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My Hair Is Falling Out And It's Embarrassing

I thought extensions were the answer, but they're not.

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Cristina Spanò
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Something fell off of my head recently and when I looked down, it was a huge lump of hair.

This has happened before when I’ve been super stressed. My hair starts falling out in clumps and before I can say ‘Rogaine,’ I have big bald spots. While this isn't the worst look in a pandemic when people are alone and in quarantine, it’s not great for Zoom meetings online or taking photos on social media.

I found a solution when I was looking for a hairdresser to deal with damaged hair for my mother, who died of cancer. I had hair extensions glued onto my head. Now, instead of see-through holes, there was glorious hair. I was elated.

Eventually, though, what I found was — while a wonderful temporary solution — hair extensions are not perfect. They are small tufts of natural-looking hair that are taped and glued to your scalp. You can swim in them, brush or comb them, and blow dry them. They may look okay (they match your hair color perfectly), but they never feel as great as a real head of hair. Also, if anyone touches your hair, they can feel the tape.

It’s a little embarrassing and not sexy. Even though the extensions work and no one has ever asked me if I’m wearing them, I wanted to explore more options.

Holly Novacich is a hair stylist who is also an expert in women who experience hair loss due to illness, stress, or male pattern baldness. She recommends the topper (formerly the toupee in the ‘50s) made of human hair for those flirting with baldness. It also can work for those who are temporarily experiencing hair loss.

“A lot of women lose their hair because of stress or illness and it grows back,” Novacich says.

I do have the topper, but it’s not human hair and looks like a shiny, plastic wig. I showed it to my niece, and she gave it a vigorous thumbs-down. With such a recommendation, I never wore it and it cost me $400. Luckily, there are now a lot less expensive toppers with much better-looking hair. I have a friend who has one glued on because she is as bald as Mr. Clean and it looks great. I would never have known if she didn’t tell me.

Along with my extensions, I have been taking hair vitamins and using dandruff shampoo with its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties on my scalp. If dandruff or yeast is causing your hair loss, this may work.  I’m doing it anyway because I am balding and have scalp itch. It’s also one of the least expensive hair loss solutions. I have tried Rogaine and it can work too, but only while you use it, which can mean lots of bottles that are $50-plus.

My local spa has platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections through which your own blood is injected into your scalp. It seems scary and costly. A dermatologist shoots the PRP into your bald spots and it is said to promote cell growth and prolong the growing phase of your hair.

Angelo David, of the Angelo David Salon in New York City, says he’s seen the PRP injections work, but he says he’s seen a lot of things work for hair loss.

“I fit the solution to the customer and I’ve got clients coming in from all over the world,” David says. “The other day a woman left crying because she felt like herself again.”

He recommends couture wigs, but I recently found a product called Toppix, which uses fibers to cover and blend in bald spots. I use it along with my glued-in hair extensions and no one has ever commented that my hair is thinning or doesn’t look right.

There are other treatments like laser light therapy, which is said to help scalp inflammation. But still, I long for the days when I had real hair I could toss around. That may never happen again, but in fairness, I really don’t have the body I used to either. So, there’s that.

Hair extensions last about three months and cost upwards of $100. When I take my extensions out, I’ll know if any hair has filled in on my scalp as it has in the past. For myself, I’m hoping my hair loss this time is also from stress and that it will one day grow back. If not, I’m going couture topper.

As always, discuss any treatments with your doctor first.