There are a number of products on the market that can very effectively reduce the appearance of thinning hair. Initially my thoughts on these were a little negative, but I have since seen results that have amazed me. For men and women with thinning hair, the current range of cover-up products provides an excellent short-term alternative that can look very natural.
The basic principle behind all these products is to remove the contrast between hair and skin, to stop the scalp showing through. Users must have some hair in the area to be thickened as the products cannot create the appearance of hair where there is no hair. Obviously they are not intended for bald people.
Declaration of Financial Interest
Marcus White (co-author of this resource) acts as the Australian agent for the Toppik and Couvre range of products.
As I mentioned before, there is a product that has amazed me – Toppik, which comes in a salt-shaker type container. It is basically thousands of tiny hair fibres charged with static electricity, which you apply by shaking the container over the thinning areas. The fibres electrostatically attach to the hairs in the application area and in less than a minute it is possible to camouflage mild-to-moderate hair loss with a result that looks totally natural.
The fibres are made almost entirely of an organic keratin protein, with the balance being colouring agents and glidants (these aid in the ‘flow’ of the product) to allow it to blend seamlessly with the hair. Toppik is not damaging to the hair or scalp and can be used daily.
It is not supposed to come out in the wind or in the rain or while you are sweating. I have heard stories from clients about their experiences with Toppik that confirm these claims.
One of my patients had undergone a hair transplant procedure one week prior to his commencement of using Toppik, and had a thin coverage of about 25 per cent all over the top. The post-operative scabs were clearly visible and he was to attend a wedding that weekend. The wedding reception was held in a marquee on a sweltering summer afternoon. He reported to me that he danced most of the afternoon and evening and sweated profusely throughout that time. At no stage did the Toppik run down his forehead or embarrass him in any way.
Toppik can be used in conjunction with pharmaceutical treatments such as Propecia or Rogaine. It is a dry, colourfast fibre and will not stain clothes or pillowcases. If you get any on your clothes it is simply a case of brushing it out. The only way to remove Toppik from your head is by shampooing the hair. It is not waterproof and as such does not maintain its appearance after swimming.
Toppik is available in various colours, as listed below. Sometimes the best results can be achieved by combining two colours, such as medium brown and light brown for somebody with variable light brown hair. Hair is rarely all one colour – it is usually a combination of shades. Toppik works best with Toppik Fibrehold Spray, which also adds some shine to the fibres. The manufacturer claims that, unlike ordinary sprays, this one is made from alpha-grade resins, which increase the bond between the hair and the fibres. This may or may not be the case. I have seen this product produce, however, a healthy shine to the fibres. Naturally, growing hair has a coating of sebum on the cuticle that gives the hair a natural sheen. Toppik fibres do not have this sebum and, as such, can look matte in the darker colours or when the ratio of fibres to naturally-growing hairs is a little low. Toppik Fibrehold Spray used after the application of fibres will give them a natural sheen and help them blend in with your own growing hair.
Toppik is available in the following colours:
- Black (blue-black, very dark and generally only suitable for people of Asian and Indian descent)
- Dark brown (very dark, almost a Caucasian black – most people who think their hair colour is dark brown actually have medium brown hair)
- Medium brown
- Light brown
The product Couvre is marketed as an alopecia-masking lotion. It is a liquid, oil-based scalp colourant and is applied with a sponge applicator that is included with the product. It works primarily by reducing the contrast between the remaining hair and the scalp that is showing through. It is applied directly to those areas that are thinning and does add some volume to the hair at the base of the scalp.
Couvre is not really beneficial in the frontal hair line but can be applied to thinning areas, no matter how large they are. As long as there is a moderate amount of hair remaining, it is possible to provide a very natural and much-improved appearance. Being an oil-based product, Couvre will not be affected by the rain or sweat, and you can even swim with it. It is easily removed by shampooing out.
Couvre is made of natural vegetable oils and colourings and is similar to a foundation for the skin. It can be used in conjunction with Propecia or Rogaine. Simply apply the Rogaine and wait for it to dry and then apply Couvre over the top.
Couvre will stain clothes and sheets if it comes into contact with them.
Couvre is available in the following colours:
- Dark brown
- Medium brown
- Light brown
Dermatch is similar in principle to Couvre. It is sold as a solid, compressed powder in a form similar to a woman’s compact, and is applied with a small sponge applicator. The suggested application method is to wet the applicator and then rub it onto the Dermatch.
Dermatch is available in a number of colours:
- Dark brown
- Medium brown
- Light brown
Dermatch is waterproof and washes out with shampoo, but I am led to believe it will stain pillowcases if not washed out prior to sleeping.
Various sprays have been on the market for many years and I have seen some people use them effectively. They generally come in an aerosol container and are sprayed onto the thinning areas from a distance of about 30cm. The result can look very matte or powdery and I am told it can run if you get caught in the rain. Again, this product will stain bed sheets and clothes on contact.
You should confirm all claims of ‘waterproof’ and ‘sweatproof’ for yourself if you intend to use any of the products described above. Apply them at home when exercising, or wear them in the backyard in the rain, to see if claims made in relation to their effectiveness in such situations are accurate. This will give you peace of mind if you are caught in one of these situations.
Cosmetic concealers can make thinning areas virtually ‘disappear’ in some cases. I have found these products to be very good in the following circumstances:
- 1. To thicken up localised areas of thinning to delay surgical treatment, or in conjunction with medical treatments such as Propecia.
- 2. For use after surgery to conceal the visible signs of the procedure.
- 3. For women with diffuse thinning whose only alternative may be a wig.
No concealing product can create the appearance of hair where there is no hair, so these products are NOT for bald people.
The website www.hairtransplantnetwork.com has in its discussion area a section called Shampoos, Sprays and Concealers. In this area you can find users’ comments about all sorts of products posted to a bulletin billboard. If you think any of the products I have described may be worth trying, this is an excellent place to read about other users’ experiences – good and bad.
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