Hair Systems and the African-American Client

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THERE ARE MAJOR DIFFERENCES YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IN CREATING AND CARING FOR YOUR HAIR SYSTEMS, DEPENDING ON YOUR ETHNICITY.

The most important thing when it comes to choosing a hair system, no matter who it’s for, is that it has to have that natural frontal hairline that matches how your hairline looked before. “It’s the first thing people notice when you walk in the door,” claims Cynthia Turner-Primus, senior design consultant at HRS of Atlanta, a non-surgical hair replacement provider in Atlanta, Ga., in business for more than 32 years. “If the wind blows, you still want a natural look. You’ll still want to be able to style your hair without any inconvenience. You’ll want to let it down or have an elegant updo from the nape. But above all, you don’t want anyone to know you are losing your hair!”

Another commonality in all ethnicities is that hair systems for men are easier to create than hair systems for women. “Luckily,” says Turner-Primus, “there are lots of tips, tricks and technology now to accomplish this more natural-looking result in women, too.” She explains that in creating the hair system, the four most important differences to capture when designing for a black woman are the frontal hairline, the texture of the hair, the cap tone itself and the hair density. And, finally, a black woman’s hair system requires more diligent care because of the processing of the actual hair, which makes it more fragile.

Designing hair systems made for African-Americans

Hair texture: “Until recently, black hair never really looked natural on a wig or on a hair system: It was too wavy and had a hard shine on it, which does not look natural. Once we were able to get the right process on the hair, hair replacement systems for African-American women became a great option,” says Turner-Primus. “For Asians we’re able to match their hair texture exactly by using 100 percent human Asian hair, and for Caucasian women we use medium 100 percent human Indian hair for its natural wave variation, shine and volume while not being overly dense.”

Frontal hairline: “It doesn’t matter who the individuals are or what their ethnicity is, we are trying to match their natural look, the way it used to be before they lost their hair. And the best way to do that is through pictures. We can hand customize and re-create any hairline whether it needs to blend with existing hair or on a full cap of hair, and we try as hard as possible to mimic the person’s hair as it used to be,” adds Turner-Primus. A lot of the customization to the person’s formal style or ethnicity will happen upon the final cutting, designing and styling of the hair system while the client is wearing it.

Hair density: “Hair density definitely differs among ethnicities,” states Turner-Primus. “While we can match the hair texture by using different types of hair to begin with, we are careful to match the necessary density the person used to wear, as well. Especially for African-American women, too much density in a hair system can be overbearing, particularly if they’ve been without hair for some time,” she adds. The main thing is that it shouldn’t look like a wig, which is often too thick and dense.

Base tones: While most Caucasian and Asian women use the same basic neutral base tones, African-American women come in many different skin tones and hues, which must be customized and personalized at the base for a natural-looking scalp, as if the hairs are growing right out of it and it perfectly matches the client’s skin tone.

Caring for hair systems made for African-Americans:

  • Never brush hair from the top of the crown downward, because hair can get mixed and matted. Brush from the ends first, working your way up to reduce tangles. The hairs are not attached to a live follicle, so they can un-knot or simply break off. Caucasian hair can be a little silkier, so you can brush it gently.
  • Wear a satin hair cap to bed, or make sure hair is safely contained in two loose ponytails or braids. Because of the hair’s chemical processing, it tends to mat very quickly if not protected at night.
  • When shampooing, always do so in a shower and always in the direction that water and the hair naturally flow, which is down. Never pile hair up or rub it around. You must minimize tangling at all cost. Just massage gently with fingers at the cap to push shampoo and water through to clean your scalp underneath.
  • Use a spray-in, leave-in conditioner to avoid buildup at the cap. Brush from the ends first, working out any tangles.
  • Use special products and tools formulated and created for use on hair systems that your hair replacement specialist recommends and shows you how to use, no matter what your ethnicity. And stick to the same line of products.
  • All tools should be used on the lowest heat setting, especially for hair systems for African-Americans, since the hair is already processed and more fragile.

“It’s a learning curve,” says Turner-Primus, “one that I take very seriously. I really listen to my clients about what they need their hair to do, and I take my time to show them how to get the best results. I let them participate in making choices in the creation of the hair system so they can have a vision of what they’re going to look like in it — then I help make it come true!