Dealing with wig/topper disappointment: Part 1

Every piece is unique and different. Each will need different modifications to customize it to the wearer’s liking.

Delving into wigs or toppers can be life changing. Transformative even. It can help restore confidence, and support in coping with diagnoses associated with hair loss. It becomes a way of life for many living with Alopecia or medical hair loss. Wigs have become so common, so mainstream, that they are seemingly everywhere. There are no shortage of hair sellers or alternative hair options to explore! For those who wear hair regularly, one becomes compelled in their search to discover that perfect piece. For someone just discovering the world of helper hair, it can stimulate a newfound sense of optimism.

You’ve been saving up your pennies! The time has finally come to purchase that piece you can’t stop thinking about! It’s still in stock. How has nobody else scooped it up? Your heart is racing. Add to cart…click! You’ve just dropped some major cash on a new wig or topper and your adrenaline is rushing! You know this will be the perfect piece- it HAS to be. The cut, colour, style, hair type, size- it’s everything you’ve been hoping for. And she’s all yours! You’ve got a good feeling about this one…this will be the one!

Your excitement about this piece only grows while you patiently await its arrival. LOOK! There’s the mail truck!

You open the box and suddenly, a pit in your stomach. Something seems off. This is IT? This, my friend, is wig/topper disappointment…

We’ve all felt that disappointment. It’s all too common in the hair world. Hair purchases are laden with emotion, positive and negative. So many hopes and dreams for a better, more positive view of the self become wrapped up in these purchases.

Add to that the fact that it so incredibly difficult to shop online for hair! How things appear on the screen, how they are described by a seller, and how they are perceived by the recipient can vary widely. Even if you go into a shop to buy your hair, there’s a chance of wig disappointment. You picked the wrong colour, or the piece ordered for you doesn’t look like the store model you tried on. You’ve taken a chance on a colour you’ve been eyeing but it isn’t what you expected from the small colour sample or tiny square of pixels.

In this 2 part series, I’m going to walk you through how to manage this wig/topper disappointment.

First things first: breathe! It’s going to be okay.

The best advice I can give you about managing wig/topper disappointment is to prevent it altogether. It can be extremely overwhelming sifting through hundreds of listings, understanding different types of cap constructions, grades of hair quality, brands, and other features. You will want to do your homework before investing big bucks and get familiar with these basics. You also need to have an idea of what features are most important to you. If you like the flatness of a lace top, you might not get that with a silk based wig or topper. If you want a natural scalp, a silk top may be the way to go. If you don’t know the pros and cons of the various cap constructions, you haven’t done enough research.

Even if you know exactly what you’re looking for, and/or are an experienced buyer, making an impulsive decision to purchase a piece can lead you to miss details, or to purchase without ensuring you have had all of your burning questions answered! It can also lead you down the road of compromising on some of the aforementioned features you previously decided on. I get the temptation to make a hasty purchase because many of the well-known brands sell out quickly! But it can lead to costly mistakes.

Here are some MUSTS when it comes to preventing wig/topper disappointment:

-I said it already, but it’s worth noting again. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! You need to know wig/topper basics, cap construction, and take accurate measurements.

-Work within your budget, and even below your budget because as you will read in part 2, you should plan for aftermarket expenses to make your piece your own. Don’t forget about shipping costs and import fees!

-Become familiar with a seller’s return policy in advance of your purchase. Some sellers charge a restocking fee and/or require a piece to be returned within a specific time frame, with minimal or no modifications. This way, in the event a piece is not exactly what you’re looking for, you will know what to expect as far as returns/exchanges and be prepared for this. As a side note, you cannot and should not expect a seller to waive a restocking fee just because you don’t like something about a piece, have changed your mind, or because your financial situation changes (unless there is a true defect, in which case you should communicate directly with the seller to understand their policy about defective items). Restocking fees help minimize returns and account for the time spent prepping a product to ship to you, and then re-washing, re-styling, re-listing, and re-packaging items for purchase. You should also verify the seller’s return policy on custom orders as they sometimes differ from stock pieces.

-Factor in the cost of return shipping and restocking fees into your hair budget. Consider this a “try on fee” which some wig shops will charge. If you have the opportunity to visit a wig shop to do an in-person try on, expect a mark up compared to prices online, but this will let you have the opportunity to see, touch and try on a piece. Don’t feel pressured into buying unless you are certain about a piece.

-Schedule a consultation if its offered by the seller you are looking to purchase from. Some have free consultations and others charge a fee. Virtual consultations are sometimes offered. The fee is generally nominal and costs much less than a restocking fee so if you have a lot of questions, concerns, or are an inexperienced buyer, having a consultation can end up saving you money in the long haul. Communication is a huge part of making a good hair investment! If you aren’t satisfied with a seller’s communication or openness to answering your questions, try another seller!

-Make sure you read a seller’s FAQ section on their website and ask any and all additional questions before buying. You can ask a seller to describe a colour as it may show differently on one screen versus another, so having a description may be a more accurate way to familiarize yourself with the tone and shade to make sure you are ordering something that fits with your needs. Wigs and toppers also tend to be styled for photos so ask about the air dried texture if this is important to you. Request more photos if needed.

-YouTube is your friend! Get on there and watch a ton of wig/topper reviews, colour spotlights, tutorials and demonstrations to get a feel for a brand or colour you are considering. This is especially important in the case of purchasing synthetic wigs/toppers because you are pretty well unable to modify the colour of synthetic fibres. Read reviews on Facebook and other websites to see what others have experienced dealing with a brand.

-Talk to others whose pieces look how you would like yours to look and ask them what modifications they have made to their piece. This will give you an idea of a piece’s potential. It is sometimes helpful to look at unboxing videos so that you can see how a piece looked upon arrival and scroll through someone’s Instagram feed and/or YouTube channel to see if they have follow-up videos/photos of a piece post-customization.

If it’s too late for prevention, here’s what you can do:

-When you first receive your new topper or wig, you should take it out of the box and thoroughly inspect the piece for any obvious defects or flaws. You should also look at the colour in both natural and indoor lighting to make sure that it is the colour that you are hoping for. However, if it is a human hair piece, know that the colour is generally, but not always, a resolvable issue.

-Pieces can sometimes arrive with “box hair,” the helper hair equivalent of bed head. Or it may come styled differently than how you would generally style your own hair or pieces. You may also notice the uncut lace and the clip/comb placement. Look past all of this easily remedied issues.

-Put your emotions aside. We don’t tend to do our most objective thinking when we are overly emotional (positively or negatively). You may be over the moon about a piece and hastily cut the lace only to realize the cap doesn’t fit. Or you may feel disappointed with the purchase and resort to lashing out. A clear head will allow you to work out any issues cordially with a seller. Occasionally, issues are unable to be resolved and third party resolution can assist (PayPal or credit card protection).

-You don’t have to make up your mind about a piece the second you take it out of the box (unless it’s love at first sight!) Being familiar with a seller’s return policy will give you some flexibility in taking a day or so to think about whether you can make the piece your own. Try it on a couple times. Take photos. Ask a friend. Wear it around the house.

-If you have decided a piece does not and cannot work for you, initiate the return/exchange process per the seller’s policy. Items MUST be returned in the condition in which it was received and within the timeframe or a seller may ship it back to you at your expense and decline your refund request.

-If you have decided that a piece will not working for you, but don’t want to pay a restocking fee, reselling or consignment options are available. Facebook, Instagram (be sure to check out @TradingTresses), Poshmark, Craigslist, Kijiji and other online selling tools can allow you to recoup some of your money. You will need to incentivize your buyer to purchase from you by offering a discount unless you are selling a highly sought after piece. Why would someone pay full price from you when they can purchase directly from a seller and have the option to return or exchange? Sites such as RE: silkorlace ( or Doppelgänger Wigs will accept gently used pieces for consignment. This means they will do most of the legwork for you, but will cost a percentage of your sale.

-If you’ve decided to keep a wig or topper that isn’t QUITE what you wanted, or you’ve missed the return deadline, you can give your piece a function. Be creative! Can it become your gym hair, pool hair, updo hair, yard work hair, weekend hair, date night hair, hat hair, wash day hair, unexpected knock at the door hair? You get my point.

-Whether you decide to keep, return, exchange, resell or consign your piece, you should look at every hair purchase as a learning opportunity (albeit, a costly one). You will learn what you like or don’t like about a piece, which features you enjoy, which sellers you would buy from again or avoid, and any considerations you need to make to level up your next hair buying experience. Buying hair gets easier with more experience, so you will always be more in the know for your next purchase. And there WILL be a next purchase because even the best quality hair and caps don’t last forever!

Take it from me, someone who has experienced topper disappointment, it totally sucks when you think you’ve finally found your unicorn piece, only to find it’s not quite what you expected! Stay tuned for part 2 where we will hear from some wig experts who will help us tweak our pieces and make us shine!

Laura, who blogs under the name Elle Anne, is all too familiar with wig/topper disappointment. She has learned to see a piece for its potential or lack thereof upon receipt.
In Part 2, we will dive in to all sorts of customization, alterations and adjustments that can be done to improve a piece’s wearability.

Making the choice whether to treat your hair loss- Part 3

Read on to learn more about Jot’s history with treatment for Androgenetic Alopecia

Say hello to Jot (IG: @thin_hair_flair) who has become my international friend! I have so enjoyed getting to know this lady and chatting about hair, hair loss, and life in general. She was kind enough to agree to fill us all in our her history with hair loss treatments.

What type of hair loss do you have?

I was formally diagnosed with androgenic alopecia via a scalp biopsy over 25 years ago. Both my parent had thin hair, so I guess it wasn’t too surprising that I inherited the crappy hair genes too.

How did you come to the decision to treat your hair loss?

I went and saw a dermatologist about some skin issues and she mentioned that my hair looked like it was thinning. I hadn’t even noticed this myself! She then referred me to Sinclair Dermatology (probably one the world’s leading dermatologists dealing with female hair loss issues) for the biopsy, who confirmed the diagnosis, and then I can’t remember if it was him, my GP, or the first dermatologist who recommended that I start taking spironolactone and using topical minoxidil. I do remember being told that both medications had been safely used in women for many years (and this was confirmed by my endocrinologist who cleared me of PCOS) but I was advised that I would have to stop taking the drugs for at least 6 months if I wanted to start trying for a baby.

I understood that taking these drugs would be a lifetime commitment, and being in the health and science field myself, I trusted that the specialists were giving the best advice based on the research at that time, so I was comfortable with my decision to go down the medication path.
I will add that social media sites like Facebook and Instagram weren’t around at this time, so I didn’t know anything about fibres or toppers, or even wigs for that matter. Saying that though, I don’t think this would’ve made a difference to my decision.

What treatments have you tried?

In terms of medication, I’ve tried topical minoxidil, spironolactone, finasteride, duasteride, oral minoxidil (both in tablet and sublingual forms) and flutamide. I’ve also tried other non mainstream medical stuff like laser therapy, and acupuncture, and over the years taken some supplements (like those hair, skin, and nail ones), iron, and Vitamin D (I am always very low in both of those). With iron at least, there is some good evidence that for hair loss, it has to be at a certain level in our bodies.

One good thing was that the dermatologist (now the third one) who I had been seeing for many years, also had androgenic alopecia, and every drug she suggested I try was something she was also taking. So I guess if she felt it was safe for her to be taking it, I was also comfortable with it. I did make sure that I put in some time to review some of the clinical studies about what I was being prescribed. I went back to Sinclair Dermatology last year, and right now, they’ve put me on a compounded drug which includes bicalutamide, spironolactone, and minoxidil.

Has treatment been effective?

I get asked this question a lot but find it really hard to answer. The treatment definitely hasn’t allowed me to maintain a full head of hair, and it has thinned to the point where I either need to use a lot of hair fibres, or a topper. But over the years that I’ve been taking the medications, my expectations have changed. I really just want to slow down the loss as much as possible, and maintain what I have for as long as I can, so that I can continue using fibres or a topper.

If my hair loss got so bad and I had to transition to wigs, I’m not sure how I’ll cope because I don’t even like the feeling of having a hat on my head for too long! So this is what I am trying to avoid. Saying that, Sinclair takes progress pictures, and over the last 15 months it looks like I haven’t gotten any worse. If anything, there might be slight improvement, but nothing to write home about.

Considering I’m also now post menopause, and hair loss usually worsens at this time, I think I’m ok with my hair loss stabilising. The other thing for me is that it’s hard to know whether my hair loss might have been significantly worse if I hadn’t been on the meds all these years.

Has treatment impacted your lifestyle?

Spiro really screwed up with my cycle which was pretty annoying and also concerned me, because of course as females we often start thinking the worst when this happens. I’d take breaks from taking that, and my cycle would normalise again although it would take longer each time.

Topical minoxidil gave me an itchy, dry scalp, plus I just found it a bit tedious to have to apply, so I didn’t persist with that for very long. With oral minoxidil, I’ve noticed increased facial hair growth. It’s pretty ironic that the hair is growing where I don’t want it to! But I had been prone to this even before taking minoxidil, and there’s many more methods that can get rid of this, so I’m not fussed and it’s certainly not a side effect which stops me taking it.

Finasteride was the one medication that significantly reduced my shedding, but my libido took an extended holiday when I was taking it, so that side effect was enough for me to stop taking it. However, this can also be a symptom of menopause which I was going through at the time, so maybe this side effect wasn’t due to the medication. Either way, I felt it was best to stop taking it.

I know that having kids is really important for many women, so understandably thats often a reason they don’t want to take the meds. I knew from a very early age that I didn’t want to have kids, so I never really needed to stop the medications (although I occasionally did because I just got lazy).

But considering some of the potential side effects that some women do experience, they haven’t been too bad for me.

What do you want others to know about the decision to treat or not treat their hair loss?

You really have to weigh up the pros and cons, and decide what is right for YOU and your lifestyle. All medications have side effects, even over-the-counter and natural stuff, so keep that in mind.

Firstly get a proper diagnosis from a dermatologist who specialises in female hair loss (and not many of them do, so do your research). Ask lots of questions and don’t just get your advice from women on social media. Yes, ít’s a lifelong commitment to use the meds, but that’s if they work for you, right? And hair loss is a chronic condition, so just like any chronic condition which has no known cure (yet), medication will need to be ongoing.

But, if you don’t think they’re doing anything for you, whether it be regrowing your hair or reducing your shedding, or you experience side effects that you can’t manage or find too disconcerting, then you just stop.

It’s interesting, many years ago there seemed to be a stigma attached to wearing alternative hair, but that’s come a long way now and it’s accepted. What I see now, is a stigma attached to the decision to take medication. I see women on social media actively discouraging others not to even try the meds because that’s what they decided was right for them.

I would just say to these women, don’t try and convince someone that what was right for you, is right for them. Respect their freedom to choose and if you can’t support them, at least don’t make them feel bad.

What’s one thing you wish you had known about hair loss, coping with hair loss, or alternative hair earlier on in your journey?

I think that overall I coped pretty well with my hair loss and kept myself well informed (from the medical sense) of what was out there.

My mum had used scalp concealers and gotten a custom made topper (although I don’t remember it being called that), so I was familiar with these. Of course, both of these have come a long way, and with Facebook and Instagram, I’ve learnt a lot more about these non-medical ways of managing my hair loss.

On reflection, I would probably have gotten a topper much sooner. Despite the medication, I could see that my hair was still thinning, but I waited until it got super thin, before I bought my first topper. So of course to me, it looked so strange, way too much hair, and very noticeable when I first wore it. I felt so uncomfortable! But I think if I had bought a lightweight, low density topper in the early stages of my hair loss journey, it may have looked much more natural and much less drastic a transition.

I would say that in many ways, things would be easier If I was starting my journey now. Apart from my mum, I didn’t know any other women, let alone someone my age, experiencing hair loss. But now there are so many hair loss support Facebook groups, and of course a huge community of women on Instagram, so these are great resources that are easily available. I would encourage anyone going through hair loss to get involved with this social media community, but keep in mind all of your options when it comes to treating your hair loss.

So while Jot and I have the same diagnosis, our approach and commitment to treatment have varied greatly. You cannot base your decision off of someone else’s experience, but by reading about others’ journeys with hair loss treatment, you begin to look at all of the considerations you need to make before you decide about your own. Reach out to other hair loss sisters and learn about what they have been through with medical intervention, lifestyle factors that contribute to their decision, and go from there!

Jot, a HUGE thank you for your contribution :)!

Making the choice whether to treat your hair loss- Part 2

Helen spills all about her decision to treat her hair loss

Meet Helen, our contributor today! I reached out to Helen as she is a fellow hair loss sister and fellow Canadian. She is fairly well-known in the hair loss community and does amazing product reviews on her platforms! I asked her to weigh in about her decision to treat her hair loss which was triggered by chemotherapy.

“Hi! I’m Helen, also known on YouTube as Shrimpy McGee. If you’ve ever looked up info for women’s Rogaine and minoxidil tips, you might have seen me there. 

“Fun coincidence: Like Elle, I’m a Canadian.

“I totally understand that Rogaine and minoxidil are not right for everyone, and there are so many valid reasons why. But for me, they were, and continue to be, absolutely great for my hair journey. 

“There are a couple reasons why I am a devotee, the most prominent of which is that I never suffered any Rogaine side effects. Not even one. But I did have to wait patiently for about 4 months for growth. When it worked, it really worked! And it’s still working. 

“I use it once a day in the morning, and I only buy Men’s Rogaine foam or men’s generic minoxidil at the 5% strength. It’s available over the counter. Don’t let the packaging and warnings fool you, the men’s and women’s at 5% strength are identical. I made a video about this if you ever want all the reasons as to why, and Rogaine doesn’t hide the fact, either ( 

“One of my audience members tells me that in Korea, they are only sold as one product and they are not gendered. Two thumbs down for the “Pink Tax.” 

“The other reason I use minoxidil is that I never really discovered toppers until I was well into hair regrowth. If I did, I probably would have switched over to them and never bothered with minoxidil! They just give hair such a lush look. And if we’re real, all the celebs are using alternative hair from Ariana Grande to Mindy Kaling, so why shouldn’t we? The stigma is lessening every day. 

“You see, the things to know about minoxidil is it can cause (temporary) hair shedding, itchy scalp and irritation and the kicker: once you start, and if you grow hair, you can’t stop using it or else that hair will fall out. And of course, it doesn’t work for everyone. Also, not everyone wants to be medicated for hair loss.

“For me, it’s a worth-it tradeoff. I really love how my hair looks now, it’s grown nicely, and realistically considering I am post-menopausal, this is as good as it’s going to get when it comes to bio hair.

“Every day I am flooded with minoxidil and Rogaine questions in my Instagram DMs. I try my best to answer everyone! I’m even starting to get sponsorship offers, but the products are always things I would never recommend. Maybe not scams, but not things that people say work. 

“So in August of 2020, I started a Patreon support page. Over there, I offer exclusive posts for my supporters delving into topics that can be a little too hot for YouTube. Please do consider supporting me there if you can, it’s the place where I can offer much more one-on-one help in a private setting.

“But either way, know that we are all in this together. The hair loss community is one of the best, sweetest and most affirming groups of women online. And a thank you to Laura aka Elle, for the work that you do and for sharing your experience…and for letting me contribute here!”

So if you read part 1 of the “Making the decision whether to treat your hair loss” series, you know that Helen and I have had very different experiences with minoxidil. Our hair loss experiences are also vastly different so again I stress that it is important to get a proper diagnosis and follow-up with your qualified healthcare practitioner regarding medical management and side effects. Helen has been consistent with her treatment and is lucky enough to have benefitted from it!!

Thank you for your contribution, Helen!

Stay tuned for part 3!

Making the choice whether to treat your hair loss- Part 1

Personally, I have accepted that I will always have hair loss and wearing hair helps me to cope with the choice not to continue treating it.

This is Part 1 of a 3 part series about treatment options for hair loss. Check back for guest posts soon where 2 other women from the hair loss community share their experiences with medical management of thinning hair!

Chances are, if you are early on in your hair loss journey, you have treatment on your mind. You will want to see your qualified medical professional for proper evaluation before starting any treatments. Start by visiting your GP or nurse practitioner and request to see a dermatologist. I have also heard of other women speaking with their endocrinologist and/or OBGYN about hair loss so these are also appropriate starting points and they will help you decide what, if any, other evaluation is necessary. Do your research to better understand what medical tests and labs should be completed.

There are a number of treatments that are available for female pattern hair loss. I am less familiar with treatments for other types of Alopecia, so this post will focus on my experience with treatment and management of Androgenetic Alopecia. Like any medical intervention, there will need to be a risk/benefit analysis done to understand the implications of treatment. Be sure to thoroughly discuss this with your doctor.

After I was diagnosed with Androgenetic Alopecia, I made the decision to begin treatment that was recommended by my dermatologist. This included iron supplements and topical Minoxidil. The diagnosis was made by visual inspection of the hair and scalp and from taking a medical history. At the time, I was not aware to ask for things like a scalp biopsy (I was only 19 when I saw the dermatologist) but I did complete a series of lab work to check hormone function and iron levels. I have spoken about my experience with treatment in a previous post so I will give you a quick synopsis: I started with Minoxidil 5% topical liquid applied to the scalp twice daily and over-the-counter iron supplements as I was borderline anemic. I maintained this treatment for some time despite having an allergic reaction to the liquid solution (my dermatologist suspected that propylene glycol was the culprit). I have been a long-time eczema sufferer so my skin has been known to flare often, but it was unusual for my scalp to flare. I briefly stopped minoxidil use to treat my scalp inflammation with a medicated shampoo and switched to minoxidil foam once this was cleared. Even with switching to the foam, I noticed an increase in eczema on my hands and fingers and ongoing scalp itchiness that was impacting my quality of life. It also made my hair look a greasy mess all the time which did nothing for the appearance of my thinning. I was needing to wash more frequently to manage the greasiness which made my hair dry and brittle.

I continued on for about 2 years with the minoxidil, but upon follow-up with my dermatologist, it did not appear to be regrowing any hair so I decided to stop treatment. I now understand that minoxidil isn’t always meant to grow back hair you have already lost, but to slow the rate at which thinning occurs but I did not know this at the time. I was given minimal information about treatment/prognosis at the time of diagnosis, and I was so young that I did not understand the implications of a lifelong commitment to the topical remedy. The counsel I received from my GP was “well at least you will never be completely bald” which was, obviously, unhelpful. My iron stores are a bit better more recently and I continue to take iron supplements occasionally.

I knew that having a family was a priority so this contributed to my decision to halt treatment since minoxidil is not recommended for use during pregnancy/breastfeeling. Following my discontinuation of minoxidil, I tried various other remedies including: Nioxin; castor oil; various other shampoos; the “no ‘poo” method; scalp massage; essential oils; Nizoral (meant to be a DHT blocker); vitamins (biotin, B3 complex, collagen, Hair Skin and Nails formulation, iron), and derma rolling. Nothing was improving the density or quality of my hair, so I opted to get it chopped very short and grew out my hair colour.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the hair care industry is rife with claims that products will grow back your hair. You should be looking for products that can demonstrate unbiased, clinically proven results. PLEASE don’t look at the claims on the label and get your hopes up about it growing back your hair!!!!!!!!! Just because Suzie’s sister’s friend’s mother grew her hair back with a magic potion, it doesn’t mean you should buy it.

There are some other factors that influenced my decision to stop treatments. It was very costly to continue purchasing new products to try. Minoxidil is expensive and is a lifetime commitment so this is something to bear in mind when making your decision. Lifestyle factors also matter when it comes to making the decision about treatment. If you plan to become pregnant and/or breastfeed, there are some types of treatments that are counter-indicated. Treatments require you to be very consistent and are a long-term commitment so if your lifestyle does not permit you to do this, it is unlikely to be effective. There are no guarantees that the treatment will be effective! There can be side effects and some people have concerns about using chemicals on their skin and/or orally to treat hair loss.

To sum up, these are the considerations you need to make before making a decision:

-Your type of hair loss, proper diagnosis, and treatment options recommended by your practitioner to meet your individual needs
-The management of other health conditions and management of side effects of any treatments
-Is the treatment supported by unbiased clinical research?
-The financial cost of treatment knowing that it is an ongoing commitment in order to see and maintain results
-The understanding that stopping treatment can undo any progress seen
-The chance that it may not work/chance that it will slow the progress of your thinning
-Lifestyle factors

What I will say is that I try to maintain good overall health, take vitamins, take iron, try to eat well and exercise, and I opt to wear hair full-time (mostly). I treat my bio hair as gently as I can and use products with fewer harsh ingredients. I am not anti-treatment, but I am anti-treatment for me and my hair loss. For this reason, I have 2 contributors who have chosen to treat their respective hair loss situations, so check back soon for those posts to hear about their experiences!

This is me after my second baby. This was years after I had stopped treatment, and right around the time I decided to purchase my first hair topper. I was okay with my decision not to treat my Alopecia but did not enjoy the way my hair looked.

5 things you can do RIGHT NOW to help you cope with hair loss and body image issues

Hair loss can have a significant impact on one’s body image. The 2 are inextricably linked. Body image, or the way we see and feel about ourselves, has implications when it comes to self-esteem and confidence. Poor self-esteem can be so pervasive in our everyday lives that it impacts our mood, thoughts, interactions with others, and even keenness to pursue opportunities.

When it comes to hair loss, many Alopecians are self-conscious of their scalp showing, of people noticing their thinning, wondering if people can tell they are wearing a wig, or if they look unfeminine (this is not to say those without hair are unfeminine, but ask the hair loss community and this subject comes up often!). Many have spoken of avoiding certain events or activities due to their hair. Think water activities, bright lights, dating, speaking engagements and more!

Sure, we all have things we don’t like about ourselves or our bodies. But too heavy a focus on those vulnerabilities or perceived flaws, can cause our self-esteem to take a hit. This can cause a whole host of issues including low energy, low mood, isolation, avoidance, loss of motivation, disinterest in pleasurable activities, negative self-talk, and much more!

There is growing awareness around body positivity and self-love in the media, social media, in schools, amongst parenting circles, and social discourse. There is so much amazing work being done to positively influence youngsters in particular, but as adults, it can be more difficult to shift our thinking in order to accept our bodies as they are because we have been immersed in a certain mindset for a longer period. Breaking those self-berating habits takes practice!

SO! Whether you are young or old, tall or short, big or small, hairy, bald or somewhere in between, this post is for anyone who is struggling with their body image or struggling to cope with hair loss. These tips will not resolve issues overnight, but a little practice everyday will put you on a path to a better view of yourself! Self-love and self-acceptance is a marathon, not a sprint!

  1. PRACTICE GRATITUDE- We hear this all the time. But what does it actually mean? It is a shift in our mindset to focus on those things in our life that bring us joy, that teach us a lesson, that make us who we are. It is being grateful for opportunities, for loved ones, for lessons learned. It is good to be grateful for what we have, but a focus on materialistic things is not the intent and will not improve your body image. Of course there will always be circumstances that we lament, but even these can present opportunities for learning and growth for which we can later be grateful. Learning to quietly revel in small victories like a hot cup of coffee, a good laugh with a friend, stillness in nature, can set the stage for a more positive outlook. Gratitude needs to be intentional and authentic, so you will need to focus your energy on the things that are meaningful to YOU!
  2. SET GOALS- We cannot overcome body image issues overnight. But we can set goals to help get us there. It also feels satisfying to achieve goals whether they are related to our body image or not. It is important when setting body image goals to really understand where the issue is coming from: were you bullied; has society taught you that you don’t “fit the mould”; has your body let you down in some way; are you overly occupied with what others think of you? Resolving these issues takes a great deal of self-reflection which can be difficult but necessary to grow. Before you can overcome these issues, you must first acknowledge and accept the significance of your suffering. You have to understand the depths of your pain and grief to move forward. Once you have figured out where the issue(s) stems from and how profoundly present they have been in your life, it’s time to make a game plan to take back control. Set your goals such that you can slowly chip away at them instead of tackling everything at once. Establish long-term goals and short-term objectives that will help you get there. You will want to use self-compassion when setting your goals…berating yourself will only stifle your progress. Keep the mindset of “thriving in spite of”. You acknowledge your challenges, and you chase your dreams anyway. Hair loss related goals may include: becoming more open about hair loss; leaving the house with or without your wig/wrap, etc); coming to terms with and accepting your loss; educating others/raising awareness; reconnecting with interests you have set aside; and so on.
  3. HAVE SELF-COMPASSION- In other words, be kind to yourself! Accept that you are flawed as we all are, but you don’t need to beat yourself up about it. Part of being compassionate to oneself is learning to love, accept, and respect oneself solely because you are choosing to do so. By relying on ourselves for our own validation, we are sure to get it. When we love, accept and respect ourselves, we put our own needs first. We begin to see that even if we make mistakes, we are still worthy of self-love. We learn to forgive ourselves for making mistakes. Take some of the empathy you have for others, and direct it inward. This leads to gentler, more productive self-talk which stimulates more positivity.
  4. CELEBRATE WHAT YOUR BODY CAN DO. Maybe your body isn’t the shape you want, doesn’t have the hair you desire, doesn’t have the skin you see in beauty advertisements. Maybe you have wrinkles or cellulite or freckles you don’t love. But that body has been there for you through it all. Try to treat it the way you would treat a dear friend. Focus on the things your body has done and can do instead of the things it lacks and can’t do. Every body is good at some things and every body has its challenges. When we’re constantly comparing and competing with others, it is easy to dismiss what our own bodies need, excel at and are capable of. This is your chance to shed all those long held “should” beliefs about your body and instead, give it the credit it deserves for all that it is and can do.
  5. CONNECT WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD- We all have those people in our lives that make us feel lousy. That one person you know will make an undermining comment that will get under your skin. It is no wonder that this impacts our emotional well-being and feelings of self-worth and it’s impact is directly correlated with the amount of exposure to this person. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. Those who are there to be your cheerleaders and support your ventures. The ones who are as happy for you for pursuing your dreams as they are to pursue their own. Don’t have anybody like this in your life? Set yourself a goal to meet new people and spark some friendships.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of things you can do to improve your coping, nor are they cure-alls for existing insecurities. But by prioritizing these things, you are making space for progress and acceptance.

Grief and hair loss

So what is it like to lose your hair as a young woman?  I can only speak for myself, but I have connected virtually with hundreds of other Alopecians who have gone through it as well.  There is a grieving process…not only grieving the loss of our hair, but also grieving the loss of many other related things be they relationships, confidence, our self of sense, and missed opportunities.

I liken my experience to the 5 Stages of Grief by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  No, I am not saying losing hair is like losing a loved one…OBVIOUSLY it doesn’t hold nearly as much value as a human life but I will tell you how I went through these same phases because of my ever more prominent scalp:

Stage 1- Denial
Me: I must be seeing things because 18 year old woman do not lose their hair.

My hair first started thinning at the hairline.  Unlike other types of alopecia, Androgenetic Alopecia can slooooooowly creep up on you.  It was so subtle that nobody else seemed to notice either.  I would look in every mirror I passed and convince myself that “it must be the light” or “everyone’s hairline looks like this.”  At the time, I didn’t notice any extra hair fall, so how could there even be a problem?  Maybe, I thought, if I stop taking birth control, this will go away.

Stage 2- Anger
My loss continued to progress for the first half of my 18th year.  My part started to widen.  I started to notice more hair fall and what I thought was breakage from dying and styling my hair.  I saw everyone around me with full, thick, healthy heads of hair so why was this happening to me?  Why did this life have to choose me to go through this awful process of being robbed of my crown?  I was angry about spending so much time and money on products to hide my thinning and at needing to use chemicals to fix the problem.  I was angry at myself for having such intense emotions about something so trivial.  I was angry that I was enduring this alone; that nobody was as concerned about it as I was; that nobody understood.  I was infuriated with doctors for minimizing my hair loss.  Angry at myself because it must be my fault!

Stage 3- Bargaining
I heeded my dermatologist’s advice, increasing my iron intake and using minoxidil religiously despite reacting poorly to it.  I used it daily even though my scalp became angry and inflamed.  I went through the “dread shed” and convinced myself this was a sign it was working (for some- it does work, but did not for me).  I stopped colouring and heat styling my hair.  I shampooed less frequently, and then not at all.  Then I used medicated shampoos and serums.  I rubbed lotions and potions on my scalp everyday.  I did oil treatments.  I tried anything I could find on Google (I didn’t know better back then!).  I got regular trims.  I exercised, ate well, and took vitamins.  I felt these things were the price I needed to pay to get my hair back.  At the time, I’d have done anything if it meant getting my hair back.  I was certain if I did everything that I was “supposed” to do, it would get better.

Stage 4- Depression
I tried many things to get my hair back.  They sadly did not work.  I gave up.  I felt badly for and about myself for a long time.  I was convinced I was utterly undesirable and unlovable, that I was somehow flawed as a person because of my lack of hair.  I turned down social outings (I also grieved the loss of my social identity and missed social opportunities).  I struggled to look people in the eye for fear that I would catch them looking at my sparse hairline and part.  I hid under hats, headbands, and various scalp filler alternatives.  I refused to swim or get my hair wet.  If somebody commented on my thin hair, I really took it to heart.  I would ruminate about it for days and weeks, convinced that everybody was judging my thin hair.
On top of all of these thoughts and feelings, I also carried on like nothing was the matter, which made me feel more alone, because nobody understood.

Stage 5- Acceptance
I spent years beating myself up about my hair loss. I was completely consumed by it, until I started learning about beauty ideals being socially constructed. I started to question everything I knew about femininity and what makes a person beautiful. Sure, we all grew up being told that “beauty is on the inside” yet nearly everyone in my life was doing at least 1 thing to improve their exterior. But I began to see that I was more than just my hair. That I needed to carry on with my life. That I needed to build up the other areas of my identity that made me feel proud. I worked hard in school and earned my qualifications. I pursued a fulfilling career. I started prioritizing self-love and self-acceptance. I have built a beautiful family with the man I love. I found pass-times that allowed me to be me. I began to realize that it didn’t matter if other people looked at, talked about, or at all judged me for my hair, because I knew there was more to me.

Just as grieving is not a linear path, neither is grief related to hair loss. There have been periods where I could just forget about it; where I could will away my negative emotions about it; where I could focus on other things for a while. Then it would suddenly keep me up at night wondering if I was okay; or if everyone was noticing; or if people were talking about how thin my hair is. I had to find positive outlets to work through all of these thoughts and feelings. There are still days that I resent having Alopecia, but it doesn’t eat away at my soul as it once did. There are inconveniences and expenses that go along with it. There remains insecurity about it. But I have adopted an “it is what it is” attitude about it. I am in control of the narrative I tell myself about hair. I am in a better position to challenge my perceptions of beauty which means seeing beauty in myself and others.

I’ll leave you with my final thoughts- acceptance does not mean I don’t care about my hair, my hair loss, or my appearance. I have just pushed myself to accept the solutions that have helped me to cope in a more positive way. Whether your journey has been similar to or vastly different from mine, know that it is okay to feel whatever you feel about Alopecia, or other body insecurities. It takes time to process, to find support, and to cope effectively.

Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any blog posts. I will continue to share more about what can help you cope with hair loss!

Acceptance does not mean I don’t care about my hair, my hair loss, or my appearance. I have just pushed myself to accept the solutions that have helped me to cope in a more positive way.

Budget wig TRANSFORMATION and unpaid review!

My first 360 lace wig….

I’m a bit of a silk top snob… but I admit, they just don’t lay as flat as I want them too, even when I pull out all the stops. There’s nothing like that scalp though.

I decided to try something different. Knowing that it might not work out for me, I didn’t want to spend big bucks on it. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that I’m always up for a challenge to customize my own pieces. DISCLAIMER: I am not a stylist. I learned how to customize by watching a gazillion YouTube videos. If you have never done any dying or bleaching before, please take time to learn before you just have at it because you have to be very careful not to stain the lace or over process the hair. You’ve been warned!

Usually when I am looking for a new piece, there’s lots of back and forth with a vendor, generally through Instagram. But this time, I was impulsive, and impatient, so I wanted to order something that was ready to ship, and I wanted to add to cart and checkout without the back and forth.

I had heard of China Lace Wigs before, so I decided to get in on their summer sale action. I saved an extra $35 off their already low prices, and shipping was free. They also accept PayPal which is a MUST for me.

Here’s my full, unbiased review. This review is in no way sponsored or endorsed by China Lace Wigs. I purchased this wig and all products myself. I may, however, receive a small kickback as an Amazon Associate if you use the links below to purchase the styling products I’ve recommended below! Using my links helps me earn a small amount of money so that I can reinvest it to test out and review more products for you guys. So, if you’re buying these items anyway, PLEASE support me by using my links (THANK YOU!!).

The piece I ordered is SKU ZCF423 from

Here’s the specs:
China Lace Wig Brazilian Virgin Human Hair Body Wave
360 Lace Frontal with HD Dream Swiss Lace CF423
Colour as pictured on the site
14 inches
150% density
Size large cap (22.75)

It came to $170.56USD plus import fees of $24CAD (about $17USD)

I recorded an unboxing and these were my initial impressions:
-Nicely packaged
-Quickly shipped
-Soft hair
-Nice density
-Baby hair
-Preplucked hairline
-Came longer than expected (the ends look thin, but I ordered a 14 inch so the length is actually pretty generous, even after I get the ends trimmed)

-It was orange (colour can vary on a screen, but the picture on the website appeared vastly different than what I received)
-Uneven colour- the roots were lighter than the body of the hair shaft which had residual colour from before the hair was processed in the factory
-the lace is light, but still a bit too dark for my skin tone which will make it hard to conceal when summer is over
-the knots were unevenly coloured
-very dark strands throughout the hair
-wefting visible along the edge of the frontal
-the cap is quite large but I did order a large size so I cut the lace back a bit above my ears and may make some further adjustments to the cap

I always, always, ALWAYS do a test wash when I get a piece assuming that it’s one that I’m planning to keep. When I test washed it, some colour was observed in the water (not a big deal). There was minimal shedding. I was pleasantly surprised with the body wave texture after washing.

This was not the colour I was expecting. Also…this is a regular occurrence in our house…hair laying around wherever. My poor family haha!

I bought 2 boxes of Garnier Belle Colour in colour 50 (about a level 5 neutral brown). The hair took the colour process well but it needed another round of colouring so I bought 2 more boxes. I paid 4×6.99=$27.96CAD plus tax so let’s say $30. You can find it here–>

The roots were a different colour than the length of the hair… but… $179 people!

After 2 rounds of colouring, it was a nice rich, warm medium brown colour (bye bye pumpkin!).

I gave the hair a deep conditioning with Garner Fructis Nourishing Treat hair mask which smells like a tropical island vacation and made the hair super soft. It is very affordable. You can find it here–>

After air drying the piece, I decided to bleach the front knots and the knots along the part line. I used 20 volume developer and BW bleach powder which you can buy at Sally’s. I should have left the bleach on a little longer, but it did lighten most of the knots (some remained black). I then added a touch of powder foundation to further mask the knots. The result was surprisingly good. I added a strip of medical tape to the part line as well after I took the photo below. It helps to hide the appearance of the grid pattern on the lace and prevents my bio hair from showing underneath since I refuse to wear a wig cap.

Knots bleached + makeup

I added OGX Quenching Coconut Curls Curling Hair Butter to which added beautiful moisture to the body wave of the hair and smells similar to the hair mask I used.  You can find it here–>

Then I topped off the beautiful air dry finish with some good ol’ Moroccan Oil. I like this one here:

I really dig this style of wave

I installed this wig myself, which was the first time I have ever worn a lace top. You need adhesive for this. Here’s what I used: and

These got2b products are very commonly used, easy to find, cheap and you can find so many tutorials on how to use them with your wigs and toppers. They remove easily with water, and when I removed this wig, I rinsed the front lace with warm water to get rid of the residue.

For the price of this wig, I am absolutely shocked by how soft and fine it is! It’s been washed 3x and is still really manageable. No tangling noted. It is overall much longer than 14 inches. I knew from watching CLW live on Instagram that I should order a higher density as their pieces did not appear to be that dense. I would say this 150% density piece is closer to a typical 130% but of course this varies amongst different vendors.

The area where the 13×6 lace frontal meets the wefting proved to be problematic. It needed some finessing so that it was not visible. I used my curling rod to smooth down the hair over the wefts to adequately cover them and used hairspray to hold it in place. If this was going to be my daily driver, this would really bother me but since it will only be a piece for occasional wear, I don’t really care if the wefts are at risk of poking out, especially in the era of physical distancing.

It took some heat styling and hairspray to fix the wefts that were showing

The hair is a bit poofy on the top, so that will be remedied with the curling rod as well. It is also in need of a trim but as I said before, it came way longer than 14 inches so that is okay with me. I actually really like wigs and toppers with “whispy” ends as I find they look the most natural. I have done NOTHING to the curls below except adding the products mentioned above. I scrunched the hair a tad after applying and it dried just like the photo below. If you’ve seen the photos of my biological hair, you will know why I like an undone wave/curl pattern… my own curls are WILD!

This wave pattern makes the hair look very natural. Perfectly styled hair doesn’t look as natural on me
This is apparently “HD lace” but I have nothing to compare it to. I did NOTHING to this hairline except bleach the knots and added some powder foundation. It came preplucked with baby hairs. None of my natural hair is showing. This is not glued down here.

The lace lays SUPER flat. Like unbelievably flat. “I can’t believe it’s not growing out of my head” flat. This is virtually unachievable with a silk top.

It’s so flat! And those baby hairs are EVERYTHING!

Next time, I would be sure to communicate more with the vendor prior to purchasing. And I would go for a full lace cap next time, meaning that there is no wefting. No wefting= no risk of the wefts poking out.

I will also note that the vendor and I have different opinions on the definition of “virgin hair”. I did not clarify with them prior to purchasing (my own fault) but did reach out afterward inquiring about the colour variation in the hair upon receipt of the item. They denied that the hair was anything but virgin and explained that virgin meant “quality” so in all fairness, they didn’t claim that virgin hair was unprocessed. I did express to the company that I feel this should be more clear for customers, as when I think of virgin hair, I think of my bio hair which is untreated and uncoloured. I spoke with some other hair loss ladies about this and learned that there are wide variations of how manufacturers define “virgin” hair. So do your research prior to purchasing. For the price, I can’t complain. And now my next purchase will be better informed.

If you are on a budget, prepare to invest time learning and doing the work to make your pieces your own. There’s a reason that high end wig companies charge what they do for customized pieces. It’s a TON of work and being a stylist/colourist is a skilled trade. I’m NOT a stylist but I have done enough of my own pieces that I see the beautiful colour work stylists do and know how much time they pour in. So, if you’re paying $200 for a wig, don’t expect it to look like the pieces you see everybody drooling over!!!!!!!!!!

Overall, I really can’t complain about this piece. Would I consider buying from this company again in the future? Maybe. This piece was a lot of work. Since the terminology can vary from one vendor to another, it is hard to know exactly what you’re getting/what processes have been done to the hair. I will be sure to clarify that before purchasing next time. I also want to see how the hair holds up before considering another order so expect an update on this piece.

Drop your questions below if you have any!

I did NOTHING to this hairline
What lace?
I think I could get used to this length on me but the piece does need a slight trim

Kristina teaches us about bonding

Everybody meet Kristina! She is a fellow hair loss sister and the DIY bonding QUEEN! Read her story, then check out her additional resource if you want to learn more about semi-permanent, non-surgical hair replacement!

“I am wearing hair for 7 years now, after I willingly decided to stop being depressed about my hair loss and do something about it.  For five years I have tried almost everything under the sun -Minoxidil, Toppik, different natural hair growth treatments, pills, vitamins… Spent most of my savings as a student on products and doctors, listened about numerous different diagnoses and speculations. All of which did nothing to come to solution how to stop the hair loss or tell me what is wrong in the first place.

“Doctors, family and friends all said this is in my head and it will get better. Right…

“Hair loss just kept getting worse and worse while I started panicking more and more as how to hide it. And I hid it well. Spending an hour after each showering, putting Minoxidil and painting my thinning scalp with DermMatch. Still, hair continued to become thinner and thinner.

“In the final year, I haven’t worn the hair down at all, because it just felt like an old lady hair, it didn’t behave like healthy hair and I just hated it. This wasn’t me and it occupied my whole world. I started feeling depressed as nobody seemed to understand the fact that I WILL indeed lose hair. I even stopped talking about it to anybody as they would perceive it as being vain as superficial as they could not see what I see.

“Fortunately at the time, I have found my tribe at a few hair loss sites, where I connected to women like myself. Women who have shared their similar stories. This opened my eyes to the scary truth that there is a huge amount of women losing their hair. Severe hair loss DOES happen to women which confirmed my fears, but also made me more and more comfortable seeing how they cope and the solutions that exist. So at that point I have started focusing more on the solution and have learned a lot during these years before diving into hair replacement.

“I had one major precondition in choosing my solution – it had to be able to support my active lifestyle. This is what hair loss robbed me of – I stopped doing sports and would just lay and sleep as much as I could to forget and escape the reality. Always being known as optimistic and cheerful person, I was becoming depressed without sport. So I figured my most suitable solution would be the hair replacement – giving me that freedom to be active and not to think about hair for days. This was my only way out if I wanted to continue living my life being only 25 at the time and not accepting to spend my years being depressed.

“I have managed to research online about the toppers and bonding, contacted several vendors, calculated costs in the long term…I had to. Being a student in a country where hair replacement was almost never heard of (Central Eastern Europe) and the living standard is not as high as in the other countries. If I were to do this – it had to be financially possible in the long term. After a year I was ready for my first order. Made a custom head template, sent it to chosen vendor and ordered my first hair piece. Bought all the supplies I needed – some online and some locally – and prepared myself with a shot of strong alcohol 🙂

“On my first day of bonding, I had a very close friend by my side who knew what I was going through. She was my support to go through this. My hair piece was beautiful but I felt so scared. Still, seeing my hair and seeing that hairpiece that is soon to replace that wispy thin hair just made me positively nervous and excited. We took our time, following my written script word by word, step by step. Trimming the hair was the hardest part but I decided firmly and just hated my hair so much and said: “Goodbye bio hair, if you don’t want to serve me, there is another one willing to. I am taking the steering wheel in my own hands and nobody will control my life but myself!”

“Just that act alone was such a burden coming off my chest and made me a stronger woman I am today.”

A HUGE thank you to Kristina for sharing her story with us. If you want to learn more about bonding, whether you’re considering having it professionally done, or doing it yourself, or maybe just curious to learn about the process, Kristina’s e-Book is a MUST READ! She also invites you to check out her private Facebook Group “Bonding Sisters”.

Kristina’s story is a reminder to us all that we can choose to let hair loss slow us down, or we can find ways to adapt. She is a true inspiration!

Kristina adapts her hair to her lifestyle, not the other way around

A call to action: Tell 1 person about your struggle

I cannot stress enough that whether or not to and how you tell your loved ones, friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, strangers, about your hair loss is a completely individual choice.

Here’s a bit about where I’ve been, where I’m at now and where I’m going in this sense, as well as my call to action!

You’ve learned about me that I am a private person. I don’t like others to know when I’m struggling with something. I’ve also got a bit of “it’s nobody’s business” sass to me (this goes for more than just alopecia!). So while I’ve cracked open a bit with being vulnerable, I’m still of the mind that my personal medical information is NOBODY’s business unless and until I choose to share it. I don’t HAVE to tell anybody anything. The grocery store clerk or my coworker have no practical reason to know about my alopecia or why I conceal my hair loss in the ways that I do.

So why am I sharing so publicly about it now then? My target audience is HAIR LOSS SUFFERERS who are where I’ve been! There is solace in sharing a common bond with somebody who has had so many similar thoughts, feelings and experiences. My hair loss is not a deep dark secret anymore but I don’t broadcast it to everyone I know in my physical world. Maybe I will get to that point and I admire those who do. I think it is important for hair loss to be as normalized as someone needing to wear glasses and for others to be as comfortable talking about it as we are in our virtual community.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that a few days ago, I shared a bit about my journey with some friends and family members. Here’s how it went:

🌼Friend A- said she knew I was always sensitive about my thinning hair but didn’t know that I had alopecia. She took a scroll through my blog and now is following along on my Instagram page (HI BABE!).
🌼Friend B- a total cheerleader for me doing the blogging biz. She was nothing but supportive and was happy to give my stuff a read.
🌼Friend C- disclosed experiencing her own hair loss after having her baby and was relieved that she was not the only one.
🌼My beautiful sister-in-laws said they had NO IDEA that I was ever experiencing hair loss because of my hair magic 🙂
🌼My brother- totally unexpectedly cool about the whole thing. I don’t handle awkwardness that well but he totally breezed through the whole conversation about it without making me feel awkward at all.
🌼My Mama Jo- she’s been there through it all. Came to the dermatologist with me all those years ago… I told her when I got my first hair piece. But she didn’t know I was sharing publicly. She even wants to guest blog on here about her own hair! Are you guys down for that?

I may not have told many people but this felt light a HUGE step for me and I feel a little lighter. Maybe the day will come where I respond to a compliment about my hair with a “it’s a wig” if I feel like it. I’m unpredictable like that so we will see if the mood strikes.

How will I get there? Slowly but surely, with support, patience and self-love. The more people I open up to, the less ashamed I feel. The more we talk about it collectively, the less alone someone may feel if they are where I was all those years ago first facing my diagnosis.

This is my call to action…. Whether you are experiencing body image issues or insecurities about your hair, your weight, your nose, infertility, feelings of inadequacy, a personality trait, WHATEVER it is… I challenge you to tell ONE person you trust about it. Once we are aware of our own insecurities, we can hide them, or we can face them head on. Telling one person we trust is a good, non-threatening way to reach out for that support we need and to have at least that one person on our team.

Don’t worry if your person doesn’t know how to react. Send them to my previous blog about supporting someone with hair loss. TELL THEM WHAT YOU NEED FROM THEM! Do you need them to commiserate with you? Do you need them to listen? Do you need them to snap you out of your funk? We cannot expect that the people in our lives are mind readers so it is on us to be clear about our needs. It is a good idea to be clear about the type of support you need before you go to your trusted person. If you’re not sure, think about the following:
-What is it about my insecurity that is bothering me the most?
-Am I concerned about the way other people are looking at me?
-Do I need to feel loved and accepted?
-Do I need validation?
-Do I need to hear that the way I’m feeling is normal?
-Do I need to know I’m not alone?
-Do I need to vent?
-Do I need a shoulder to cry on?
-Do I need someone to hold my hand while I’m working through this?
-Do I need a push to get back to doing the things that make me ME?

Your friend can’t solve these issues for you but reaching out makes you more accountable to start working on these issues Your support person can’t do the healing for you but they can be there for you while you do it. Maybe they can help you process some of this or they can steer you toward a professional to help you work out the rest. Or maybe telling that one person is just a cathartic release that ignites your healing.

Who knows about your hair loss? How did they react? Who has supported you?

While my hair loss started before I met my husband, he was the first person I told about buying my first bottle of hair fibres, and then, years later, about buying my first hair piece.
While my hair loss started before I met my husband, he was the first person I told about buying my first bottle of hair fibres, and then my first hair piece. Side note: PROTECT YOUR SCALP!

The golden rules for supporting someone with alopecia

Working in mental health, I greatly appreciate one’s need for proper support in managing difficult health conditions or facing issues related to body image.  As a longtime alopecian myself, I want to offer my insights on how you can support your friend, loved one, partner, spouse, coworker or acquaintance experiencing hair loss.  Here’s how you can help.

#1- Don’t mention it until they do!
There are different views on this perhaps.  In my 15 years since I was diagnosed with Androgenetic Alopecia, I received several unwelcome comments about the thinness of my hair.  Without calling out anyone specifically, I will tell you that someone closest to me felt the need to point out my thinning (on my 20th birthday no less) and this had a deep, long lasting negative impact on me.
If someone’s hair is thin enough that you’ve noticed, chances are, they already know!  There’s really no need to point it out.  It isn’t helpful.  I know that this can come from a place of genuine care and concern, but it can be very hurtful to the person on the receiving end. Think about it this way, what if someone you hadn’t seen in a while let you know you had packed on a few pounds since they last saw you? Probably wouldn’t sit so well with most people.

If the conversation happens organically, there is  no reason to point out that you had “noticed but didn’t want to say anything.”  This isn’t helpful either. Something like “do you want to talk about it?” would be sufficient (see #2 below!).

#2- Let your friend talk about their concerns
Vulnerability can be uncomfortable both for the person disclosing, and the person on the receiving end.  Don’t shy away from the conversation because it makes YOU feel uncomfortable.  Imagine how uncomfortable your friend is living with hair loss, feelings/suspicions of people constantly staring at their bare scalps, feeling insecure, and now feeling the need to have to explain it to everybody.  Be sure to actively listen to their concerns.  Ask questions if you are unsure about something.  It is perfectly okay if you don’t know how to respond, as long as you let them know that you are willing to listen.  There is already so much shame experienced by a hair loss sufferer that they don’t need you to make them feel even more ashamed in opening up just for you to shut down the conversation.   Don’t change the subject just because you don’t think hair loss is important. 

#3- Do NOT minimize or be dismissive about your friend’s feelings
Many people I confided in told me my hair “didn’t look that bad” or that they couldn’t tell that I was losing it.  This is well-meaning, but unhelpful.  It makes your friend feel as though you don’t care about the changes they have noticed in their own hair.  You know how your own hair feels when you run your fingers through it- so does your friend.  They KNOW their hair is less dense than it once was.  It can also be tempting to turn your friend’s “negative” into a “positive” by saying things like “well at least you don’t have to spend hours drying your hair” or “it must be nice to just throw on a wig and go” or “well at least you look good in hats.”  If somebody said those things to me, it would most certainly be met with a sarcastic “well gee, I hadn’t considered that.”  🙂

It is easy for someone with a full head of hair to say “it’s just hair”, or to jump straight to “at least it’s not something life threatening.”  There is no need to make your friend feel silly or guilty for being upset about their hair loss.  How we feel about hair is intrinsically intertwined with societal perceptions of beauty.  Our hair may connect us to our culture, family, or remind us of things in our past. It is often the first thing people notice about us whether consciously or unconsciously.  While long, lush locks are not inherently symbolic of femininity, we as participants in our current society have been conditioned to feel a certain way about how a woman “should” look.  

Side note: there is amazing work being done challenging these ideals of “feminine beauty standards.”  But that discussion is for another time!  The point of the matter is, if your friend is confiding in you about their hair loss, obviously their hair means something to them, and it is painful for them to see it coming off of their head.

Your friend has confided in you.  Now what?  “Wow, that must be really hard” is an easy statement to show you are trying to understand from their perspective.  This will help them feel heard.  Some other things you can say: “It sounds like that is really troubling you.””It seems like your hair loss is really impacting the way you feel about yourself.””I’m so sorry you’re going through this; I’m here to support you.””Tell me what it has been like for you dealing with hair loss.”

#5- Do not jump to solutions/problem-solving
Instead, ask how you can be supportive.  Maybe your sister’s friend’s cousin’s boss tried this new shampoo that totally worked to grow their hair back, or they used this supplement or that serum to stop their hair fall.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT MAKE THIS SUGGESTION (unless you are a qualified dermatologist, in which case, you can feel free to bring on the evidence based, scientifically proven and independently validated, clinical treatment recommendations)!  Allow your friend the opportunity to research their own options and make an informed decision.  It would be fine to ask them if they have a plan about how they will handle their hair loss after they have had a chance to talk to you about their feelings and experiences and have felt heard.  You can also follow up with your friend later if they’ve mentioned something specific they would like to try to see if it’s working for them.  Or, if you really want bonus points, offer to go with them if they talk about trying helper hair or getting a big chop.  It can be scary to take these steps to take all on your own!

#6- Thank them for sharing something so vulnerable with you
As I said above, it can be extremely embarrassing and difficult to talk about hair loss.  Your friend has entrusted you with something they have likely been struggling with for a while.  Let them know that you will continue to support them, and that no matter the state of their hair, or what options they choose to deal with their alopecia, you won’t think differently of them.  

#7- Respect their privacy by keeping it to yourself
If and when your friend is ready to be more open about their hair loss, THEY will do so on their own terms.  You do not need to tell everyone you know about a person’s condition.  Respect their privacy and do not share unless they give you their express consent to do so.

#8- Celebrate with them
Now that your friend has found an option or options that works for them and their hair loss, it’s time to CELEBRATE! Be happy for them. Let them know if you notice a positive change in how they carry themselves. And if they buy a bomb new wig, for Pete’s sake you better notice and “ooooh” and “ahhh” with them. She might even let you try it on some time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you have broken any of these golden rules, revisit the subject with your friend and take ownership.  Saying “I’m sorry I dismissed your concerns when you spoke to me about your hair loss” can go a really long way (see VALIDATE!).  


My husband tries desperately to notice when I’m wearing new or freshly styled hair. They all look pretty much the same, but he still gets credit for trying 😀

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