Barber offering alternative to hair loss with custom hair pieces

There’s a new trend in men’s hair care, and it started with a viral Instagram post. We’re talking custom-made hair pieces for men.

Wade Menendez says making the custom hair pieces started as something fun on the side. But it blew up so much that people from around the country are trying to get into his chair. Now he’s teaching stylists how to do what he does, including a few right here in the Piedmont.

“My hair unit is a custom-made wig or hairpiece that’s made for people that have lost their hair for reasons like alopecia, cancer, male-pattern baldness,” Wade Menendez said.

Menendez got the idea after seeing a stylist at his shop pull out a bag of hair.

“She was adding it to dreads and I’m like, 'Man I didn’t know that was available. I didn’t know they made or sold loose Afro hair like that. There’s got to be a way we can do this for guys that are losing their hair.'”

After training with a barber who does units in Atlanta, and some trial and error on his own, he figured it out.

“There are some celebrities that maybe had some things done. But a lot of times people didn’t make it look realistic or natural. I think that’s where I came in to manage how to make it look realistic," he said.

Since his first unit went viral on Instagram, he now has more than 130,000 followers -- from stylists, to actors and athletes, to the everyday potential customer. And he’s been featured on Rachel Ray.

Wade says the demand for his hair units is so great he can’t keep up. So, he’s going around the country teaching stylists how to make them. And people are lining up to learn.

“I love his technique,” Denina Davis said. “And I’m just like, 'OK how is he doing that? Now you have me very interested in how we’re going to do this thing.'”

Davis works at A New U Salon in High Point. She’s been making units for women for more than 25 years.  She signed up for Wade’s class in Charlotte because she wants to help guys too.

“Somebody comes through my door, I want to be able to give them what they want,” Michael Vanhook said.

Vanhook owns Crazi Cutz in Burlington. He says there’s a market and he wants to serve it.

“I already got clients set up for it," he said.

“Guys are really self-conscious about their hair,” Menendez said. “Even as a barber so many years, people be like, 'Ahh don’t push my line back.' Every little hair. 'Don’t push it back I wanna keep my line.'”

He says one of the most rewarding things is the role he’s played in expanding conversation among men.

“I think for a long time, guys have been taught you’re not supposed to care about how you look, not like a female. But times are changing. We care about our look. We care about how we present ourselves. We want to look good.”

Wade also does hair units for women. He’s not the only person doing this, but he’s definitely considered a pioneer. These units start at $200 and go up to more than $500.

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