Out of Thin Hair ✨

Information About Wigs, Toppers, and Hair Loss

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Wig Review: Orchid by Estetica (plus modification!)

Throughout my journey with hair loss, I have made friends with lots of other women who wear wigs, too. This networking is a great way to score some older, used wigs from friends for cheap! One of my friends sent me the Orchid by Estetica. I am not 100% sure on the color, but it’s a medium brown with reddish highlights. As it was already a few years old, and synthetic wigs really only have a solid 6-month shelf life (if worn every day), I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Here is the wig when I first got it. The upper portion was still in (surprisingly) really good shape, while the longer layers on the bottom had gotten pretty tangled and ratty after a few years of wear. This look was a little too 2004 “emo hair” for me!

In my mind’s eye, I could envision this wig actually being cute as a long bob (“lob” as they’re called these days) so I decided to chop off the longer layers at the bottom. Note that I have absolutely no experience cutting hair whatsoever, so this was a leap of faith, but it actually turned out really well!

Cutting off the bottom layers really brought the whole wig to life. I’m sure it looks great with the longer layers when new, but losing them was exactly what the wig needed to look good as new!

Another thing I love about this wig is that unlike some synthetics, it is not shiny or unrealistic looking at all.

You can buy the Estetica Orchid from most major wig retailers, or on Amazon here!

What Is A Topper? How Is It Different Than A Wig?

A topper is sometimes referred to as a “half wig” or “top piece”, but usually, people will just call it a topper. Basically, a topper only covers the top portion of your head. Toppers vary in size, depending on the coverage you need – there are toppers that are only 2 by 4 inches and just sit on top of your part, and there are toppers that are 8 x 9 inches and almost cover up your whole head! The topper attaches to your hair with clips, and your own hair is worn down underneath to supplement the hair on the topper. This means it’s a great solution for ladies with gradual hair loss, hair thinning, androgenetic alopecia, and ladies with bald spots (alopecia areata) – but not a very good solution if you have total/complete hair loss from alopecia or other medical causes, as you do need to have some hair left to make it work.

For those ladies who haven’t lost all their hair, it can be difficult to decide between a wig and a topper. There are pros and cons to both, so I decided to make an exhaustive list here for those who are weighing their options!

Topper Pros

  1. Toppers often look far more natural than wigs. This is assuming the topper is properly blended with your bio hair and is constructed well, with a realistic-looking scalp. Wigs can be bulky and poofy and just downright “wiggy,” but the significantly lesser amount of hair on a topper avoids that completely.
  2. Wigs can be unbearably hot in the summer! Wearing a topper means only part of your head is covered, and they’re often more lightweight and breathable than a full wig.
  3. Depending on the size of the topper, you can usually wear your hair in a very realistic looking ponytail, bun, or other updo. The smaller the topper, the higher the ponytail can be. Wearing a ponytail with a wig usually isn’t possible – it’s too bulky with too much hair, doesn’t look realistic, and the wefts may show at the nape of your neck.
  4. Toppers are much more affordable than wigs! Of course – smaller product, less hair, less money, right?

Topper Cons

  1. In order for the topper to look natural, it needs to exactly match the color and texture of your own hair. This can be a challenge when ordering online, sight unseen. You can usually order a color ring from most vendors in order to accurately match color to your own hair. If the color doesn’t match, you’ll have to dye your hair to match the topper (I don’t recommend dying wigs or toppers – too much room for disaster to happen.)
  2. Some women have issues with the clips used to secure the topper to your hair. Often, especially if they are of cheaper quality, they can pull and tug and hurt you, sometimes even causing headaches. If you secure clips to the same section of your hair every day, you may lose more hair in that area, from the clips pulling on the hair and yanking it out. If your hair loss is concentrated in the front, like many women with androgenetic alopecia, it can be difficult to find an area on your front hairline to attach the clips. In this case, bonding (gluing or taping) the topper to the front of your head is possible.
  3. When you wear a topper, you have to style your own hair. For me, this means blow-drying it and straightening it or curling it along with the topper to make them blend and match nicely. This is very high maintenance compared to wearing a wig, because with a wig, you can just throw it on over your tangled, rat’s nest hair and no one will ever know!

As you can see, the pros and cons are pretty evenly balanced. When I began wearing hair, I went straight to wigs because I didn’t want to deal with the trouble of matching a topper perfectly to my bio hair and styling them both. However, when summer came along, my sweaty head knew I needed a lightweight option, and I started wearing a topper. I now wear a topper most days! I’m almost at the point where I don’t have quite enough hair to make it work, but as long as I can, I’ll keep wearing it, because it’s so comfortable!

 

Wig Review: Julianne by Jon Renau in Color 6F27

Hi everyone! Sorry I’ve been AWOL for a bit. I’ve been dealing with some other medical issues that leave me very sleepy most of the time… too sleepy to blog! I have a bunch of wig reviews backlogged that I’d like to post, as well as some other thoughts and musings, so there may be an influx of posts over the next few days.

My most recent wig purchase is Julianne by Jon Renau. I’ve been eyeballing this wig ever since she was released as part of the Spring 2014 collection, but she is the most expensive synthetic Jon Renau has ever released! She is all hand-tied, so that’s one reason why so pricey, but at $427… gosh. Anyway, I was innocently browsing eBay a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled across a Julianne in color 6F27 that had only been worn once. It had just been listed at $200. It was around this time that what I like to call my “inner wig demon” took over my body and possessed my hand, which clicked the “Buy it Now” button without much of a second thought from me. Sometimes I just can’t pass up a deal.

Anyway, after a mishap with the post office which almost resulted in poor Julianne being shipped back to her original sender, I rescued her and tried her. Honestly, I really like her a lot. She is way less poofy on top than Jon Renau’s similar, longer wig, Heidi, and the short, lightweight style is perfect for summer.

Some perks: As I mentioned, she’s incredibly lightweight and comfortable (although the lace front gets a little bit itchy after wearing for a full day, it’s not noticeable immediately.) The lace front is far more realistic than other Jon Renau lace fronts I’ve seen, and it’s the first lace front wig I’ve owned where I feel comfortable pinning the bangs back and it actually looks cute – that’s actually the way I prefer to wear this wig. The curl pattern is gorgeous and, because it’s synthetic, it’ll look that way forever!

Now for the cons: It’s an angled cut – a bit longer in the front than it is in the back – and that isn’t a favorite style of mine, although the curls are pretty enough for me to overlook it. The color is a little bit streaky for me. The highlights are very chunky, and a pet peeve of mine is that the highlights “match up” on either side of the part. Most problematic, though, was that the part was very undefined.  The “matchy” highlights really accentuated the lack of a visible part.

To remedy that, I’m now using an eyebrow pencil to root the streaky highlights along the part and dabbing a white eyeshadow powder in the part to make it much more visibly defined. I think it helps a lot!

Overall, after going back and forth a bit, I really do think I like her and will keep her… at least until I get tired of her!

Female Hair Loss & the Dating Scene: My Unpopular Opinion

 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:

https://vine.co/v/Mwr2OiJ9TDI

…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!

Hair Loss & Lupus: What You Should Know

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!

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