Confidence Tricks

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Amy Poehler is never wrong

Last week I watched Victoria Derbyshire host a debate on the EU referendum on BBC1. Fielding questions from the audience and refereeing between the panel on live television, it was hard to believe that she had finished treatment for breast cancer barely 24 hours before. Wearing her wig, she projected authority, self-confidence and poise. It was so inspiring to see.

It added a different dimension to something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: how can you project self-confidence and a presence to others when you are struggling to feel comfortable with your appearance?

When I was battling to cover up hair loss, I was painfully self-conscious, convinced that not only was it apparent to everyone how damaged and odd-looking my hair was but that they could also see through to how I was feeling inside. When I got a hair replacement system, I thought this would improve but if anything I felt worse. Anxious about my real hairline showing through and the bumps caused by my hair growing underneath the system, I was convinced everyone would think I was ill. Now that I have hair extensions, I feel the least self-conscious I have in years. But not feeling self-conscious isn’t the same as feeling self-confident.

The truth though is that most people are so focused on their own issues they are unlikely to really be paying attention to my appearance. And as long as my sense of myself is defined by others and what they may or may not be thinking about me, I won’t be able to either project or feel confidence because real self-confidence comes from the inside.

It doesn’t matter whether I have hair loss, bad skin or any other body image issue: all are linked to the same central theme. If I feel broken on the inside I assume it shows on the outside. Fixing how I feel about myself is what really matters – the rest is just window dressing. Conquer that and who knows – I may even make it onto TV…or at least reveal my face on this blog!

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Intralaced: the Lucinda Ellery experience

Whilst I know many people have had a really positive experience at the Lucinda Ellery salon and with the Intralace system, as I mentioned in my last post my experience was much more mixed.

When I went to get the system, my hair was very uneven, with some sections less than an inch in length. However I didn’t have any bald patches and my hair is naturally thick – which caused some problems.

My adjustments would need to be done every five weeks, and my realignment after five months, significantly increasing the cost of having the Intralace. As it turned out, within ten days of each appointment the mesh and my natural hairline were showing at the front, making me very self-conscious, especially on windy days!

When weaves go wrong: even supermodels aren’t immune

Because of the thickness of my hair (ironic given that my hair loss was at this point impossible to disguise), I had a lot of hair panels sewn into the Intralace, with my hair concealed under the mesh. This meant that as my hair grew, the system sat further away from my scalp, making it look less and less natural. It also made my hair almost impossible to dry and difficult to style.

Some of my hair was long enough to allow for extensions to blend in with the Intralace. These were attached with polymer resin bonds which were really weak and softened when I dried my hair, despite the care I took to only use conditioner on the mid-lengths and ends of my hair. The bonds would quickly flatten and widen, becoming more noticeable and frequently coming out, or shedding white flakes in my hair. As the sections used for the extensions were so big, as they came out they left noticeable gaps. The salon charged me to reattach each of these.

Both the hair panels in the Intralace and the extensions shed huge amounts of hair.  In the case of the Intralace this would quickly lead to bald patches on the mesh and I needed a new parting every five weeks.

I was worried about the hair loss and felt guilty that I seemed unable to get away from this cycle of shedding, damaged hair – whether it was my own or someone else’s. Every time I went to the salon there was a problem and I was told off and given a lecture on haircare which made me feel terrible. I had the hair examined in the end by an extension specialist who told me that this was a ‘poor quality hair weft’ and likely to be Chinese hair, rather than the Indian temple hair I had paid for.

This was backed up by what the staff at the salon had subsequently told me. I have heard from other salon clients that they have experienced similar problems and it does worry me that the salon weren’t completely transparent about the problems with the hair they use, particularly given the vulnerability of the clients. The prices they charge are at the top end of the market and the hair quality should reflect that.

After five months, I went to my realignment appointment and after a discussion with the team, they decided to increase the number of hair extensions I had and replace the Grade 2 Intralace I had with a smaller Intralace Minima, which would cover the front of my hair and the parting. I was so excited to be able to see some hair growth, although I still had – and have – a long way to go. I was really proud to be able to progress to a smaller system and no longer have the mesh which was so hard for me to disguise.

However, changing the system meant paying another £745, on top of the £2,095 I had paid for the Intralace system, as well as £250 every five weeks for the adjustments.

After two weeks, my hairline was again showing underneath the system and I was feeling very self-conscious. At this point, I decided to go and seek a second opinion. I went to see an extension specialist, who to my total surprise was confident she could help me, despite the varying lengths and quality of my natural hair. She works regularly with film and television studios, often working with male actors with very short hair whose hair she extends to fit the roles they are playing, so the system she has developed allows her to place very fine, unobtrusive extensions right at the top of the scalp.

I was nervous about the cost, given the amount of money I had invested with Lucinda Ellery but I decided at this point I had to cut my losses. The ongoing expenses with the system were so high: not only financially but also emotionally. I found the hair shedding traumatic given my history. I also dreaded each appointment at the salon. Each one uncovered a new problem, which I always felt I was blamed for.

A full head of extensions cost £895 and comprised around 200+ extensions. The hair quality is beautiful – much better than my own hair! – and will last 16 weeks, with no appointments required, or costs incurred, in that time. The extension bonds are very firm, and there is no charge to reattach extensions which do come out. Similarly there is no charge to cut my hair in between appointments, making this system far cheaper than the Intralace.

Best of all I now have one hairline and no mesh!

For me, this feels much more comfortable and natural than the Intralace and I am no longer measuring my life in five week bursts between appointments. But what does this mean for other people considering opting for an Intralace?

For many, I believe it offers a great solution to hair loss, to people with a wide range of conditions. I think it simply wasn’t right for my hair and an initial consultation with one of the salon staff would have confirmed this. (This wasn’t my experience as you can read here). To those thinking about the Intralace, I would still encourage them to consider it as an option.

Styled properly, it is more natural looking and certainly more secure than a wig. The financial outlay is considerable but the costs are transparent, so this is something you can plan for. As for the quality of the hair, for me this is the biggest issue but also something the salon staff should be able to work with you to resolve.

So, are you thinking about a hair replacement system, or do you have one already? Let me know your thoughts below.

Beating the system: covering up hair loss

I’ve been building up since I started writing this blog to writing about my experience with hair replacement systems. My experience was not a positive one on the whole, so I wanted to wait as long as possible after the system was removed, so that I didn’t use the blog post to vent unfairly about it. I know that for lots of people experiencing hair loss, they are a fantastic option and others have had a good experience with the salon I went to.

Nevertheless when I opted to get the system, I didn’t ask all the questions I could have done. I had done some research which uncovered plenty of negative online reviews but I felt they were outweighed by the fact this salon had been recommended by the dermatologist I consulted with about my condition. Having waited so long to confront the problem and decided to at last take action, I wanted to book an appointment quickly.

The salon I went to was Lucinda Ellery in London. Lucinda herself has experienced hair loss for most of her life and worn wigs. This experience led her to create the Intralace system, which is essentially a weave. For the full Intralace system, the affected parts of your scalp are covered with a fine, breathable mesh which your hair is pulled through in small sections. Fibre connections are plaited into this hair, creating a bond. Panels of hair are then sewn onto the mesh: one panel of hair for each row of bonds.

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After getting the Intralace

The system price varies according to the size (or grade) of the mesh. There is also an alternative system for people who are only affected by thinning hair or hair loss on the parting, or the front of their hair, called the Intralace Minima. The system works the same way but hair is only added to the parting. For both systems a fringe is required to cover the mesh.

For people suffering from total hair loss, medical grade tape can be used to attach the system. This is called the Intralace Freewear.

Every six weeks the system must be tightened (or adjusted to use the official term), which involves pulling the hair which has grown more tightly through the mesh, and re-bonding the fibre connections. Once every six months the system is removed, the hair underneath washed and the system is put back on. This process is called a realignment and is necessary to reposition the system to take into account any new hair growth. The system lasts for two years, at which point you need to buy a new Intralace if you want to continue with the system.

The big advantage of this approach in my eyes was that in between appointments I would be able to wash my hair, swim, sleep and generally live as if the hair was my own, allowing me to build up some of the self-confidence I had lost through my hair loss.

The huge disadvantage initially was the price. I was quoted £2,095 for a Grade 2 Intralace and told that I would need more frequent adjustments, every five weeks, at £98 an hour. These appointments took around two and a half hours. The realignment would similarly need to be done at the five month mark at the same hourly cost and would take around five hours.

In this video, you can watch a more positive review of the system: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rigD8hj5zPA.

At the consultation, I did not actually speak to a member of the salon staff but the person I consulted with was very sensitive on the whole and had a nice manner. I felt he was an expert in the system, rather than in hair loss (which was in line with what I had expected), although he did attempt, slightly clumsily, to analyse what the cause was.

He was very efficient but spent plenty of time going through everything and I didn’t feel rushed. I think he picked up very clear signals from me that I was keen to commit to the system that day, which I got the feeling was unusual for their clients and I think that was why he offered me free hair extensions to cover the parts of my scalp where I didn’t need the system. This would allow me to have long hair which he recommended as it would be ‘slimming’!

It was a huge financial commitment for me and represented a big sacrifice but I felt it was something I really needed to do to move forward in my life.

In a separate post, I’m going to describe my experience once I had the system put in but meanwhile, I would love to hear your thoughts on hair replacement systems. Is there anyone who has opted for the Intralace or a similar system? Tell me about your experiences in the comment section!

Eating your way to great hair

I’ve written in a previous post about supplements which can help promote healthy hair growth but can you eat your way to better hair? Dena Ryness, a nutritionist from Beautiful. Active. Nourished, offers her advice below.

Diet can definitely make a difference to the overall health and quality of your hair but it’s unlikely to be the only factor in poor hair health. If you are suffering from hair loss, you should still seek medical advice. However, the right diet can make a difference – not just to your hair, but to your skin and your health in general.

Before we look at the nutrients you need to boost your hair health, here are two tips to bear in mind:

  1. Following a calorie controlled diet can be detrimental to hair growth. If you are eating too few calories, you aren’t going to be getting all the nutrients you need to nourish your scalp and hair. Taking supplements is an option but it’s never going to be as effective as taking in the nutrients directly from their source: food!
  2. Try to eat as clean and naturally as possible. This means avoiding processed foods, especially ready meals and chemical-ridden junk and snack foods, and focusing on whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, whole grains, beans.

So, having established these principles, let’s look at some of the nutrients you should be incorporating into your diet to ensure maximum hair growth:

Protein

Hair – as well as fingernails – is made up of protein. Ensuring enough protein in your diet will help to boost hair follicles, which will in turn strengthen the hair strands, resulting in better hair growth.

The best sources of protein are lean meats, such as chicken and turkey, fish, eggs and dairy products. Vegetarians should include beans, pulses and nuts in their diet as good sources of protein

Omega 3

Omega 3s are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid (i.e. a type of fat!) which the body can’t make itself, so it is vital to eat foods which are rich in this nutrient. These types of fats are found in the cell membranes which line the scalp, and in the natural oils which keep the hair and scalp hydrated, so ensuring you have enough of them is very important. Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory, and this helps to open the hair follicles, encouraging growth.

Food sources include oily fish (sardines, salmon, herring, tuna), seeds such as flax seeds (which are ground linseeds – freshly ground is best), hemp, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Wholegrain cereals are another source, as are rapeseed, evening primrose and walnut oils. Look for fresh-pressed versions of these oils, though, as heat will destroy their nutrients.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is needed by the hair’s sebaceous glands to create sebum, which acts as a natural conditioner, keeping your scalp healthy. Without enough sebum, your scalp can become itchy, resulting in dry hair. Look for vegetables rich in beta-carotene, identifiable their orange-yellow colours. Beta-carotene is converted in the body to Vitamin A

Sources include carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, apricot, cantaloupe melon, and green leafy vegetables

Iron

Iron helps to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. Hair follicles and roots are fed by a nutrient-rich blood supply. Without enough iron, the nutrient supply to the hair follicle is disrupted, and this can affect hair growth, leading to shedding.

Iron can be found in red meat, chicken and fish. Vegetarian options include lentils, spinach and other green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C aids the absorption or iron. It also helps to produce collagen, which essential for hair growth, as well as maintaining its strength.

Good sources include berries, broccoli, sweet potatoes and papaya

Vitamin E

Vitamin E helps to protect and nourish the hair.

It can be found in almonds, green leafy vegetables, plant oils (such as wheat germ, sunflower, hemp seed, coconut, olive and cottonseed oil – again, remember to look for cold-pressed versions)

Zinc and Selenium

These 2 minerals help to boost the immune system. Zinc will help with a dry, flaky scalp, as it helps to keep the oil glands at a healthy level. This is useful in preventing hair loss.

Zinc and selenium can be found in whole grains and nuts. Additional sources of selenium can be found in liver, butter and garlic, while kidney beans, oysters, beef and eggs provide additional zinc.

Biotin

Biotin is a trace mineral which improves hair growth, strengthens hair, and helps to reduce hair loss.

Biotin is found in yeast, liver, kidney, egg yolk, soya, nuts and cereals.

So, try incorporating these into your diet and eat your way to better hair!

Extending your options: seeking advice on hair extensions

 

Healthy hair at your fingertips!

I wrote in my last post about tricks I’ve found to treat and cover up my hair loss but despite all the time and money I spent on them, unfortunately in my case they only provided a temporary ‘fix’. While my hair felt smoother and more manageable after a treatment, it also continued to break and fall out in clumps, eating away at my self-confidence and making me embarrassed to go out in public.

As the hair loss was ongoing I didn’t feel hair extensions were an option as I wasn’t sure my hair was strong enough for the bonds to hold in place. Another barrier was the fear I felt at the prospect of going to a hair salon full of women with long, glamorous hair and uncovering my broken, damaged and uneven head of hair in front of them – something I had only done in front of my closest family.

Instead, I eventually opted for a type of hair weave specifically designed for hair loss sufferers, on the recommendation of a dermatologist who thought it was my best option, given that she was at a loss to diagnose the cause of my hair condition. The financial outlay was significant and represented a big sacrifice, however the hair loss was so extreme and long-standing and was having such a negative impact on my life at that point that I felt I had to finally address the cosmetic effects of it. The fact that the hair weave had been recommended by a medical professional also gave me confidence that this was a sound decision, as did the fact that the salon specialised in hair loss.

I had the hair weave removed at the beginning of the year, after a very mixed experience, leaving me with just a few extensions on the longer, healthier part of my hair. My hair was still very short, uneven and broken, so I was left with three options:

  1. Remove the extensions and cut my hair into a pixie cut
  2. Put the weave back on
  3. Seek a second opinion

I was very reluctant to cut my hair short. Having struggled for four years to maintain what hair length I had and invested in an expensive hair weave, I felt that it would be too difficult to cut my hair at this point.

Similarly, the thought of putting the weave back on filled me with dread.

So I plucked up the coverage to seek a second opinion. I spent a long time with the consultant talking through my options and her recommendation. Although my hair is incredibly uneven, it was also starting to get back some length and thickness after six months of wearing a weave and she was confident she didn’t need six inches of hair to blend in extensions.

She is recognised as an expert in extensions around the world and I felt very confident about booking an appointment after the consultation. The hair she showed me was great quality – something that hadn’t been the case with the weave – and she assured me that the hair would be really easy to style and to colour match with my own hair.

She set aside an entire day for the appointment and I was the only person in the salon, which I really appreciated. To apply a full head of extensions took five hours but ironically this is because I have (or rather when healthy used to have) a lot of hair. She was incredibly meticulous about blending the new hair in with my own and making tiny connections that are so invisible that I can wear my hair up or pulled back without anything showing.

I’m really pleased with how easy they are to style and care for, how well blended they are and how natural they feel.

I feel they represent good value compared to the weave I had, as this set of extensions should last 16 weeks. They never tangle, although I do plait my hair at night as a precaution.

I invested in oil free shampoo (Kerastase Resistance Volumifique Bain) and the matching conditioner to prevent the bonds from weakening and was given a fantastic argan oil to keep the ends looking shiny, as well as a Revlon leave-in conditioner. As she promised, the extensions are incredibly easy to style and dry really quickly, unlike the weave. Even when my hair is wet, you can’t tell it isn’t my own hair.

As with the weave, I only use a soft bristle brush to protect the hair and the bonds.

When extensions are first attached, they will feel a little heavy and it’s common to have an itchy scalp the week after as you adjust to the new hair but all in all, they have been very easy to adjust to.

I previously got extensions on part of my hair only at Lucinda Ellery and I found that they shed a lot so any time I ran my fingers through my hair, several strands would come out. The bonds were much bigger and less unobtrusive, especially as when I dried my hair they would ‘melt’ a little, making them flatter and thicker. The hair also tangled very easily.

So far, of a set of more than 200 extensions, none have come loose and the bonds all feel very firm and securely attached, so three weeks in, I’m very happy!

Living with hair loss

 

Something I’ve spent a lot of time trying to work out over the last five years is how best to treat and cover up my hair loss.

No one product has solved my hair loss (which is still ongoing) but there are some which have helped improve the condition of the hair I have left.

Firstly, shampoos and conditioners.

I’ve experimented with lots of different ways of washing my hair to get the best results and the least amount of hair shedding. Using conditioner before the shampoo sometimes gives my hair more volume and going sulphate free has also helped.

At least once a month I also like to add one part sea salt to two parts shampoo, which really works to strip some of the product build-up from my hair, making it more shiny and bouncy. I also towel dry my hair and squeeze out all the excess moisture before applying conditioner, which I leave on for as long as possible before washing out.

I use lots of different shampoos and conditioners – and honestly, none of them are that cheap – but the ones I like best are:

Percy & Reed Splendidly Silky Moisturising Shampoo and Conditioner

Ojon Damage Reverse Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner

Grow Gorgeous Cleansing Conditioner

Kiel’s Olive Fruit Oil Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner

Treatments for damaged hair

For most of the last five years, my hair has felt like either straw or chewing gum and has become tangled every five minutes, so hair treatments have been amazing in helping make my hair smooth enough to tie up and hide away.

Treatment oils

A whole range of oils have really helped flatten down my flyaway wispy hair and make it more smooth. They also moisturise the hair and nourish it and help restore some sheen. However, on the down side, oils can also weigh down your hair and made it look lanky and heavy, so be prepared to pin your hair up after doing one of these treatments. What I have found works best for my hair is to do a treatment at night and then leave it on till the morning (covering my hair with a scarf to protect my pillowcase), which allows the oil to dry in to my hair and absorb, making it easy to wash out the next day.

I like to alternate coconut oil, almond oil and olive oil, all of which can be bought quite cheaply from any supermarket. You only need to use a small amount, so it works out really cost effective. I’m a blonde, and due to my hair loss I haven’t been able to colour my hair for a long time, so I’ve found that adding a bit of honey to the olive oil helps to temporarily brighten up the colour.

Adding argan oil or Percy & Reed Hair’s Best Friend Totally Intensive Treatment Oil+ to dry hair has also helped me to style my hair and they are great at improving the general condition of my hair too. Kiehl’s Magic Elixir has also worked well for my hair.

Hair masks

I love doing hair masks and ideally I like to put them on when I get home in the evening and leave them on until just before I leave the house the following day.

My absolute favourite for when my hair was at its worst and least manageable was the Ojon Damage Reverse™ Restorative Hair Treatment Plus.

It is expensive but it is very heavy and a little goes a very long way. It’s a really intense treatment and I find my hair feels instantly softer as soon as I start washing it out.

Next up is the Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme. Philip Kingsley is a trichologist, which means he really understands how to restore very damaged hair and this treatment is a more heavy duty version of the original Elasticizer, which has won lots of awards and was originally created by him for Audrey Hepburn.

The final hair mask is another Percy & Reed product – the Percy & Reed Totally TLC Hydrating Mask. It’s super moisturising and a great one to use in conjunction with their other products.

Food supplements to feed hair growth

This category is a bit trickier for me to write about, as I find it harder to tell what, if any, impact this has had on my hair growth.

The first thing to say here is that when I finally visited the doctor about my hair, she sent me for blood tests and found that my iron and folic acid levels were low. While these didn’t directly cause my hair loss they didn’t help and she put me on supplements to restore the levels to the right balance.

I have also been taking Biotin and Zinc to help promote hair growth and my hairdresser just told me that a lot of her clients have been taking Viviscal, so I’m planning to try that next. It’s really expensive though at £2 a day and as with all supplements, you have to allow three months to see any significant improvement, which can be challenging when you are really struggling with your hair loss.

The last product I really like, which I’m not sure can really be classified as a supplement – really it’s a serum – is the Grow Gorgeous Hair Serum, which was recommended to me by a friend with very bleach damaged hair. You rub a few drops into your scalp once a day and it helps boost the rate at which your hair grows. It can make your hair feel a little greasy at the roots but then so can a lot of the treatments you may already be using!

Avoiding further hair damage

Now this bit definitely needs to be introduced by a hypocrite klaxon: I definitely don’t always practise what I preach! Although I’ve stopped colouring my hair, I haven’t been able to give up straightening it but I have given up using GHDs which have no heat control and KILL your hair.

Blow drying your hair is definitely not going to help with hair loss but one of the reasons I’ve found it difficult to avoid is that the more damaged your hair is, the harder it is to leave to dry naturally. My hair is so coarse, doesn’t sit flat on my head and is really ‘fluffy’ at the moment due to all the damage and while blow drying won’t give me glossy sleek hair, it at leasts makes it sit better and helps me feel a little more like the old me.

If you are using heat on your hair, I’ve learned the hard way that you should definitely use a heat protection product. I like the Kerastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique, which you just need to use a small amount of. Let your hair air dry for as long as you can before using heat to style your hair when it’s already nearly dry.

Being careful about how you tie up your hair is something I’ve learned is really important too. Tying it up in windy weather when you’re outside, avoiding hairbands with metal inserts, and opting for kirby grips over metal clips which can tear your hair will all help protect your fragile hair, as will wearing a hat outdoors.

Depending on how long your hair is, tying it up at night will also help stop it tangling, which can lead to further hair breakage.

Disguising hair loss

Probably my biggest priority over the last five years, working out how best to disguise my hair loss has been a big part of trying to feel confident going out in public and being happier about my appearance.

At times covering my hair with scarves and hats has been the only way to cover up the damage but at healthier points in my hair growth, I’ve been able to use hairbands (a lot of my hair loss is at the front and sides) or pin up my hair into updos.

There are plenty of online tutorials with lots of ideas for different styles, which you can also modify as necessary to work with the hair you have.

Some of the sites which have helped me are:

http://www.babble.com/beauty/the-25-most-beautiful-easy-updos-2/

http://therighthairstyles.com/updos-for-short-hair/ 

http://www.byrdie.co.uk/updos-for-short-hair/slide4

The only way to hide the most damaged parts of my hair has been to wear my hair in very heavily pinned messy updos, with the front plaited or twisted back – something a bit like this:

messy-braid-bun-easy-updo-hairstyle-for-medium-hair

Nothing in this post will provide a magic, overnight cure unfortunately but they did help while I worked up the courage to opt for more expert help.

I’ll talk in a separate post about hair weaves, hair extensions and hair pieces which I’ve also been experimenting with but for now, I hope all this helps improve your hair!

 

 

 

 

 

The business of bad hair: getting to the root of the problem

Having spent a long time hiding away, scared to show my hair in public, it’s taken me a long time to build up the courage to start this blog.

What eventually motivated me to take the plunge was how annoyed I felt at the amount of money and time that I’d wasted trying to fix my hair loss – with very varying results.

A big part of that was my own reluctance to go and get the proper help (it took me FOUR YEARS to finally make an appointment with a dermatologist!) but I also got a lot of bad advice along the way, and I want to stop others from falling into that trap.

For four years, the extent of my hair loss had varied but in the months leading up to the appointment, it was so bad that I mostly avoided seeing anyone other than family and very close friends. My hair was so brittle it would fall away in my hands and it came out in clumps when I dried it. My hair was very uneven, with most of my hair loss on one side of my head, and some sections less than an inch in length.

The most important – and the most difficult – step for me was definitely making an appointment with my GP and getting a referral to a specialist. While in my particular case that didn’t actually lead directly to a diagnosis, it gave me the confidence to start looking into what I could do to fix the results of my hair loss, which by then was too extensive to disguise using clips or even head scarves.

It was a hard thing to do but ultimately the thought of sitting in the doctor’s surgery with my hair uncovered was much harder than the reality. Doctors are trained to be sensitive and personally, I found that seeing a female doctor meant that she already understood that this wasn’t just vanity but a problem that had gradually taken over my life.

The doctor referred me to a dermatologist who specialised in hair loss. Seeing her was definitely more challenging than seeing the doctor: hearing that she had no idea what the cause of my hair loss was really shocked me and made me feel like I was abnormal.

Ultimately though, and with the encouragement of my family, it gave me the confidence to follow her advice and visit a hairdresser who specialised in hair loss solutions.

That was seven months ago and since then, albeit after a lot of setbacks and complications, my hair is finally starting to grow back and I’m working on rebuilding some of the self-confidence I lost over the last five years.

So, if any of this resonates with anyone reading this, I would say don’t follow the path I took and get help now! Although that help may be imperfect, it is out there, and confronting the problem and seeking solutions is so much more empowering than hiding away like I did.

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