hair, my bald spots didn’t phase me too much. Those of you wearing hair might understand (maybe!) but I’m sure those of you on the fence are reading this with a horrified look on your faces.
My #1 Rule to Prevent Traction Alopecia!
It’s fairly easy to prevent a good majority of traction alopecia due to topper clips by following the #1 rule I pass on about this subject. I’ve mentioned it in blog comments, within a post or two, and in every single email I’ve had you ladies about this topic: SEW IN EXTRA CLIPS.
Extra clips are your friend. They are the single best way to prevent traction alopecia/bald spots caused by clips pulling on your hair.
These are the ones I use: Topper clips
I’d recommend if you want to use these clips, you order with time to spare. I believe they come from China so they always take a few weeks to arrive. Why do I like these?
1) They have silicone to help prevent slipping (some will still happen but silicone definitely helps)
2) They are cheap!
3) You get a ton of them
Or, if you have older pieces laying around, harvest the clips from those. Sometimes, they “wear out” over time (meaning, they don’t hold as well because they get slightly bent out of shape, but in a pinch they will do.
If you have access to a local wig shop, you could ask if they carry them, too. The place near me (before I moved) charged $10 each, which was robbery, so I prefer to stick with ordering online.
One word of caution. The ones from Sally Beauty Supply did NOT work for me. Either my hair was too thin or they did not have enough grip, but my hair slid right through them. I’m not a very good sewer, and I was frustrated that I spent a good half hour sewing those on for them not to work at all.
(Don’t let this scare you–if you can sew a button, you can sew on a clip! I’m just not great at it, nor was I good in Home Economics, back in middle school.)
Here is my list of supplies needed to sew on additional clips to help prevent traction alopecia:
2) Curved needle—I highly recommend a curved, upholstery needle. Not only is it easy to weave in and out of the piece, but it’s stronger. You’ll need the extra strength on pieces that have a polyurethane (PU) rim. Many pieces have them, particularly at the front.
3) Thread—I just use any ol’ thread.
Sew the extra clips (make sure they are facing the correct way) around the perimeter of the piece. What I recommend is to flank any existing clips with new clips. So if you have one at back-center, sew one to the left and one to the right of it.
What this does it allows you to take pressure off your hair; every few wears you can use another clip location so you aren’t putting too much tension on one area of hair. We need to keep every precious hair we have, don’t you think?
So, what am I going to do about my bald spots?
Once I find the box my supplies are packed in, I think a little sewing project is in order. I’ve counseled you guys long enough on doing this, and it’s time I practice what I preach. I’ll be sewing in additional clips as soon as I can!
I’ll keep you all updated with pictures so we can see if the hair grows back. I’d imagine it will (it did with past pieces, but I HAVE been wearing this one awhile), but there likely comes a point of no return with traction alopecia if the hairs keep getting pulled out long enough, you know?
Current topper wearers, have you experienced bald spots cause of traction alopecia since you’ve started wearing hair?