I dose out some tough love in this video about coming to terms with your hair loss and living your best life. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
I dose out some tough love in this video about coming to terms with your hair loss and living your best life. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Since I started losing my hair and wearing wigs, I’ve connected with dozens of women who are going through the same thing. I am lucky enough to have a loving boyfriend who has stuck by my side throughout this entire ordeal (and he’s got a full head of hair, plus a mountain man beard – the lucky bastard!) but many women dealing with these issues are single. I’m constantly hearing concerns about the dating scene. “How will I ever find a man who’s attracted to me when I’m bald/balding?” “When is the right time to tell my partner about my hair loss/wigs?” “How do I keep my boyfriend from touching my hair?” The list goes on and on.
Some may consider me a hypocrite for even commenting on this issue, since I’m already in a relationship and never had to deal with the dating scene while wearing wigs, but I feel that gives me a neutral, outside perspective about this. Ladies – your wig is a blessing when it comes to finding a man! Seriously. I have a point here. Just stick with me for a little bit.
I know… you’re probably raising your eyebrows and saying “Yeah, right.” But I’m serious. You have an advantage that most women don’t. You have a surefire, bulletproof way of weeding out all the superficial jerks and players. And that’s why you need to tell your man that you wear wigs, like, immediately. Yup.
No, it’s not going to be easy, and no, you shouldn’t necessarily do it on your first date, a la this Vine:
…but, you should literally do it as soon as possible. I can’t even count the reasons on one hand. If he goes to kiss you and reaches to touch your hair, you’re in for a bad time. You’re going to be constantly living in a realm of fear and paranoia, nervous he’s going to notice something is weird about your hairline or something. God forbid you actually sleep over at his place and have to figure out what to do with your “hair.”
But most of all, you have literally nothing to gain from keeping it inside! Why are you afraid? Are you afraid it’s going to make him less attracted to you? Guess what. If it does, it’s a good thing. Because if it wasn’t the wig, it would have been when you gained 30 pounds after your first kid, or when you turned 50 and your wrinkles got out of control. A superficial man is a superficial man, and if you tell a superficial man your secret early enough, you can toss him to the curb way before you had anything to lose. Many women do not find out if their partner has unrealistic demands for beauty until it’s way too late. Thanks to your hair loss, you’re empowered with a tool to discover this very early on. If only all women were so lucky! Wink.
So yes, I think you should tell your partner ASAP. You’re only hurting yourself by hiding it. And if it affects your man in a negative way, you’re dodging a major bullet. Chances are, you’ve probably got good taste and your partner will love you just the same. But if not, he is not someone you want to be with anyway, because you deserve someone who will love you, accept you, and think you are beautiful just the way you are.
Best of luck to all you single ladies, and just remember… secrets don’t make friends!
Since May is Lupus Awareness Month, I thought it would be fitting to share the story of one of my hair loss sisters, Sharyn. She was kind enough to provide some information and her own experience with hair loss and lupus. Sharyn is one of the strongest people I have met – not only is she dealing with the tough experience of losing her hair, she’s also battling (and conquering!) life with lupus.
Lupus is one of the many medical conditions that includes hair loss as a symptom. This is why it’s very important to head to the doctor if you notice your hair is shedding. Read on to hear Sharyn’s story.
Three years ago, I noticed that I was not only losing a lot of hair in the shower, but that I was seeing more and more scalp through my thin, fine hair. Scared, I called a dermatologist to find out how to keep my hair on my head where it belonged. Most women undergoing HL seek out a dermatologist who looks at their scalp, orders a battery of blood tests, ultimately tells them they have genetic hair loss and give them a prescription for spironolactone and recommendations for minoxidil then send them on their way. I expected a similar experience.
The dermatologist was a nice woman who went through the different causes of hair loss in women with me, then explained what kind of lab tests she needed to run before we started any treatment. She seemed pretty confident I was suffering from androgenic alopecia (AGA) and that I would be back to see her soon for my prescription. Among the lab tests she ordered were hormone levels, vitamin and mineral levels to check for deficiencies, and something I had never heard of: the antinuclear antibody test.
About a week after the labs were drawn, I got a call from her nurse telling me that I needed to see a rheumatologist. My labs had come back and I was anemic and my ANA was extremely elevated. I didn’t even know what that meant. She threw out scary diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Shaking, I got off the phone and called my husband while frantically searching the internet for what a positive ANA might mean. I learned that ANA are autoantibodies directed at the cell nucleus and are measured in titers with a reading of 1:40 considered a weak positive. With each dilution, that titer doubled (meaning one more dilution before no more ANA were detected would be 1:80; two more dilutions would be 1:160 and so on). Some healthy people with no autoimmunity whatsoever have a low positive ANA … so perhaps there was hope for me?
That afternoon, I picked up a copy of my labs from my dermatologist’s office. I quickly scanned for the section with ANA titer, and my heart dropped when I saw the reading: greater than or equal to 1:1280. At that high of a titer, there was something wrong with me. I was sick. If I had known what was in store for me, I’m not sure how I would have made it out of that parking lot.
A few weeks later, I was sitting in a rheumatologist’s office with my husband and a list of medical symptoms a page long – anything I could possibly think of had made it onto that list, things I had blown off as normal or just ignored for years. We ran more labs, including a full ANA panel, took x-rays, and he did a full evaluation. The full ANA panel includes looking for specific autoantibodies that can help doctors confirm a diagnosis – such as SS-A and SS-B antibodies, rheumatoid factor, and anti-dsDNA. Not long after that appointment, I got a phone call: I had Sjogren’s disease, an autoimmune disease that primarily attacks the moisture producing glands of the body. My rheumatologist recommended starting Plaquenil immediately for the joint pain and inflammation. But this disease didn’t seem to fit all of my symptoms, and for the next year, with each follow up with my rheumatologist, more and more diagnostic criteria were met for lupus, and I was eventually diagnosed with lupus as well. Systemic lupus erythematosus is a very serious autoimmune disease in which autoantibodies attack the healthy tissues of our own body. It can affect virtually any part of the body, most commonly the skin, kidneys, lungs, heart and central nervous system. It is a debilitating, and sometimes fatal, disease.
Plaquenil did help with the painful, swollen joints and skin rashes and it also helped slow down my hair loss About a year after my initial diagnosis, though, I had to stop taking all of my medications due to some side effects, and within a month, I had lost so much hair that I bought my first wig. I used a pair of clippers, buzzed my hair down to about a ¼” and haven’t looked back. I have been wearing wigs for two years now, and they have absolutely saved my sanity.
The thing about chronic illness and hair loss is that it puts hair loss in a different perspective. I would give up every last hair on my body to have my health back. Living with lupus and Sjogren’s is a daily struggle: it means trying to balance work and family life with a kind of unrelenting fatigue that only few can understand; it means learning, and very often re-learning, limitations so as not to set off a flare (increased disease activity); it means living with pain.
Hair loss is a common feature of lupus and many other autoimmune diseases, so I would encourage any woman experiencing hair loss to talk to her doctor about it. It may be an early warning sign that something much more serious is going on inside her body, and, generally, the earlier these diseases are diagnosed and treated, the better. Losing my hair may have been a blessing in disguise for me: I was diagnosed before major symptoms began and have managed to avoid serious organ involvement as a result. I will wear my wigs happily for that exchange!
I’m all too familiar with the feeling of panic that comes over you when you initially realize your hair is falling out. You may feel completely out of control, extremely self-conscious, and more than anything, totally unsure of what to do. One of the main reasons I started this blog was to help women who are in the beginning stages of this painful process. While losing your hair is emotional and stressful, no one has to know about it but you. No matter the degree of hair loss you’re dealing with, you can hide it, so take a minute to breathe a sigh of relief. If you’re not ready to start wearing wigs, there are alternatives. There are tons of different ways to conceal female hair loss, and I have experimented with all of these strategies as my hair loss gradually progressed from minor, to noticeable, to most of my hair falling out.
For the sake of the series of posts to come, I’m going to divide hair loss into three stages. Many women lose their hair gradually, so you’ll probably spend a good chunk of time in stage 1, 2, and 3. If you’re losing your hair quickly (for example, due to chemotherapy) the first 2 steps won’t be as relevant. This post will only discuss the options for stage 1 – the beginning phases of hair loss. There’s no need to get freaked out about the future, or wearing wigs, when you need a solution for the “now” first. When that time comes, you can check out my post about stages 2 & 3.
This stage is when you first notice your hair is beginning to thin. Maybe you’re noticing more hair in the shower drain, on your pillow when you wake up in the morning, or collecting in your brush. Maybe you’re starting to notice your part widening a bit, or a bit more scalp showing than before. This is, by far, the most frustrating stage of hair loss. Not only are you dealing with the emotional trauma of realizing your hair is falling out, but it’s likely that you have no idea what the heck is going on. And besides wearing wigs, many women are not aware of the ways they can hide their hair loss in these early stages. This can lead to feelings of helplessness and self-consciousness. Never fear, I am here! Here are a few strategies:
Okay, so Toppik is a miracle product. I have no idea how it works, but I relied on this stuff for years. Basically, it’s itsy bitsy powdery flakes of color that you shake onto your scalp like you’re peppering a fresh young chicken. Somehow, it static clings itself onto your hair and thickens it, concealing scalp or bald spots and making your hair look thicker overall. I cannot recommend this enough. Seriously, if you are in the beginning phases of losing your hair, buy this right now – you will not regret it. Using Toppik allowed me to put off wearing wigs by at least 2 years. This is the #1 product I would recommend. Check out a Google search for Toppik before and after photos (yes, they are real and no, they are not paying me to say this.) If you have any questions about the product, please leave a comment below!
This is really only a solution at the beginning phase of hair loss, so take advantage of this while you can! (You’ll still need to have enough hair to conceal the clips.) While they do not hide hair loss on top, they add an incredible amount of volume that you may have lost due to your hair falling out – and of course, they can add luxurious length, too. Wearing the clip-in extensions, combined with using Toppik on my scalp, gave me a huge boost of confidence. Unfortunately, I only discovered this solution just a couple of months before my hair loss sped up like crazy, and I no longer had enough hair to cover the clips.
There are a couple of ways you can play with your hairstyle to make the most of the situation. First, examine your whole head and figure out if you’re losing more hair on one side than the other. A good way to do this is to start on the far left side of your head, part your hair there, and examine the width of the part and the scalp showing around it. Then re-part your hair about a half inch further to the right. Continue this process all the way across your head. You’ll be able to easily see which part is in your “magic zone” and that’s where you should part your hair for now. For me, this was on the right side of my head!
Another great thing suggested to me by my old hairdresser was to play around with a zig-zag part. By subtly zig-zagging your part, you can cover up some of the more bald areas by laying hair over top of them. This takes practice, but it can look really nice.
A really awesome option that many women don’t consider is adding a little bit of “helper hair” when you wear your hair in a ponytail or bun. These sorts of additions are a cheap and easy way to really add some volume to your updos. My two personal favorite pieces are messy bun scrunchies and the 18″ wrap-around ponytails (offered in straight, and beach waves!) by Ken Paves for an instant volume boost for your pony. In the photo to the left, I am rocking the fake ponytail! I was very self-conscious about my pencil-thin ponytail and this is a great way to conceal that.
These wide headbands are totally “trendy” right now, so stock up on them while you can. A lot of female pattern hair loss begins on the top and front of the head, so concealing that area, even if it’s just around the house or at the gym, is a huge relief. My favorite headband so far is the Bang Buster by Lulu Lemon (pictured to the left) because it’s nice and thick, and it doesn’t slip off my head (a huge problem I have with headbands.) Some nice alternatives are Bolder Bands, Buffs, and Victoria’s Secret headbands!
No matter what, it’s important for you to remember that you are in control. Even if you cannot control your hair loss, you have complete power over how you choose to handle it and the solutions you decide on – and just look at all your options! This is not the end of the world, although it probably feels like it right now. I haven’t really touched on the emotional aspect of hair loss in this post – just the tactical, practical solutions, because in my experience, figuring out what to do right now will make you feel a lot better already!
If you have any questions about the products I’ve recommended or any suggestions for the beginning phase of hair loss that I may have omitted from this post, please leave a comment below!
I didn’t think I would need to wear wigs until I was at least 30. My hair was getting thinner each and every year, but it was at a steady, gradual pace. I figured I’d at least have a husband and kids before I’d have to face the daunting prospect of wearing wigs for the rest of my life.
But when I hit 22, my hair decided to hit the high road. Over the next year, the shedding sped up like crazy, and by the time I turned 23, most of the hair on the top of my head was gone. Luckily, I had just moved to Buffalo, NY (where the climate is comparable to Antarctica) and winter was beginning. I wore winter hats literally everywhere I went. Fancy restaurant? Oh, I’m sure they won’t mind if I leave on my pom-pom beanie. As you can imagine, that got awkward quickly.
I was in denial. Wearing wigs was this distant thing in the future that I thought I would be confronting later. Suddenly, I had to confront it immediately, and I wasn’t prepared. But the desire to go out in public without a beanie and regain my confidence gave me the strength to come to terms with it: I’m 23 years old, my hair isn’t coming back, and I’m going to wear wigs for the rest of my life. Whew.
The thing is, I handled this transition differently than many other women. For me, my hair loss was a source of shame and discomfort, and I had hidden it from essentially everyone in my life – family included. From what I’ve gathered based on what I’ve read online and in support groups, many women treat wearing wigs with the same shame and secrecy. They hide the fact that they wear hair from everyone they know, even their family. I knew immediately that this approach was not for me. In deciding to wear wigs, I was leaving the shame and self-consciousness behind. I had spent the last 10 years hiding, and I didn’t want to hide anything anymore.
So, I decided to go public. Like, super public. Like, post-on-my-Facebook-and-share-my-hair loss story-and-decision- to-wear-wigs public. Sure, maybe I was shaking a little as I clicked the “submit post” button, but after that, I felt so free. I cannot even describe the feeling. It was like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. Not only had I determined a solution for my hair loss, I also had nothing left to hide.
Another big perk? I can buy wigs in all sorts of colors and wear whatever I feel like. Those who are “in the closet” have to stick to the same style and color every day in order to not arouse suspicion, and that usually means sticking to their biological hair color, too. I’m happy to have no limitations and never worrying about whether someone will “catch on.”
Don’t get me wrong – some people are very private and would never dream of sharing their hair loss struggles with the world. I completely understand why these women decide to keep it a secret and hide the fact that they wear hair. There are so many reasons that play into that decision, and this post certainly is not meant to criticize those who have chosen that route. However, I personally cannot imagine taking that path myself, and since my decision to go public seems to be a relatively uncommon one, I felt it was really important to share how successful and freeing it has been for me, in case anyone reading this had not considered it as an option.
If you’re interested, here is what I wrote and posted on my Facebook in order to “come out” about my hair. The support I received was unbelievable and made me cry a lot. When all was said and done, I had received almost 300 likes. Along with the post, I included a photo of me wearing my very first wig, which I had received in the mail that day!
“I struggled for a long time deciding whether or not to write this post, but ultimately, I want to be open and share my experience in the hopes that at least one person will not feel as alone as I sometimes did during this journey that I’ve largely kept to myself.
Ever since I was little, I have been losing my hair. This is a genetic condition, totally not life-threatening, and it has no other symptoms, but it’s incurable and untreatable – once the hair falls out, it can’t grow back. Unlike other forms of alopecia that cause sudden and total hair loss, my alopecia is gradual, and I’m simply balder and balder each year.
I was never sure when I’d reach the point that my hair no longer looked “acceptable” or “passable,” so I dreaded looking in the mirror each day. I used all kinds of tricks, haircuts, cover-up products, extensions, comb-overs… I was so obsessive about camouflaging it that many people who are very close to me have no idea this is something I’ve dealt with. They just think I have “thin hair.” But over the past year, and especially the past couple of months, my hair loss accelerated so much that I no longer felt comfortable going outside the house without a hat. There are portions of my head that no longer have hair at all. This is the point that I knew something needed to change.
After struggling with self-confidence issues, completely doubting my beauty and femininity due to my lack of hair, something just… clicked. I finally came to terms with it. I accepted it as part of me. Another fact I accepted in the process: I’ll be wearing wigs for the rest of my life. And that’s okay! At first I was utterly embarrassed. Horrified. Terrified. I felt flawed and like a failure because of my condition. But now I see this was just an opportunity for me to grow and accept this part of myself. This is the way God made me, so why should I be angry about it?
I got my first wig today. I feel so liberated. Ladies and gents, I am rockin’ my new weave. No, I don’t have cancer, and no, you don’t have to stare at me confusedly now that my hair is 12 inches longer than it was before! You can just expect my hairstyles to change a bit more frequently than the average person now.
I cannot begin to tell you how far I have come. I feel totally at peace and I really wanted to be open about this experience because of how truly, deeply isolated I felt while dealing with it. Female hair loss isn’t something that happens to many young women and it’s really hard to find a support network. Luckily I’ve plugged into a couple of online communities that have been a great support system and an awesome source of information. If any ladies who are reading this are dealing with a similar condition, please feel free to reach out to me in confidence at any time… I am here for you!
Without further ado, meet my beautiful new hair… which looks good with a hat AND without!”
If you have any questions about how to go public about wearing hair, please leave a comment below. Please feel free to take inspiration from my words! It’s a big decision, but based on my personal experience, it’s something I’d definitely recommend, depending on your circumstances!