I thought today that I would blog about something very near and dear to me and that is the subject of Alopecia in younger and older women.
I lost all of my hair to alopecia when I was 20 years old, recovered and then lost 50% of thickness and all of the crown (top part of my head) when I was 23. Now 2 amazing wigs later, lots of tears and life experience thankfully I have a full head of thick and beautiful hair and I don’t have bad hair days anymore!
There is no bad hair day like a no hair day.
Many of you who know me will know that I am passionate about the fact that when we feel that we look good we do indeed feel better, for a woman to lose her hair and her eyebrows/eyelashes in my mind is actually very devastating and learning to be this other person looking back at you in the mirror can be extremely challenging.
Unlike when I was younger there are now some amazing resources available for alopecia sufferers, from forums, amazing wig suppliers and make up and make up artists to help you to feel confident and more like yourself. I will put some links to this at the bottom of this blog post and of course will attempt to answer any questions where I can.
Alopecia is a general term used for hairloss, be it in men women or children. There are different types of Alopecia, from Alopecia Areata – where hair loss occurs anywhere on the body in patches, to Alopecia Totalis – this is total loss of hair all over the scalp.
This is a difficult one. I have been told by many people from doctors, to hairdressers that there is no cure, and no universally proven therapy to induce hair growth or prevent and more hair loss. So where does this leave sufferers???
There are treatments available and in my experience some work and some don’t. Some are relatively cost free and some are very expensive. I feel personally that some treatments will work for some people and others will work for others. Out of some of the treatments that I tried there were the insane ones – like lying upside down on the bed to make the blood rush to your head – cost £FREE – yep did that one… to having a trichological set of treatments at a clinic in Belgravia London cost £850! Taking chinese herbal medicine – 80 tablets a day for 3 months alongside a smelly tar based shampoo – cost £50 per month, Massage for relaxation cost – £40 per session, Indian head massage – cost £25 per session, sun bead – for UVlight therapy £6 per session and seeing a lovely and spiritual man who claims to be a faith healer cost £Donation to a childrens charity.
In my experience from my own hair loss situation, (Stress related) there is treatment needed on an inner level which then reflects what is happening to the body on the outside. I truly believe that inner calm in stress related alopecia certainly helps. Its also extremeley difficult to say to a young lady who is losing her hair ” try not to worry about it” – this is virtually impossible and so the viscious circle begins and never ends.
WIGS WIGS WIGS!!!
The thought of a WIG terrified me and when one of my friends told me “you will just get home kick off your shoes, kick off your wig and you will get used to it” I was mortified, I thought she was mad, but some nights I couldn’t wait to get that wig off and have a good scratch of my hot head!!!
Just the word “WIG” – used to freak me out, especially being offered one at 20 years old from the NHS cupboard!!! I struggled to find a decent wig supplier, there wasn’t really any internet back then and wig suppliers in Lincolnshire were few and far between, I actually got on a bus all the way to london and 6 hours later ventured shaking and feeling sick into Selfridges and came home with a synthetic bobbed wig. Not unlike what my hair looked like before it fell out! At the time it was the best I could find and afford.
The second time I lost all of the hair on top of my head and had to wear a wig I opted for 2 real hair ones – I ordered them from America and eagerly awaited their arrival by post. I remember unpacking them and thinking how awful they looked – all flat and limp but after a bit of styling and a shake in the air they were amazing. One was straight and shoulder length with a full fringe and the other a big curly one! This time I thought what the heck i’m going to go for hair I always wanted instead of trying to look like my own pre loss hair style.
I had one of the styles trimmed by my hairdresser and even once got told “Melanie your hair is so beautiful” I look back now and think I should have said to this lovely lady “Thank you – you can try it on if you like”
I can now look back on my wig experiences with fondness that they made me a stronger person, taught me a lot about they way we judge people by their appearances, and how insensitive other people be, however I do have some very funny memories from that time – after all I was young and dating too!!! At the time I was stressed out and worried about them but now I can look back and laugh.
I still have my 2 dear human hair wigs and they come with me to hospices and when I may do a one to one with a lady with cancer/alopecia to show them that wigs really are not that scary!
Alongside losing your hair dealing with having no eyebrows – the frame of your face is also difficult. I believe from a make up artist point of view there are several things we can do to help. Alongside inner calm and a good diet – organic where possible, and the same relating to skincare – using some beautiful organic natural skincare with uplifting scents to make us feel relaxed/invigorated/calm we can of course advise on a great wig and also great make up to add in those missing brows and learn to define eyes that may be missing lashes.
I have put a patient information sheet together for some of the cancer patients that I work with who also lose their hair and eyebrows as a result of their invasive treatments, there is a small section here on how to pencil in your eyebrows and if anyone would like a copy of the whole leaflet I can easily provide a link to upload the rest of the information.
- Eyebrows frame the face and also give you a guideline as to where to work your eyeliner/eye shadow. They have an uplifting effect on the face and even if you have lost your eyebrows through your treatment there are effortless ways to bring them back and make them look natural.
- First choose an eyebrow pencil in the colour of your natural brows or current Wig/hair colour. To define your natural brow shape; look at the shape of your eye. Place the pencil straight up along the inside of your nose from the inner corner of your eye and you will find the starting position for your brow (begin brow) Next hold the pencil diagonally from the bottom corner of your nose and you will find the outer point for your brow (end brow) Looking straight ahead place the pencil upright along the outer part of the coloured part of your eye and you will find the arch point. (Point of arch) Mark the three points and map out your brows.
Use light feathery movements to sketch in your brows sketching the hairs in the direction of the natural hair growth. For extra fullness go over with a slightly darker colour to give the illusion of individual hairs once the basic shape is in place.
Be careful to use a light touch to avoid brows looking drawn on and to achieve the most natural effect. This is the most dramatic change make up can bring you if your brows have gone and often the change I see give women the most confidence back.
There are also now many options for tattooed brows and micro blading be sure to research therapists and costs and get some word of mouth recommendations before diving in to this type of procedure.
Alopecia is devastating and life changing but it can be a positive life changing experience and with the help of great friends and family and other people who have shared this experience you can beat it – I did – and you can too!
For more information about Alopecia
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