Have you ever heard the saying “You’re a hairy piece of change”? I’m not sure if it is an old saying about someone who’s somewhat cheeky,or if my dad made it up. But he used that expression with all of us kids when we were rather difficult and sassy.
For some reason, the saying was used on me more than any of my sibs.
I thought about that saying when I received my bloodwork back from my thyroid testing. Once again, there was nothing wrong.
But I have to come out of the closet and be upfront with everyone. During my doctor’s exam, and when I explained all the hair loss to my doctor, he asked me how long I’ve been “twirling” and “playing” with my hair. He asked me this because I was twirling and playing with my hair while we were speaking. I told him as long as I could remember.
And then there was more. Any one of my hairs that was filled with split ends; I pulled from my head and split the ends more. It gets worse. I’ve been pulling my hair out for years. I started when I was around 12 or 13. I’m 61. Do the math.
This is what happens from years of pulling and tugging hair. It doesn’t grow back! Not now. Not ever. Never! Note that the Toppik no longer works!
It is more than a horrible habit; it is an actual obsessive compulsive disorder called Trichotillomania. It is caused by anxiety and stress. On one hand, I’m lucky that I only pull the hair from my head and not my brows or lashes. On the other hand, I’ve pulled for so many years that I have permanent hair loss. Add to that thinning from menopause and I can tell you…
Anywhere you pull over and over and over again for years and years, you will do permanent damage…
This is not pretty. It is not fun. It is a disorder and I have to say I’m a bit ashamed to have kept it a secret!
I am no longer a “hairy” piece of change!
But—let’s not go into the fact that I still pull my hair. Let’s look at the solutions.
My Toppik no longer does the disguising job for me. And I’ve started wearing top pieces, or toppers and wigs. I know—I’ve written about the fake hair and hair loss before but I wasn’t 100% upfront and honest. Please don’t be mad at me for not coming clean about this sooner but it’s really difficult to admit our issues sometimes. I’m not perfect and I goofed!
So let’s talk about the fake hair items and how I’ve been changing them up. They truly are hairy pieces of change!
If you wear fake hair—for medical reasons, or fun reasons, or for any reason, you know that sometimes, you just can’t wear the hair straight outta the box. Sometimes you need a bit of equipment to help you.
You need wig clips…
Thinning shears, scissors, thread, a needle and…
Tweezers, T-pins and a styrofoam head (which has more brains than I do at times)!
Case in point: I ordered a Milan topper by Noriko from the site Brand Name Wigs. This site has GREAT prices BTW and the ordering process was quick and easy. Anyway, when I opened the box, I was shocked at how much hair was on this piece. I cut bangs into the piece but still, the bangs were thick and Milan just didn’t give me a lot of love.
The Milan. A very popular top piece by Noriko. I originally cut bangs into this piece but they were way too thick and I was afraid to cut them shorter. Bonaparte hated the way this looked–but I knew I could make it better!
But I realized that I need the coverage. So I took matters into my own hands. I purchased a pair of thinning shears. I trimmed the bangs a bit more and thinned out the piece. Let me tell you, there was a lot of hair! I thinned out some more until I liked what I saw. And now—Milan is just right for me.
I took my thinning shears and went snip, snip, snip in a downward motion the length of the bangs. I trimmed the bangs a bit more with the scissors cutting with the scissors pointing upwards..
The finished product–a far thinner bang. I also thinned the fake hair around the front and my Milan is so much better and ready be be worn!
Another wig I purchased is from Escara, a line from Bobbi Boss Wigs. The wig is the Jenika. Although I love the side swept bangs, they were way too long—so I thinned them out and cut a bang into it. I thought I would love this wig but I’m on the fence about it. Although the wig itself is incredibly airy and light, the wig just isn’t “me”.
Jenika before and after. I think perhaps if I put some makeup on the wig may look better but I’m just not feeling the love right now with this! I thought I would but this is good practice!
But—on the bright side, it’s a great wig to work with and practice on!
Here’s and example of when a mistake purchase turns out to be fine! I purchased what I thought was a front-lace closure. It kind of isn’t. It’s a weave piece. It was $29.99 which is really a great price considering all toppers are far more expensive—but compared to the price of some great wigs……
Um. What was IN the box is tons shorter than what is ON the box! I am learning the difference between a top lace closure and a weave closure!
Anyway, I thought the piece would be longer, like my uniwigs topper. But it wasn’t. Maybe 8 to 10 inches total and somewhat thin. Nevertheless, I trimmed the lace, which was more like netting, and sewed four clips into the top. Surpirse!!! It turned out to be a great little top piece to cover the worst of my spots. This is great for the warmer weather when I don’t want a lot of weight on my head. In fact, I think I’ll go back and pick up another one at some point.
I sewed four clips into this closure. Note on the upper left, there is a tiny piece of netting. That netting was all around the closure and I cut it off. Also, I’m no great hand sewer–but it doesn’t matter–these clips ain’t going anywhere!
Here’s the weave closure. It isn’t that long at all but…
It blends nicely into my bio hair. I like this. It IS on the thin side so for extra protection, I actually CAN sprinkle a bit of Toppik on me.
This weave closure is virtually undetectable! I think for a mistake, I did a good job!
Easy steps to a mistake that turned out to be a plus!
I have a wig that I loved until I cut the bangs too short. Looking on the bright side, I turned the wig into a topper. It is still a work in progress because I have to run to the store later to purchase more wig clips to sew them in. The wig is Glow Girl by Forever Young. It is a great length and wavy. I ended up cutting the bottom wefts off and now can be used as a top piece. I had to thin the hell out of the bangs that I ruined but I like the way it turned out.
I also put some makeup on to appear a bit more human! Anyway, here’s the Glow Girl wig by Forever Young that is now a topper. I did cut the bangs too short but with thinning shears I was able to rescue the look a bit. AND with turning it into a topper I can place it lower on my head, making the bangs longer. This blends nicely into my bio hair as well!
I cut the bottom weft out to open the wig up and allow it to sit as a topper. I started sewing clips into it around the edges. I’m not done!
Now I’ll show you two wigs that I am in love with and all I had to do to make them look a bit more natural was to take a tweezer and widen and lengthen the part. The first one is by Model Model and is the Jazzy wig. Model Model is an African American wig brand and the hair closest resembles my bio hair. It’s true—not all white ladies have white lady hair. It is a myth. Most of us white women don’t have perfect hair at all! We have thin hair. We have coarse hair, curly hair, frizzy hair! You name it—we got it!
The Jazzy, from Model Model wigs. I LOVE this piece. It is the closest thing to my bio hair. I’m serious when I tell you that when my hair was this length, I could NEVER get it into waves that looked this good! And….
All I had to do was tweeze a wider part into it!
Don’t be afraid to tweeze. You won’t take too much out and it’ll look more natural!
Anyway, I ordered the Jazzy from SistaWigs.com. If you have coarse hair, then by all means go check out Model Model, Freetress, Bobbi Boss wigs and Viveca Fox wigs. SistaWigs also has plenty of stock and the delivery is quick.
So…I tweezed the Jazzy and that was it. I love the waves they are incredibly natural looking and this is a comfy wig. The only other thing I did was to sew a couple of wig clips in the back to ensure a more solid fit. The combs that are sewn into the inside are also a good form of insurance to keep the wig on.
Then there is the Model Model Jota wig that I purchased at a local beauty supply store. Very similar to Jazzy, it has a looser wave—more of a lob. I did cut a bit off the front ends to give it a more blunt edge and added more of a part with the tweezers.
This is the Jota wig by Model Model. I like the looseness of the waves but I felt that it needed a more blunt edge for me. I’m happy with the end result.
I am also happy with the deep parts of the Model Model wigs. A bit of tweezing and it looks very natural!
BTW, THIS is the mess that Bonaparte never saw. He would have had a heart attack if he walked in on this mess!
You can bet your bippee that I cleaned up THAT mess in record time!!
So that’s it. Basically, that’s how I spent yesterday! I feel good about being open with my hair problem. And please don’t think I’m a liar—even though I’ve been lying to myself for years. Anxiety is something I’ve been suffering from since childhood. It was suggested to my parents by our family doctor to take me to a therapist and they completely balked and never spoke about it again. What’re you gonna do?
I’m off to Barnes and Noble in a little while to get Ina’s new book—Cooking for Jeffrey. I’m so excited I could cry!
I’ll be singing “Someone’s in The Kitchen With Ina” tonight!
Instead for now here’s some Isley Brothers—”It’s Your Thing”…and paying with fake hair is my latest thing. What’s YOUR thing????
Catherine you are fabulous! and I love this piece. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have learned more about wigging it from you than from anyone else in my thirty years wearing a wig!
Bless you! Lu
HI Lu! Thank you so much! You really learned about wigging it from me? I’m even more thrilled! Thank you again–your comment means the world!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!
Hi Catherine, nooooooo need to apologize. We all have files tucked away in the back of the drawer in the rusted cabinet. You have been very helpful in my fight with hair loss. I am almost ready to look into the wig thing. Can you go with me and hold my hand? 🙂 Thank you for your insights and advice. Xoxo.
Hi June. A big “whew” here that you don’t think I need to apologize. I was a bit wary to be so open but I had to because everyone who reads and follows the blog–I consider a friend of mine!! So I thank you my friend–and yes–I would love to go with you and hold your hand, and if I can’t, I can message you through it! XOXOXOXO!!!
Catherine, this is a very brave post and one I am sure will help a lot, a lot of women. All the styling tips and buying tips I am sure are invaluable.
Hi Bernadette. LOL–I don’t know about brave because I”m pretty wimpy–but I DO hope it helps those of us who wear helper hair or have any underlying issues. None of us are perfect. Except Mary Poppins!! Thank you!! XOXOXOXO!!!
Catherine, this is such a big concern for so many of us. You could probably start a side business guiding women through the choices that might be most appropriate for them. Many would likely benefit from all of your research. By the way, you look fantastic always and have an inner light and humor that is inspiring.
Thank you Dawn! Humor is the most important to me. And so is honesty and to tell you the truth, I feel as though a weight has been lifted from me for coming clean about my hair loss! Oh, I would LOVE to start a side business helping women but you know what? As long as my writing helps people to relate–I’ve already assisted!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!
I want to give you the biggest hug. Why oh why oh why do we women feel we have to apologise it is like our default setting – I am glad you told us as I think generally when we can finally talk about things it is a good sign that we are feeling better about something. But really, if you had asthma – would you feel guilty about having that? If you had a stutter – would you feel guilty about having that? No – so don’t feel guilty. Now, my guilty/coming clean moment – I am growing out the hair dye, the hairdresser thinks it will look fantastic (I remain to be convinced but I am curious as to what it looks like, which seems to be like a little sheep so far, she is never wrong although I think I currently look ridiculous – still hair dye will always be there waiting…) and I always said you would never prise the hair dye from me. Pfft so much for that declaration.
But truthfully Catherine – you are fabulous as you are, however you are
Juliet!! You need a gray wig while growing out the dye!!! Better yet, why didn’t your stylist recommend lowlights? A few years back the hair person I was going to “suggested” going natural and gradually doing it with lowlights. I’m surprised that you are doing this but you have my utmost support!!
But you bring up a great point–we are always apologizing by default and we should not have to. I’m feeling so much better about this post. Thank you thank you thank you and a huge hug back! XOXOXOXOXO!!!
She says if I go back in a month she will put foils in – or do anything I want. I think she wants me to seriously contemplate the changes, and truth be told I said I was happy to go with conditioning my hair and not worrying (brave words at the time – now I am contemplating knitting bobble hats, balaclavas, tammyshanters…). And seriously I have surprised myself!!!!
What a wealth of information on so many topics you are, and now we see that you’re a great hairstylist too! Beautiful!! Please don’t apologize for not disclosing ANYTHING to us, you are the most candid blogger on the planet and that’s one of the reasons I follow you. We all have our issues, but not your bravery or wonderful perspective on life, so please never change! My latest thing is to finish some painting projects so I can get my house ready for the holidays. My issue is procrastination, but it’s because I’m also a perfectionist, so it’s a crazy vicious cycle, lol.
Thank you Margaret!!! LOL. Yeah. I make it a point to be as candid as possible. Why blog about your life if you can’t be open. I don’t photoshop my feelings!!
Procrastination and perfection seem to go hand in hand lots of times! And I’m itching to get the house prepped for Christmas. I’m going over new recipes for appetizers and desserts!! XOXOXOXO!!!
Catherine I have tears in my eyes as I read this. I am right there with you on the anxiety scale. Always have been since I was a child. It gets really tiring trying to hide these things. I love to read your blog because you are so real. I don’t necessarily agree with your politics but I love the person I see in your blogs. You are so uplifting. I started WW because of you and I’m doing great. Keep doing what you do so well.
Hi Linda. Hey–there’s so much more about relating and being friends than our politics–right??? And I’m so glad that you started WW and are doing great. Isn’t it great that we can do this together!!! Thanks again. PS. I’m having a proud moment right now because this is the FIRST YEAR EVER that I had NO Halloween candy. NONE! I went outside with a huge basket to give the treats to the kids and I thanked every single one of them for helping me to keep on my diet. Lots of parents got a kick out of that!!! XOXOXOXOXOXO!!!
I stumbled upon your blog. I love Ina. Love your sense of fashion. In fact My sister, mother and I went out yesterday for luch at a country French restaurant and I thought about some of the recipes you mentioned.
Today I read your post and realized why I feel like we’re kindred spirits. I am 50 and have also dealt with all that comes with trichotillomania since I was twelve. I knew when I found your blog I could finally change my look since you could teach me about hair pieces. So glad I found you.
Hi Donna. Oh. I got Cooking for Jeffrey yesterday. I already took a screen shot of one of the recipes, sent it to Oona and she thought it would make a great side dish for Christmas. I’m starting already. Ina does no wrong!!
We were both about the same age when we started our hair issue! I’m really touched that I have been able to teach you about the hair pieces. It’s also a learning experience for me too–we are in this together girlfriend!! XOXOXOXXO!!
Catherine – I haven’t followed you for very long, but I was so thrilled when I found you and I am honored to be part of your blogging community…a kindred NY/LI spirt from way back…I am so proud of you and this post. I am humbled that you felt comfortable enough to be open about the real issues. Bless you. You’re the best. Be Kind to Yourself. You Deserve It. 🙂
Jeanne. Thank you so very much for this very touching comment. No. I’m honored to have YOU as a part of this little blog community. Thank you so much!! XOXOXOXO!!!
Your honesty is refreshing. I was impressed with your honesty about the hair loss and even more impressed with the latest post. You are beautiful inside and out. I hope to bump into you one of these days when I am out and about in Wayne and King of Prussia!!
Ohhhhhhh. Maggie! Yayuh! I DO hope we meet when out and about in Wayne or KOP too!! That would be so much fun! Hey–it pays to be honest–especially when writing about your experiences!! Thank you!!! XOXOXOXO!!!
Catherine, Your hair is styled so perfectly. I hope I can do mine to look like that. I get so anxious about ruining a hairpiece. This will be a first for me. I’ll let you know how it comes out. Thanks for adding me to your blog. thanks for showing me what to buy
Joanne. Don’t worry about ruining the hairpiece. I AM the definition of anxiety–LOL. And you just have to go with your gut and patience and take your time. You can do it!!!!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!
Hi, Catherine, Thank you for posting about Trichotillomania. I had a childhood friend who pulled out her eyelashes, but I haven’t thought about this condition since then (a L- O – N – G time!). I looked Trichotillomania up on wikipedia and found a treasure trove of information.
As a Texas Medical Board licensed Acupuncturist since 1998, I have helped patients with anxiety, and with hair loss, mainly resulting from chemotherapy and aging. Chinese herbs and acupuncture have a good record treating those conditions, and also helping balance the body back to “normal.”
An Oriental Medicine practitioner will customize an herbal formula and treatment plan based on a patient’s particular underlying causes, while also treating the symptoms resulting from the underlying causes. (For example, if a patient has dry skin, to correct that, we must find the underlying cause of that particular patient’s dry skin. It could come from Kidney Qi deficiency caused by aging, or it could come from Stomach fire caused by diet and/or emotions, or something else.
Oriental Medicine centers on getting the patient’s body back in balance, not long-term treatments or medicine regimens. Once we diagnose the cause, we can customize the herbs and the treatment that will help that particular patient, but might not help another patient with the same symptoms, but different underlying causes.)
If you decide you would like to try this, be sure to find the most experienced Chinese Medical Herbalist possible. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has a website of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine diplomates, but not all long-time acupuncturists maintain their membership once their patient load has built up. Asking around or doing a websearch for your area and checking patient reviews is advised.
Best wishes and HUGS, Carolyn
Carolyn. THANK YOU! Thank you so much on the heads up for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. I’m going to do some research and may be asking you a few questions. Thanks again!!! XOXOXOXO!!!
Your spirit and joy shine through! I’ve enjoyed following you because you seem like you could be a friend of mine..honest, open and real! Thanks for being real once again..cannot imagine it was easy to open up, but now you must feel less burdened. Please always keep that pretty smile, the glimmer in your eyes and your humorous view of everyday life! You’re a joy to follow!
Hi Aimee. Oh. Thank you! I have to tell you, I DO feel so much less burdened and like a weight has been lifted off me!! But I’m glad because I opened the door to conversation about this issue and other forms of hair loss so it’s good!! Thank you again!! XOXOXOXO!!!
You are not alone Catherine – I have it as well. I have just read the clinical description and it all fits. The impulse has slowed down recently for me through the use of binaural sound (Holosync) which I have been using now for couple of months. Holosync calms my limbic system down which is an enormous relief – I feel calm inside and I do not get into a panic as often nor as easily. This is so much better than medications with side effects. The calming down of my hair pulling impulse is a by product – it is just happening, thankfully. Thank you for speaking about this – I am not alone.
Olwyn. Wow! Isn’t it amazing that we can connect with each other even moreso when we find we have things in common? I’m interested in this Holosync–I wrote it down and am going to do some searching on the net about this. Thank you. I can’t do meds because they make me really lethargicXOXOXO!!
No need to apologize, but your revelations are a help. Happy cooking! And I have many things. Maybe too many.
Thanks KB!! I think we all have issues and it’s part of what makes us unique!! Oh..I will be happily cooking for a while. I got the new Ina book!! XOXOXOXO!!!
What an extremely talented woman you are! Your artistic gifts are evident in your writing, your cooking and baking, your artful makeup, your handwriting and sketches, your personal style in your home decor and wardrobe and now – hairdressing! That Glow Girl is now almost as fabulous and gorgeous as you are in it! You take ordinary and make it extraordinary and in doing so, show us all how it is possible to enjoy life, despite hurdles we all encounter. Sharing that there are more layers to your hair loss journey does not call for an apology – it just shows us that your journey was more difficult than we had ever imagined. And that gives us all strength – thank you so much!
No Thank YOU KewlMom for such uplifting words. You made my heart happy!!! XOXOXOXO!!
Catherine, no need to apologise. xx
You were probably hoping that, somehow, there was another reason (=a treatable underlying conditions) for your hair loss.
I’m sorry to hear your hair won’t grow back, but I know you’ll make the best of your situation – like you always have. You’re a strong, smart and beautiful woman and I’m sure your brave and honest post will help others. xx
Hi Strawberry! Yup. I was kind of hoping there WAS another reason for the loss. But, It’s fine–I did this to myself and only I can work with it and work it the best way that I can!!! Thank you!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!
Trichotillomania is such a cruel conditions. But I know you’ll make the best of it. xoxo
Holy cow, kid! What a lot of work!!! It was interesting seeing the under side of the wigs. But I have a question. My s-i-l lost her hair because of a med they put her on. She went bald as could be. I mean shiny, slippery bald. She has a couple wigs she puts on during the day, but I’ve always wondered how in the world she gets them to stay on since she has nothing to clip them to. Any ideas? (You’re a corker, Catherine! You work so hard to be so lovely! <3 )
Hi Lady Calen. Many women use wig grips that are akin to a head band but they are somewhat sticky, like a gooey plastic band. Then there are wig caps that are made of fabric that the wigs can catch onto. There is also tape and gel to hold the wigs down. I hope your sil’s hair comes back!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!
Nope. It’s been goin’ on 15 years now, and it never grew back. She was so devastated.
I think you have helped a lot of people with this post…I admire your honesty and your bravery. And, I think you look really swell in each one of your toppers. Keep on truckin’! One of these days I might venture out to see if there are any white toppers to be had.
Hi Liz. It’s not so much bravery as honesty. Oh. I think there are white toppers. Go on to the Uniwigs site. I”m sure they have gray/white. I’ll look for you!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!
What a great blog on wigs. Learned more here about them than I ever have. Thanks for the pix, too. You look great.
Hi Ann Lee! Thank you!! It really is still a learning experince for me–but I feel that it is important to embrace what has been handed to you! It’s a fun journey!!! Thank you so much–I’m touched that you are enjoying!! XOXOXOXO!!!
Hi Catherine, oh you wonderful woman. It’s so good that you can share this and great that you have that fantastic touch with the wigs – you will have helped a lot of women with your honesty, for sure. We are human and we have our issues – I get very anxious at times and am currently going through a phase of not sleeping well. Why? I think it needs a lengthy blog post to explain but I’m doing stuff to help the anxiety and will share that as well. But Catherine you are a much loved person and sharing your issues makes you even more loveable – we don’t judge – we are your friends 🙂
Hi Penny! Thank you so much. I’m glad to hear from you and even more glad to see that you aren’t judging me!!! Yeah. I am awaiting for a post from you!!!!! XOXOXOXOX!!!
You certainly don’t have to apologize for not reveal the trich. It’s your business to share or not share as you see fit! But you posting about it will help so many people. And you are so lucky to be able to wear the AA wigs, they have so much to choose from and they are so much cheaper! But they are usually too dark for me. And to be able to be crafty with them too – you are in good shape for the wig journey! I am so not crafty, but those who are can really have a lot of fun with it. I agree Milan isn’t the best on you, but Noriko uses SOOOOOOO much hair, and you need more pouf than Milan provides. And I am on the fence with Jenika too – I recently reviewed two more colors but haven’t uploaded or edited them yet. The cut is a bit too ‘Friends from the 90’s’ for me, but it’s so cheap and the fiber is really nice. 🙂