A topper is sometimes referred to as a “half wig” or “top piece”, but usually, people will just call it a topper. Basically, a topper only covers the top portion of your head. Toppers vary in size, depending on the coverage you need – there are toppers that are only 2 by 4 inches and just sit on top of your part, and there are toppers that are 8 x 9 inches and almost cover up your whole head! The topper attaches to your hair with clips, and your own hair is worn down underneath to supplement the hair on the topper. This means it’s a great solution for ladies with gradual hair loss, hair thinning, androgenetic alopecia, and ladies with bald spots (alopecia areata) – but not a very good solution if you have total/complete hair loss from alopecia or other medical causes, as you do need to have some hair left to make it work.
For those ladies who haven’t lost all their hair, it can be difficult to decide between a wig and a topper. There are pros and cons to both, so I decided to make an exhaustive list here for those who are weighing their options!
- Toppers often look far more natural than wigs. This is assuming the topper is properly blended with your bio hair and is constructed well, with a realistic-looking scalp. Wigs can be bulky and poofy and just downright “wiggy,” but the significantly lesser amount of hair on a topper avoids that completely.
- Wigs can be unbearably hot in the summer! Wearing a topper means only part of your head is covered, and they’re often more lightweight and breathable than a full wig.
- Depending on the size of the topper, you can usually wear your hair in a very realistic looking ponytail, bun, or other updo. The smaller the topper, the higher the ponytail can be. Wearing a ponytail with a wig usually isn’t possible – it’s too bulky with too much hair, doesn’t look realistic, and the wefts may show at the nape of your neck.
- Toppers are much more affordable than wigs! Of course – smaller product, less hair, less money, right?
- In order for the topper to look natural, it needs to exactly match the color and texture of your own hair. This can be a challenge when ordering online, sight unseen. You can usually order a color ring from most vendors in order to accurately match color to your own hair. If the color doesn’t match, you’ll have to dye your hair to match the topper (I don’t recommend dying wigs or toppers – too much room for disaster to happen.)
- Some women have issues with the clips used to secure the topper to your hair. Often, especially if they are of cheaper quality, they can pull and tug and hurt you, sometimes even causing headaches. If you secure clips to the same section of your hair every day, you may lose more hair in that area, from the clips pulling on the hair and yanking it out. If your hair loss is concentrated in the front, like many women with androgenetic alopecia, it can be difficult to find an area on your front hairline to attach the clips. In this case, bonding (gluing or taping) the topper to the front of your head is possible.
- When you wear a topper, you have to style your own hair. For me, this means blow-drying it and straightening it or curling it along with the topper to make them blend and match nicely. This is very high maintenance compared to wearing a wig, because with a wig, you can just throw it on over your tangled, rat’s nest hair and no one will ever know!
As you can see, the pros and cons are pretty evenly balanced. When I began wearing hair, I went straight to wigs because I didn’t want to deal with the trouble of matching a topper perfectly to my bio hair and styling them both. However, when summer came along, my sweaty head knew I needed a lightweight option, and I started wearing a topper. I now wear a topper most days! I’m almost at the point where I don’t have quite enough hair to make it work, but as long as I can, I’ll keep wearing it, because it’s so comfortable!