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5 Pro Tips for Choosing the Right Density

Tuesday, February 05, 2013 8:00 AM  |  by HD-Susan
Choosing the right density

Density is clearly one of the biggest challenges in designing a hair system, especially when you're new to wearing hair or switching vendors. I'd rank it close to matching the wave or curl in your biological hair. It takes some practice. You need to plan ahead and think strategically.

When most women (and men, for that matter) decide to make the leap into wearing hair of any kind, they have visions of full, flowing, celebrity hair (most of whom are wearing some sort of supplemental hair, incidentally!).­ I get it. I was that girl once, too.

Before we start wearing hair, we spend our days consumed by our thin spots, constantly checking and rearranging to hide our scalps: teasing, spraying, poofing or giving up and wearing a hat, right? So, it makes perfect sense that once you make up your mind to wear hair, you want HAIR. Lots of it.

Well, here's the thing: Going from very thin hair to (what you think is) "normal" hair overnight can present some challenges.

Work your way up

Let's say your biological hair has very light, diffused density like mine, but you've never worn any kind of hairpiece, like a clip-on topper or integration unit. Even if you're close to my age (you'll have to guess), it probably wouldn't be wise for you to start with your ideal density. Here's why:

  • You'll look very noticeably different overnight
  • You'll probably have trouble learning to work with all that hair
  • You'll feel more self-conscious than you should have to
  • The hairpiece might feel heavy and uncomfortable to you

It might be better for you to order your first system at a more conservative density. After getting some experience with wearing hair and practicing your attachments, you could bump up the density by 10% on your subsequent orders to achieve the heavier look you desire. After a few months, you might decide you don't need it after all.

If you're biological hair loss is not terribly advanced and you're trying to nip it in the bud before it gets too noticeable, or if it's very light but you've been wearing a non-bonded hairpiece for a while, going right to your ideal density is probably more doable.

If you really don't care if people notice a dramatic change in your overall look (sometimes it can't be avoided) and you want to go for the full monty, you still need to consider the learning curve that comes with styling a full head of replacement hair.

Weigh-in before you order

Heavier density choices mean a lot more hair in your system, which translates to:

  • Heavier overall weight on your head (even heavier when the hair is wet)
  • More unwieldy and difficult to attach
  • Longer drying time

All of these things are easy to deal with over time, once you get used to them. But for brand newbies, the weight can be frustrating and cause additional complications when learning to do attachments and styling your new hair. You'll go from being frustrated by having to style too little hair, to being frustrated by having to style too much hair.

Account for wave and curl

The level (tightness) of a wave or curl can dramatically affect the fullness of hair and needs to be considered when choosing density. If you're confused, think perm. If you have poker straight hair and get a body wave, your hair will tend to look fuller. If you get a tight curly perm, your hair can look even bigger, especially if you're brave enough to comb it out. So, there can be a dramatic difference between like densities depending on how tight the curl or wave is, and that really needs to be considered when deciding which density to go with.

For example, I wear my hair at the same density for straight and wavy hair, but the wavy systems look a lot fuller. With a tight curl, I need to come down on the density drastically if I don't want to look like Roseanne Roseannadanna. I know this because I learned the hard way (I have proof but it's locked in the vault).

Trust me. Adjust accordingly.

Don't forget length and style

Similar to wave and curl, you need to consider the length of your hair and the style you wish to wear it in. If your hairstyle is a shorter cut with lots of lift or curl on top, you definitely don't want to start out with a heavy density or you'll really look like you're wearing a wig. The hair will likely be too dense and heavy to stay lifted and you'll get frustrated trying to get it to look natural. For longer, flatter hair you might want to be sure that the top is dense enough that you have full coverage on the scalp and a clear, healthy looking part.

Size matters

This final consideration is something that largely goes ignored as well, which is the relationship of the base size to the density. Depending on the wave/curl, hair length and style, you may want to significantly adjust the densities on the sides and back of a larger hairpiece so you don't have unnaturally bulky hair. Of course, with smaller hair systems you have to be careful that you size your base appropriately so that you're not just stuffing a ton of hair on top. More decisions to make...

All that said, getting the exact same density every single time is somewhat elusive. Because human hairpieces are handmade, density typically varies industry-wide about 5% from piece to piece. So, if you want to wear hair, you have to be flexible. Believe me, it's been my biggest life lesson in patience (and worth every test).

About HD-Susan

Integration units, clip-ons, bonded systems—even hair transplants—I‘ve been there and done that! After mastering bonded hair replacement, I started a consultation business and created a training system that educates women on how to transition into wearing bonded hair faster, with greater success, and less emotional fatigue. I posted in the HD forum for over 4 years as a client, and eventually joined the staff at Hair Direct as a content developer in 2012. My role focuses primarily on creating educational and instructional materials that can help you learn faster and make more strategic decisions so you can have a great experience wearing hair. It’s not just about looking good in your hair, it’s about feeling good under it too.


LadyPzaz said:

Awesome information, Susan - thanks so much, honey! Big Smile

Eileen622 said:

Excellent blog Susan, thank you! :D

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