Out of Thin Hair ✨

Information About Wigs, Toppers, and Hair Loss

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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!

Buying My First Wig: Lena’s Sheitels on Consignment Review

Purchasing a wig for the first time is seriously overwhelming. Looking back, trying a synthetic wig first would have been a low-investment way for me to figure out what I liked, but based on what I had read online, I figured I would be the most comfortable in human hair and decided to make my first wig purchase a human hair wig. Because they are so much more expensive than synthetic, it’s very nerve-wracking trying to decide on one to purchase, since it’s such a huge investment. Depending on your budget, it can be difficult to even find one that’s close to affordable.

After searching online for months and still coming up empty handed for human hair options that I could afford (and would be returnable if I tried and didn’t like), I stumbled across a hidden gem: Lena’s Sheitels on Consignment. Before I launch into explaining Lena’s business model, I should take a moment to explain exactly what a sheitel is, for those of you who are like me and never had any prior experience living around a Jewish community.

Here’s the definition from Wikipedia:

Sheitel is the Yiddish word for a wig worn by some Orthodox Jewish married women in order to conform with the requirement of Jewish Law to cover their hair. This practice is part of the modesty-related dress standard called tzniut.

When I learned about this, I was absolutely amazed! Because sheitels are usually constructed well, quite realistic-looking, and made with high-quality hair, It opened up a whole new market for me to check out in my search for a human hair wig. This is what led me to discover Lena’s shop. Apparently, it is rare for a Jewish bride to really adore her first sheitel. Often, she does not feel comfortable in it and it ends up sitting in her closet after she finds a sheitel she likes better. Lena undoubtedly recognized a business opportunity there and opened her shop, offering women the option to sell their barely-used sheitels on consignment. I think it’s pretty genius!

The big perk for me here was that I was struggling to find a human hair option that was affordable for me, and shopping with Lena allowed me to snag an awesome pre-owned wig for much, much cheaper than its original price. I shudder to think what the original owner paid for it (as women regularly shell out $2000+ for sheitels), but I ended up with a gorgeous 22″ inch wig for only $850 and a no-hassle return policy if I received it and didn’t like it. Lena was incredibly helpful throughout the process of picking out my wig.

Well, miracle of miracles, the wig fit me perfectly and the color was beautiful. It’s very dense and thick, stick-straight Asian hair that is beautiful and silky when taken care of properly, the scalp is incredibly realistic, and the color is 10/16 (a light ash brown base with light blonde highlights that I absolutely adore!) My favorite thing about this wig is that it air-dries completely straight with zero frizz. It’s incredible. Even though I have expanded my wig collection greatly since purchasing it, this one is still my everyday “go-to” and the wig I feel most like myself in.

These photos are from shortly after I got the wig. It had long layers with no bangs, and because I have never not had bangs, I did not feel comfortable in the wig at first (not to mention it was my first wig, and getting comfortable is a challenge to begin with!) I was completely terrified that if I had bangs cut into it, it would be butchered, but eventually I sucked it up and had side bangs cut in – and I’m so glad I did! Now the wig really feels like “me” and I wear it so much more than I did at first!

Here are a few photos of how I wear the wig now, post-bangs. I just take a few minutes to curl the ends and it’s ready to go – this wig requires the least amount of styling out of all the wigs I own (even the synthetics!) I just plop it on my head, brush it, and go. (Please ignore my awkward derp face in the first photo.)

Needless to say, I can’t recommend Lena’s shop enough if you are looking for a human hair wig at a great price! I must make the disclaimer that she sells wigs from all sorts of manufacturers, as they are sold on consignment, so the fact that my wig was awesome does not mean that your wig will be an exact match to mine in quality. However, I know Lena is picky about what she chooses to sell, so that combined with the ability to return the wig if you do not like it pretty much eliminates the risk in trying out something from her store.

Lena keeps her current inventory up-to-date on her Facebook page, which you can view here.

20 Reasons Why Wearing Hair is Seriously Awesome

When you’re losing (or have already lost) your hair, it’s easy to get down in the dumps. But wearing wigs or toppers should not be a source of distress! Despite the wig-induced headaches you may experience, there are some serious perks to wearing supplementary hair… sometimes all you need is an extra reminder that you’re in this special “clan” with some awesome benefits not everyone gets to experience.

Without further ado, here’s my top 20 list of perks…

1. Being able to go blonde without worrying about bleaching, damaging your hair or ending up with orange hair. You just pick out the perfect blonde wig and that’s it!

2. On that note, being able to try out any hair color whatsoever with no commitment and no worries about damage or not liking it. Blue hair? Go for it… just for today.

3. For those of us with thinning hair: Not having to use half a container of Toppik on your head every day. That stuff is expensive.

4. Being able to switch from long hair to short hair in an instant, no commitment, without worrying about how long it will take to grow back!

5. Knowing that your hair looks thick and awesome, and not worrying about people staring at your scalp. My scalp doesn’t see the light of day anymore!

6. If you wear a synthetic: what’s hair styling again? You can just plop the wig on and go! Serious time saver in the morning, especially compared to pouring a whole container of hair concealer on your head and taking an hour to part your hair in just the right way so you don’t look as bald.

7. If you wear HH (human hair): curling your hair is a heck of a lot easier when it’s NOT on your head. Thank you, wig stands!

8. Wearing a wig/topper enables you to have nicer hair than you’ve EVER had in your entire life! Not all ladies have that opportunity. (Granted, women can wear wigs and toppers even if they don’t have hair loss, but let’s be honest… they generally don’t, with a few exceptions.)

9. Remember those days when you had to shower in the morning because if you slept on your super-thin hair, it would look like crap and be impossible to style in the morning? Say hello to showering at night and sleeping in!

10. All of the amazing ladies you have probably met through this journey in online support groups.

11. Having a permanent solution for your hair loss often makes it easier to accept. You don’t have to keep trying to fix it when you have already come up with a solution. Finally, you can have peace.

12. You can do fun things with your wigs, like have your boyfriend/husband model them for you (mine in particular looks like Jesus when he does this) or put your topper on your cat.

13. The excitement of getting your new wig/topper in the mail! There are truly no words for this feeling.

14. Only having to wash and style your “hair” every couple of weeks.

15. Defying your hair’s natural texture. Naturally curly but always wanted straight hair? It can be yours with no heat damage or blow outs.

16. You can go somewhere in disguise. Don’t feel like talking to anyone when you go out to walk the dog? Put on some sunglasses and your long dark brown wig. If the neighbors know you as a blondie… you’re safe!

17. Getting to try fun and fancy shampoo/conditioner/styling products on your wig, when you were probably very limited in what products you could use on your own hair.

18. Likewise, trying styles on your wig and topper that never would have worked with your bio hair (braids, pony’s, updos, half-up-dos…)

19. Our journey and the fact that we wear helper hair means we are unique and powerful women who have been through a struggle and conquered it! It’s a unique aspect of ourselves that makes us special.

20. Having gone through this struggle means you are able to help other people and share your experiences to help others feel less alone!

What are the positive aspects you look to for inspiration about your situation when you’re feeling down about your hair loss? Share in the comments below!

How to Hide Female Hair Loss: The Beginning (Stage 1)

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!

The Shirley Temple Incident, or How Not to Curl Your Wig

Owning a human hair wig is pretty terrifying. They’re such a huge investment, and if anything bad happens to it, it’s not like the hair is going to grow back. When I got my first HH (human hair) wig, I refused to go near it with any sort of implement that generated even the smallest amount of heat. No hair dryers, no curling irons… I had this fear that I would somehow accidentally singe the hair and it would dramatically disintegrate and fall out of the wig as I dissolved into a puddle of tears.

However, the wig is stick straight, so I wanted to be able to curl it somehow. I was envisioning how beautiful some pretty loose curls or beach waves would look in such long, thick, luscious hair. I’ve never had hair like that before!

I decided to try a no-heat method of curling. No, I didn’t read to do this online… I came up with it on my own, which is your first sign that it was going to go horribly wrong.  I washed the wig, let it dry a bit, and while it was still damp, I put it on a wig head and rolled it up into foam bendy rollers. I had gotten wide ones, thinking the curls would be loose and wavy… ha. I sprayed it down with Bumble and Bumble Styling Lotion – which I love. It’s a non-greasy product (it sprays as a mist) that gently holds style and protects hair from heat, and B&B products have no harsh chemicals that might harm a wig. After that, I just left it to dry.

I excitedly took out the rollers the next day, which felt like Christmas morning. The results were not exactly what I expected.

To give you an idea of just how kinky this thing really was… this is how long the wig usually is.

Yeah. As I later found out, this wig doesn’t hold heat curls that well, but those curls stayed for WEEKS. I had just washed it, so I didn’t want to wash it again so quickly, as washing too often is harsh on human hair wigs. So I wore the wig and looked like a fool for the next couple of weeks. It took a solid week for the ringlets to loosen up even the smallest bit.

Now that I’ve learned my lesson, my tips for curling a wig would be to use a jumbo curling iron on low heat, heat rollers on a low setting, or GIGANTIC jumbo foam rollers used with no heat. This will provide the loose curls and waves you want without putting a lot of heat or stress on the wig!

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