Although not often talked about, hair loss is a problem that affects millions of men and women every year. Approximately 25 percent of men in the US notice thinning before age 21, and by age 35, two-thirds of American men will deal with thinning locks. By age 50, about 85 percent of men in the US experience significant levels of balding, while 50 percent of women 50 years of age or older also struggle with hair loss. Some conditions are temporary and are due to stress, medications, or other health conditions. But, androgenic Alopecia, or common male pattern baldness, is the most common cause of baldness in men and women, and the hair loss caused by this condition is permanent.

In the past, Alopecia sufferers had little choice but to accept their condition or attempt to disguise it with a phony-looking toupee or wig. But, modern hair systems offer a much more natural appearance and more versatility than replacement products of previous generations. Recent advances now allow Alopecia sufferers to select from a variety of options to custom design hair systems that align with their own preferences and comfort. When choosing a non-surgical replacement piece, here are some factors to consider to ensure you get a comfortable fit and the most natural look.

The Base Material

Modern hair systems are constructed with a foundation piece, or base, onto which the strands are attached or tied. There are two primary materials used to create the base, polymers and meshes. Polymer bases are made of silicone and polyurethane, and they offer a skin-like appearance and increased durability. Polymer bases are not breathable, however, and some wearers find them too warm and uncomfortable to wear long-term. Mesh bases are typically created from a nylon or polyester lace material, making them the more comfortable option. Mesh bases are more fragile, however, and therefore, they need to be replaced more frequently.

Strand Density

Strand density referes to the number of strands per centimeter attached to the system base. A greater strand density will naturally produce a fuller appearance. However, it is important to choose a density level that matches the thickness of your natural tresses to ensure a realistic look. For example, if your natural strands are fine, a heavy density piece will appear unnatural.

Strand Color, Texture, and Curl Levels

The best quality, and most expensive replacement systems comprise human hair that matches the exact color, texture, and curliness of the client's natural tresses. For a more budget-friendly option, consumers can choose synthetic or natural strands that have been colored and permed to match their look. To get an exact match, bring your stylist a lock of your strands from both the back and sides of your scalp, since hair is usually darker in the back. Alternately, your stylist can help you find your perfect shade with a color wheel at the salon.

If you are one of the millions of men and women who struggle with Alopecia, talk to your stylist to find the best replacement system option for you.