Adhesives for hair systems are often the weakest link in the hair replacement process.
Horses sweat, men perspire and women glisten. Or so goes an old phrase rooted somewhere in southern gentility. All well and good, but for anyone who wears a hair replacement system -- male, female, horse -- any form of moisture produced by the scalp can spell trouble.
The thermoregulation process -- sweating, how the body lowers temperature by wicking body heat out through moist skin -- is the enemy of adhesives that hold hair systems in place. It's your scalp doing what it's supposed to do, but when blocked it is perspiration that eventually wins out. The result is a premature loosening of the adhesive.
The conundrum is pretty obvious: If you care about your hair, you probably care about fitness and your health. So how does one exercise if perspiration is the problem?
There are no silver bullets to eliminate this problem. But there are methods to mitigate it -- in what you eat and drink, the types and quality of bonding adhesive you use, and the activities you engage in.
Perspiration is natural, but at odds with adhesive hair systems.
I spoke with Scott Heinly, a representative for Premier Products, Inc., a leading developer and manufacturer of adhesives, solvents and specialty cosmetics for the hair care, hair replacement and wig care industries as well as the movie industry. The company's cosmetic chemists work to address any and all challenges of adhesion, hygiene and skin health relative to hair replacement systems.
Water and oil are enemies of effective adhesion, explains Heinly. 'There are precautions everyone can take, but a lot depends on the individual,' he says. 'It boils down to a trial-and-error process of discovering what works for you.' He provides the following tips:
Determine if you're a soft bond or hard bond person.
This is largely a matter of deciding if you live an active or inactive life. If you plan to sweat, swim and move around a lot -- think amusement park rides, dancing, gymnastics, rugby, cliff diving -- a hard bond adhesive uses cyanoacrylate, a refined, medical-grade version of super glue, to achieve a stronger hold. Softer bond adhesives (methacrylates are the key ingredient) are recommended for people who are less prone to sweat by factors of age, genetics and activities.
But this is where individual differences can matter. Heinly says that everyone's skin is different and some products may cause an allergic reaction. When that happens, he or she needs to try a different product. He also warns against using hardware store grade super glue products because their impurities often lead to skin irritation.
Apply bond to clean, oil-free skin. Absolute hygiene at application is essential to either holding system. Heinly recommends treating the scalp with products that are astringent, such as those containing witch hazel or tea tree oil. 'It's good for the skin anyway,' he notes. Of course this precludes use of skin lotions on the scalp.
Watch the alcohol consumption. Your body eliminates alcohol through various channels: breath, urine, feces, saliva, mother's milk and sweat. Alcohol breaks an adhesive bond, and the effect is proportionate to the amount consumed. If you go on a bender some Friday night, the adhesive will break down more quickly on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Oily foods make for oily scalps. This is good incentive to cut back on saturated fats and transfats. Most fried restaurant foods, full-fat dairy, creams, meats and poultry contain saturated fats. Transfats are a type of saturated fat in cookies, crackers, donuts and fried potatoes and onions. But unsaturated fats are essential to health. If you don't know the difference, consider the source: Saturated fats come from animals with feet; unsaturated fats are from vegetables, nuts and fish (footless, all).
Minimize sweat. While someone using a hard bond (also known as 'permanent bond') may expect three to six weeks of wear between cleanings, the duration will skew to a shorter time frame with active, perspiring people.
As a fitness trainer, I highly recommend engaging in fitness activities more rather than less. Recent studies show increased longevity benefits from strenuous exercise. But lower-intensity fitness activities that produce a minimal amount of sweat, if at all, are still of great value. In fact, a majority of the American adult population would benefit from simply walking more, aiming for 10,000 steps per day (about five miles). Consider also yoga (not the hot-room version), tai chi or strength training in a cool, air-conditioned studio. These are gentler ways to achieve fitness, flexibility and peace of mind -- no sweat.