Image Source: Glamor Hair London
Wigs aren't only a great way to change up your hairstyle or hair colour. For those dealing with hair loss, wigs and hair extensions can be a life-changing boost of confidence. Hair loss and thinning affects millions of people in the UK and it can be a traumatic experience. And whilst there are multiple diagnoses and contributing factors when it comes to hair loss, the good news is that there are many solutions, too. And luckily, in terms of wigs and hair extensions specifically made for those dealing with hair loss, there are more and more specialists in the UK providing these services.
Tatiana Karelina, owner of Tatiana Karelina with salons in London, Manchester, and Los Angeles specialising in hair extensions, and Nkem Adejumo owner of Glamor Hair London in London, are two women here in the UK that on a mission to open up the conversation about hair loss, and to provide options for those experiencing it, through the help of extensions and wigs. We spoke to both of them about the life-changing power of wigs and extensions for people experiencing hair loss and thinning.
Clearing Up Some Myths Around Wigs and Hair Extension
In a conversation about wigs and hair loss, it's important we clear something up first. There is a common misconception that wigs and extensions always cause hair loss and thinning. And while, yes, they can be a contributing factor of hair loss for some people, it's absolutely not a given that they will cause damage. Hair thinning exacerbated by extensions and wigs is often because they've been applied incorrectly and not done by a fully-trained and reputable professional. There are many types of extensions, so you first have to decide with your hairstylist which is best. Next, is the actual application bit. "A lot of mistakes happen when extensions are too heavy or they're applied on a very, very tiny strand of the client's hair," Karelina told POPSUGAR. Damage can also happen when extensions are added in places where they shouldn't be. "We have a lot of baby hairs around our temples and around the nape of our neck, which is where extensions shouldn't be applied because this hair is not strong enough to hold them," she added.
When it comes to wigs, possible breakage follows a similar thought to extensions. Breakage can occur if the wig is being glued directly on the hairline rather than on the skin in front of your hairline. Damage can also happen if you try removing the wig by pulling or using force, instead of using the correct solution to dissolve the formula, Adejumo explained to POPSUGAR. She recommended that if you have fragile edges, a wig cap can protect your hairline from the lace construction of the wig. Since wigs are made from a thin breathable lace, "a lot of people wear wigs as a protective hairstyle, giving hair a rest underneath," she added. If you visit a trained professional and follow the stylist's aftercare recommendations, you won't get any damage or breakage from a wig.
"I still get heart-wrenching messages from women opening up and telling us about their hair loss journey, how they feel, and what it has done to their confidence by wearing one of our wigs," said Nkem Adejumo.
Education is incredibly important to Adejumo. Her team is trained to work with people experiencing hair loss so they can advise on the best products and services accordingly (although, this advice shouldn't be in place of a diagnosis from your GP). Communication with clients is incredibly important to Glamor Hair London and clients are encouraged to get in touch at any time if they need advice. The salon also offers discount for those experiencing any medical type of hair loss, making the services a little more accessible. Karelina also noted education being super important to her. "Aftercare and educating my clients is important; it's definitely a two-way street."
Wigs and Extensions Can Be Integral For Mental Health
For many people experiencing hair loss and thinning, extensions and wigs can be a major coping mechanism with the psychological effects that come with losing hair. "[Starting Glamor Hair London] uncovered a world I didn't know existed: women suffering from hair loss," Adejumo said.
"We're changing how someone feels while they're quite vulnerable; they leave the salon and they feel confident," said Tatiana Karelina.
"Hair loss amongst women as a whole is a very common issue. It can lead to a number of mental health problems including poor self-esteem and heightened self-consciousness to name a few. For many, [at the salon] we are one of the first points of contact for a lot of women," Adejumo added. "I used to think you had to be a certain age to suffer from hair loss and thinning, but it can affect you at any time in your life. I still get heart-wrenching messages from women opening up and telling us about their hair loss journey, how they feel, and what it has done to their confidence by wearing one of our wigs."
Salons provide more than just a place to get expertly fitted wigs and extensions. They also a safe space for people to candidly talk about their experiences to trained specialists. "We not only offer a service in which women can get their dream wig created, but we also offer that support, lending a helpful ear to a client who just wants someone to talk to," said Adejumo. "They can also meet other individuals who are also experiencing hair loss; as we often put women into contact with each other." Adejumo's aim is to create a "platform in which we can connect individuals to each other, since both loneliness and the absence of information is a big issue when it comes to hair loss, so being able to connect with someone else going through what you are helps tremendously."
Karelina experiences exactly the same in her salon, too. "When it's hair loss related or post-pregnancy hair loss, clients come over in tears," she said. "We're changing how someone feels while they're quite vulnerable; they leave the salon and they feel confident; their posture changes, they walk out completely different women."
For Glamor Hair London, it's important that their Instagram reflects this positive, life-changing aspect of the service they provide. "We always keep our Instagram quite fun, current, and informative. I wanted to embrace the positives rather than the negatives," Adejumo said. "Using my platform to bring about more awareness to the cause is my goal."
What Exactly Are the Types of Hair Extensions and Wigs Available For Hair Loss?
Your hair type, the type hair loss you're experiencing, and your lifestyle determines whether a wig or hair extensions is best suited to you. Karelina uses a mesh extensions system, "which we call a volumiser, where we basically pull through the existing hair through this very fine mesh." The mesh needs tightening every 8-10 weeks and small tears can be repaired. If cared for properly, the mesh system can last up to three years. Although it's a time consuming process, it's great if you have a particularly active lifestyle or are a keen swimmer, for example.
Hair extensions aren't a great option for everyone though. If you have very little hair or no hair at all, there's nothing to keep the mesh system in place, so a wig in this instance is the best option as it covers your entire head. Glamor Hair London offers varying wig cap constructions and can custom make wigs to specific needs to best suit each of their clients. "The biggest misconception about wigs as a whole is that people still only remember how wigs used to look many years ago — thick hairlines, very uncomfortable to wear, and very obvious," explained Adejumo. "At Glamor Hair London, we've created a modern wig for the modern woman."
If you're not sure what option is best for you, the salon will be able to guide you through the pros and cons of both to reach the best possibly outcome for your individual needs. You may also be entitled to a wig on the NHS if you meet the requirements.
How The Pandemic Has Impacted Hair Extension and Wig Services?
The pandemic has had unimaginable effects on all aspects of our lives, and stress is a huge part of this. Stress induced hair loss is known as telogen effluvium, and although it's only temporary in most cases, if you're also experiencing other types of hair loss, the telogen effluvium can make other hair loss conditions much more noticeable. We were interested if this increase in stress has caused an increase in customers visiting Glamor Hair London and Tatiana Karelina. "Yes, definitely, 100 percent," said Karelina. "COVID-19, the worries that comes with it, and loneliness has caused a lot of stress for a lot of clients," she added. Adejumo said the same. "Yes, we have had younger women contacting us due to the stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic."
Both Adejumo and Karelina hope that they can play a small part in helping people regain confidence through their services, as well as offering a safe space and community within the salon. Wigs and hair extensions not only give people the opportunity to have the hair of their dreams, but for those experiencing hair loss or thinning, they can be total a lifeline.
If you're experiencing hair loss or thinning, your first point of call should always be your GP. Your GP can diagnose your condition and provide medical advice on next steps, as well as possible treatment. Although salons can help with covering up certain types of hair loss, they aren't trained medical professionals and cannot treat any conditions.