Toupees: Pros and Cons of Hair Pieces for Men


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When most people think of the word “toupee,” their brain conjures images of caricaturesque tufts of mismatched hair, plopped on the heads of sad-looking people just trying to do their best. There’s a gust of wind that comes out of nowhere to humiliate an unsuspecting toupee wearer. Or maybe it’s just a static image of Cousin Itt from the Addams Family, hair strewn head-to-toe.

Either way, when we think of the word “toupee,” the next word we think of is “nope.”

But toupees have come a long, long way in the last few decades. What were once considered last-chance options by people whose hairlines were quickly approaching non-existent have actually transformed into a reasonable, financially viable temporary fix for men who want to look and feel their best despite their hair loss woes.

One of the biggest advantages of wearing a toupee is the ability to conceal the appearance of baldness. However, they also have several significant downsides, which means they may not be the best option for treating for hair loss. 

TL;DR: Hair Toupees for Men

  • Male pattern baldness is a common problem that affects around half of all men by the time they reach their 40s. Many men even develop premature hair loss in their 20s, which can be an extremely distressing, confidence-killing experience.

  • The word “toupee” refers to a small type of hairpiece, usually made of artificial or human hair, designed to be worn at the top of your scalp to cover areas that are affected by hair loss.

  • Most toupees for men can look convincing when fitted properly but can be costly and inconvenient to deal with daily.

  • If you want to treat your hair loss, you’ll likely get better results by using evidence-based, FDA-approved hair loss medications such as minoxidil and/or finasteride.

  • If you have noticeable hair loss, procedures like hair transplantation surgery can restore hair to areas of your scalp affected by baldness. 

Below, we’ve dived deep into what toupee hair pieces are and how they can be used to cover areas of your scalp affected by hair loss. We’ve also looked at the advantages and disadvantages of toupees, from aesthetics to cost, convenience and more.

Finally, we’ve looked at several evidence-based treatment options for slowing down, stopping and even reversing hair loss in men.

What Is a Toupee?

A toupee for men is a type of small wig or hairpiece that’s usually worn to cover up a bald spot on your scalp. Most toupees are made from real or synthetic hair and are worn at the scalp’s crown — the area at the top of the head that’s often prone to hair loss from male pattern baldness. 

The term “toupee” comes from the French toupet, which refers to a tuft of hair. During the 18th century, toupees evolved from realistic hairpieces to exaggerated devices that featured padding, cushions and wireframes to create the appearance of incredible hair volume. 

People in the olden days were weird as hell.

Today, toupees are marketed under various names — including “hair replacement systems“, “hair systems” and “non-surgical hair replacement systems” — and are designed to blend seamlessly with your natural hair. 

Compared to traditional wigs, toupees are smaller and made to fit more loosely to cover areas affected by hair thinning or baldness. These men’s hair systems are typically attached with adhesive and can stick to your scalp for three to six weeks at a time.

Toupees are typically made with either French or Swiss lace. Swiss lace tends to be a thinner style and is typically used to lace front toupees, while French lace is a more durable style for men’s wigs and is easier to use for a first-time toupee wearer. 

(Related: 9 Causes of Hair Thinning)

What Does a Bad Toupee Look Like?

So, what separates a good toupee from a bad one? Bad toupees can stand out in several ways, all of which are negative.

Common signs of a bad toupee include:

  • Not matching your hair color. If you wear a toupee, it’s important for it to match your natural hair color as closely as possible. Any contrast in hair color can make it obvious where your natural hair ends and the toupee begins.

  • Having an artificial texture. High-quality toupees are made from human hair. One of the most common signs of a bad hair piece for men is an artificial texture and appearance, which can often occur with a synthetic wig.

  • Adding too much hair density. If your hair is thinning, wearing a toupee that gives you a full head of hair can make things up top look awkward and unnatural. A good quality toupee should look as natural as possible, which means matching your natural level of hair coverage and choosing the appropriate hairstyle.

  • Looking “too perfect.” Very few 50-year-olds have the natural hairline of a 20-year-old man. Bad men’s hair systems often provide a perfect Norwood 1 hairline, which can look unnatural if you’re in your 40s, 50s or older. 

Toupee Alternatives for Treating Hair Loss

Contrary to popular belief, hair loss isn’t just something that affects older men. In fact, according to research published in the journal of Dermatologic Surgery, 16 percent of men aged 18 to 29 are already affected by moderate to extensive hair loss.

If you are among this group of men and toupees just aren’t your thing, the good news is you have other options. Possible alternatives include:

  • Finasteride

  • Minoxidil

  • Hair transplant surgery 

  • Following a well-balanced diet


Finasteride is a prescription-only, FDA-approved medication that works by blocking dihydrotestosterone, or DHT — an androgenic hormone that can damage your hair follicles and prevent them from creating new hairs.

Our guide to DHT and hair loss goes into more detail about how this hormone is created, as well as the effects it can have on your hair if you’re genetically prone to male pattern baldness. 

Numerous studies have found that finasteride is effective at stopping hair loss from male pattern baldness and stimulating hair regrowth.

In one study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, a group of over 1200 men given finasteride experienced a more than 15 percent increase in scalp hair count around the crown over the course of the two-year treatment.

And that efficacy has some staying power. In a 10-year study of finasteride carried out in Japan, more than 99 percent of men who took finasteride experienced no further hair loss, with 91.5 percent even showing noticeable improvements in their hair.


While minoxidil’s exact mechanism of action still isn’t fully understood, it’s believed to promote consistent hair growth by increasing blood flow to the scalp and causing your hair follicles to enter into their anagen (growth) phase early.

Several studies have found that minoxidil works wonders for men who suffer from hair loss. In one study, 84.3 percent of men with male pattern hair loss who used minoxidil for 12 months rated it as either very effective, effective or moderately effective at stimulating hair regrowth.

Hair Transplant Surgery

If you’re dealing with a noticeable bald patch at your crown or an obvious receding hairline that you’d like to fill in with hair, you may want to consider hair transplant surgery.

This type of procedure involves surgically transplanting hair follicles from the back and sides of your scalp (areas that aren’t normally affected by male pattern baldness) to your hairline, crown or other areas with noticeable thinning.

Several methods are used to perform this procedure, each with different costs, advantages and disadvantages — one thing we can tell you in advance is that none of them are very cost-effective.

(Related: Does Topical Finasteride Work?)

Following a Well-Balanced Diet

The old saying “You are what you eat” really holds true, especially when it comes to prioritizing your hair health. 

Protein filaments called keratin are the building blocks of your hair. If you want to support your hair health and maintain your manly mane, add plenty of quality protein sources like poultry and fish to your diet.

Aside from bumping up your protein intake, incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet can also pose a number of benefits. These ingredients are packed with vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal hair health, and they can also help strengthen the hair you still have.

Our list of foods to eat for hair growth shares specific ingredients that’re filled with nutrients to support hair growth and help you avoid nutritional deficiencies that may affect your overall hair health. 

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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Discover the Most Popular Hairstyles the Decade You Were Born

Discover the Most Popular Hairstyles the Decade You Were Born

There are so many things that define each decade, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. But none of the things we’ve looked back on were quite as polarizing as the hairstyles. From piled-high funky styles to buzzed dos, here are the most popular hairstyles from the decade you were born, spanning from the 40s to the 2000s. 

Wikipedia / Mediafeed

Inspired by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood women at the time, the victory roll hairstyle featured tight curls pinned toward the face to frame it. Victory rolls were customizable, so you could opt for a single roll or different symmetrical or asymmetrical versions of dual rolls. 

Other popular hairstyles of the decade for women included tight curls, waves, and the pageboy. Women were also big on hair accessories, particularly the snood, which was essentially a crocheted bag used to cradle the hair and keep it in place. Both men and women sported the infamous pompadour during the ’40s. Men were also partial to quiffed hair or short curls and were also prone to just slicking their hair back.

Wikipedia / U.S. Army – Yank, the Army Weekly

Everyone knows the beehive hairstyle, whether you associate it with the ’50s or Amy Winehouse. All you had to do to be cool in the 1950s was pile your hair on top of your head in a conical shape to resemble a beehive. Lots of hairspray was needed for this one.

If your hair wasn’t long enough for the beehive, you might have sported other bouffant hairstyles, a poodle cut, an Italian cut, victory rolls, or even a pixie cut. Men were still into the slicked-back look along with side parts, the pompadour, or — if they were influenced by Elvis later in the decade — a Rockabilly do.

Wikipedia / Warner Bros.

Bouffant (derived from the French verb “bouffer,” which means to puff or fluff up) hair became popular during the 1950s, but dominated in the 1960s thanks to the iconic Jackie Kennedy sporting the style. The puffy, rounded hairdo was especially popular among housewives during the ’60s. 

Women also gravitated toward shorter hairstyles (influenced by Twiggy), including pixie cuts and flipped bobs and, for long hair, bangs. Men styled their hair with everything from the bowl cut and the ducktail cut to shag cuts and styles copying The Beatles.

Public Domain / Wikipedia

During the 1970s, the afro became a symbol of cultural and political expression, particularly within the African American community. The style pushed back against Eurocentric beauty standards and celebrated natural Black hair. Influenced by icons like Angela Davis and the Jackson 5, the afro surged in popularity, crossing racial and cultural boundaries to become a mainstream fashion statement. Its voluminous shape was achieved through techniques like picking, and its prominence spread among both men and women.

Separately, and inspired predominantly by Farrah Fawcett, long, feathered hair was also sought after during the ’70s. 

Wikipedia / GeorgeLouis at English Wikipedia

Whether it was crimped, curled, teased, spiked into a giant mohawk, or cut into a towering flattop, the most iconic ’80s dos could all be tied to one main group: big hair. During this decade, freedom of expression was fully embraced and displayed through hair. Styles like Jheri curls were popular thanks to Michael Jackson, and Billy Ray Cyrus spearheaded the popularity of the business in the front, party in the back mullet. The ’80s were eclectic times that reeked of Aqua Net and perms. 

Wikipedia / Allan Light

You didn’t even need to be a fan or viewer of “Friends” to ask your hairdresser to give you “The Rachel” in the ’90s. Everyone knew exactly which version of Jennifer Anniston’s hair you wanted. Layered, framed around the face, and shoulder-length was the style that ruled the decade. Chunky highlights, side bangs, and hair flipped out at the bottom were also wildly popular during the decade. And who could forget chopsticks carefully stuck into buns? All the rage. 

If you were a cool dude during the ’90s, you might have had frosted tips, spiky hair, or cornrows.


All you needed was a few bobby pins and some hairspray to make a pulled-back pouf happen, and every girl in the 2000s was on board. High ponytails and pigtails, choppy layers, and money-piece braids were a go-to as well. 

Skater boy hair/emo boy haircuts that swooped halfway across a guy’s face were also iconic during the 2000s. Who else remembers watching guys shake their heads in slow motion to get the hair out of their eyes like they were playing a role in the “Baywatch” intro? We shudder at the memory. On the opposite end of the spectrum, buzz cuts were prominent, along with faux hawks. 


Featured Image Credit: Wirestock/istockphoto.