How much hair?
With a wig, I can generally guesstimate how much hair I will need; however, with a hairpiece this is more complicated as one has to think:
How big is the hairpiece?
How dense does the hairpiece need to be?
Will the hairpiece be totally hand tied?
Is the hairpiece going to be really short or really long or somewhere in the middle?
Length and density can dramatically affect the amount of hair needed, and hand tying has implications over a hairpiece that incorporates a mixture or weft and ventilation.
Big versus Small Base?
Another aspect to think about when they are planning a hairpiece is:
How big does the base really need to be?
When I was working with people who had hair loss, I noticed that there was a tendency for people to want to get the biggest hairpiece possible, but this does not always work out for the best:
- The wearer was over-compensating for their loss and needed less hair. Too much hair looks fake.
- As with wigs, a lot of hairpieces are made with excess hair which means they are far denser than a normal/average head of hair would be. In reality this means that the bigger the base, the more excess hair there is - this is hair which we would not normally have on our heads and suddenly there it is... and you know what? It looks fake too. This is, unfortunately, especially true when you put such a hairpiece on the head of someone suffering from partial hair loss/alopecia. The thick density of the hairpiece does not blend well with the natural density of their own hair: the two do not merge. Sometimes people with hair loss have to adapt to the fact that the hair they have left has changed, and rather than trying to achieve what they used to have, it is better and more realistic to work with what they have - thus someone who used to have thick hair may find that when replacing what is lost, to effectively blend it with what they have means they end up with a medium density. For those wearers who do not like this idea, a wig can sometimes be better as there are less or no issues of blending with their own hair.
- A smaller base - If the person wants to compensate for one or two layers of hair, a small hairpiece can work wonders. Sometimes less is more! In this situation, hairpiece base length tends to be more important than width. The hairpiece needs to cover the front to crown to provide a sheet/wall of hair falling down over the person's own hair, whereas width just adds more hair so 2 inches for minimal loss or someone wishing to cover their roots would work well.
- Rethinking the large base - Sometimes it is better to stick with a large base rather than ventilating the same amount of hair as you intended to 'replace' into a smaller base, as this can result in a dense/thick hairpiece and a poor blend between the wearer's hair and the hairpiece. Instead you would ventilate less hair into a larger area of base material; this results in the hair being spread over a greater area, thus looking more natural rather than having a lot of hair ventilated into a small area and looking like a great clump/chunk of hair plopped on top of someone's head. If you do decide to ventilate less hair into a larger base, it is worth thinking about the part line (if there is one) and ensuring that it will be dense enough.