If you’ve got alopecia, you might see it as incredibly limiting. You’re embarrassed to face the world because of tell-tale patches, you think your only hairstyle option is a carefully constructed ponytail and when it comes to fancy occasions, like a friend’s wedding, well… the stress of it can be enough to pull your remaining hair out!
But there’s another way to approach alopecia. And that’s to see it as an opportunity to reinvent yourself, again and again.
After years of trying to cover my bald patches with painful alopecia wigs and sticky extensions, unsuccessful comb-over attempts and spray-on hair, I decided to bare all instead.
It left me with more confidence – and creativity – than I’d had in years. I realised that my baldness could be a blank canvas; for me to decorate and adorn as I wished.
Nowadays, although many of my ’dos involve fancy dress, plenty serve me in my daily life as well. Yay!
This is the look that’s served me the longest, mainly because I’ve gotten such a positive response to how I style the tiny piece of hair I have left!
When I had more hair, my mohawk was a bit floppier. More like a mullet, really. It then grew (or rather, shed) into the more dramatic punk-like mohawk that I wear today. Also known as The Topknot. All you need is a single hair grip.
The funny thing is, most people nowadays think my alopecia is a style choice. (That, or I’m part of some weird cult. I have been asked this before.)
But baring my mohawk so unapologetically gives my alopecia less power. It makes me feel less ashamed; a person of interest instead of ridicule.
Don’t get me wrong – my shiny head still attracts plenty of stares and giggles. I’ve even stopped traffic, and not in a good way! But somehow this feels less embarrassing than the times when my wig would part to reveal those bald patches.
This time it’s on my terms.
My freakiness out there in the open, proud and defiant instead of adhering to what society might deem ‘normal’. And isn’t that what punk is all about?!
This one appeared right after my hair started growing back, when I’d returned from a solo trip to Bali and started using Nioxin’s hair care system. At first, the fuzz spreading out over my head resembled a spiderweb. Then, more like a map of the world. Gradually, more and more hair filled in, with the majority of it towards the front of my head.
And so, after my first ever purchase of Dax Wax (yep, I felt like a 15-year-old boy!), The Tintin was born.
I still got a few strange looks with this style. It could’ve been the patchwork patterns across the back of my head. Or maybe people kept mixing me up with their favourite cartoon boy detective.
Hard to say.
So if your bald patches are getting to you, consider going for a shorter ’do. The patches will blend in that bit better and who knows, getting rid of the brittle stuff could encourage new, healthier hair to take root!
I get asked about this one a lot. People want to know if I’m Muslim, or from India (??!!) or simply how I manage to tie it. Along with The Mohawk, it’s the style I wear most often, particularly while travelling.
Sometimes because it’s easier than having to deal with all the staring (especially if you’re on a 12-hour train journey!) But usually because I need some form of protection between my bald head and the blazing sun.
Enter the turban.
Around the time I shaved all my hair off, before that Bali trip, my thoughtful friends gave me a gorgeous silk headscarf to take on my travels. Never having been very nifty with haircare or styles (because I never had to be!), I did what any lady in my situation would do.
I took to YouTube.
There a cool lady showed me how to twist colourful African kanga material into a funky-looking turban. So I made my own attempt!
Obviously, I didn’t have a pile of hair on my head to wrap it around so the effect was a little different. But it was fun, it was colourful, it was different – and it gave me the confidence I needed to leave my wig at home when I went travelling. (The mohawk came later!)
This style is really easy to do and now that I’ve got several scarves made from lightweight bamboo material, it’s even more comfortable! So much so, that I started selling them, too.
(Note: Make sure to give your hair room to breathe with this one. Because wearing a headscarf too tightly all day can lead to major headaches. So take your turban off when you get home, or if you’re feeling brave, rock out those patches without any cover once in a while!)
I just love how simple this one is, in terms of method and results!
To work the nautical look, place a rectangular headscarf over the back part of your head and ears (with the long edge running along your hairline). Tie it in a knot at the nape of your neck, just like you would for The Turban.
But this time, instead of twisting each end ontop of your head, simply let ’em hang loose. Leave them to fall down your back or bring them over one shoulder for that ‘I’ve got Rapunzel locks’ feeling. If it’s more comfortable, retie the knot in front of your right or left ear. Whatever way you swing.
This one works best with a triangular shaped scarf, or a bandana. Again, tie your knot at the base of the neck – but this time, allow the excess material to hang over the knot instead of tucking it in. The result being that you shouldn’t see the knot at all and you’ll have a Mother Teresa vibe going on. Bless you.
Note: Of course, these are just a couple of ways to wear a headscarf… and they’re for those with more extensive alopecia. If you still have most of your hair, and want to conceal patches around your hairline, you can just wear a stretchy headband, or try The Pirate with your scarf folded, to a thickness of around 4 inches, instead. A touch of instant class!
The thing to remember is this: You do have options. In terms of colour, pattern, style and attitude. You might feel like everyone’s wondering what you’re hiding under there but in fact, people will probably just think of you as the girl with the cool headbands, if they think of you at all.
I don’t mean this in an offensive way; it’s just most of us are so busy with our own problems and insecurities that we may not notice what could be a huge deal to the next person. So try not to think about other people’s reactions – and just enjoy experimenting with different styles instead!
Ok, so I know I said I don’t rely on wigs anymore. And that’s true – in my daily life. But I am also a MASSIVE fan of Halloween, festivals and themed parties. In which case wigs are pretty handy.
Anyway, sometimes we ladies just want long hair to toss over our shoulders. Am I right?!
This is where alopecia gets exciting. It puts me in touch with my inner diva – and Lady Alopecia doesn’t play shy!
Sometimes I adorn my noggin with an assortment of headbands and feathers. Other times, like at my ‘Madhatter’s Discoball’-themed 30th, I create whatever headpiece springs to mind.
Of course, hair-bearers can wear fun wigs and headpieces, too. But having alopecia a) made me broaden my follicle horizons in the first place and b) made wearing fancy dress wigs much more comfortable!
Why? Well, you don’t have to fuss with the combs and tape of alopecia wigs (because you don’t really care whether or not the wig sits perfectly). You don’t start to roast under layers of synthetic hair because, well, you don’t have your own mop to contend with and instead of splashing out on fancy hairdressers you can fill up a whole drawer with the colourful creatures at home, ready to change your look instantly!
Silver lining, thy name is Mermaid Wig.
’Cos that’s all the hairstyles I’ve got for you today. Hopefully you’ve seen that alopecia can actually give you more options in terms of haircare.
Give these styles a try, enjoy the feedback from friends and strangers alike – and let me know if you come up with any new hairstyles for alopecia!
If you like what I’m reading, maybe you’ll like what else I’m into:
1. Yoga – Read my review of a special retreat centre on Ireland’s west coast.
2. Meditation – Learn how it can help with hair loss and happiness!
3. Nutrition – Some handy dietary tips, whether you’ve got hair or not!
4. Travel – My thoughts on how travel can affect your health.
5. Silly Stuff – Like the bald celebrities I’ve got a crush on.