This is my hair alopecia story.
This is my hair back in January the top.
[for an update of how I style my recovering but fine thin hair, check out my extensions]
I hated hated hated my hair. The last time I loved my hair was when I was 15. I remember an older girl playing with it and saying, “Your hair is SOOO thick.”
It was. You could put your hands around the hair at the base of my neck and it would pretty much fill out the circle your hands made.
There are some reasons it started falling out that I won’t share here. Some of them had to do with hair treatment, and the way I pulled my hair up. A lot of my hair fell out when I was 16.
When I was 20, I went through a lot of stress. I won’t mention the causes here. It lasted about 5 years and all the rest of my hair fell out. I had huge bald spots. I don’t have pictures from this time. The pictures above look a lot better than that time. I got away from the source of the stress and I started taking natural hair supplements. Biotin, horsetail, SAW PALMETTO (if you’re taking something natural for your hair it NEEDS to include saw palmetto or you’re wasting your time), a good healthy vitamin like Alive! which includes digestive enzymes and probiotics just to help you digest your nutrients.
It got better, but never great.
I tried Revivogen. This was the most frustrating thing I’ve ever tried, and the most expensive. I used it for a year. It was 2 steps forward and 2 steps back. Revivogen synchronizes your shedding cycle. I could never find out why, not even from customer service. That means you’ll grow and grow hair like wild, and then it will all fall out every six weeks. Including tiny little 1 inch baby hairs. Who would do this?
Then I tried Surface Awaken topically, and Hair Omega internally. This was the best combination up to this point. My hair slowly, over the course of two years, got better.
Then last December I got sick. I was sick for about a month and couldn’t take the 3 Hair Omega horse pills. Also because I wasn’t eating well, my hair fell out rapidly – I felt like I was shedding. I slid backwards in time 2 years and felt devastated.
I gave up. I was SO tired of my hair. I researched natural looking wigs and found an intriguing website and company run by a sweet lady in California. She sold the same wigs I saw on other websites, but she thins them to make them look more natural, customizes a natural looking hairline, and sews them in to fit your head shape and size.
My experience with Patti’s Wigs was amazing. I was so happy with my hair. I couldn’t stop smiling. My confidence grew. I went to more client meetings and networked more. I started vlogging as well as blogging and was pleased with the results.
Here are some of my pictures:
I started with the Zara in January and switched to the shorter wavier Julia in March.
I was in love with my hair for the first time in more than a decade. Most of the time people could not tell they were wigs, and I’m not sure that people could tell at all. I would wake up in the morning, put on my wig and feel so confident. You can totally see my scalp at the part and I even look at them now and think wow, they look like my real hair – they look like me! My hair color, my wavy hair type, me a long time ago before stress-triggered alopecia. I chose synthetic wigs because of the way they hold their style day after day. But synthetic wigs wear out quickly. For me. I’ve heard they should last longer, but for me I’ve pretty much decided if I continue to wear them I need to buy a new one every 2 months, or get them refurbished, which is much less expensive. You can steam them silky again, which I’ve learned how to do, but then you’ve lost the style.
Wearing wigs for 5 months was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, because it gave me a new lease on life. I made videos and blog posts and lots of people who found these were excited to try the same product, and that made me feel good, too.
I started using Minoxidil (the generic of Rogaine) at the same time but didn’t have to worry about whether it worked or not. I could just hide my crazy hair with my new hair and not worry about it. Generic Rogaine is also much cheaper than any of the natural solutions I tried, and I could not stomach one more horse pill, so I stopped taking the Hair Omega. I just used the Rogaine Generic, and sometimes also used the Surface Awaken since I still had it and it was topical.
You have to use Rogaine for 5 months before you begin to see results. I was always afraid to try it because of some crazy things I read (that one of the side effects was hair loss – how stupid could a product be, right?). But I read a much more realistic view of it in Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter without Me (begin to see why I love this book?), and since Paula Begoun at age 60 has a luxurious healthy head of hair that she says she would not have without Rogaine, I was at last persuaded to leave the natural route and try Minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine).
For 2 months I took 2%. Then frustrated with the results I switched to 5%. 5% is typically used only for men. After 1 month, I decided the 5% was making me depressed, like panicky depressed, causing rapid weight gain (I gained 5-7 pounds the first week I was on it), and causing course facial hair growth (yuck!).
For a month, scared to death of the stuff, I didn’t do anything. Then at month 5 I went back to 2% because I couldn’t stand slowly seeing my hair fall out again. I do not experience any of the negative side effects with 2% as I did with 5%. I look better and more toned than I have for 6 years, I feel very happy, and the course facial hair growth reversed itself and went away. That’s the way Rogaine works, if you experience side effects from taking it, they will go away when you stop the medicine, but so will the regrowth in your hair.
But the results of Minoxidil/Rogaine are far faster and better than any natural remedy I’ve tried. Here’s why:
[Originally: If you have alopecia, no natural supplement in the world is going to reverse it. It’s a medical condition. It’s not caused by a lack of B vitamins so B vitamins are not going to solve it. It’s not caused by a lack of nutrition so better nutrition is not going to solve it. It’s not even caused by stress.] Edited: True and not true. It is triggered by all of the above and treatment, ranging from natural to drug, has varying effects with varying people and types of alopecia. Also, the drug minoxidil is no miracle worker. I have less exciting results after 6 months than when I wrote this originally. I truly have no answers. It’s triggered by stress, and there’s a huge difference. Once it’s triggered by stress, eliminating the stress is not necessarily going to solve it. If your hair loss is caused by stress, then eliminating the stress will relieve the hair loss. But if your hair loss is caused by alopecia triggered by stress, then eliminating the stress migjht not help. Girls as young as 5 or 6 have suffered from terrible alopecia triggered by trauma, while other girls experience stress in different ways. Minoxidil/Rogaine is different than all the natural remedies because it is a growth hormone.
Here are the results.
March, when I was taking 5%:
And yesterday, after taking Rogaine for more than 4 out of 5 months, 2% and 5%:
One of the coolest thing about these pictures is that the first one was taken after trying every trick I had learned to get volume out of my hair (volumizers do wonders) and the last picture is taken with not a bit of product or styling. Just clean air-dryed hair.
I NEVER walked around with clean air-dryed hair before, because it hung in 2 skinny strands at the side of my head. I had to style it. All the styling and heat further complicated the problem.
Since the 5 month mark is when you are supposed to begin seeing results, I am eager to see what is next. If the results reverse themselves or stop, I have options. I can wear extensions, or I can wear wigs.
I cut my own hair because it was so hard to put under a wig, and I was sick of hair trouble. I wanted it to be easy. I didn’t want to think about my hair anymore. So this is what I look like now without my Julia. 🙂 My hair feels healthy, lively, wavy and is many different lengths – partially from the textured cut and partially from the new growth – always way more in front than in back. It’s also very dark as I cut off all dyed hair. UPDATE: Now that I’m getting positive feedback on this haircut I’ll let you in on a secret – Nate cut it. 🙂 I directed him, or the top would have been way too short.
One huge difference between the natural remedies and the Rogaine/minoxidil, is that with the natural ones, I would see some new pieces of growth, especially where my hair was already thick. I would see individual strands – maybe 10 thick, sort of growing everywhere and sticking straight out like sun’s rays. But the spots that had always been thin (alopecia targets two spots at the side of your head, not the front or lower back), stayed thin, and I would use the hair around it to cover it up.
Now the worst areas of my head are covered with a fine soft growth, like little fuzzy hair. Weekly I see a difference as the fuzzy hair gets thicker, and the parts and bare spots get smaller and more filled in.
I don’t really think any of the natural remedies caused inactive hair follicles to produce new hair. All hair follicles can produce between 1-4 hairs. A person with very thick hair can have 4 hairs growing from each follicles, also the hair strand itself is actually thicker. Surface Awaken can really cause the hair strand to plump up (not artificially, but actually), and maybe even cause active hair follicles to grow extra hair. But my experience is that the “dead areas” just stayed dead.
I feel with Rogaine, I can see the “dead areas” coming to life. In other words, follicles that have not produced a hair in years are now growing hair. You can see the difference this would make.
Yesterday I went to a salon to talk about extensions, because I wondered if I was ready to “graduate” from wigs to extensions. I cannot tell you how good it felt to sit in a salon chair after 8 months and have someone touch and talk about my real hair. My hair usually grows fast but in the mean time I can use extensions to help it along, and probably always will use extensions for added growth and volume. I’m not terrified of someone seeing me without my wig anymore, even though my hair is a short style I wouldn’t choose! I’ll let you know how it goes and also if the Rogaine/Minoxidil thing keeps working as it seems to be. I’ve been disappointed a dozen times before so I’m bracing myself for that – but now I know I have a backup plan. I’m still in between loving my wigs and loving my real hair and couldn’t possibly make any decisions today but hope things become more clear soon. I have two big events coming up including a friend’s wedding and really hope to figure out what to do with my hair by then!
For more pics of my pixie hair now, check out this!
For videos of me with the Zara for the first time, check out this.
buy Patti’s wigs
buy generic Rogaine (minoxidil):
CVS, Walmart, Target, almost anywhere. Or on amazon:
Paula’s opinion on hair loss treatment
Hey guys – guess I was wrong – because I couldn’t resist writing this blog – if I do post it will probably be about hair not makeup, over this two week break.
[for an update of how I style my recovering but fine thin hair, check out my extensions]
To read a more recent update, check out this post here.