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.

Stage 1: Oh crap, my hair is falling out.

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:

Use Toppik

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!

Get clip-in hair extensions

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.

Experiment with your part

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.

Try a ponytail or bun helper

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.

Wide headbands are your new best friend

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!