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The Horrendous Hair Replacement System Landscape In Melbourne, Australia And My Diy Story

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Hi all,

Just thought I would share a little bit about what I know about the hair replacement industry in Melbourne, Australia and how I decided to go on my own DIY path to avoid getting ripped off by the salons. My intention is to help the brothers living in Melbourne who would be interested in getting an affordable a hair system but don't know where to start.

My hair replacement journey started last year. I had always shaved my head ever since I noticed my hair loss. I had the clean shaven look for more than 5 years, but one day when I scrolled through Facebook and saw videos of guys getting a hair system and I was so impressed by how drastic the look can change (in a positive way), and ever since I had always wanted to get a hair system myself.

If you are like me and you live in Melbourne, you probably have already Googled a lot of men's hair replacement salons. In this big, developed, most livable city to live in the world for 7 consecutive years, there are a total of shockingly THREE specialised hair replacement salons. One in South Yarra (M. System), one near the city on St Kilda Road (PH+) and the other one is in Mt Waverley (This one trades under 3 names: EZW, B&H, or HRA - look at the address on their website, all points to the same location - later on I found out the reason why they built so many websites and trade under many names is because they have very bad reviews on Google). Therefore if you have not already gone to one, there's a high possibility you probably have ended up in the other two.

Because there are only 3 salons in total, they're only competing against each other, and therefore you'll end up paying about the same amount of money to which ever you go to, which is:

$595 for a stock system + $90 for a cut-in. 

That'll be around nearly $700 AUD (or ~$500 USD) for your first unit, excluding care and maintenance products. All of them will encourage you to come back for a clean up/redo every 2 or 3 weeks, and they'll charge you around $90 for a service like that. When I asked them would I receive training on how to take it off and put it back on and what I should do for maintenance, their response was: "you can come in and we'll do it for you, why do you have to do it yourself". Then every 2 3 months, you'll have to replace your hair system again. All and all, if you decide to leave all the work to the salons, you should have a spare $5000 AUD a year (roughly $3500 USD). I calculated based on 4x 0.08mm French Lace/Thin Skin stock unit which would last you around 3 months. Again, this amount is justifiable for fellas who earn big cash and value their time more. But if you're already strained by other things financially, then this option would not be really viable.

In saying that, for my first hair replacement unit, I actually purchased and used the service from the salon in Mt Waverley. The one I went with was French Lace, because I wanted some breathability. I specifically asked for 100%, but surprisingly they told me all of their stock unit comes in 130%, so it was very, very thick and super unnatural. Their color #1 - Jetblack was so black nobody would believe it was real, and the hairline was completely not graduated. They did a few measurements on my head, and cut the hair unit to my size right on the spot by placing it on a mannequin head and used scissors/pricision knife to cut it. They did not even make a template from my head and gave it to me. When they attached the unit on my head using tape, I could feel a thick layer between the unit and my head, and while they were doing the cut in, the hair line lifted, which they eventually had to take it off and reattach it back. After I left the salon, the hairline lifted again, and when I looked closely, there were spots in the hairline that made it looks so fake and obvious, and the hair was so thick that it completely looked like a drag queen wig. Have a look: 

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Over the next few days, I was under constant stress and anxiety because of how bad and detectable the hairline looked. I wore a hat to work and didn't want to take it off. And when I took the shower for the first time, the whole thing came straight off. Luckily I had also ordered some walker tape and a bottle of ghost bond in preparation for events like this, so I took it off and did the attachment again myself. This stock unit lasted me for 3 weeks because I couldn't handle the stress having to wear a hair system so fake. I ended up ordering a 0.03mm VLoop Ultra Thin Skin online from LH to replace the one I had. The hair quality was 100% better and the color was great.

When the unit arrived, my little brother helped me make a template, and so the only thing left to do was to cut the unit down to my size and look for a place to do the cut in. Again, I inquired the above three salons again whether they'd be happy to do a cut in for a unit from a third party:

1) M. System in South Yarra straight off told me they don't do cut-in for units that are not from them (appreciate the honesty)
2) EZW, or HRA, or B&H in Mt Waverley told me they'd do it for $395.
3) PH+ on St Kilda Road, Melbourne told me they'd do it for me for $300. When I asked why he would charge such a high amount for a cut in, the guy said it's the opportunity cost that he's losing. If he spent one hour doing a cut-in attachment for me, that one hour could be spent on a booking that would get him $700 revenue.

At this point I was stuck, because didn't want to just spend that much every time I want to do a cut in. So I inquired another wig shop (Chiqu**) in Malvern - the reason why I didn't mention this shop earlier is because they specialise in wig, but mainly women wig. They said the cut in would be $125, the attachment would be $90. That seemed to be cheaper than the other options I had, so I brought my unit in for a consultation, and I was convinced for another $35, they could cut the unit to the template for me. They also take no responsibility during the cut-in process because the unit was not purchased from them. I agreed to do that.

On the day of the cut-in, I brought the unit to the shop, and lady there cut the unit down to the size for me. She admitted that was the first time she saw a unit that delicate (0.03mm ultra thin skin). And during the cut in, she shredded a bunch of hair from that unit, and it caused a massive bald spot right at the hair line. The hair cut was not impressive at all and the blending wasn't even good. Overall, that was a good unit that was destroyed by the hairdresser.

Over the next few days, I started sending emails like crazy to many many salons in Melbourne - the normal ones, not the ones that specialise in wig. I don't believe there was none that couldn't do a proper hair cut for me. Because, after all, it's still hair on your head. A lot of the places didn't respond. Some of them responded and said they are not specialised in wig cut. 2 or 3 places responded and said they could do it for me, and that's how I found my current hairdresser.

I met her for the first time to fix the haircut from the 0.03mm ultra thin skin unit. I was completely in love the first place. She's been trained in wig cut and she's done some wig cut for photoshoots before, and she is a hair stylist and not just a barber, so when she fixed the hair cut and put some products in it, I was completely stoke because it turned out exactly how I wanted, and the quality looked great just like those hair system before/after videos you see on Instagram or Facebook. She charges no where near ridiculous like the ones that the other places charged (hint: she charges the same amount as she would for a normal haircut, and every 2 or 3 week when I come back just for cleaning up the side and the back, I only pay half what I would pay for a normal cut in).

Ever since, I have switched to my current unit which is 0.08mm thin skin for a little more durability (the hairline is detectable, but won't be as much if you style the hair forward - but I think I'll go with French Lace next). I've learned how to do the detach/re-attach myself and I do it once a week, so all and all that's a massive cost cut for me. 

Here's the photo of me with the unit on and the blending at the back. I would say I'm norwood 6, but with a stylish haircut and great blending, I feel much more confident and I look much younger. I am honest and I tell everyone who ask that I wear a hair system, most of them were shocked because of how nice the hair and the cut-in quality is, and they just don't care that you wear a hair system. So I have been very happy and confident with my new look. I've started working out and started dating, and I have had no issue with the unit so far apart from the occasional hairline lifting and the detectable hairline (because I'm wearing 0.08mm thin skin), but that's the general issue with all units.

To conclude this long post, I just want to say, learn how to DIY and save yourself a lot of money, don't bite the bullet and strain yourself and go to expensive specialised hair salons when the quality of the work is the same, if not worse than when you do it by yourself. Learn the basics, watch videos, buy your own maintenance supplies, there are many free resources on this forum and on Youtube. Find a hairdresser to do the cut in for you - they're not just limited to those specialised salons, they exist in normal salons as well, and they even come with higher skills because they're the ones who go through proper training and normally enter competitions and won some awards (mine does and I love her so much). I won't be selfish and keep her to myself, so if you live in Melbourne South East want to have her contact, drop me a message. Otherwise, if you have got your own stylist and know how to do most of the maintenance work yourself, congrats and well done!
 
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Awesome write up bro, very informative, takes a lot of time and willingness to help others to type something like this up so kudos to you, your final results came out great and look natural af, good stuff!

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Hey my man,

This is an awesome story.

Well, your ordeal sucks, but I'm stoked you got a good result. Your hair looks amazing! I've always loved that style.

Just wondering, if you were to do it all again, how would you tackle it?

As you said, it's hard in Melbourne, we can't go to a good salon, get the shave, the system, the style, and so on.

Also, how do you plan on the maintenance? As in, do you just shave your own hair if needed every few weeks, re-apply the system, then get it blended at your salon?

Thanks mate :)

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