Monday, 27 April 2015

6 Things Not to Say to Someone Experiencing Hair Loss (and 3 Things You Definitely Should)

Me, mugging for the camera as usual.

Hi folks! I blog a lot here about tips, tricks and tutorials for women experiencing hair loss due to chemotherapy, alopecia (like me) or other reasons — but it's occurred to me that being the relative or friend of someone losing their hair can sometimes be tricky, too. Whether it's your daughter, your mother or your best friend, seeing someone you love going through a period of (often rapid) transition in which their appearance changes dramatically can be an awkward time, not least because you're not sure you're giving the right encouragement, or saying the right things. (Plus they probably seem angry and/or teary a lot of the time.) Well, as someone who lost their hair aged 19 and has had literally every line under the sun said to them at one point or another, I'm here to offer my personal take on what not to say to someone experiencing hair loss to help you avoid worrying about causing inadvertent upset or offence. Plus: a few things you can and definitely should say!

Please note: it is absolutely not my intention here to "pile on" to wonderful, supportive, well-meaning people who are sometimes tongue-tied or stuck for words around people experiencing hair loss. I wouldn't have had a bloody CLUE what to say to someone in this situation before I went through it myself. It's for that reason that I'm providing this list, because nobody else is going to tell you this stuff — and because the support you offer as a loved one is monumental.

PS. You can say anything to me now, by the way. I don't care. I'll be over here, eating pizza :)


What Not To Say To Someone Experiencing Hair Loss:

Runaway hair hare (photo: Airwolfhound / Flickr)

"I wish I could wear headscarves/wigs too!"
People who say this are so well-meaning, because they're trying to offer a positive spin on the situation. Ultimately however, it's not helpful for someone who suddenly has to wear a headscarf or wig for whatever reason to hear this from someone with hair — who actually has a choice in the matter. At the very least, it comes off insincere. Just... steer clear.

"I'm jealous: it must take you no time at all to get ready in the morning!"
See above! Someone who's just lost their hair this would gladly trade in their alleged extra half-hour in the morning for their hair back, believe me. (And for most hair-free types, the reverse is actually true: if you use make-up to recreate eyebrows and eyelashes, this takes much longer than a "normal" make-up routine, at least initially.) The best you'll get here is a strained smile.

"Ugh, I'm having such a bad hair day"
This one is so easy to blurt out, and most people wouldn't bat an eyelid at you saying this — unless they've just lost their hair. The most mundane hair comments can cut surprisingly deeply for people in the midst of hair loss. At worst, they'll just yell "at least you have hair!" at you, and then it'll be awkward turtles all round. This kind of stuff is super-easy to say without thinking, so if you do utter it, the best remedy is to apologize immediately with the words "Ugh I am a total idiot, sorry" and breeze on through like it never happened.

"It'll come back though, right?"
Otherwise known as, 'the infuriating amateur diagnosis.' (Actually, the last person who said this to me was the lady at the DMV after I submitted my request to wear my cap in my drivers license photo. I jokingly replied, "that's news to me, love!" She... did not laugh.) Yes, many folks who lose their hair do get it back. Many don't. Regardless of what's going to happen in the future, if all you want in the world at that time is for your hair to come back, hearing Dr. Unqualified telling you what they "reckon" is going to happen with your medical condition can be a bit of a kick in the pants, to say the least — even it's coming from a good place, because they think that's what you want to hear.

"My friend tried X, and it worked for her!"
Trust me, the raw, vulnerable relative or friend in front of you does not want to hear about your acquaintance who tried yoga/steroids/guano masques/snake-oil. They're already being bombarded with Google Ads about that stuff. They're almost certainly in touch with a variety of medical professionals about the best route forward. Leave your contact out of it. Unless, of course, that contact is also a scientist who's literally just announced 100% success in a peer-reviewed clinical hair loss trial of 500 subjects: then you can give them their email!

"It's only hair."
Yes, it's only hair. But to a woman who's just lost theirs, it's never "only" hair. It will be soon — but not right now. Wait til they're the ones saying this line. Then it's an awesome mantra!


...and Three Things You Can Do

Send 'em Pinspiration!

Laugh at their hair loss jokes
Using humor — often very dark humor — can feel really good for people losing their hair (or people losing anything, for that matter.) Really try to get over any awkwardness you might feel about such jokes, and laugh along with them, even if it's shocked laughter. If you feel really awkward, just say "ohhhh... you went there!" Don't leave them hanging! (Please note: do NOT attempt to make the same jokes yourself. Trust me, it will go down like a sack of you-know-what.)

Send them this Pinterest board
I made a Pinterest board of famous (and not-so-famous) women looking absolutely incredible with no hair. We live in a culture that relentlessly associates hair with femininity (and vice versa), and positive representations of women without hair can be hard to find. So there, I did it for you. Click here to see the board and send 'em the URL!

Tell them they look beautiful
...just do it. Repeatedly.



To all the fantastic friends and relatives of folks experiencing hair loss: I hope this helps! A reminder: I may not post very regularly here (EyelineHer is intended as more of a resource bank than a day-to-day blog) BUT I read every single comment you folks post here, and will do my utmost to respond to you. So if you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me a comment right here.








34 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is right on, Carly! Thank you for posting. Looking forward to checking out your Pinterest board.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading Alicia! Hope you enjoy the Pinterest board -- you look as stunning as any of the ladies I've pinned onto it, believe me xox

      Delete
  3. Hello! You don't know how relieved I am to find this! I have been ignoring my slowly creeping AA for a decade now but it has rapidly got worse this year and I need to face up to it and get something sorted asap. So I googled headscarves, found your inspirational video and then this blog. I wanted to ask where you got your black cotton cap from; it looks great. Also, at the risk of sounding weird, you carry off the look so brilliantly and beautifully. I think I have 'good bone structure' as they might say, too, so maybe I'll look good in scarves as well? Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Carley,
    Thank you so very much for your posts and videos! I have had alopecia universalis for about 8 years now, and it has been a baffling and upsetting process. I finally feel more comfortable in my own skin, and I'm thrilled to have some more practical, effective makeup tips to add to my repertoire! By the way, you are GORGEOUS! Thank you again so much. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HI Adrianna, thanks so much for this comment. "Baffling" is the perfect word! Thrilled you've found these tips helpful x

      Delete
  5. I just saw your post on Facebook today and was so struck by you that I had to come visit your blog to tell you this...you are not just beautiful, you are absolutely gorgeous. The stunning picture of you on the post moved me to say that before I even finished reading your it to see it was one of the three things I could do --- so this one is from the heart.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Carly, I came across your blog through your article via KQED. Though I have not had to deal with hair loss, I still felt moved to tell you "thank you" for turning your own challenge into such a beautiful gift for all women. I have been ill for a very long time and haven't felt "pretty" or self-confident as a result, but your blog and the resulting comments leave me humbled, inspired, and empowered. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello Carly,
    I read the NPR article and wanted to say thanks for the insight and honesty. I hadn't even thought about how much longer it might take to get ready in the morning. I have to wonder if one reason other women resound so weirdly to alopecia is that we're afraid that we will be in your shoes. When a life-altering situation happens with no apparent cause, the randomness is terribly frightening. Thank you for sharing your experience. You are a beautiful young woman.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My favorite is "It's only hair." None of those people shaved their head in solidarity when I lost my hair after chemo!

    ReplyDelete
  9. We want to start talking about the Vichy range of products to prevent hair loss called Dercos. For example we have an anti-dandruff shampoo and prevent the fall for both dry and oily hair. For a more intensive treatment we recommend Vichy Dercos Aminexil Pro Women are capsules of anti-fall intensive triple action for women suffering from hair loss minimal to moderate.
    HTTP://SATYAMHAIRTRANSPLANTINDIA.COM

    ReplyDelete
  10. I remember seeing an aquaintance after she had lost her hair due to chemo. This woman had had luxurious long honey colored hair. It was longer than her waist and very thick. Gift of the Magi comes to mind. When I saw her, she had a medium wig, in her color and a jaunty hat. I gave her my sympathies, because I knew how beautiful her hair was, even though she was still beautiful. I cried right there. She was kind to me, even though I might have not said the right thing. My own mother had always kept her hair short, and when she lost it due to chemo treatments, she was in mourning. I wish I had had this list years ago. Thank you for offering such wonderful tips and advice!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Reduce the frequency of washing and drying your hair. Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner. Avoid using hot water and hair dryers or curling irons whenever possible.
    Hair Transplant Cost in Dubai

    ReplyDelete
  12. My favorite is when people tell me I should try X diet. Ironically it's usually when they have a plate of cake or ice cream in their hands.

    Oh my goodness, Carly, what an inspiration you are!
    Alopecia is such a bummer.I miss my hair more than some of my dead relatives. A bit more bearable reading this. I have new hope for my dormant love of fashion, makeup, and all things trendy.

    You are so brave!

    -Jess

    ReplyDelete
  13. Though I have not had to deal with hair loss, I still felt moved to tell you "thank you" for turning your own challenge into such a beautiful gift for all women. I have been ill for a very long time and haven't felt "pretty" or self-confident as a result, but your blog and the resulting comments leave me humbled, inspired, and empowered. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
    Ruby

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ruby, thank you so much for your incredibly sweet note! It made me so happy to read it. I'm sorry to hear of your long-term illness, and hope that you continue to feel empowered by this community. xo

      Delete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Going crazy with eyebrows:
    https://youtu.be/WBR--qj1Xms

    Another inspiring woman
    http://www.baldisbeautiful.org

    That'll be three with you then!

    I think you ought to put your own photo on the no hair hall of fame Pinterest page,you look just as striking as the other women.I hope you like the two links I have sent you.Best wishes Elton.

    ReplyDelete
  17. First of all I need to thank you for all of your tips, you have inspired me in so many ways. I have alopecia and lost all of my hair almost 1 year ago. Fortunately I had great support which helped get through it until about a month later when I lost my eyebrows and eyelashes - this was even more devastating as They were the strongest features on my face - I couldn't recognise myself in the mirror anymore. It's taken me almost a year to come to accepting the NEW me but every now and then I still feel depressed but watching you just lifts me back up and I find my confidence again! Just wanted to let you know that you are just amazing and to keep up the great job you are doing #truelyinspirational

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy, thank you so much for this lovely message! I'm thrilled to know these tutorials have helped you. Your kind words mean so much. xo

      Delete
  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  19. thanks for this info....
    a friend is just in the process of losing her hair (chemo) and SHE said a great one the other day.... she's trying to speed the process (says she doesn't care for the fallen hair all over the place) so the other night...."she was pulling her hair out"....
    literally....
    i will never hear or say that expression again, without thinking about her...
    it was brilliant!!
    she's in amazing spirits, considering..
    xo
    e.

    ReplyDelete
  20. oh....and... your youtube tutorial "The easiest way to tie a headscarf - without knots" brought me here - and thanks for that too!!!
    xo
    e.

    ReplyDelete
  21. HI Carly I think you are great. How long does the fake eyelashes stay on?

    ReplyDelete
  22. if any individual is experiencing serious anxiety, ailment, nourishing changes, and might be of sure hormonal changes which for the most part happens in ladies amid the time of their pregnancy, pubescence, and menopause may likewise bring about a reversible sort of male pattern baldness.
    Hair Transplant Cost in Dubai

    ReplyDelete
  23. i have oily hair.please give me suggest best shampoo?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Carly, thank you. My mom is losing her hair from chemo for the first time (ovarian cancer prevention protocol), and I've never felt such an intense combination of urgency and cluelessness as I do now. What you shared was extremely helpful. Greatly appreciated!
    PS - I read another's comment about "none of my friends shaved their heads in solidarity" and I was thinking about shaving mine just for that reason. Being male, I know that still wouldn't put me on par with what she's going through, but it may still be helpful in making her feel she's not alone. Thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Corey, and thank you so much for this comment. It is SO tough being on the sidelines when someone you care for deeply is going through a tough time -- so I'm really glad this was at least a little helpful to you. As for the shaving-in-solidarity thing, I'm actually NOT sure how I feel about that gesture. The trouble with it is that your hair will grow back, whereas your mum's won't -- at least not right away -- which in many ways might make it tougher. But I know a lot of people do it, and there are lots of cancer patients who DO appreciate the gesture. My advice would be to actually ask your mum: telling her you'd love to do this in her honor and are planning on it BUT if she thinks it might be even at all tricky watching YOUR hair grow in when hers isn't, you won't. Alternatively, you could commit to keeping your buzz cut all the way through her treatment? Ultimately it's up to you and her. I wish you the very best of luck, and please don't hesitate to reach out again if you have any questions, either from you or on your mum's behalf. Love, C x

      Delete
  25. When a follicle is unhealthy for whatever reason, the hair growth cycles are suspended and the follicle stays in the Tologen phase for an indefinite period. read this

    ReplyDelete
  26. For big names and the individuals who are not famous people, wearing the style of strips front side part hair pieces for dull hued ladies is just an issue of unwinding as they are to a great degree simple to utilize, simple to take off and simple to keep up. short wigs

    ReplyDelete
  27. Your Pinterest board is such a good idea. Have you considered adding the singer Kovacs? She rocks the no-hair look. Keep up the good work :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. I enjoyed over read your blog post. Your blog have nice information,
    I got good ideas from this amazing blog.
    goldenslot
    gclub
    gclub casino

    ReplyDelete
  29. When too much DHT accumulates in the scalp, hair follicles are affected. They begin to atrophy. The hair being produced becomes smaller, weaker in structure, and lighter in color. har vokse doesn't work

    ReplyDelete