The first successful hair transplant surgery was performed by Dr Norman Orentreich in 1952. Since then, the world hasn’t looked back to the old methods of hair restoration such as Thermo caps, vacuuming machines, magic combs etc. Global Market Insights report, published in 2019, predicted the global hair transplant industry to grow to $31 billion by 2025.
However, many can’t afford hair transplant surgery in their home country even now. The prices are simply too high. Even though medical tourism has come to the aid of many in that regard, some look for temporary alternatives, like Toppik hair fibres, before giving it a shot.
This rising trend of hair transplant surgery is not indicative of the increasing prevalence of the condition of hair loss. Although, one might argue for greater stressors in the environment. The problem of thinning hair has existed for centuries. And since then, hair transplant hasn’t emerged as the only proclaimed solution.
It does stand out as a victor, though, when it comes to permanence. But many other treatments exist out there, one of which is Toppik. It is even speculated that Steve Carell used it to hide his bald patches in The Office. Here we’ll discuss whether it is safe to use or offers a better alternative to hair transplant surgery.
How Does Toppik Work?
A method to conceal thinning areas on the head is to use hair fibres that stick to the hair. The hair part is important because products like Toppik work by attaching to other existing hair fibres. This means that it is ineffective in completely bald patches.
This product works by the natural static charge present in the protein keratin, which helps it stick to the hair fibres of the natural hair, giving it an appearance of high density. According to one study, these positively charged particles attach to the negatively charged terminal or vellus hair (fine, thin strands of hair commonly observed in pattern baldness) on the scalp. This way, you can temporarily have a thick, full head of hair.
Using the principle of magnetism, Toppik hair fibres promise an effective solution to those suffering from pattern baldness or hair loss due to other reasons such as traction alopecia, nutritional deficiencies and radio or chemotherapy. Its application doesn’t take more than a few seconds.
Keep in mind when using products like Toppik, if you scratch your head, the fibres are likely to come off. In addition, they can also come off on their own if you’re sweating profusely. That also means that you need to avoid going into the water on beaches or on rainy days. Rubbing your head against various surfaces would also have the Toppik hair fibres come off your scalp.
What is Toppik Made Of?
The following are the ingredients found in Toppik hair fibres.
Essentially they are hair fibres that are predominantly claimed to be made of “high-grade keratin”. However, there are other ingredients present in the product. It acts as a concealer for the scalp. It is this keratin protein that makes up our natural hair and protects it.
If we move further down the list, ammonium chloride can also be found. It is an inorganic chloride with a negative charge that has a positively charged ammonium. It has been classified as an irritant. The compound is found to naturally occur in the body but for acidification of urine.
If ingested, the compound is metabolised to urea and hydrochloric acid. Needless to say, it has harmful health effects. But Toppik for hair claims to be using it in small quantities, which acts as a preservative. However, depending on the number of times you expose yourself to the chemical and the period for which you use the product, this chemical compound can accumulate.
When gathered in sufficient quantities, it can lead to ammonium chloride poisoning. It can cause:
- Slowness of heart rate
- Muscle spasms
- Tightness of chest
- Irregular breathing
It should not come into contact with the eyes (it can cause irritation), nose or mouth. If you continue to spray Toppik hair fibres for prolonged times, you will surely inhale some quantities of it. The cumulative effect of this compound is dangerous.
Another compound present in Toppik is phenoxyethanol. The European Commission on Health and Safety considers the chemical as safe for use in cosmetics. But the concentration should be 1% or lower than that. But if you continue to use a product that contains this chemical for a long time, its concentration will build up. This will, of course, be harmful.
Other than that, the compound can cause eczema, hives, skin irritation, and allergic reactions. Its presence in ultrasound gel has caused contact dermatitis, according to a case report. Depending on how you use it, you can be vulnerable to certain side effects caused by this chemical in Toppik.
This chemical compound can cause itchiness, irritation, and contact dermatitis. It has two functions: act as a preservative or muscle relaxant. Its muscle relaxant properties can cause respiratory distress in infants. Therefore, it is safer to keep the products away from your child. Small quantities of it (0.3%) have been considered not to pose any danger. But again, it can accumulate.
Healthy functioning of our body requires silica. But its overexposure has been linked to several ailments. Silicosis is one of these. It causes scarring of the lung tissue and can cause respiratory issues that are exacerbated over time. It can also cause cancer of the lungs, kidney and heart diseases.
Does Toppik Have Side Effects?
In the amounts that the above ingredients are present, it’s unlikely for Toppik hair fibres to cause any serious health concern. You should make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions in that regard.
However, many people ask, “does Toppik damage hair?” That’s because there have been reports of “itchiness” after the application of these fibres. The longer you have these on, the worse the itchiness can get. It has also caused scalp irritation in some of the users.
If the itchiness is too intense, you might end up losing your hair because of putting a lot of pressure on the hair follicles. However, it should not cause permanent damage.
How is Hair Transplant better than Toppik Hair Fibres?
In a lot of ways, a hair transplant is a much better option than buying Toppik products. Let’s take a look at the following reasons.
A common complaint that we hear from our hair transplant patients is how problematic the use of Toppik was for them. It does not have a natural look. Emptying your wallet every month for a £40 bottle is not convenient.
If you do the math, then you’ll be spending around £1500 in three years, which is more than the hair transplant cost in Turkey. And the fact remains that it is not a permanent solution at all, unlike hair transplant. You’ll be going through the surgery once and have life-long results. But with Toppik hair building fibres, that’s not possible.
Negative Health Effects
The ingredients present in Toppik speak for themselves. It is not the safest product to use for a long time if you don’t use it correctly, which some people don’t.
An important thing to remember is that you should wash your head on the same day you apply Toppik hair fibres. It can, otherwise, cause bacterial and fungal infections. This means pus, pain, redness, itchiness, and swelling, among other symptoms.
Lack of Comfort
Toppik for hair does claim that its product will stay intact in case of wind, rain or perspiration. But it hasn’t been the case for many people. If you are performing any vigorous activity such as swimming, it might not work.
Even when you’re sleeping, rubbing the head against the pillow can make the hair fibres come off. It doesn’t provide a sense of comfort. You might constantly feel that some accident will make your product come off.
It is Not Permanent
Toppik hair fibres work on the principle of magnetism. These keratin fibres will stick to your hair through positive-negative charge attraction. Although once you wash, it’ll come off.
Hair transplant surgery, on the other hand, takes only two days, and you’ll have permanent results. Furthermore, you’ll not need any additional products for your hair. This is because a hair transplant uses your natural hair for the recipient area.
Since the hair is harvested from your scalp for insertion in the recipient area, hair transplant provides natural-looking results. In contrast, Toppik for hair does not.
Matching the colour of your hair with the fibres can be a pain. Sometimes, the colour of Toppik turns green on mixing with sweat. That’s not the most desirable thing when you’re looking for hair loss solutions.
Can You Use Toppik After Hair Transplant?
Right after the surgery, you should not use Toppik hair fibres as they can clog the newly transplanted hair grafts, which can permanently damage them. It can also increase the risk of infection and slow down your recovery. You need to wait for at least 6 months before starting to use them. If you’ve been using Toppik products before the surgery, it’s best to stop using them 3-5 days before the surgery takes.
Understandably, some people want to use Toppik hair fibres after their transplant surgery. If the donor area is weak, it’s not always possible to achieve a very high hair density. Here, Toppik hair fibres can help give the illusion of denser hair. However, you should consult a hair transplant surgeon about a second hair transplant surgery or PRP injections to further improve the results. They are far less problematic and give longer/permanent results.
Toppik hair fibres have their pros and cons. They’re good for hiding thinning areas (not completely bald patches). However, they are very temporary, best worn on special occasions. Even there you have to be careful about not having these rub off your scalp. It’s best if you consult your dermatologist about other treatment options.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.