Thursday, January 31, 2013

All Wiggy (My Experience with Wigs)

When I knew there was a good chance I could lose my hair,
I was freaking out.  I have seen many wigs over time that
look like wigs.  I was really concerned that I was going to
look not only like I was wearing a wig, but look like someone
who was dealing with cancer, wearing a wig.

Of course, there are other reasons to wear wigs, but the
fact that I was dealing with cancer made me much more
sensitive about my appearance.  I did not want to look sick.
And part of "looking sick" could also mean a bad wig.

I really didn't know what options I had.  One organization
told me they could help me only for me to find out after
valuable time had elapsed that I was not eligible.  Only
those with breast cancer were eligible for the grants they
were offering.

But during the course of investigating things I found someone
who was able to get a real hair wig funded for me.  (I wrote
about Hilda previously).  It was such a relief.

After I hurdled the initial situation, a friend had decided that
I needed more wigs.  I wasn't so sure about having a bunch
of wigs, but the idea of playing some was admittedly a bit
fun.  Since I was given money to get wigs, I decided to vary
the looks.

As a result, I got blonde, red, and brown wigs.  I got a short,
medium, and long hair wigs.  I got curly hair and straight.
I got banged looks, and looks without bangs.

I basically created a "wardrobe" of wigs.  I started to pick
out a wig in the same way that I would pick out anything
else I was going to wear.

Sounds like fun?

Well. Kinda.  I, of course, would prefer my own hair.

At the same time, I discovered that I had to be careful with
the wigs.  The longer ones tangled.  If they got wet too much
it wouldn't look right.  If I was going to open a hot oven I
best not be wearing a synthetic wig (it damages/dries/fries it.
I had heard about it happening, and then one fateful night it
happened to me).

It was good to have several wigs because wigs don't last a
long time with regular use.  Some synthetic ones could last
a month, a real hair wig, I think, 6 months if taken care of
properly.  I didn't want to have one wig that was going to
wear out.

I realized that if I wasn't going to be paying for haircuts and
coloring, I was still going to be spending money on what was
on the top of my head.  It was just going to be in a different
kind of way.

I don't know how long I will continue to wear wigs, but I
suspect it will be for a while, as I do not like the idea of having
short hair as the hair I present myself to the world with.  Once
my hair is longer, I may change my mind.  At the same time,
I kinda like the different looks, and now that people are used
to seeing me in different ways, I might just keep it up.

(Since everyone knew I was dealing with cancer, I never
felt like I had to have one look.  I had heard a few stories
of women who covered up what was happening by wearing
wigs so close to their own style that no one knew the difference.)

I learned a bit about how wigs go on, too.  At first something
that seemed like it should be so simple had me feeling like I
was all thumbs.  I learned that your hairline is approximately
4 fingers about your eyebrow.  I learned about a lace cap wig,
and I decidedly have favored Kanekalon synthetic hair.  I
read reviews on Amazon (where I got most of my wigs) and
in some cases I was glad I didn't listen to the reviews, and
in other cases, the positive reviews were a precursor to how
happy I would be with the wig.  There were a few
disappointments, too.

I looked up online what colors would be best for my complexion,
and sought those out - especially when it came to any blonde
wigs.  I had blonde hair for real once, and I was so bleached
out it wasn't funny.  (Not to mention my hair started to be like
straw from all of the coloring, but that is another story.)

Many of my synthetic wigs do not look like wigs at all.  At
least that is what people tell me.  I tend to believe them.  I
don't think that many would go out of their way to lie to me
like that, at least, I hope they wouldn't.  But even if they did,
I am OK with it, as I feel confident in the wigs I choose to wear.

The best wig I have quality-wise is without question the natural
hair wig.  And I am so grateful for Hilda's handiwork.  It
very much looks like my hair, and sits on my head without any
of the hooks of the other wigs.

I am also grateful for Hilda's instruction of turning the wig
upside down and combing with a wide comb.  She told me
to make sure to do that after every wearing to help it last longer.
I could see how not doing that would easily create problems
in no time with tangling.

A few of the wigs I even ventured to trim a bit myself.  Not
as nerve-racking as cutting my own hair, but still a bit.  After
all, I wouldn't want to waste my money.  Although a few of
my wigs were as "little" as $20, so it wouldn't have been the
worst thing, in that case.

I also used a wig cap for my hair, at first.  But once I lost a
lot of hair, and it was short, I no longer bothered.  I never
shaved my head, which from the sound of it was probably
a good thing, as some women talk about how uncomfortable
a wig is with a bald head.  Occasionally a wig will be a bit
itchy.  But it isn't too terrible.

As I am writing, I am trying to think of all of the odds and ends
of the pieces and parts of my wig journey. A learning curve was
definitely involved, and I did turn to YouTube a few times to
view a wig/wig color, or watch how to trim the lace cap.  You
might be amazed how many women educate on wigs there.

(I also turned to YouTube to learn how to do eyebrows that
looked relatively natural, as I did not want just a straight line,
as well as for eyelashes, although I did settle on a certain style
of eye makeup ultimately that I felt comfortable with, so I didn't
bother about the eyelashes.  Besides, which, I wasn't thrilled
about using the glue).

If you are ever in need of a wig, it helps to have a sense of
what style you look good in, as you can guesstimate how
a wig will look on you if you seek a style you are familiar
with.  As for me, I have found myself enjoying bangs.
Having had naturally curly hair, bangs weren't exactly
something I could do for myself without any effort.  One
day I may share with you what I was doing with my hair
prior to losing it.  You may be surprised at how simple it
was, and how healthy it was, and my hair was in the best
shape it ever had been.

In the meantime, you at least (perhaps) have a sense of things
in the wig world.  If you find it necessary to wear wigs, I am
so sorry to hear that.  I know it sucks.  It is not the same as
someone who has chosen to cut their hair, and it's not even
the same as someone who is balding or bald.  Even though
they will try to tell you they understand.

Everyone told me to shave my head.  I never did.  And I am
glad I listened to myself.  Do what you feel is best.  And if
you feel like you are more in control shaving your head, then
maybe that is the thing you need to do.

It is hard to head into the waters of chemo hair loss.  You lose
so much more than "just" your hair.  Oddly enough, I feel like
once the shock wore off, I have gained an appreciation of
having a head with very short hair.  It doesn't get in my eyes,
my face, my food.  And there is an odd sense of freedom I do
get from it.

In a few months it will be summer again, and I am wondering
how my hair will be at that point.  Apparently it takes 6 months
to get to whatever texture it is working to be.  May will be that
mark.  If hair grows 1/2 and inch each month, too, then I will
have some growth to play with.  I may have to get a haircut
and see what I can do about styling it at that point, as the heat
of the summer and wigs do not go particularly well together.

It will be nice to have that option.

Options are good.

Last but not least, here are a few links that might give you some
helpful information in your journey.  Feel free to ask questions
below, though.  If I have an answer, I will be happy to share.  If
another has an answer, I hope they will share as well.

Hilda Griffin (if you are in the Philly area)

(If it interests you, you can go back in the archives to July of last
year where you will be able to read about how I was doing as I
started to lose my hair.  I also have pictures of me and a video
that I filmed around that time.)

If you needed this info, I know it sucks.
Lots of Love to you.

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