Hair is something I have taken for granted my whole life

Hair is something I have taken for granted my whole life.

Hair is something I have taken for granted my whole life.  Unlike weight or emotions, it was something that, while I often wished for thicker hair or hair with more curl, could be bent to my will and whim. I could change the color, perm it, cut it, grow it out, have bangs or no bangs.  It was always there. Until it wasn’t, it was gradual – although when I look at older photos, I see bare spots that I guess were there for a while, but I didn’t notice them because I was more concerned about my weight or clothes.

As my hair started disappearing – mostly from the top of my head at first and then, somewhat on the sides and a little in the back, I became more anxious, more self-conscious, and then depressed. Fortunately, I have an amazingly understanding, creative hairdresser who gets it.  Suppose you’re lucky enough to have a hairdresser like him. In that case, you know that, in some ways, your hairdresser is also your therapist – better than your therapist because he or she has solutions that can be acted upon!

Of course, as a hairdresser, Richard deeply understands the connection between self-esteem and hair. But miraculously, Richard is also a master at creating solutions with hair extensions. He listened to my anxieties and, yes, my pain. Is losing your hair due to unknown reasons the same as an illness or other catastrophes? I told myself no, it’s not the worst thing. But, as a friend who is a therapist tells me if you’re going through it and you’re in emotional pain, then you’re in emotional pain. It’s not a pain competition, and losing hair causes emotional pain.

So, when you’re losing hair, you need an empathetic hairdresser. But even more than empathy, you need a hairdresser who is an artist because it’s not just a matter of picking hair extensions that match your color and attaching them on.  Where to place them, what texture to choose, how many to use – it’s art.  It’s about thinking outside the box. It’s about listening to the client and hearing where it’s hard to style them or where gaps make the client feel self-conscious.

Richard heard me, and we began a hair extension journey. He listened to my experience with them each time and evaluated what he had done the previous time to make wearing hair extensions as easy as possible. If there were issues, he brainstormed about how to deal with it. Each time, he solved an issue if there was one, making it look more natural and easy to care for.  Sometimes, it was by using different shades of extensions to create highlights; sometimes, it was by using hair with more waves or curls.  And then, of course, there’s the cut – cutting them strategically to enhance the extensions’ work to create the most volume and thickness look.

It’s hard to express the impact that having hair extensions has made on my mental health.  It seems like magic, but it’s a blessing.  There are so few physical problems that have a fix. I feel fortunate to be able to afford them and to have a family who understands that losing hair is a physical and emotional issue.  I feel even more fortunate to have a hairdresser who approaches hair extensions as an art and science and tries to keep in mind my finances and emotional well-being.  I keep saying hairdresser, but he is also my friend – my hairdresser and friend for over 15 years.

Not everyone can be that fortunate in their hairdresser – someone who knows how I feel about a new bald batch before I say anything. Someone who listens to an issue and doesn’t let ego interfere with trying to help even if he thinks I’m overthinking it or obsessing over it. But obsessing over losing your hair leads to thinking everyone sees it, and every hairdresser needs to be a friend in this way – not minimizing or dismissive. Even if you haven’t been friends for 15 years, a hairdresser must be two things simultaneously.

They need to be that honest friend who will tell you the truth about how you look – to help you find a fix for the problems and listen – because that’s what someone who is losing their hair needs. They must also be experts in wielding the tools, knowledge, and experience. It’s a partnership – the client knows where the lack of hair is the most pressing, where the extensions do and don’t work, and the hairdresser takes that information and performs their art.

I hope this helps people who are losing their hair feel comfortable using hair extensions and eager to start their journey. What a blessing to not have to think about your hair, knowing it looks lovely, and feeling good about presenting yourself to the world – it’s not a small thing. Rather, it’s a huge thing to have one less big thing to worry about – what a gift to yourself.

 

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