Introducing…My Bald Spots. Boo.

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?”

Hmm.

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.

traction-alopecia

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.

traction-alopecia-bald-spots

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:

1) Clips
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?

Oh, and check out this post I came across that has some interesting ways to treat hair loss. Maybe if I’m feeling ambitious and try one it may help with some of those bald spots I have.

41 thoughts on “Introducing…My Bald Spots. Boo.”

  1. You mentioned a glue or roll on adhesive but I was unable to locate the brands , could you please let me know . Thank you . I’ve only been wearing a topper for a couple of months and like you I wasn’t careful and I already have bald areas , I’m ordering a larger base for my next topper tomorrow. I will see about the weight or have as much hair thinned out as I need, to lighten the load . It’s good we have these options and we don’t have to be depressed about our bio hair .

  2. I have bald spots from the two front clips (Top Secret) but they hurt SUPER bad! They are red & irritated, scabby, & have been infected I am pretty sure. I finally bought a wig it was so bad. But as it turns out, the back of my head is super flat & it won’t stay on. (I also have never been able to wear those round elastic headbands, they “pop” right off my head.) Anyone else have it this bad? Some days I snap the dang thing off in the car on the way home it hurts so bad. I will try to move the clips around a bit, see if that helps.

    • I have a flattish head, as well! For wigs, I like to use a hair net underneath, and secure the hair net to the nape of my neck with topper clips. It helps keep the wig in place without needing a headband.

  3. One more question….If I order more clips should they be larger than what is currently in the topper, smaller or same size? My hair is super fine and slipping through the clips currently in the topper. Does that mean the clips are the wrong type or size? This is so confusing! Again all the company would tell me was that I did not have enough hair to hold in place which means I need a bigger topper. Problem is they don’t have the one I purchased with a larger base or in HD. Ugh!

    • Clips, I find, are a matter of preference. Some like larger, some like smaller. I prefer to keep with the same size as the piece. Just make sure you are adding grip to your own hair by teasing/hairspraying/dryshampooing – this will help it grip the clips.

  4. Hi Lauren – wondering if you can use the 2B Glue applied to the hair and not just the scalp? I think I purchased a topper that was too small bc the clips won’t catch my hair. The problem is I LOVE the topper bc it matches my hair perfectly, it’s HD and I cut it before realizing it was not gripping properly.

    I called the company Jon Renau and they only said it was too small even though it’s listed under the type of hair thinning I have (more hormonal thinning no balding). Wondering if I add more clips or try this gel. Just don’t want to damage my bio hair especially in the front if you can only use this directly on the scalp.

    Thanks for your help!

  5. Hi Lauren – I happened upon your blog and I’m so glad I did. I’ve worn a topper for several months now and have 3 vals spits from the clips. Didn’t know this would happen but I will try using clips in different places. Does the toll on adhesive work? Is there anything that will work besides clips? Also, what is the Milan that I’ve seen mentioned? This is such a hard thing. I appreciate any help.

  6. I’ve been reading many of your posts. They’ve been helpful with considering whether or not to get a topper. I have telogen effluvium and I am going on 3 months next week, with 40% hair loss so far. I’ve heard it can go on for 6 months. At some point my hair will be significantly thinner by the time it stops…(if it does!) I have to say though, reading this scared me enough to put it off longer. I don’t even know if wearing a topper for hair loss is a smart thing to do. Seeing that it is causing traction alopecia (which CAN be permanent) it’s defeating the purpose of trying to regrow healthy hair. I honestly think if it gets to the point where I’m uncomfortable with letting anyone see my thinning hair in public I may very well opt for a wig. :/

  7. Hi Lauren.
    I have been wearing a topper for almost 2 yrs. I currently wear the Easipart XL synthetic in 4 or a 6 Brown shade.
    Id love to try a Noiriko topper. I’m considering the Milan but I have more layers in my bio hair and curious if you would recommend something similar to the Milan but maybe a style with some longer layers. My bio hair is past my shoulders, collar bone length.
    I’m struggling with the synthetic hair. I have used your truck with deshining and like the results. Purchased the leave in conditioner as well. But the synthetic is staticy and somewhat hard to style.
    Just hoping for a recommendation.

    Kellie

    • Hi Kellie – Milan could be a good option for you…it can certainly be cut/more layers added. I’m curious as to how you are getting static. That’s an issue I’ve yet to have. What brush are you using? Another option to look at is the Estetica Wiglet 413 — similar in style but not a ton of layers. Just another option, though!

  8. First – I Love love love your site. I have alopecia areata – just diagnosed 4 months ago when a LARGE bald spot appeared, and your site is has been so helpful even though my loss is in random patches (mostly the huge bald spot nape of my neck!) I found a fun-bun from easihair that i just love thanks to reading about your ideas here.

    As far as your bald patches, have you ever tried a wig grip or wig hair grip to attach instead of clips? I was recently reading/watching you tube videos about this. It’s supposed to make it so you can attach wig to your head without having to use clips. If you do try it, please post a review!!

    And, I’d love it if you ever post a chart sometime of all the wigs you’ve tried — maybe with your ratings like 4-stars or something in an easy guide for referral for those of us that want to read a quick summary of your reviews from time to time. Again, THANK YOU. You are amazing!

  9. Hi Lauren! Hope all is going well with the move! Your bio hair looks like it has come a long way since you’ve started this website. Are you currently doing/taking anything to help with your hair? Thanks! 🙂

  10. Hi Lauren! I alternate between toppers and wigs so I haven’t noticed the traction loss as of yet. I also have sewn in extra clips to change it around a bit and use the roll on adhesive to secure it in the front. It’s great as its temporary enough that I can easily take it off with a little water…it doesn’t pull out my bio hair either. But it’s strong enough for a wild night lets just say! I was SOOO worried about it coming off at the worst possible moment! The glue is great to keep it in place! No embrassing moments. I also find my older topper the most comfortable and easy to wear. New ones take some time to work them in. I recently got a great human hair topper and the top is like half of the milan…I thought it wouldn’t work…but it does and it looks and feels so light and great! Thanks for sharing the tip about sewing in extra clips. Yeah…my sewing stinks…I’m going the crazy glue route next on the next one!

  11. Have you or anyone else tried wig tape to give more support to the topper? I am wondering if that is better than various types of bonding goo. My topper is in the process of being colored to match my hair so I have not worn it yet. I am trying to gather up any needed supplies “just in case”. With my bio hair being so sparse I do have some topper anxiety.

  12. Oh my gosh! Can you tell me how the first day of work went in your topper? I am pretty sure I will be wearing mine to work for the first time tomorrow. I work with around 100 women and although I feel better than if I worked with men-it still is making me so nervous. I want to vomit! I keep taking pictures and fussing with it to make sure it looks normal. Wish me luck tomorrow! I wanted to thank you because you and your blog are one of the reasons I am able to do this with more confidence then I think I actually have.

  13. My head looks identical to Lauren ‘ s and I got that from wigs. I just purchased my first topper – human hair and it is loaded with clips which I am going to have to rearrange around bald spots. I will buy some “JR It Stays” from Patti’s Pearls. She has a video on how to use it and it sure appears to work well. *Roll on adhesive.

    • It Stays is by a different company than JR, but yes, it works pretty well! I have some myself. You can put some in the clip area and it kind of hardens (but safely!) to reduce slipping.

      • You can use that stuff on hair? I always thought t was for bare skin. So you put it on the hair where the clips fall and then clip in the topper? I might have to try some! I’m just worried about it pulling out whatever little hair I have left haha

        • You’ve got it! Just remove your topper gently and mist your hair with water to remove the product (or flick some water from your fingers). Washes right out with just water.

  14. A timely post as I have been wondering about this recently.
    For me the weight of the topper is definately a factor. When I was wearing my 2 ounce topper I did not have the bald spots but since I switched to a 4ounce topper the bald spots at the sides of my head where the clips attach have appeared 🙁

  15. I was just wondering how you are able to still attach your topper in the areas with the bald spots? Still have not taken the plunge, but I feel like I am getting closer. Thank you again for this blog.

    • I have no idea – it somehow works. I think I continually mash it down further on my head until it finds something to grab. Or, I adjust the placement slightly. I definitely need to sew/glue more clips in.

  16. Ah the joys of helper hair side effects!
    Funny, all my toppers came with clips like the ones you prefer. I actually prefer the ones from Sally’s but could take either style. I just found the Sally’s ones to be stronger and I like the grippies on the tips, and that the clip/comb fingers are longer. I have had a number of clips break (the fingers on the clip) and like you, I suck at sewing. I won’t even attempt it on my silk top because I am afraid of tearing the silk. So I use super glue! Works pretty well, and if one ever comes loose, just glue it back on. I did this the other day. Took probably 9 months for it to come loose. Anyway, just another option for anyone who can’t handle sewing. I have also glued and sewed, for extra support!

    • If I ever find the box that has those clips I am sending them to you, Kim! They are all yours! 🙂

      Good point on the super glue – I totally forgot about that option!

      • But the clips you order are a MUCH better deal! The box from Sally’s truly is a rip off, you get like 5 clips.
        My sewing is truly a work of art. Luckily the clips don’t need to be seen because it’s a Frankenstein looking job under there.

  17. I can totally relate. I have been wearing toppers for over 2 years now and have 2 bald spots on the sides of myheads. It didn’t phase me, my hair sytlist told me that it would come back. Well…. I still have my bald spots and my stylist now just moves the clips around with each piece I wear. I feel like it’s time to start shaving my head and start gluing my toppers on. I am so apprehensive about it though. I don’t know why, it’s not like I can do anything with my bio hair. I am just getting sick of the

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