The rise of the man weave
While hair loss has traditionally been a taboo subject for men, the rise of male hair replacements is breaking the silence.
The male afro haircare market is having a moment. Although mainly centred on women, the natural hair movement is making room for male stories and issues - leading to a surge in interest of men’s haircare. The male grooming industry on the whole is on an upward trajectory, with statista.com estimating its current worth at over £77 million. And it seems that black men in particular are now enjoying exploring the plethora of haircare and grooming products available on the shelves.
Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed a rise in haircare brands aimed specifically at black men, such as the Aaron Wallace collection and US-based Bevel. This is in conjunction with the online visibility of barbershops and hair companies such as Slider Cuts, NewFade and Diligence.
Another growing haircare trend is the use of male hair replacement units. Previously, hair enhancements such as hair transplant surgery were extremely costly and out of reach for the majority of clients. More accessible methods, such as hair extensions, were also greeted with indifference because the technology wasn’t available to replicate the authentic look and feel of afro-textured hair. But with the increasing appetite for men’s grooming products and services, a change is on the horizon. Hair replacement treatments are no longer taboo and are in fact being openly embraced by many men.
The changing face of hair replacement units
These days men can access viable non-surgical solutions for issues such as hair loss and thinning, which is largely due to the commitment of black male haircare professionals in addressing these issues. These innovators are creating hair replacement units that mimic the look and texture of afro hair, resulting in an authenticity that was harder to find in previous years.
Dr. Joel Akwenuke is the founder and CEO of NewFade, a South London based hair loss business that’s currently leading the charge with its price-friendly hair loss solutions for men. He says: ‘It’s easy to understand why hair replacement pieces were not embraced historically because they were poorly done. We’ve placed an emphasis on making them look stylish and hyper-realistic to remove the stigma.’
He adds: ‘At NewFade, we specialise in affordable hair replacement units as we feel that it’s the fastest method of solving hair loss for men, with unbelievably good results - particularly with what can now be achieved. Ultimately, the vast majority of men don’t wake up wanting to lose their hair. We want to give men the opportunity to have their hair back and be able to express themselves.’
Life-like man weaves
Modern hair replacement units (also known as man weaves) first began gaining popularity in the US before making their way to the UK. The process involves attaching natural afro-textured hair extensions onto the head or scalp and securing them with an adhesive. A barber will then begin cutting and shaping the extensions to blend in with the client’s own natural hair. It’s a process that requires high technical skill and a keen eye for detail. Men can opt for a number of trending looks, such as a flat top or high-top, a neat classic trim (number two) or soft waves resembling natural afro curls ranging from 4a-4c curl patterns.
Hairdresser and entrepreneur Hector Obeng explains why he felt the need to add hair replacement units to his list of services: ‘A good friend of mine started to lose his hair and during the same time I started hearing about these non-invasive forms of hair replacements,’ he says. ‘I learned that they are pain-free and nothing like hair transplants. After polishing my craft in the US, I began offering the service at my salon and my clients are responding well. More people have hair replacement system units than you can imagine - especially on the silver screen.’
Available for a fairly affordable price point (Hector Obeng’s units start from £250), hair replacement units have become a saving grace for countless black men suffering from hair loss. But with lockdown restrictions preventing salons from opening in the UK, will barbershops and clinics be forced to find new ways to serve their clientele? ‘The pandemic has prevented us from seeing our customers in person, however, it has enabled us to work on some really interesting things behind the scenes,’ explains Dr. Akwenuke. It’s clear to see that the inspirational success story of hair replacement units is still being written - and we’ll definitely be watching this space.
Feature image by Kevin Luchmun for Toni&Guy