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Poly versus Silicone

Poly versus Silicone

Posted by Superhairpieces on Aug 11, 2023

Many materials are used to create bases within the non-surgical hair replacement industry. The most popular have been polymer bases such as Superhairpieces’ P41L women’s topper and M101 skin hair systems. Now polymers are also integrated into designs with other materials like lace.

Polymers, which are derived from silicone and/or polyurethane, can often perplex newcomers in the industry due to their similar appearance at first glance. However, these materials serve distinct purposes and are utilized for different reasons. It is worth noting that polymers are generally not breathable and have the potential to generate discomfort for those wearing them, as they tend to retain heat.

Examples of polymer bases are full skin made with polyurethane, poly perimeters to enclose lace bases, and silicone strips, which will be explained later in this blog.

What are the differences between Silicone and Polyurethane?

Silicone vs Polyurethane

You can find polyurethane used more popularly in the hair industry than silicone, and that’s for many reasons. The main difference between them is durability, adhesion, and natural look.

Silicone offers remarkable durability thanks to its inherent resistance to body acids and other elements. However, it presents difficulties in achieving a natural skin tone due to its inability to be dyed and creates a challenge to attach hair systems using hair tape or wig glue as the silicone will not adhere to them. Nonetheless, silicone excels in terms of attachment as it can adhere to the skin effectively without the need for adhesive. When designed appropriately as a base, it creates a suction cup-like effect, which wearers often find more advantageous, especially when they are completely bald.

In contrast, polyurethane, while not as durable as silicone, offers the advantage of easy dyeing to mimic natural skin tones and allows for simpler attachment using hair tape and glue. The fact that it can be used with adhesive makes it extremely popular for wearers, as the vast majority of wearers are not completely bald and, therefore would not benefit from a silicone base. However, a drawback is that polyurethane is susceptible to degradation over time, turning yellow and breaking down due to exposure to body acids. Over time, polyurethane will start to crack.

To address these challenges, a combination of silicone and polyurethane is often employed in constructing the base. At Superhairpieces, we offer several wig options that incorporate both silicone and polyurethane in their base design. For instance, the Coco wig features silicone strips that adhere directly to a bald scalp without needing adhesive, along with polyurethane tabs that provide additional security by allowing the adhesive application.

What is silicone, and how does it work?

Silicone is a synthetic material primarily composed of silicon, a naturally occurring chemical element derived from abundant silica found in the Earth's crust. Silicon serves as the key component in the production of silicone and is obtained through a refining process from silica. Silicone can adhere to the skin without the use of adhesive due to its unique properties. Its surface has an inherent tackiness or stickiness, allowing it to bond with the skin.

When silicone touches the skin, it creates a suction-cup effect. This happens because the molecules on the silicone surface and the molecules on the skin surface attract each other through a weak force called the van der Waals force. These forces create a gentle adhesion that keeps the silicone in place without using any extra adhesive, allowing the wearer to engage in various activities without worrying about the hairpiece coming off.

Furthermore, the surface of silicone is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water. This hydrophobic property allows silicone to maintain its adhesive strength even when exposed to moisture, such as sweat or humidity. It helps prevent the silicone from losing its grip on the skin due to moisture-related factors.

Silicone's ability to adhere without adhesive is particularly useful in applications such as medical devices, prosthetics, and certainly hair systems. It provides a secure, flexible, and comfortable fit while minimizing the risk of skin irritation or damage that traditional adhesives can cause. It is also considered to be hypoallergenic, reducing any possibility of allergic reactions. At Superhairpieces, our silicone support wigs are designed to be medical grade for those who experience extreme hair loss and have skin sensitivities.

In summary, Silicone can withstand water, sweat, and humidity exposure without losing its adhesive properties. It provides a flexible and comfortable bond, allowing for natural movement of the hairpiece and reducing the risk of irritation or discomfort on the scalp. Its suction cup effect allows wearers to be confident in their hairpiece.

Furthermore, silicone adhesives are known for their longevity. Depending on the specific product and application technique, they can maintain a strong bond for an extended period, often ranging from a few days to a few weeks. This durability makes silicone a preferred choice for individuals who want a more long-term solution for their hair replacement needs.

What is polyurethane, and how does it work?

Polyurethane is a type of man-made material that is created by combining two specific substances called di- and tri-isocyanates and polyols. These substances react with each other to form polyurethane. In simpler terms, polyurethane can be compared to materials like saran wrap or rubber. Just like saran wrap, it is thin, flexible, and transparent, resembling the appearance of the scalp. And similar to rubber, it has a stretchy and elastic quality that allows it to conform to different shapes and provide a secure attachment for the hairpiece.

When it comes to breathability, polyurethane outperforms silicone. Although these pores are not visible to the naked eye, they exist in the polyurethane material. To feel the presence of these pores, you can dampen the hair system and hold it with the underside facing upward. By folding and gently squeezing the unit, you might notice water seeping out through these tiny pores in the polyurethane base.

Unlike silicone, it doesn't have special properties to stick to the skin on its own without adhesive. However, this is actually why it's a popular choice for skin and base perimeters in the hair replacement industry. It allows the use of adhesive, which is important for those who are not completely bald and may have shaved their hair. When the hair starts growing back, silicone won't stick properly to the skin, but polyurethane with adhesive can provide a secure attachment.

Polymer hair systems, also known as skin systems, whether secured with glue adhesive or toupee tape, are easier to clean if you have the right knowledge and appropriate products. With a poly hair system, the hairline appears completely natural and blends seamlessly with the skin, making it impossible for anyone to detect where your hairline starts.

However, one must note that poly hair systems and/or poly perimeters come in various thicknesses, with the minimum being as thin as 0.03 mm. The thinner the system, similar to a contact lens, the more delicate it becomes and is susceptible to breakage, but it is most natural looking. It's important to handle it with care as stretching or applying force to it can cause tearing, rendering the unit unfit for application.

Conversely, insufficient openings make poly hair systems resistant to air, water, and sweat. This makes them less ideal for individuals with highly active lifestyles. However, they have the advantage of not causing suffocation or itchiness to the natural hair underneath.

How to make the best of your consultations when deciding on Silicone and/or Polyurethane

Upon distinguishing the differences between polyurethane and silicone, it becomes evident that polyurethane is more suitable for wearers who need to shave their hair. Unlike silicone, polyurethane allows for adhesion even if hair regrowth occurs, while silicone can only adhere to bald skin.

On the other hand, wigs typically incorporate silicone in specific areas while avoiding its placement where adhesion is necessary. For instance, at Superhairpieces, the Coco model is designed with silicone strips on the top, sides, front, and back, while the sideburn portion utilizes polyurethane for tape attachment. In contrast, the Adele model exclusively features silicone strips and tabs without any polyurethane components.

Typically, you can customize any wig to incorporate silicone and/or poly anywhere on the system. But, It is recommended to consider purchasing a stock hair system before opting for a custom-made one. This approach allows for easier identification of any necessary adjustments or modifications instead of designing an entirely new base without knowing if it will be effective or meet the wearer’s specific needs.

During the consultation process, several factors should be considered when choosing between the two materials or determining if both are necessary through the custom order process. These factors include:

  1. Coverage requirements: Does the wearer need coverage for the entire scalp or just the top?
  2. Scalp condition: Is the scalp completely bald or patchy, or does it have some existing hair that requires shaving?
  3. Skin sensitivities: Any known allergies or sensitivities to consider.


For situations where only top coverage is needed, toppers are recommended. Toppers typically have polyurethane around the perimeter or a full skin-like base like the P41L model.


It's worth noting that any wigs offered with silicone at Superhairpieces are classified as medical-grade wigs. These suit individuals with severe hair loss or sensitive skin and can provide optimal comfort and durability.

In conclusion, when it comes to choosing between silicone and polyurethane in the non-surgical hair replacement industry, it's important to understand their distinct purposes and characteristics. Silicone offers remarkable durability and adhesion without the need for adhesive, making it suitable for wearers who are completely bald. On the other hand, polyurethane allows for easy dyeing to match natural skin tones and provides a secure attachment using hair tape or glue, making it popular among wearers who have some existing hair.

During consultations, factors such as coverage requirements, scalp condition, and skin sensitivities should be considered to determine the most suitable material or combination for the wearer. Customizing the wig design with silicone and/or polyurethane in specific areas allows for personalized solutions.

By understanding the characteristics and applications of silicone and polyurethane, individuals can make informed decisions and ensure that their chosen hair replacement system meets their specific needs and preferences.

For a full list of Superhairpieces hair toppers and human hair wigs, visit Superhairpieces Online Store

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