Using Water-Based Hair System Adhesives

Walker Water Based Adhesives Blog

How to Achieve the Best Results Using Water-Based Adhesives


Water-based adhesives keep growing in popularity in the hair replacement industry and for plenty of good reasons. Clients love them for their gentleness on sensitive skin and low odor. Then, of course, there’s also the benefits for you as the stylists and salon owners:


  • They’re easier to apply than other options thanks to their non-stringiness.
  • Their color transition from white to clear makes it, well, clear when the adhesive’s ready for the hair system. 
  • Their water-based nature makes them easy to clean up as well.
  • They’re the only liquid adhesive option that’s nonflammable, saving you money on every shipment.


These are some great perks. Of course, depending on how we use water-based adhesives can greatly affect how worthwhile these benefits end up being. So to ensure you get the best possible performance, we’ve created the following guide to using water-based adhesives. 


Our example relies on Great White, a Maximum Wear option lasting three to five weeks. This said, you can apply the same strategies below for your clients wanting a shorter wear with Safe Grip


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Step 1: Perform a Patch Test


The patch test brings you and your client peace of mind when it comes to knowing that a product works safely. Each person’s skin is unique and can react differently, even with options as gentle as water-based adhesives. 


The patch test also communicates to your client that their comfort is your number one priority. Simply place a small amount of Great White on an area of sensitive skin. Behind the ear works great. Cover it with a bandage, send them home, and have them remove the bandage after 24 hours. If no redness or irritation occurs and the bond holds secure, that means you can use Great White with confidence.


Step 2: Measure Where to Bond with Your Client Wrinkling Their Forehead (Secret of the Pros)


This is a fantastic, and as experience will prove, vital step. Like the patch test, performing this step and explaining why to your client shows them your commitment to their comfort. 


When measuring out exactly where to apply Great White, invite your client to wrinkle their foreheads as much as possible. Doing so allows you to avoid bonding over facial features that communicate their natural expressions.


Step 3: Clean Your Client’s Scalp with 99% Alcohol


Right before applying any other products, 99% Alcohol is a must. It gets rid of anything that could affect a long-term performance, such as dirt, dust, dead skin, and oils. If any of these are left on top of your client’s skin, then they end up being what the adhesive bonds to instead of the scalp itself. Since they’re loose and block the adhesive from the skin, it could cause a less comfortable wearing experience for your client and a higher chance of failure.   


Step 4: Apply Max Hold Sport to your client’s scalp


Max Hold Sport is both a scalp protector and an adhesive booster. This means your clients can enjoy an even more comfortable wearing experience, knowing their skin is well protected. It also supports the best success for the adhesive to last as long as possible. 


Another brilliant trait of Max Hold Sport is how it gives your clients the chance to immediately go back to their routine. Usually, after install, clients need to wait 24 hours for the bond to reach full strength before doing things like swimming, showering, and working out. But with Max Hold Sport, you can tell your clients the great news that they can skip out on needing to wait. They can go to the beach or hit the gym that same day, right after your appointment.


Step 5: Spread a thin, even coat of Great White


This is where the sponge brushes come in handy. They make it a cinch to achieve a thin, even coat over the entire intended bonding area. 


It may be a temptation to think the more adhesive the better. But it turns out that less is more. A thin layer gets your client the performance results they’re looking for, and it helps prevent a pillowing effect on top of the head. This tends to be a common issue if too much adhesive is applied.


Step 6: Wait Until Great White Dries Clear


Like mentioned above, Great White’s color transition makes it so easy to know when to apply the hair system. It also offers a memorable pneumonic device: the glue turning clear means you’re in the clear for attachment. 


If you don’t wait until the adhesive is clear, then you might end up with cloudy little bubbles. Granted, something like bubbles doesn’t tend to evoke much intimidation, but in our hair replacement community, it probably should. These become visible through the hair system where the hair parts, creating a dead giveaway and a less natural look.


Keep in mind, you can always use a blow dryer to make the process go even faster.


Step 7: Repeat Steps 5 & 6 for a Second Coat


Two thin layers of adhesive offers a hold secure enough to last three to five weeks. Just to reiterate a point in step five, limiting the process to two thin layers helps you avoid that unwanted pillowing effect. It’s also worth mentioning that calling it good after just two applied layers makes the whole install go faster for you client in the chair.


Step 8: Clean the Hair System with 99% Alcohol


While you wait for Great White to dry clear, make sure the hair system is completely clean. 99% frees the system of dust or skin oils or anything that could weaken the bond.


Step 9: Press the hair system onto the scalp, and firmly hold in place for 10 seconds


This step allows you to activate the bond to begin forming into its ultimate strength. If you choose not to use Max Hold Sport, be sure to remind your client to wait 24 hours before swimming, showering, or working out. However, if you do go with Max Hold Sport, then remove their towel and let them loose! 


Want to see for yourself how easy Great White is to use? Save the most money possible by placing an order through Walker Tape today!


Walker Water Based Adhesives Infographic

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