Making the Best of Hair Loss – Wigs & Headscarves

Hair Loss Cover Image

I apologize for the delay in posting, but this chemo thing is no joke. I am constantly exhausted and it seems that life never slows down. I am trying to keep some semblance of my normal life and I am still working full time aside from chemo and recovery days. It’s hard to find the time or the energy to write and all I seem to want to do is sleep. I guess that’s just cancer sometimes you just don’t have energy for anything else but survival and I am learning to accept that.

I have been aiming to write another post about hair loss for a while. I was inspired by this article about Clare Bowen from the show Nashville who recently cut off her long beautiful hair. As a child Sara battled nephroblastoma, which caused her to lose all her hair. This experience stuck with her and she wanted young girls going through hair loss to realize that it isn’t what’s on the outside that makes you beautiful; it’s the inside that matters. One quote from this article that really hit home for me was “Self-esteem takes a lot longer to grow back than hair.” Losing your hair forces you to confront issues of self esteem and work on yourself from the inside out.

As I mentioned in my last post about hair, we as women struggle with hair loss, because hair is tied to our identity. It is our armor and protection from the world. Hair is a tool for quickly changing our appearance to stay current with the recent fashion trends and it helps us fit in. Losing your hair can make you feel naked and exposed. Being forced to change your appearance can make you feel like a victim. I decided to own this experience and take it as an opportunity to add a new look to my repertoire. As much as I have been working on my self-confidence and rocking the bald head at times, I want to shed light on the variety of other resources available for those of you that haven’t worked up the courage to go bald yet or just don’t like that look on yourself.

Wigs and head coverings are the two best resources that I will cover. Hats, and head-scarves, while beautiful make me feel like I’m screaming “I HAVE CANCER”. Most of the time, I want to  “pass”. I don’t want strangers to know I have cancer and I don’t want to draw attention to myself in that way. I still occasionally wear head-scarves for comfort and warmth, but they have not been my go to resource. For those of you who want to go the head scarf route, I would suggest you first check with your cancer hospital resource center. I received tons of beautiful scarves from mine. Another place to look is thrift stores. They have plenty of beautiful gently used scarves. Make sure to check the tags to make sure they are washable, because you will want to wash any scarves you get from the thrift store before wearing them. For awesome scarf tying tutorials check out YouTube, specifically this channel by Zukreat.

headscarf idea 2head coverings 2

Now on to wigs, which I have found to be so fun! You can easily try out that hairstyle or color you never had the guts to try before. I never thought I liked short hair on my face shape, but I have found my two short wigs to be my favorites. Don’t rule out any styles until you give them a try. My biggest suggestion when picking a wig is NOT to pick one that looks like your hair was before chemotherapy. I did that with my first wig and I rarely wear it. I had long brown hair prior to chemo and every time I put on that long brown wig, I find myself saddened and frustrated trying to make the wig look like my old hair. The wigs these days are amazing and they look like real hair, but the thing is, they won’t make you look exactly like you did before chemo because you’ve changed and you’ll see yourself differently. I found it was easier to embrace the new me in a new look rather than try to wear a cut & color that mimicked the old me. Another plus to the shorter styles is they get less tangled and are cooler to wear. The long wigs can be hot and get very tangled. One way to cool down and minimize tangling is to pull the long wig into a low bun or twist. Make sure to leave the hair loose around the ears to hide the edge of the wig. I used this trick when I was in a friend’s wedding and wanted to match the other girls’ updos.

wig behind ears       Favorite wig

Short hair wig- behind ears      Long wig - bun

Wig shopping is a process and I don’t want you to go in blind. Before you go shopping, do your research. I have organized the most important information into six categories and I hope you find it helpful. Once you’ve done your research, make an appointment at a wig salon and go in with an open mind. Trying on multiple wigs will be fun and it will give you a chance to see yourself in a new light. Maybe you love that short sassy red look or the long blonde curls.  This is your chance to take on a new persona and let a new side of you shine through. Own it and your confidence will radiate.

The Six Cs of Wig Buying

cut

Color

Cap size

Composition

Construction

*Information gathered from Wigs.com and other helpful resources

Care

wig shampoo                               wig conditioner                           Wig brush         wig head

Anna’s Wig Wisdom

Lace Front Wig or Basic Cap Wig? I have tried both and I have to say for me (a baldy), I think the basic cap wigs work better. Ultimately, I think it depends on the style of the wig. I have included pictures of both on me below, but it is hard to tell the major differences in the pictures. The lace front wigs have a lace edge that is trimmed along your hairline and the base where the hairs attach to the lace is meant to blend with your scalp and natural hair. The problem I have found with these wigs is that there is no hair [on my head] to blend with the lace so the spot where the [wig] hairs attach to the lace seems to stand out more on my skin. A lace front wig with bangs would resolve this issue and make the hairline seem more natural. The full cap wigs on the other hand have a thick edge along the hairline and are not meant to blend as naturally. You cannot pull your hair back on these wigs because the edge will show. I have found full cap wigs with volume and bangs to be the best, because you can tuck some of the hair back without it showing the wig edges.

Lace front wig - before lace is cut Lace front wig Full head wig Long full head synthetic wig

Flat or Volume: Some synthetic wigs are created with pre-made volume. They have a lot of “poof” to them, which gives the look of volume. Sometimes this volume is too much and can make them look fake, but overall I love the volumized wigs because you have more hair to work with. They are easier to style and look more natural in my opinion. The wigs that appear more flat tend to be thinner and are harder to style and amp up. The last thing you want is a wig so thin, your bald head shows through the wefts.

Lace front wig - close up                     Volumized synthetic full head wig

Wig Sizing: I have a pretty small head so I found that many of the wigs I purchased were too big on me. While most wigs have adjustable straps on the headpiece, this does not help with the bulk in the back of the head created by excess fabric and hair. Luckily with a little help from YouTube, I figured out how to modify my wigs and customize the size. I have linked this helpful video and included a few photos of me fixing one of my wigs. If your wig is too big don’t despair, it can be fixed.

Modifying wig 1     Modifying wig 2

Highlights or Monotone? Highlights all the way. Choosing a wig with highlights make it appear more real and add dimension to your look. I have had so many people compliment me when I am wearing my wigs. They are usually blown away to learn that they are not my natural hair. I cannot stress this enough! Look for a wig with highlights if you want the wig to look natural.

Volumized synthetic wig with highlights                   Favorite wig side view

Let me know in the comments what other questions you have about wigs, hair loss, or head coverings and I can include the responses in a follow up post.

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10 comments

  1. Olivia Nelson says:

    Another option is to get hats with hair, or wigs, attached to them. They don’t work all year round but winter and fall they’re great. Thank you so much for sharing the headscarf tutorials! This site sells some really great ones.

    • Anna says:

      My wigs were all synthetic because they are easier to care for. Less washing, etc like real hair. One downside is that I could not use heat styling tools on them. To be honest though, I didn’t style them much, I just chose short styles that I could brush, shape and go. The synthetic styles keep the shape and style better than the human hair wigs. I have also heard that human hair wigs are hotter on your head, which is a major downside to wigs in general. I’d look for a wig shop in your area and go try both. Best of luck with chemo!!!!

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