Here’s one thing I’ll bet most women with hair loss have in their arsenal of hair products: a wide headband. These are also known as “boho headbands,” “sports headbands”, “tube headbands”. Whatever you call them, they are a godsend!
You can find just about any style, pattern or colour. Some are “turban” style or knotted. I personally prefer a flat, wide style so that I can give it a gathered appearance on the top. You will also find a wide range of prices depending on the brand, the quality of the fabric, or the complexity of the construction. My favourite, beloved, teal tube headband was an eBay purchase for under $5CAD several years ago. She has, sadly, been through the ringer a few too many times and is showing signs of wear.
So why might you need or want one of these?
With so much fabric, the provide GREAT coverage for thinning. This is especially important in the summer months so that you don’t burn your poor scalp.
They are versatile. There are so many variations and so many ways to wear them and they fit with a lot of different looks. You can dress them up or dress them down.
They can help you to ease into wearing hair if you’re nervous about blending your hairline with a wig or topper, or if you are self-conscious about your lace showing (PSA: even if you know nobody is looking at your lace, you can STILL FEEL SELF-CONSCIOUS ABOUT IT!). It can also help if you’re worried about POOF- you can use your headband to help flatten the poof or just to disguise it.
They are great for active lifestyles that might not mesh well with some helper hair. I would worry much less about ruining my $5 headband at the beach than an expensive hair piece. It also keeps hair from falling in your eyes while you’re running.
These are practical and functional to have as part of your wardrobe, affordable and easy to find in stores or online!
BONUS: A tube headband can double as a face mask if you’re in an area where you have to wear one!
I’ve had a rocky relationship with my hair since late childhood when my hair turned from straight and blonde to curly and brown. I didn’t know how to care for it. I got teased for rocking a “tomboy” look because I would slick it back in a bun everyday because I didn’t know what else to do with it.
Fast forward to high school when I learned how to tame my fine but plentiful curls, but resented them. I would straighten them, colour them, bleach them, anything to try to change them from what they were to something else.
When I finished high school, my hair started to slowly thin. I didn’t suspect it at the time, but I now wonder if there is a connection between taking birth control and my thinning hair. By halfway through my 18th year, the thinning was noticeable enough that I went to my doctor. He minimized my concerns but ran a blood panel. When I went for my results, I distinctly remember him telling me that my iron was low which was likely the cause but sent me to a dermatologist. I waited months to see the dermatologist who took one look at my labs, blurted out the words “Androgenetic Alopecia”, words that I had never heard before, and told me to take iron and start minoxidil and my hair would magically grow back. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. I followed up with my GP about the treatment plan and diagnosis and he simply told me, “at least you will never be completely bald” as if that was of any comfort to, at the time, 19 year old me. I did this treatment (iron tablets and minoxidil drops) for a little while, but I reacted adversely to the minoxidil and decided to stop. The medicated treatment made my scalp itch unbearably, most likely an allergic reaction, according to the dermatologist. I switched to the minoxidil foam and used Nizoral shampoo at his recommendation and continued for another year with my hair continuing to rapidly deteriorate. I decided not to pursue any additional pharmaceutical treatments due to the need for lifelong commitment. I also knew that any gains made would be at risk if I stopped treatment, and knowing that I wanted to have children in the future meant that I would need to stop the use of minoxidil during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
In the meantime, I tried other crazy remedies that Dr. Google suggested: onion juice; Nioxin shampoo; Hair Skin and Nails vitamins; scalp massages; low ‘poo/no ‘poo methods; micro-needling. I considered accupuncture and scalp micropigmentation but did not pursue these options.
I spoke to family and friends about hair loss and they simply minimized it. They told me it looked thin because I was keeping it cropped short, but in reality, I was keeping it short to make it look thicker. I remember experiencing unwelcome comments about my thin hair throughout my 20s. A family member poking fun at me on my 20th birthday about it was truly devastating. Then, away for a wedding, I noticed just how “see through” my hair had become in the harsh bathroom lighting at our hotel. That’s when I began obsessing over my loss. I was frantically looking to Google for answers. My part was widening, my hairline was thinning, and my hair was overall much less dense than it was in my teens. I started disguising my thinning using dry shampoo, creative styling (aka back combing the heck out of it!), using a deep side part, wearing wide headbands, hats. There came a time when I couldn’t look people in the eye because I didn’t want to catch them staring at my sparse hairline and crown. I even obsessed about it on my wedding day!
I became cautiously optimistic when I was pregnant with my first child as my hair looked a bit better throughout. If you don’t know, the hair cycle changes during pregnancy due to hormonal changes there is less shedding that occurs until about 3 months postpartum. I went for a trim right around the time of my first postpartum shed. The stylist commented “wow, if this is what happens to your hair after having babies, I’m never having any.” This impacted me for a very long time, and I struggled to regain any confidence after this. I forced myself to muster up the courage to go to a new stylist and was up front with her about my thinning and told her about the horrible experience I had had prior to that. I started seeing her every 6 weeks for a trim to maintain my chin length angled bob. This made the thinning less bothersome for me for a while but required a lot of maintenance.
Since my hair wasn’t taken from me all at once, I grieved, albeit slowly, for a long time. Marriage, motherhood and a professional career slowly chipped away at my insecurity and grief about my hair loss. I started to see that there were more important things in life, and that the people in my life didn’t care if I had any hair at all. You will hear more about this shift in my thinking in later posts. My hair loss still bothered me, but I knew I had to carry on. I experimented with fibres, and then a combination of fibres and scalp makeup and kept my hair cropped short for quite some time.
My hair was in rough shape after the birth of my second child. I decided to experiment with alternative hair after much research. I took to YouTube to learn all about different options (I can’t wait to share all the YouTubers and Instagrammers that first inspired me with you all!). My hair was too thin for extensions at this point, so fortunately, I stumbled upon toppers. With my husband’s support, I bought my first relatively inexpensive topper to experiment with. When I took it out of the box, I was devastated because the colour didn’t match . I was too embarrassed to take it to my stylist to have her colour match and cut it so I took to Youtube once again to learn to do it myself which turned out okay. I learned a lot from this piece about my likes and dislikes. I knew I needed a bigger base and a different type of cap. So I kept doing research before ordering my next piece.
I finally opened up to my stylist about wearing hair when I bought my second piece. She colour matched it beautifully for me. The confidence this gave me was overwhelming! I was suddenly welcoming of having my photo taken, of going to gatherings, of letting my hair down at the beach. It was truly freeing. I finally felt like me again!
When I returned to work after maternity leave, I was too embarrassed to wear my piece. This seems to be an all too common fear amongst women taking the leap into the world of alternative hair. It wasn’t until I took a new job in a different department that I decided to go for it. Sure, it has raised a couple of eyebrows here and there, but it was better than the alternative, and made me feel more confident.
Now, I’m off work after having my 3rd baby, so most days, you will find me, with or without my helper hair, on the trails with my hubby, 3 kids and a dog in tow. I am blessed!
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of the wonderful online hair loss community. There is something profound about the shared experience of hair loss that builds one’s confidence in and of itself. This has led me down this path of sharing my journey more openly. I am proud of how far I have come with acceptance. If only I had found the type of support this hair loss community offers sooner in my journey! I would have spent so much less time obsessing about my loss and instead, looking at solutions. A year ago, I would have never considered showing ANYONE (except my husband…maybe my doctor) my scalp, let alone having photos and videos posted on Instagram. My hope is to inspire even one person, wherever they may be on their hair loss journey. I have gained so much from connecting with all kinds of amazing Alopecians near and far and for this I am truly grateful.
There is no cure for androgenetic alopecia. There are treatments but I’m focusing my efforts on other things. Professionally, I specialize in helping people cope with mental health disorders. I want to use my professional knowledge and personal experience as my contribution to the hair loss community.
Welcome to Elle’s Hair Corner. As you may have seen, “Elle” is for Laura- that’s me! Laura’s Hair Corner just doesn’t have the same ring to it! Why the corner? That is literally where I store my hair…in the corner of my bedroom.
For a very long time, I allowed my hair loss to define me… so before we dive into my hair loss story, let me tell you about some of the other things that are important to me and have a presence in my life.
I am a mother of 3. I have a wonderful husband. We are nature enthusiasts with a spirit for exploration and adventure (more to come on that soon!). I love yoga, cooking and baking, dark chocolate, wine, the beach, comfy clothes, thrift shopping and green tea. I’m a strong advocate for self-care, self-acceptance, and self-love.
I have a fulfilling career in the mental health sector. I spent a good chunk of my life in school and have achieved an undergraduate and a master’s degree. Being in the helping profession was a calling for me, and has helped me to grow as a person. I learn and have learned so much from the people I serve.
I’m an empath and introvert through and through. I believe in authenticity, which is why I am working on being more vulnerable and putting myself out there a bit more. I find joy and feel called to help others. I am open-minded. I think of myself as accepting, but I recognize and acknowledge my privilege and inherent biases. I am very practical, and focus my efforts and energies on practical things. I strive for balance in all that I do. For reference, I’m a cis female with she/her pronouns (if you don’t know what that means, please look it up!).
I do not enjoy washing dishes or looking at them piled in the sink (you see the conundrum?). I HATE folding laundry but for some reason, I don’t mind washing it. If I start a task, I do not like setting it aside and coming back to it later unless it’s one of the aforementioned undesirable tasks. I hate when people show up unannounced, though I have done the same my fair share of times. I dislike conflict and don’t take criticism well.
Now, the biggie, and probably why you’re here- I have Androgenetic Alopecia. I won’t bore you with the medical mumbo-jumbo because if you found my page, you certainly can find this information on Google! While you’re at it, you can read up on other forms of Alopecia as well!
I began losing my hair noticeably at the age of 18, just after I finished high school. By the middle of my 18th year, the thinning was bad enough that I sought medical advice. I saw a dermatologist at the age of 19 and was diagnosed. I was told that if I took iron and used minoxidil, my hair would grow back. It did not. I know this diagnosis is a tough pill to swallow and it has taken me many years to come to terms with it. Hearing from my doctor that I “would never be completely bald” was of little comfort to me at the time of diagnosis. I have endured countless negative comments about my thin hair, as well as comments from well-meaning loved ones minimizing my hair loss. I’ve tried many different methods and products for “concealing” hair loss. I can’t wait to share more about my favourites with you! I won’t try to sell you on any magic potions for regrowth, because I’m not a dermatologist, and what I’ve tried for regrowth hasn’t worked for me. What you will find is my honest opinion about any products I discuss.
I want to hear your hair loss stories too! I would love to have diverse experiences represented on my blog. Whether you’re a woman, man, elsewhere or nowhere on the gender spectrum, a child (with your parent’s permission), person with a disability, person of colour, if you’re experiencing hair loss or wear hair for other reasons and want to share, please email me at email@example.com and let me know if I have your permission to post on this blog.
While I have come to terms with my hair loss, I know many are at a different phase of their journey. I will do my best to commiserate with you, empathize with you, lift you up, or hail your self-acceptance. What I won’t do is try to diagnose or tell you how to treat your own hair loss….you’ll need a physician for that!