Wednesday, May 8, 2013

wiggin' out. a girl with alopecia's guide to buying a wig.

know what's better than having a natural head of your own healthy hair? having a head of healthy hair that was created from the hair of strangers. well, maybe it's not better than you own hair, but it's a pretty great back up plan.

like many things in life, the experience of buying a wig will be whatever you make of it. i tried really (really) hard to look at it like the funnest, most exciting adventure i'd ever been on. it definitely wasn't, but it also wasn't the worst thing that's ever happened to me.

for me, the biggest struggle was deciding whether or not i even really needed a wig. even though i'd put down a deposit and booked an appointment for my wig to be cut, i still wasn't sure it was the right decision. i didn't actually know it was the right decision until i wore it out of the wig shop and in public for the first time. it was the best i'd felt about myself in months (and months). i definitely made the right choice.

here's what i've learned about wigs:

shop around. i'd recommend making an appointment and going for a consultation. for some reason, almost all wig websites are terrifying. don't be scared. if you're in or near toronto, here are links to the places i checked out:

if you want long hair, then european human hair is probably your best bet. human hair is much higher maintenance, but it looks (and behaves) like... human hair. it's also really expensive. my wig was $2800+tax (eek!). it was about $2800 more than i wanted to pay for a wig (or for anything, really). i'm so lucky i was in a position to even consider such a thing, and it's been worth every penny. maybe people are just being nice, but i get lots of compliments on it. people who didn't know about my struggle with alopecia just thought i'd had my hair coloured.

if $2800 is out of your budget, don't lose hope. if you have benefits, you might have coverage through work - check with your benefits plan. in canada, the government provides a tax credit for medical wigs (you just need a note from your doctor). click here to find out more. gabi's wigs had a wide variety of wigs (human and synthetic) for a range of prices. mine was one of the more expensive ones. the shorter the hair, the less expensive it will be.

bring a friend (or an entire entourage). i tried my best to not cry during my appointments, but unfortunately for everyone around me, i'm really good at crying in public. i have no shame. friends are good for moral support - unless you have crappy friends - in which case email me and i'll go with you. i'm seriarse. i'd also recommend bringing a friend (and reference photos) when it comes time to have your wig cut and coloured. the thing with wigs is that they don't grow. that's a pretty permanent (and kind of stressful) hair cut. i loved the colour of mine, so i just needed some layers and fringe added. the first cut was included in the cost of the wig, and they did a stellar job.

caring for a human hair wig, is a lot like caring for your own hair... if you were able to just remove your scalp. it's kind of like having a giant expensive doll. i brush my wig everyday. put rollers in for body. straighten it when it's actin' crazy. it's kind of awesome. the great thing about synthetic wigs is that typically they're all wash and wear, but you can't use heat to style them. human hair gives you a bit more flexibility in that sense.

as for my real hair, it's still falling out in chunks (but some of it is regrowing). i'm still waiting patiently for the growing in to catch up with the falling out.

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