It’s August, which means it’s also Hair Loss Awareness Month!
Wait— record scratch— what is Hair Loss Awareness Month?!
Hair Loss Awareness Month is dedicated to the millions of men, women, and children who are currently experiencing hair loss and navigating the social stigmas associated with it. Reasons why people might lose their hair include styling techniques and practices, health conditions, trauma, genetics, aging, medication. The list goes on.
When most people think about hair loss, they picture a balding man. But women experience thinning hair, too. In fact, did you know that it’s estimated that more than 50% of women will experience noticeable hair loss in their lifetime? So, why is no one talking about it?
The one thing that all women with hair loss share in common is that we are all in this together to break down the stigma — and we look good doing it, too! For Hair Loss Awareness Month, we asked five women with hair loss what this month means to them. Keep reading to see what they said!
Kate, in a Lu’s Wig purchased from Resell: Silk or Lace
Kate Resler @katerspie
While my hair loss started around 2012, I wasn’t diagnosed [with Androgenic Alopecia] until late February 2020. I’d only started to dip a toe into the hair loss community online a few weeks before.
I’m still figuring out where hair loss figures into my identity—as someone who had incredible bio hair for most of my life, that was a huge part of my personal vision of myself, and giving that up has been… Odd? Hard? It sucks, but it’s also fine?
Hair Loss Awareness Month is not just about raising awareness for hair loss, but about redefining and expanding concepts of womanhood, girlhood, and beauty. Examining hair loss, talking about it, working out how we feel in a public forum helps redirect the way we value people for how they look and the choices they make around how to look in the world. I think, and hope, it’s a time to help us be a little kinder to each other.
I was born in Mexico, but as of now I’m considered a Mexican-American. I am 37 years old and I have lived in America for 11 years. I have been suffering from hair loss for 13 years and five years ago, I decided to go get checked by a professional and was diagnosed with Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) and Scarring Alopecia.
When I first noticed I was losing hair, I was attending college. At that time, I was under a lot of stress because it was my last year at the university and I had a lot of worries and responsibilities on me. I had organized my wedding and was adapting to living here in the United States. There were many changes in my life I had to get used to. Living in a different country from where I was born was both an emotional and cultural shock. I had to adjust to a new life in a country that I had never known before; a new language, a new culture, and I was under a lot of stress, which caused my hair loss to start once again.
After my diagnosis, I was devastated to learn that my hair wouldn’t grow back again. I felt hopeless and ashamed. In the Latinx community, hair loss is a taboo. This taboo shows how hard it is for women to talk about hair loss because people can be very critical or opinionated on this sensitive topic. Not to mention the extremely high beauty standards that put an immense pressure on the idea of having beautiful and perfect hair.
It hasn’t been easy for me to accept my journey; I still have my ups and downs, but I’m at a point in life where I feel so much more at peace with myself. I love my new me and I'm happy to know that I’ve become the strong woman I am today.
Hair loss awareness month in my opinion is a reminder that we are beautiful, strong, and powerful, with or without hair. This is a reminder that experiencing hair loss doesn’t mean you have lost your femininity. It’s also a reminder that we are more than just hair. Although there is still a long way to go to break down the stigma attached to female hair loss, we are on the right path. The more we talk about it, the more awareness we are creating and the closer we are to breaking down this stigma. One of my personal goals is to normalize female hair loss in the Latinx community.
A hairdresser told me I had thin hair in high school. I was more self-conscious of my excessive dandruff than my thin hair at the time. Fast-forward to my early thirties, and after bouts of major stress and taking birth control for many years, it had become a real insecurity that affected my confidence immensely. I remember looking into the mirror and seeing an ever-widening parting, so I would change my part over and over again. I would talk about it constantly and bring it up during social events, like how you would if you had a giant pimple. I cut my hair shorter, which helped. But then it got so thin that I only felt comfortable wearing my hair in a ponytail. I tried extensions, but they didn’t work since the thinning was diffuse. I cared for volume, not length.
It wasn’t until I discovered Suran’s Instagram, @the_strandie, that I felt there was relief coming my way in the form of a topper. I was amazed by how natural it looked and how easy it was to put on. I participated in a meet-up hosted by Suran in Dallas in February of 2020 and purchased my first topper from Serenity Wigs and Toppers. I finally felt relaxed during social events when I wore my topper. And most importantly, I met people in the community that understood everything without explanation. Thank you to @the_strandie, @alliesalopecia, @thebrondeblonde, @lossknotlost, and @dorinazerad for helping me on this journey. I’m so happy to celebrate Hair Loss Awareness Month with you all, and many more!
YoMo Castellano @hairlossbonita
I've lived with Androgenic Alopecia since 2013. I wholeheartedly believe that Hair Loss Awareness Month should be 12 months out of the year. Dealing with hair loss sucks and what makes it worse is that, while it's something that affects millions of us all over the world, it isn't a topic that is talked about due to the associated stigma. Not talking about something that is so normal and common not only isolates us, but keeps us in the dark about facts related to hair loss. The lack of awareness and education can lead to negative psychological and emotional effects on an individual, such as depression, lack of confidence, social isolation, millions of dollars wasted on hair growth treatments/solutions that may not work, and the possibility of being taken advantage of by scammers who are looking to make money off of folks who desperately want to grow their hair. The biggest missed opportunity is not knowing that there is an amazing hair loss community on social media who can help make the hair loss journey a lot less lonely.
When I first joined the hair loss community on Instagram at the end of 2019/early 2020, I didn't find Latinas talking about this topic, which didn't surprise me. Hair loss is a major taboo subject in our community. It is because of this that I created HAIRLOSSBONITA to raise awareness about Alopecia, in English and Spanish, and to show that one can live a fab and full life with hair loss. The lack of chatter about hair loss in the Latinx community (and all communities for that matter) must change and I vow to do what I can to help change this narrative. It's because of this that I have made it my mission to shed light on Alopecia to break the stigma and normalize wearing alternative hair. Celebrities shouldn't be the only ones having fun with wigs and toppers!
Hola, soy YoMo y vivo con alopecia androgénica desde 2013. Creo firmemente que el Mes de la Conciencia sobre la Pérdida del Cabello debería ser 12 meses al año. Lidiar con la caída del cabello apesta y lo que lo empeora es que, si bien es algo que nos afecta a millones de personas en todo el mundo, no es un tema del que se hable por el estigma asociado. No hablar de algo que es tan normal / común no solo nos aísla sino que nos mantiene en la oscuridad sobre los hechos relacionados con la caída del cabello. La falta de conciencia / educación puede provocar efectos psicológicos y emocionales negativos en un individuo, como depresión, falta de confianza y aislamiento social, millones de dólares desperdiciados en tratamientos / soluciones para el crecimiento del cabello y la posibilidad de que los estafadores se aprovechen de las personas que desesperadamente quieren que le crezca el cabello. La mayor oportunidad perdida es no saber que existe una increíble comunidad de pérdida de cabello en las redes sociales que puede ayudar a que el proceso de pérdida de cabello sea mucho menos solitario.
Cuando me uní por primera vez a la comunidad de pérdida de cabello en Instagram a fines de 2019 / principios de 2020, no encontré a latinas hablando sobre este tema, lo cual no me sorprendió. La caída del cabello es un tema tabú en nuestra comunidad. Es por esto que creé mi página IG llamada HAIRLOSSBONITA para crear conciencia sobre la alopecia en inglés y español y también para mostrar que uno puede vivir una vida fabulosa y plena con la caída del cabello. La falta de charla sobre la pérdida del cabello en la comunidad Latinx (y en todas las comunidades) tiene que cambiar y prometo hacer lo que pueda para ayudar a cambiar esta narrativa. Es por esto que me he propuesto crear conciencia sobre la alopecia para romper el estigma, pero también para normalizar el uso de cabello alternativo. Las celebridades no deberían ser las únicas que se diviertan con pelucas y toppers.]
Leah B. @falloutgiirl
Hair Loss Awareness Month is such an important time for me to actively educate others on hair loss and its causes. I was 16 years old when my hair started falling out in clumps in the shower and I had no idea what was happening to me. I was scared because I didn’t know anything about hair loss or anyone who was going through the same thing as me. I felt alone.
I hope to help other girls who feel isolated in their experience by showing them that so many women have hair loss for a multitude of reasons, that lacking hair does not equate to lacking beauty, and sharing how there are so many different alternatives for hair (wigs, toppers, turbans, etc.).
I think it’s amazing that there is an entire month dedicated to hair loss awareness and I hope that this month and onward, we can empower each other through this experience that has taken so many women’s confidence.
What does Hair Loss Awareness Month mean to you? Let us know in the comments below!
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Saying those two words, "I do" have never been more life-changing, destiny-altering. As you look into the eyes of your partner-for-life, I'm telling you the last thing you want to think about is your hair.
But saying "yes to the tress" is not as easy as you'd first think it would be.
Here's some of the advice I have for future brides on things I thought went well and some things I wish I would have done.
Diana Ford is a hair stylist and wig technician who specializes in customizing hair pieces for women with alopecia. In addition to her technical skillset, we asked Diana about her POV on race in regards to wigs and hair pieces, especially in light of BLM.
Written by @fauxringlets
The first time I wore a wig to the dentist, I was incredibly nervous.
For days before my appointment, I worried my dentist would be able to tell I was wearing a wig. She would be so close to my face for long enough that she had to notice, right?
My dentist didn’t notice. My hygienist didn’t notice.
When I went back, six months later for my next appointment, nobody noticed. Instead, my hygienist complimented my highlights.
I am a quintessential over-thinker.
Even if I have no reason to believe they know I’m wearing a wig, I still worry when someone compliments my hair, always wondering: can they tell?
Not this time.
In fact, I was so nervous, sitting there in the dentist’s chair, that I was very aware of where my hygienist and dentist were looking. They were looking at my teeth, not my hair.
When my hygienist complimented my hair, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.
It was such a relief, because I was struck by a moment of certainty that she had no idea I was wearing a wig.
This, I thought, was surely the ultimate test. I’m rarely that physically close to someone who doesn’t already know I’m wearing a wig. I could hardly believe it would be possible to have someone that close to my face without noticing my hairline.
So if you are wondering the same thing, let me reassure you.
It is entirely possible to be that close to someone, and to go to the dentist, without anyone noticing you are wearing alternative hair. Remember that most people don’t scrutinize the hairlines of everyone around them!
Another important reminder:
Your dentist only sees you every couple of months. Don’t worry if they will think your hair has changed drastically since you’ve last seen them. They will not assume your hair has changed overnight.
Remember they see all their patients infrequently! They’re likely used to people’s hair changing between appointments.
If it makes you feel better to tell your dentist that you’re wearing alternative hair, go for it!
If you’re going to spend your entire appointment filled with anxiety about whether or not they can tell you’re wearing hair, and telling them will make you feel better, then tell them. With that said, I’m telling you: you don’t have to.
Chances are, they won’t notice, because, quite frankly, they’re not paying any attention to your hairline. They’re focused on your teeth!
My first time at the dentist with a wig on, I worried about more than whether my wig would be noticed. I was also very nervous that wearing a wig would interfere with my dental x-rays.
Your alternative hair should not have any impact on your dental x-rays.
Dental x-rays are focused around your jaw, so parts of a wig like the clips or the metal in the eartabs should not interfere with the imaging.
I wore a wig with clips in it (the inside of the cap is pictured below), without any issues, so you should not have any problems if you are wearing a topper.
You should also keep in mind that you will be reclining in a chair. Make sure you’ll be able to do that comfortably in your wig or topper. This likely will not be a problem, but if you tend to worry like I do, I recommend putting on the wig or topper you intend to wear to your appointment and laying your head back at home to test how secure it is.
I have always found it reassuring to test out wearing my wigs at home before I wear them in public.
I experiment with everything from new wigs, to hairstyles, to activities. This helps me feel far more confident when I later wear my wig out of the house. Do whatever you need to feel as comfortable as you can!
Additionally, I haven’t had any issues with my wig falling in my face at the dentist, but if you’re worried about it, a low ponytail is a great option. It will keep your hair out of the way, stay secure, and won’t sit in an uncomfortable place on your head when you sit back in the dentist’s chair.
While going to the dentist for the first time with a wig (or topper) on can be nerve-racking, you should absolutely do it.
I’m a big believer that wearing hair shouldn’t prevent you from living your life to the fullest, and it certainly shouldn’t prevent you from looking after your health. I’ve had my fair share of anxiety about wearing wigs in new situations, so I hope my own time at the dentist can be reassuring to others.
You can absolutely wear alternative hair to the dentist, and be confident doing so!
If you had told me five years ago that I was going to shave my head, I probably would have shrugged, said ‘good for me,’ and moved on with my life. Hell, when I was in college, I shaved both sides of my head and wore the remainder in poofy, cascading burgundy waves down to my boobs. It looked dope.
But I didn’t shave my head to look dope.
I was sick of obsessing over trying to get my hair back - something that was clearly a losing battle. I did it to take control back from an uncontrollable situation. I don’t regret it for a second, but, it had consequences that I definitely wasn’t expecting.
I’d like to start off by introducing myself. I’m Audra, and I have had Alopecia Areata since birth. There is no cure for this Autoimmune Disease, so I have been wearing hair for over 20 years. I am also a hair stylist. I am so grateful to have a profession in which I love and can help others.
The Big Bang: How Bangs Changed the Way I Thought of Alternative Hair, written by @Beckiiwitthegoodhair
I consider myself a hair-wearing novice. I bought my first piece in February 2019, but did not start regularly wearing hair until a few months ago. What got in my way of wearing the dang hair were my insecurities that the piece didn’t look natural. I would throw it on, debate it for as long as it took me to get ready, and end up taking it off.
I also consider myself an impulsive person so it was not surprising that, despite my only recent plunge to begin wearing hair, I found myself communicating with a lovely hair loss sister (@skinandscrunchies) about buying her topper. Not any topper, though… a topper with bangs! I had never rocked such a look (unless you count toddler bangs).
I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me about my integrated hair topper, meaning that it stayed on my head 24/7! I showered with it, went to the gym with it and, though I never tried, I could even swim with it!
The best thing about my integrated system is that it helped me accept my hair loss. But there are some caveats to an integrated hair system that are important to know before committing as well.
Read on for my personal experience and the pros and cons of integrated hair toppers!
Hello! I'm Eva (@effing.good.hair).
I’ve always had thin hair that was smooth and straight. Always reaching for those volumizing shampoos and telling my hair stylist before every cut, “Just a trim, and can you make my hair look thicker?” I envied my mom’s thick Asian hair and always wished she had passed those genes to me. Instead, I got my dad’s hair texture, before he lost most of it to male pattern baldness. I always joked that when I got older and became a granny, I would be bald like my dad but have the best hair thanks to wigs. Little did I know, I would be entering the world of fabulous hair much, much earlier.
My hair loss started really gradually. When I started birth control at 18, I would shed and leave hairs everywhere. I didn’t have any signs of hair loss at the time and attributed it to normal shedding. I Inspired by the dreamy ash-coloured balayages I saw on Instagram, I also started bleaching my previously box-dyed hair about twice a year.
Things started to change in December 2018. I was 22, and under a lot of stress from my new part-time job and being in the last year of my undergraduate degree. The signs of hair loss were discrete but noticeable; bigger hair clumps in the shower, a smaller ponytail diameter, and oh my god, I can see my scalp when I tie my hair up?!
April 2018 (left) and March 2019 (right), featuring my boyfriend's dog, Mia.
I panicked and took it to myself to do some good old internet research and learned about the different types of hair loss, and other women’s experiences on Reddit and The Hair Loss Project. I found out many women had experienced hair loss due to birth control and it made me realise my birth control or existing hormonal imbalances must be one of the factors attributing to my hair loss in addition to stress.
I went on Instagram and searched “hair loss” to see if there was anybody else publicly out there with hair loss. That’s when I found Kellie (@hairlossboss) and first learned about toppers. I was in shock at how natural hair toppers could look, and I was relieved that the solution to hair loss was so simple: alternative hair. As I kept digging deeper, I also found Kim (@kimdubs_) and Suran (@the_strandie), and lurked in the community while trying to come to terms with my hair loss.
I had doubts about my hair loss at first. My hair loss pattern wasn't like other women's and I'm not losing nearly as much hair due to stress. Are my concerns still valid? I tried to convince myself that it wasn't so bad. Eva, you've always had thin hair! It'll grow back. That's what everyone says about hair.
But I couldn't deny the everyday experience with my hair.
When I run my fingers through my hair, there was less hair to run through.
When I tie a ponytail, the hair tie now goes around 3 times comfortably, when it only went around twice before.
When I push all my hair to one side of my head, I have half the amount of hair than before.
When it's windy outside, more of my hair flies because there's less to hold it down.
I decided to visit the doctor in hopes of to validating the reason for my hair loss. This is what he said:
If it’s alopecia areata, you would have bald spots but you don’t. If it’s androgenic alopecia, you’ll see your part get wider, but it’s not. If it’s telogen effluvium, if I pull your hair, a lot should come out but only 1-2 hairs came out after I pulled so many. When I look at your head, you still have a lot of hair. So no, I don’t think you have hair loss or it’s not that serious.”
My brain just kind of shut down at that moment and I left the office feeling a little more hopeless. Did I have to lose more hair before I would be taken seriously? After a blood test, I found out I was iron deficient, but my hormones and thyroid were all fine. I hoped that after taking months of iron supplements, my hair would revert back to what it used to be. But it didn’t.
I slowly started opening up more to my friends about my hair loss. I had initially gotten comments of: "Your hair looks fine! I don't think it's thinning." But when I told them I would start wearing alternative hair, all they said was: “Cool! Let’s see it when you get it.” Their acceptance and support helped me so much in accepting my hair loss. It made me realise that no matter what my hair looks like, I am still Eva and people still love and accept me for who I am.
I’m also so grateful I am a part of such a supportive and empowering community. I decided to start my own hair loss account on Instagram and took up the opportunity to write blogs here on Silk or Lace to engage with other women and also give back to the community that’s helped me so much.
It's through the hair loss community that's empowered me to take back control of my hair loss. By changing my thoughts around hair loss, I'm able to see the options moving forward. Rather than mourning what my hair once was and shying away from cameras, I'll be able to wear hair better than my hair ever was and could be and carry on with life.
Thank you for taking your time to read my story! Feel free to slide into my DMs to share your story with me on Instagram (@effing.good.hair).