Confidence Tricks


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!

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.