Frequently Asked Questions about alopecia (part 5)

SHOULD I SHAVE MY HEAD?

“I was a red-head and now I am only red-headed when I forget the sun screen.”

“...when the hair started falling out much more rapidly, I think I had the hairdo of all Three Stooges...”

“I'm starting to feel like one of the crowd out here. Everyone has shaved their head - I'm not even noticed in public anymore. It's a bit of a disappointment, as I was getting used to being noticed in a crowd. People who I would meet at a dinner with could always find my table. Now, everyone seems to have shaved their head.”

“My wife gave me an earring and talked me into getting my ear pierced! I think the earring kind of sends the message, "No, I'm not on chemo."”

“A wig is not an answer to my dreams.”

“...having just shaved my head has really made me notice how hair keeps the heat in. Even with my cap on the wind whistles round my head.”

It is easy to see how somebody suffering from alopecia areata may be obsessed with hair. Losing hair is like losing an appendage- what little hair you have, you hold on to. You become embodied with the disease and partake in self-deprecating daily rituals. You look at yourself in the mirror many times every day. You count and check to see how many patches are present, or rather, showing. You check daily for evidence of hair regrowth or count every morning the "road-kill" in your pillow. People then measure time in before alopecia areata and after alopecia areata timescale. Aaaaaagh! This attitude promotes a negative self-image. It is a heavy burden on anybody's shoulders and people can easily get tired of this routine.

There comes a time when you have to make a decision- do I shave my head or wear a wig? This is a tough choice. It takes a lot of courage to go "au naturel". People usually try to blend in and avoid being conspicuous. It may be a highly emotional choice especially for women. When young, a shaved head may be considered avant garde. Later on, at 40 or 50, an Uncle Fester look is no longer looked upon kindly. After all, alopecia is the ultimate bad hair day!

The decision to shave may also be just as emotionally upsetting for males. One of our participants remembered how on her initial visit to her physician, he commented, "...some men even lose their beards and moustaches". This comment shocked her and she promptly walked out. How dare he compare her hair loss with that of a man?... After all couldn't they just shave their scalps and moustaches? Since then she realized how selfish her thoughts were. Nowadays it may be easier for a female to wear a wig, and use brow pencil and eyeliner for lack of eyelashes. A lot of men do not feel comfortable doing this. Maybe it has something to do with "real men don't eat quiche" or "vanity, thy name is ME". However, you have to remember that a receeding hairline (male pattern baldness) is not the same as AA. Having a receeding hairline or even no hair doesn't compare to having no eyebrows or eyelashes. The former may be "normal" or even stylish, while the latter may be taken as wierd, freakish, or draws stares. The total absence of eyebrows and lashes is what prompts people to look twice and thereby take away your anonymity. Overall, I think it is important not to quantify who has it worse in any arena. Each person's experience is important. It minimizes others when we say it's harder for one group than for others.

Wearing a wig is not a "natural" alternative for some men. The maintenance effort to keep the edges "soft" enough to blend at the edges and look real are prohibitive, especially with an active lifestyle. Men envy women's seeming ability to wear wigs so well. The only hope for men is turning the clock back to late 60's/early 70's when long hair could hide the hairlines (remember the Brady Bunch?)

Some information regarding wigs is provided in other parts of this document. In here we concentrate on issues pertaining to shaving the head. If you decide after reading the document to go wigless, it is advisable to plan a day trip where you can visit a new spot (where you won't see any acquaintances) and see how it feels. If it's warm enough, why not try this? The most important point, is that regardless of your decision you should never avoid the fact that you have alopecia areata. Sometimes admitting to other people that you are wearing a wig is the first best step towards going bare.

Why should you even consider shaving your head? Partial regrowth sometimes results in unsightly hair. One of our friends described herself as having a calico type of look- maybe she can audition for CATS. An unnatural look is also promoted for those whose hair color stand in contrast to their scalp. Brown stubs against a shiny white scalp may for example resemble a tattoo over your head. Some patients believe that changes in color and texture of your hair combined with the patchy growth makes you look like astro-turf that went through a food processor. Sometimes hair regrowth is very white, or thin, or even curly. The stubs may also promote itching and discomfort when wearing a wig or a cap. In California, for example, where the summers are hot, wearing a wig can be quite uncomfortable. These are all considerations in favor of shaving your head.

For some people shaving allows them to be themselves, even living life to the fullest. Looking back the big lesson is: It's a lot easier BEING bald than GOING bald. (Note: We prefer using the term hairless). Especially in the big cities, people may see this as an unusual but accepted fashion statement. It is an attempt to focus your values. Remember, it is your personality that is important, not your hair. This may sound simplistic, but it really makes life a lot easier. After all, you can use it to your advantage! People remember you! In professional life this can be a big plus. An actor may get more attention because producers find he looks different. In going for a job interview, people will listen to you beyond the usual 10 second byte.

Some lessons about shaving your head can be gained from some folks that are being treated for cancer. These people also experience hair loss due to chemotherapy. One of our friends said that the worst thing about it was the waiting, going to bed at night with a full head of hair and then waking up bald the next morning. She and some of her support group friends also hated how they first looked because it reinforced their image of being "sickly." This was especially true for those whose hair fell out in bits and parts rather than in one go. To them, they felt that they looked "mangy."

It seemed to her that it might be a good idea to shave your head when it becomes clear that all or most of it is going to fall out. There are good reasons for doing so.

First, there is a feeling of control. You can't stop your hair from falling out, but you can control when and how much. This is a bigger deal than it sounds. Most, not all, of the bald men and women I have known have stated that they preferred having a totally bald head rather than having a clump of hair here, a clump there. Shaving gave them a more acceptable body image. For those who were open about how they looked, as far as others knowing or seeing them without hair, a "styled" bald head was more readily acceptible and approved of by their friends and associates.

For those of you who are thinking about a suction wig, I understand that a totally bald or almost totally bald head is a requirement for them to really work properly. If you are not this bald but want to wear one of those wigs, then you may have to shave your head.

By shaving your head, you also have some control over the grieving process. In this sense cancer treatment patients bear a similar plight to that of patients with alopecia areta. Cancer treatment can cause temporary alopecia as well as changes in hair texture and pigmentation, It's the sudden alteration of hair quantity that many sufferers consider as the most traumatic side effect of therapy as it affects body image, causing anxiety and other emotional problems. Also the hair loss is a constant reminder to the patient of the disease. One woman in a cancer support group concurred with this. She said that the first thing she did when she was told about the side affects of chemotherapy was to go and get a wig and have it properly styled and fitted in advance. Once her wig was ready, she shaved her head the same day because she refused to be victimized by the cancer any more than she had to. She did it, she said, because even though she knew she would cry that first night, she also knew that she wouldn't after that. She would still get sad about losing her hair, particularly during those first few days when the people in her life found out, but she was also free from the anxiety of "keeping a death vigil over her hair" as she put it.

On a more humorous note, some positive aspects on shaving include:

Other reasons were summarized by one of our members:

On the other hand, there are negative aspects to shaving your head. For many people this is a long term commitment. Looks may vary depending on whether you have a well-shaped skull. Some people may believe that you have cancer or at least that you are receiving chemotherapy. Who knows, maybe they admire the way you are going about your life. If you are lucky maybe they will start bringing casseroles to your home. Also immediately after shaving your scalp may stand in contrast to the rest of your skin, the white skull look. You may try tanning it for a while (can a trip to Key West be deducted from the income tax as a medical expense?), just be careful if you are photosensitive. In any case, shaving is certainly a difficult decision, especially for women.

Truly supportive parents accept their son's/daughter's decision. In some cases they physically help by shaving the head. In other cases a barber may do a better and more professional job. If you are going at it alone, tackle any long hair strands with scissors or clippers. It's easier to shave after the hair has been cut with sizzors as short as it can go, or buzzed of with electric clippers. A bear groomer/electric razor can also be used to make the hair even shorter so the razor doesn't have to do all the work. Trying to shave off hair when it's more then 1/2 inch long is not only difficult, but time consuming!Invest in a men's electric razor- one with several floating heads to adjust to all the contours. You do not need any shaving cream, you will never cut yourself (ouch!), and the whole process should take only a few minutes. If you get cut, use a tiny drop of vitamin E oil on the cut (it heals super quickly).

The problem with dry shaving is that the heads of the razor need frequent cleaning because they get clogged with dead skin cells and skin oil. If this happens just institute a routine of cleaning the razor frequently with the small brush that comes along with it. Be forwarned that an electric razor won't be able to cut as closely as a razor blade, thus hair regrowth will be noticeable during the day. Also, not using a shaving cream as a lubricant tends to irritate the skin. Do not use dry shaving in the underams or pubic areas. If you decide on using an electric razor remember not to use it in the shower. Otherwise, those using disposable blades find the shower the best time to shave.

Warm/hot water is best when shaving in the shower. You get a closer, smoother shave because the warmth of the water will make the skin contract and expose more of the hair shaft. The hair will be cut slightly below normal skin level. Great news for those of us with dark hair and translucent skin who have to fight five o'clock shadow at 11:45 in the morning!

In wet shaving use the thickest possible shaving cream (it offers more protection). The razor should be new. The Bic twin blade with teflon for tough beards razor is pretty awsome. We have just found this one and it works really well, right down to a nice handle on it for control, and the least hassle and money.

To avoid a "pulling sensation" when the razor goes to work. You can condition the head and scalp first which helps the razor, or just apply the shave gel, lots of it, and lather up. The shaving has to be done twice, the first time very slowly in one direction, the second time in every direction just to remove the shadow from the pre existing hair roots. Use very short strokes when shaving.

The shaving cream will soften the hairs and lubricate the skin thus reducing razor drag. Leave the shaving cream in contact with the skin for at least 4 minutes before attempting shaving. This precaution will diminish razor burn and prolong the life of the blade.

Among the creams/gels used for shaving Mennen Rapid Shave Tough Beards GEL works the best, second is Softsense shave gel for women. The gels work better than the cream.

OUR LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH WIGS

Note: See also under Other Problems the section on Wigs (part 6 of FAQ).

“I changed from a longer wig to a shorter wig and the dog didn't recognize me! She barked at me like I was a stranger! Sheesh! (I thought dogs went more by the 'smell'!)”

“I still get upset when people close to me lovingly tell me how good I look in my wig - even better than when I had my own hair and beard. That really helps my self-esteem (sarcasm intended - what does that say about me during the previous 20 years?).”

“...Why would you wear a hat and a wig? I would think that it would be extremely hot to wear both. I know because I went to a strict Catholic wedding this summer and we were supposed to "cover our heads" (ha! little did they know that my head was already covered). So I put on a hat, but then took it off mid-service because I was dying from the heat. Oh well, I'm not Catholic anyway.”

“Hey has anybody ever fried their hair (synthetic)? Idiot me got near a fire I had built at a cookout and totally fried my bangs. They've never recovered, and this is my current wig! I've fried two others, one leaning to close to an oven, and one on a lightbulb I didn't realize got turned on.”

“Did you ever hear how Dolly Parton once responded to a question asking her what she felt about "dumb blonde" jokes? She answered that they didn't bother her at all because she knew she was not dumb -- and she also knew she wasn't blonde!”

“Ok, that's it! I think it's time for us to start a 12 Step recovery program for wig abusers.

“‘Hi, I'm so and so and I abuse wigs.’

“All together now: ‘Hi so and so!’

“I have a true confession to make. I also abuse hair pieces. I

  1. Forget I am wearing one and open the oven without using caution
  2. Wash with Baby shampoo on occasion
  3. Never use a form/always just throw it off wherever and hope I can find it the next time I want it (usually with the care keys/if I can find them!)
  4. Upon occasion, have found my kids wearing/playing with it, actually fighting over it!
  5. Take my scissors to it

“I sure do feel relieved now! Let me clarify now, that I am not that bad a person. I do pay attention to my wig and never leave it by itself for very long. We complement each other and go many places together (until it is retired to the box under the bathroom sink and replaced by another). So.....is this abuse? Am I co-dependent?”

In many cases, hair loss occurs to such a degree that it causes considerable attention. Probably the easiest choice to blend in with the crowd is to wear a wig. You may admire people who bare it all, but otherwise, for the sake of appearance, choose to wear a wig. This is not denial. It is simply a way of doing what is necessary for them to continue having as normal a life as possible. For older patients, there may not be a choice. Their self-image may already be tarnished- they do not consider themselves young and beautiful.

In some cases the decision to wear or not wear a wig has to be made by parents. It is very understandable why parents might encourage a child to wear a wig. Could it stop a child's emotional pain, or the teasing from other children? Parents are only human and they might have their misdirected guilt relieved by the child's wig use. Often it might push the parents into a temporary denial. Certainly, it would be more comfortable to have a child who would look normal. On the other hand the wig can help a child feel more normal, restore self-image, and relieve taunting from others. It seems that all choices are difficult.

Consider the following story from one of our members:

“I've had alopecia all of my life and have worn wigs for as long as I can remember (I am 25 now). I think if I could go back in time I would have chosen not to wear wigs at such an early age - my first memories are around 4 years old. It was such a hassle and I can remember tumbling in pre school and my wig falling off. If I was a parent dealing with a child with alopecia I would encourage the child to do whatever he or she feels comfortable with. I think it is healthy for a child to go without a wig and to show to others that it is not something you need to hide or ignore. Because I've hidden my alopecia under a wig for so long I've gotten defensive about the subject when people question me. I really don't know how to answer questions honestly and I try to avoid the subject. Part of me doesn't want people to know that I have alopecia because I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me or treat me differently than anyone else. The few times that I have shared my condition with people other than my family I would get responses like "It's really windy out today - I thought I should let you know" or if I wanted to hold a baby I'd hear "He pulls hair" like I don't think of these things myself or that it really matters. I've built a wall and I don't know how to break free. I envy everyone who can express themselves to others and share their experiences with those who don't have alopecia.”

If you decide to wear a wig, consider it another article of clothing. Don't let it become your Zen master. You may not have any desire to go without it in public but on the other hand you are not less of a person for using one. Some people get complimented on their hair (wig). Try using a wig before you go completely bald, it will help you adjust psychologically.

Wearing a wig may be an easy choice for some people because their particular health insurance pays for a portion of the expense in buying the hair prosthesis. Sometimes, you may need a threatening letter to them from your lawyer for the health insurance company to pay their portion. A useful piece of ammunition in this regard is a 6 page document (called the White Paper) with support claims by Dermatologists. This can be obtained through the NAAF (415)456-4644 or it can be downloaded from our home page at http://npntserver.mcg.edu/alopecia.html then click on information and services. When submitting the claim make sure to include a prescription from your Dermatologist (more information below).

Some wigs may be hot and unvented (however many users say they get used to it). Wigs, especially the better ones, may be quite expensive (we are talking thousands of dollars). These wigs usually work with a suction cup as a means of attachment. Basically they are hair inserted in hard plastic from skin-tight molds made of your head. The "suction" part comes from the way you get it on and off from your head. To get it on, you have to push down on it and "burp" the air out. Once on it is difficult for anything to get it off. People even use them to go swimming. One of our friends has used this type of wig while parasailing, and now she is considering skydiving!! The only way to get them off is to lift up a corner and let air back in, releasing the suction. Better yet, if you suffer a rude remark, the cap may allow you to use the wig as a deadly Frisbee. Otherwise, if you can't afford a pet, place your wig on you lap and pet it. The cap will give it some body and you will obtain a few laughs.

Older suction wigs, dating some 18 years ago, were made of hard plastic (fiberglass) that felt like a helmet and just as uncomfortable. The base was stiff but did the job. A few years later the bases were made of a flexible plastic that was slightly more pliable but still on the stiff side. Fortunately many of the modern suction wigs are made with a soft rubber base (polyurethane or medical grade silicon) and may last a few years. All of the above bases have two things in common, they create a vacuum fit which provides security and they are hypoallergenic. The rubber base can be scrunched into a ball if needed. It doesn't sit on the dresser in the same way it sits on your head. In fact, until it is put on your head, it doesn't have much shape. After a few years they can be repaired for hair loss. They can be styled at the local beauty shop or at home. Maintenance may be limited to washing it once per week with regular shampoo and conditioner. Some of the distributors may be able to provide you with more information. A good name to start with would be Debbie Fuller, from "Fuller Hair", (603)835-6753 or Maria Posa at Hair Compliments in Strongsville, Ohio (216)238-9779. Other people buy from catalogues (Paula Young, The Wig Company, etc.). The telephone number for Wigs International in Connecticut is (603) 835-6753. You will find more phone and web contacts later on in this discussion.

When buying a vacuum (suction) wig the commercial hair place will do a mold of your head with plaster and send it to the manufacturer. A model based on the mold comes back in about 4-6 weeks. Either you or the commercial fitting place may be disatisfied with the product. Further measurements may be made and the mold is sent back again. In another 4-6 weeks, the mold comes back and this time only minor corrections may be needed. The point is that a well trained person who INSISTS on a second and/or third fitting of the mold is absolutely mandatory. Without this, the fit may not be as perfect as it should be.

Synthetic wigs are inexpensive, they may be only a couple of hundred dollars. Unfortunately, they only last from two to six months. With age the fibers become dull and tattered looking. Some companies make a spray which adds luster to the dulled pieces. You can't color the plastic fibers of synthetic wigs, because the dyes are unable to penentrate the surface of the synthetic fiber. Some of the wigs clip to your hair (if you have any left) others use velcro or elastic bands. Usually plastic fibers are sewn to an elastic band in a circular manner creating a shape that fits on the head. With wear the elastic band often relaxes leaving you defenseless. You can re attach elastic band if at all handy with a needle and thread. Double sided tape does not work unless the wig has a patch area for the tape to stick to. Velcro offers certain problems of its own, like headaches. Some people find it useful to stop using the rear velcro attachments (for a tighter fit) in the first month or so until the others are stretched to their size.

You can buy human hair wigs or synthetic hair wigs but never buy blends of both. Human hair wigs can tolerate heat and processing which the synthetic ones can't. One reason to own the more expensive human hair wigs is so that you can curl it, perm it, or color it. Synthetics can't tolerate these procedures. A benefit to synthetics, however, is that they are permanently styled- when you wash them, the style comes back automatically. When you wash human hair you restyle it. Never buy blends because you loose the benefit of both. The blend wig won't resist heat or processing and you will have to restyle often.

Velcro tabs can sometimes have you in tears by the end of the day if you don't wear a wig cap beneath the wig. The wig caps in turn are so constricting that a person can develop horrible headaches after several hours. One of our members has found relief from her headaches by making her own wig caps using a pantyhose. Cut the legs off, turn the pant part inside out and tie the leg holes together. Turn the panty part right side out again and you have a cap with a soft, wide elastic band. It is much more comfortable, and you can keep several on hand and make new ones as needed. Wash the caps often, since these absorbed the most perspiration.

Another attachment method is double sided sticky tape. One side sticks to your head and the other to a small piece of plastic sewn into the wig. Think of a band-aid. What a band-aid won't stick to, neither will the wig tape. It can't stick to something unless it is smooth, even, and free from dust or lint. The plastic is also extremely flexible, so it is very comfortable. If you want to try this method with your present wig, you can find some plasticized fabric in a craft store and sew it yourself, or bring it to a wig place and have it converted to tape. The method is not expensive. A roll of double-sided tape costs about $6.00. You cut for use about five small, one inch pieces each day, and the roll lasts about 2 months. I understand that there are all sorts of double-sided tape. Some even come with pre-cut pieces contoured to match the hairline of a wig. Many people find the rolls more convinient, although they do cary some precut pieces in their purses- just in case. The tape that you apply in the morning lasts all day.

You may experience itching at the base of the wig. I suggest that you wear 100% cotton fiber on your head and stay away fom the nylon for heat reasons. You can use a man's hankerchif or cotton scarf. If all else fails buy material it from the fabric store and sew it yourself. Try to match the color of your hair so that it is not obvious when the wind blows and the wefts show. Some of our members always use a scarf when wearing synthetic wigs. Another member suggested wearing baby stocking caps to prevent itching when you don't want any bulk. They proved to be not tight at all. Along with scarves they were the only things that did not give her a headache. She recommended making sure they had a poly component to provide for extra stretch. They cover the crown and come down about an inch or less above the hairline all around the head. That is perfect because they never show under a wig. The edges have a tendency to curl up and roll and might eventually scrunch up and fall off. However, when you place a wig on top, they are held firmly in place and never move. They can be recommended for very tender scalps plus they absorb perspiration. The best ones are those actually found at the hospital.

On buying wigs

Wigs really need to be cut by a person who has been trained to style wigs--it makes all the difference in the world. They need to be thinned, and shaped, and a stylist can also take them in to fit even better than the way they come. Take one of your photographs, before hair loss, to the stylist/wig salesman. The photograph will help select a wig that is appropriate in style and color to your natural hair.

You can not judge color of wigs well in a catalog, it is best to see the hair samples in person and blend it through your own hair to see what looks the most like your own. The better wigs are blends of a few different colors, because that's what real hair is like--it is not exactly all uniform. Wavy wigs have been permed to be wavy, so you don't need to continuously curl them, unless you want it curlier than you have it. Obviously, if you're looking at a wig for $250, it is synthetic. You must be careful in how you style synthetic wigs--they can't be treated with heat because synthetic hair is flammable. So, going to a stylist is really the best, because they can instruct you well in how to get the same look they originally styled for you.

Here are some wig catalog addresses and 800 numbers taken directly from our bathroom library. Just remember that those great pieces you see on the catalogues have already been cut and styled to accomodate the model's features. When you take the wig out of the box it may look nothing like the picture:

TWC (The Wig Company)
P.O. Box 12950
Pittsburgh, PA 15241-0950
1-800-444-1788

[Most modern, pretty, affordable wigs for me...no, I don't have stock in the place but I have never had a problem with returning them a wig if I was not happy. Their sales representative can be very kind and helpful to the hairless wonder.]

Beauty Trends (A Revlon Company)
P.O. Box 9323
Hialeah, FL  33014-9323
1-800-777-7772

[Carries a new line of Dolly Parton Brand Wigs, slightly higher prices, real youthful stuff, lots of variety too.]

Paul Young, Inc.
P.O. Box 483
Brockton, MA  02403
1-800-343-9695
PYWIGS!CUSTSERV@ATTMAIL.COM

[Great prices, tends to be shorter wigs though, has a "Celebrity Secrets" Line with a false real looking scalp at the "part". They also have some of the more conservative, shorter styles of wigs, 24 hours/day operators, give coupons, close-out sales, and offer a line of credit to valued customers.]

You can also obtain a lot of helpful information, advice, and custom made wigs from Peggy Knight solutions. Peggy is an alopecia areata patient herself who has helped many of the participants of our list server. Her toll-free is (800) 997-7753 and her FAX (415) 331-8839. You can each her via email at info@peggyknight.com. Lovely lady. She may not want this to be known but Peggy is also the founder of a non-profit organization called Locks of Love. Its mission is to provide wigs to children who are suffering from alopecia. Each year, several children receive a vacuum or suction wig with human hair at no cost.

To their shame, no wig catalog I have seen yet serves children adequately. There are no major companies addressing the needs for hair replacement of Afro-Americans. Someone out there can make a business for themselves. There is a small store in Morristown, New Jersey that specializes in wigs for Afro-Americans. It is called Beauty Charm International and the proprietor is Mr. Jim Broome. The address is 88 Speedwell Avenue, Morristown, NJ 07960, phone (201)285-0801. Other possible sources for Afro-Americans include Especially Yours at Dept. B4007, P.O. Box 105, S. Easton, MA 02375 and Designer Collections P.O. Box 4067, South Hackensack, New Jersey, 07606-4067 tel. 1-800-248-2482. I have not purchased any wigs from the following companies, so I can't coment on the quality of the wig or the service; Suzette Charles (1-800-662-9447) and Afro World Hair Co. (1-800-228-9424). You may also want to check the back of magazines such as Essence, Ebony, Black Hair, etc. for wig ads.

If you need any more information try looking under the yellow pages of phone books for wig parlors or ask local hair salons if they know of a local "Beauty Supply" business. Be forewarned that any company having the name "boutique" on it is usually WAY too expensive.

Other companies that offer wig and hair pieces:

American Hairlines
1808 Jerome Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11235
Edith Imre
8 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10024
Hairware U.S.A
455 east South Temple
Salt Lake City, Ut 84110
1-800-453-5682
Jacques Darcel
50 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
Jacquelyn wigs
Jacquelyn Consumer Division
15 W. 37th Street
New York, NY 10018
1-800-272-2424
FAX 212-302-0991
web site: Jacquelyn Wigs
Louis Feder
14 East 38th Street
New York, NY 10016
Knight and Day Hair Products
P.O. Box 849
Corte Madera, CA 94925
Top Priority
174 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Wigs By Hanna
239 E. 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212)308-0551
Wilshire Wigs
13213 Saticyo Street
Holywood, CA 91605

The computer literate may also try Wig Outlet (voted a hot WEB site by WEBSIGHT Magazine) or Peggy Knight Solutions. Additional web sites include:

Some people have had luck with Paris Boutique, which is based in Atlantic City, NJ. They seem to be professional and accommodating. Their website is: WigSalon.com Remember that the color that you order based on computer photographs may not necessarily be representative and therefore inadequate for your complexion.

Oöna has some swimming caps designed to look like they have hair underneath and some interesting baseball caps with attached ponytails which seem to be great for exercising. Remember if you have the whoopee cushion problem while wearing one of those speedo things on your head, smear some baby oil on the scalp before putting the swimming cap on.

A place to order toupe tape/hair piece adhesives: Hair Odyssey.

Another website with adhesive strips: www.josephparis.com.

A double sided tape called TOPSTICK is made by Vapon, Inc., in West Caldwell, NJ 07006. It costs about 6-8 dollars for a box of 50 1X3 strips. This works great and is much better than some of the rolls of toupe tape that are available in the market. With this stuff your hair ain't goin nowhere!

nd as as already mentioned in the previous paragraphs, Jacquelin Wigs.

By specific states

In MA try Carla Corsini 1-800-229-1234. From W. Palm Beach, Florida try New Images 1-800-359-4247. In MD try Versacchi (Sherrie Miller) (410)654-4401. Other telephone numbers for the Northeast include Medical Image Collection 1-800-997-7753 and JoJo Concepts (516)681-3030. In Texas you can try Olivers at 1-214-826-0060 or New Fashion Wigs (in Dallas) at 1-214-522-3611. In the Midwest try Hair Response at 1-847-870-9799. New Hair Technology is based in NY and they sell soft vacuum wigs (1-800-434-4552).Two great places with privacy, taste and discretion are Bitz-and-Pieces, 226 Columbus Ave. NYC 10023 which can be reached at (212)787-3941 and Serges at 953 E. Sahara Ave., A-2 Las Vegas, NV 89104 at 1-800-947-9447.

Some members of our list server have worked with Toni Clark through her shop Alternatives 2000 in Sutter, CA. So far she's been great. Very patient and she knows her stuff and she is straight with you. There are so many "sales people" that do not know anything or lead you into ordering a unsuitable wig that finding a professional salesperson is refreshing.

In Illinois some of our members have bought wigs from Frank Giranda Salon in Naperville and the Merle Norman shop in downtown Wheaton. The gal who worked in Naperville is Karla and she specializes in wigs. Karla only has a limited number of wigs which she orders and trims. Persoanlly Karla wears extensions. The gal who owns the Merle Norman store is named Ruth and she has a lot of synthetic wigs in her store. She isn't an alopecian, but loves to wear wigs!

Another great resource is GTHT (Gone Today Hair Tomorrow) in Woodridge on Hobson Road near Hway 53. The owner is Dawn Pope and she has a small patch of AA and she attends the local NAAF Support Meetings. She specializes in partial pieces as well as full prostheses (both synthetic and human hair). Her full prosthetics run about $600.

One additional note: usually custom fitting entails having a plastic cap put on your head. The cap is taped all over thus forming the base of the wig. Once the cap is taped the hairline is drawn around the edges and the cap is cut out. This is not a simple procedure or one that can be done at home and then mail order a customized wig.

Some care tips for wigs

Gently wash your wig with Baby Shampoo or Kerasilk every two to three weeks. Some people have also used Woolite, followed by a soaking in Downy fabric softener. The fabric softener makes the fiber manageable and masks the polyester smell typical of synthetics. Scrubbing is generally not necessary, but soaking will losen dirt at the base. Only "the crown part which can get pretty soiled may need to be "scrubbed". Cream rinse can be used to do away with fly away hair. A good soaking will losen the dirt at the base. Use cool water when washing or soaking. Rinse away all traces of shampoo and conditioner, or else it'll dull the wig and attract more dirt. Gently wring it out or even better blot it with a towel. Take it in the shower and shake it. Wrap it in a towel to get most of the moisture out. Turn it inside out so the cap will dry quickly. If you decide on blow drying your wig, do it while wearing it on your head. To give some luster to what a call a "dying wig": Use Revlon's spray wig revitalizing conditioner. A little bit goes a long way and it has a nice fragrance to it. When you are not wearing it, it helps to keep the wig on a wig head. If your head is small, get a child-size wig head so that you don't strech out the mesh base unnecessarily.

Some don'ts about wigs

Probably the worse thing that can happen with wigs is becoming overly dependent on them. In some cases this may even turn itself into paranoia. "I won't go out if the wind is blowing". "An accident may happen and cause it to fall". "Do they know it is a wig?". "Are they staring at my wig?" An automatic response is to think the wig is crooked, the hair is standing up weird, or any other of the catastrophes you see in slap-stick comedy or sitcoms. Sometimes you may not enjoy a pleasant outing because you are wondering who is looking at you. I have a friend who always sat at restaurants with the least number of people behind her and also stood sideways at the grocery line for the same reason. An elementary scool teacher refused to sit on the floor because of the great fear somebody would pull her wig off.

Never attempt curling a wig with rollers, or exposing them to steam (e.g., while cooking) as heat may damage them. Getting synthetic (plastic) fibers close to heat will cause them to "frizz". They can also be damaged by chlorine, sea salt, etc. Never brush, pick, or comb a wet wig, it will lose its curl.

Further advise by an expert, Ms. Peggy Knight, from Medical Image Consultant:

Shampooing human hair hairpieces

Your hairpiece should be washed at least once every 7-10 days. Salon products formulated for permed or colored hair will be the best for your hairpiece as they are more gentle. Harsh shampoos, which often contain paraffin (wax), can cause the hair to be dry and brittle, resulting in loss of resilience, shine and hair breakage at the base.

Before washing your hairpiece, all tangles should be brushed out. Using a wide-tooth comb or vent brush, start brushing one inch from the end releasing the tangles and work your way up the shaft of the hairpiece, one section at a time.

Net based human hair hairpieces should be attached to a wig block before washing to avoid the backing up of hair into the base.

Using tepid or lukewarm water (never hot), place the hairpiece under the faucet and let the stream of water run through the hair gently in the direction the hair flows. Once thoroughly saturated, using your hands and fingers, apply a capful of conditioning shampoo. Do not rub or scrub the hair. Run your fingers down the hair shaft toward the ends of the hair. Rinse thoroughly and repeat if necessary.

When washing the hairpiece, always clean the inside base with a small amount of anti bacterial soap. The inside should be cleaned daily with this soap to prevent the body oils from accumulating.

Conditioning the hair

There are no natural oils coming from the "scalp" to keep the hair lubricated and in good condition. So, to avoid having the hair become brittle and breaking, always shampoo and condition once a week, every week.

Using your hands and fingers, apply a capful of deep conditioner. Run your fingers down the hair shaft toward the ends of the hair. Once the hair is thoroughly coated, use a wide-tooth comb, start at the ends and comb the conditioner through the hair thoroughly. Allow the conditioner to remain on the hair for at least 15 minutes (do not leave on the hair overnight as this may cause irreversible damage to the rooting systems).

Next, place the hairpiece under the faucet and rinse thoroughly with warm water making sure the water is running in the down direction. Do not rub or scrub the hair. Repeat this a second time, making sure the hairpiece is void of all remaining conditioner. Conditioner left on the hair will cause a dulling effect and can weigh down the hair.

Place the wet hairpiece on a dry towel and blot. Use a wide-tooth comb and starting from the bottom up, comb out all tangles. Do not rub or scrub the hair. Allow to air dry for the most natural look.

Use only good salon products, which are formulated for color processed or permed hair. Use "leave in" spray conditioners sparingly to avoid heavy dull hair. Conditioners formulated for colored or permed hair tend to be more gentle.

Initial styling

Ususe only licensed stylist for all salon services. Do not attempt cutting, perming or coloring on your own. You should be conservative with the first cut and expect to return for a second or even third.

It is recommended you visit your stylist every 6 weeks for care of your hairpiece. This will help keep you "up-to-date" and looking and feeling your best.

Color loss or oxidation caused by exposure to sun is normal, but must be monitored and maintained by your stylist on a regular basis. Frequent deep conditioning treatments will insure longer life and a more luxuriant look.

Home styling

Styling can be done on or off the head, but best results are usually obtained by final air-drying and styling on the head, to ensure the most natural look around the front hairlines and at the nape.

Use a water spray bottle to dampen the hair lightly before restyling your hair in the morning. If you have gel or mousse on the hair, this will reactivate it without the need for a second application.

{Back in the 60's when women wore those huge bee hives hairdo's they used to "rat" their hair. You hold the hair out, take a metal comb with fairly small tines and comb back towards the scalp. It makes it kind of "ratty" but it gives it body. When you first get a wig it may need that backcombing to make it have enough hair to stand up. Then, you use the little straight tines of your comb (there is a special wig comb that comes as a regular type comb on one end and straight out long tines at the other end) to "pick" through the hair so that it has a wispy look. You don't want the "every hair perfect in its place look" because it looks so fake. At the wig shop, they put the wig on a form (usually styrofoam) with pins and then they rat it before they style it. Hairspray for wigs helps.}

Cautions

Do not use the "hot" setting on a hair dryer, or damage to the hair may occur. Steam rollers may be used without dammage. Allowing your hair to air dry overnight with only minor use of a dryer will add months to the useful life. By avoiding curling irons you prevent drying and breakage of the hair.

Sleeping in your hairpiece on a regular basis is not advisable. Wear and tear caused by rubbing the head on against the pillow will drastically reduce the life of the hairpiece.

Watch out for the sun as the UV rays will bleach out the natural hair color. Do not let the color fade too far. As soon as you notice any change, consult your stylist. A hat is advisable for prolonged exposure to the sun.

Always shampoo and deep condition after swimming with the hairpiece in salt water or chlorinated pools. The combination of chlorine and sunlight will cause premature color loss.

Do not attempt any home-style perms, bleaches or permanent coloring. Use only the services of an experienced professional stylist, as mistakes such as perm "lines", frizzing or coloring misadventures will not grow out.

Do not wait too long before sending your hairpiece in for repair. Waiting will only accelerate the speed of hair loss.

Net human hairpieces can be secured by tightening the elastic bands in the back. You can also use double sided tape at the temple, attach the tape where the area is smooth as the tape will not stick to the netting. Be sure to rotate the tape to avoid a skin reaction.

To avoid the smell and itching cover the head with a thin scarf made of 100% cotton. This liner is cool, comfortable and can be cleaned each day giving life to your hairpiece. Use material which matches your hair color when wearing a machine made (wefted) human hair hairpiece to prevent a white scalp from showing when it is windy.

HOW DO I GO ABOUT FILING FOR INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR MY WIG?

The following is a recommended procedure to follow in order to get insurance coverage for a hairpiece. You can argue that a hairpiece is a prosthetic device to be covered by any insurance policy. PLEASE look at your policy carefully to see if there is a loophole so that you too can claim your hair piece as a prosthetic device. This procedure proved successful in a health claim for a suction type of wig. This type of wig was specifically designed for that person's head, justifying the argument that it is a prosthetic device. The information to gather is divided into three sections. The first will help you focus on the step to follow during your initial telephone inquiries. The second section details some practical hints if you need to vigorously pursue your claim in a letter campaign. The last section will help you in terms of the appeals process.

INFORMATION TO GATHER

First Section

If you don't already have one, request an "Evidence of Coverage" (EOC) book from your insurer. This is your insurance policy. It spells out what is and is not covered in detail. Don't let them tell you that you need to get it from your Human Resource Department (HR) (which won't have it). Providing evidence of coverage is not your HR dept's job. It is the insurer's job. If you still cannot get an EOC book sent to you, then go to your HR dept benefits person and let them know that the insurer is not cooperating with your request.

After reviewing your EOC (often wigs are under Durable Medical Equipment), if it appears that your insurer may cover wigs for alopecia, call them to confirm. If your phone contact is unsure, ask to speak with a supervisor or the claims department directly. If the supervisor or claims dept can't give you a definite answer, ask to speak with a case reviewer (many insurance companies employ registered nurses to review large/complex med bills). What ever you do, don't take "I don't know" as the final answer. Don't accept "get it and then we'll decide." Also, don't assume that a pre-auth number will guarantee payment.

If you get a "yes" answer, get a detailed list of the exact procedures you need to go through in order for the claim to be paid. Follow these procedures to the letter. There may be restrictions on where you can go, how much they'll cover depending on the cost of the wig (e.g., over $1000 on durable medical equipment generally requires special authorizations). Don't be afraid to ask for as much clarification as you may need in order to understand the exact process.

Rather than submitting your claim (or if your wig shop does this) to a random address, call the Claims Department. Get a contact who actually pays the bills. Fax the bill directly to this person's attention. If something happens and the claim is denied, talk directly to this person. Often claims are kicked out because of improper coding....not because the claim itself was rejected. If it turns out the claim is really rejected, request an APPEAL. Get your doctor's office involved in the appeal.

Document, document, document. Get the name and phone number of every person you talk with.

The key to success is 3 P's....Persistance, Patience, and Politeness. The claims handling job is tough and miserable. Your attitude with these folks really does make a difference in how your claim is handled.

Second Section (for when submitting writen documentation)

In some cases an insurance company will no longer cover physician visits related to AA or a wig. That *is* an outrage. I wonder what these companies do with women who have had a mastectomy due to breast cancer, or even worst, had a double mastectomy. Would the company say sorry, we won't pay for reconstructive surgery because we consider breasts to only be a cosmetic concern, therefore not necessary. I would think that women put as much, if not more importance on their hair than on their breasts, and since mostly all insurance companies cover reconstructive surgery after mastectomy due to the emotional health of the women, I would think that treatment and prosthesis for alopecia on a women should be treated with equal concern for a women's emotional health. A woman's loss of hair is as frightening as losing a breast, and can be just as scaring and emotionally devastating as well. It is ironic that cancer patients have an easier time than us filing for insurance considering that they are going to recover their hair whenever they stop the chemotherapy.

Third Section (fighting to the end/the appeals process)

An article from News Cronicle 7/22/98 Wausau, WI titled Insurance must pay for woman's wig goes as follows:

“A women who suffers a disease that causes her to lose all body hair won a legal fight on Tuesday to have an insurance company pay for a hairpiece her doctor prescribed.

“North Central Health Protection Plan contended the $980 hairpiece for Jill Winnega was cosmetic rather than "medically necessary," but a state appeals court disagreed. Her family doctor prescribed a wig or a cranial prosthesis, saying it would eliminate the anxiety Winnega experienced over her hair loss.”

It pays to fight, "one" may open the door for many!

Prepare for denial, especially the first time around. If you need further help hire an attorney. Tell your insurance company, in no uncertain terms, that you expect and demand that they provide you within 5 business days of their receipt of your correspondence the policy section and/or paragraph that specifically excludes coverage for a prosthesis for the autoimmune condtion of alopecia universalis. You may find, though, that your insurance company only covers things it lists. Translation- if alopecia areata is not listed it is not covered. To fight insurance companies like this the key word is education. For the purpose of this discussion I'm assuming that you live in the United States. If so, there are two frightening words to mention to your insurance company: INSURANCE COMMISSIONER (or your state's Department of Insurance). Every state has one. Sometimes you can even complain online. For Illlinois would be www.state.il.us/INS. It's the one thing insurance companies fear -action taken by an insurance commissioner can result in an insurance company no longer being able to do business in that state. Every complaint is hand-tracked to ensure proper and timely response (usually within 15 days). If the insurance company denies the claim, they are still required to state why to the Department of Insurance and to the insured. This process may or may not get you the response you deserve, but I'm willing to bet that you will get a legitimate look if previous attempts had simply dismissed you as a whiner. Please don't use the Insurance Commisioner to fight any insurance decision not in your favor. Make sure you have all the ducks in a row before you take on a crrier. You can bet that your carrier will be ready to fight back!

Some of our members have used these dreaded words (Insurance Commissioner) in the past to their insurance companies and it has worked like a charm. You call them up and ask to speak to a supervisor. Review the situation to date with the supervisor. Then you say, "If this situation is not rectified immediately my next call will be to the Insurance Commissioner." Then stand back and watch them sputter and resolve the problem for you. If you don't feel assertive enough to do this, a good attorney's letter citing codes they're breaking, threatening to contact the Insurance Commissioner *and* mentioning punitive damages for stress should resolve this situation forevermore.

Although it is true that the words "Insurance Commissioner" will get the attention of an insurance company that is providing the policy, in this day and age of high medical premiums, many large companies are now self-insured. Meaning that the insurance company is only a "benefits administrator". Self-insured means that the Insurance Commissioner will not have jurisdiction over the policy so this threat is meaningless in this situation. What this means is that your employer has the ultimate decision making responsibility. The benefits administrator takes responsibility only for processing the claims. They also make the initial decision regarding how to apply benefits, probably review appeals and approve or deny as well. But if pushed, the employer (or whatever structured body the employer has designated to handle the self insured plan) is responsible for appeals or exceptions to the plan.

Managed Care complicates this further as the claim must follow a specific path that is structured to deny or approve claims at the lowest possible level. Getting the claim to move beyond the lowest possible level is difficult but important. It may require the assistance of the employers human resource department. Follow up, persistance, documentation and the willingness to involve whomever it takes will probably eventually get a claim paid through a self insured company.

I am including here a letter that can be used as a template for the appeals process:

Dear Committee Members:

I am appealing, to the Committee, the decision of (Name) not to allow coverage for cranial prostheses for me. I received the denial in an August 20, 1997 letter. I understand, from Mr. Meyer, that prosthesis for Alopecia Universalis (AU) are not currently allowed because: "The issue is that Alopecia Universalis is currently not a condition the Plan allows reimbursement for." Over the years, I have visited a dermatologist for my Alopecia Universalis and my son and daughter have also visited dermatologists for treatment and have had prescriptions prescribed and filled for their Alopecia Areata. These visits and medicines have been covered by the (Plan Name) in effect at the time of the visits. Since these visits have been covered/reimbursed in the past, there must be recognition of alopecia as a medical condition.

I have Alopecia Universalis (AU) in which I have lost 99% of hair on my body. I have absolutely no hair on my head, so a wig, for me, is not a cosmetic necessity, but a medical and psychological one.

Though there is no specific coverage for a prosthesis for AU, (Plan Name) covers the cost of prostheses for the replacement of missing limbs; hands, legs, arms, eyes and for cranial prostheses for those people who are, unfortunately, faced with hair loss due to cancer treatments. A hairpiece of the kind worn by someone with Alopecia Areata, Alopecia Totalis or Alopecia Universalis (AA/AT/AU) is encompassed within the policy's term "prosthetic appliance." The word prosthesis is defined as "an artificial device to replace a missing part of the body." Because a cranial prosthesis comes within the definition of prosthetic device and reimbursement is made for claims involving hairpieces needed for baldness caused by chemotherapy or radiation treatments, coverage should also be made for baldness caused by Alopecia. Coverage should be particularly made since expenses for this condition (AA/AT/AU) have been covered by the Plan in the past. I feel that this policy discriminates against those who suffer from AA/AT/AU. It is estimated that 4.5 million Americans suffer from alopecia.

I am, again, requesting that (Plan Name) cover my past (summer 1995, summer 1996), current and future purchases of cranial prostheses. Please read all of the materials I sent with my original request. I am enclosing an article which appeared in the August 13, 1997 issue of People Magazine. This article is about a woman with AU. Her pictures show what a person with AU looks like.

I hope the letter works. One of the problems with reimbursement is that each state is treated under state rather than federal laws. Each of our senators and representatives may have no control over what is covered under our health insurance companies. This is done through our State Representatives and Senators. There have been a number of states under the guidance of NAAF (National Alopecia Areata Foundation) members who have had a Representative or Senator sponsor a bill to provide coverage for a hairpiece prosthesis. New Hampshire is one such a state where legislation was passed. Minnesota, Mass.,Conn., NY., NJ., and others have either sponsored bills or have initiated the process.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WITH FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNTS THROUGH YOUR EMPLOYER, YOU MAY WANT TO PAY ATTENTION TO THIS: If you get a "prescription" for a wig from a doctor, then wigs are eligible for medical expense deduction and, therefore, flexible spending reimbursements. It is not the company that pays for this, it is you. First you have to sign up for the benefit. Then your employer holds out extra money from your pay checks. After you have a claim (any medical claim) you submit it for reimbursement (out of the money you had held from you check). What this does is - you are not taxed for the money you have in this "fund". So basicaly, you are saving approx. 30% on all these medical claims. There is a ceiling on how much per year you have withheld. There is a similar plan for childcare. It is lots of paper work - but you may end up saving money.

WIG ALTERNATIVES

HATS

“By the way, what's up with Captain Crunch? Why are his eyebrows on his hat?!?!? So now we know who else wanted the double stick tape - Cap'n Crunch!!!!!!!”

The following lists some great hat sources. The first one is Nordstrom Deptartment Store in downtown Seattle. They carry a special selection of soft, wonderful, handmade hats designed for chemo patients. They are ideal for sleeping and wearing around the house. They are handmade by a lady named Judy Stewart (her name is hand stitched inside each hat). They are cotton jersey fabric, have no elastic to bind and be uncomfortable, however, they are adjustable by drawstring. You can wear them everyday - sometimes even under other hats because they are so soft and comfy. They retail for $23.00 each and come in an assortment of solid colors. There are many Nordstrom's Department stores and if one doesn't have them, they cold acquire your selection from another of their stores.

The second source requires travelling in the northwest, but I will mention it in case any one has Victoria Island on their travel itinerary anytime in the future (if not, you should visit - it is beautiful). It is a charming island filled with British ambience, European flair, and tons of wonderful little boutiques and shops. While rambling through these great little haunts, I discovered the BEST hat store I have ever been in. It is called Roberta's Hats. She has every kind of hat you could imagine and most are made by individuals or small cottage industries - thus very unique. There are some great wool felt and polar fleece hats that are embellished with antique lace and ribbons and vintage buttons. She had all fabric choices - corduroy's, cottons, wools, fleeces, velvets, etc. They were all very reasonably priced. The average prices were $18.00 for nice basic hats to $40.00 for fancy ones. It is worth the trip. The owner is Roberta herself and she could not be friendlier!

Okay, the third and probably BEST source for us alopecians is accessible to all via "1-800" phone number!!!!! I can hear the cheers out there now......:) This, I think is a Godsend to all of us. While one of our participants was at the hospital she meandered over to the cancer and chemo area. There she found the catalog of her dreams.........It is a catalog of absolutely darling, fashionable, comfortable, reasonably priced hats designed specifically for people with no hair!!!!!! Here is an example - they have an ingenious, baseball cap with no openings that covers your ears, sides, upper neck and looks so cute --- well, you just have to see it! Anyway, the catalogue is titled "TLC" (Tender Loving Care) and is owned by the American Cancer Society. It states it is a "patient service publication" designed to bring essential products at the lowest possible cost to make these difficult times a little easier. The hats range from velvets to denims to flannels to jerseys -- from dress up to everyday to sleeping hats. So, now what you have all been waiting for.............the phone number: 1-800-850-9445. Incidentally the TLC catalogue also includes bangs that you may attach to hats with velcro (see also Compliments).

If I sound a little enthusiastic, it is because the above mentioned products for alopecians are great. You may tell your family about the catalog and tell them to do their Christmas shopping for you from that catalog.

A vendor that recently participated in the NAAF conference is Hat & Hair. You can contact them by phone at (626) 355-1546 (mon - fri, 9 to 5 pacific s.time) Fax at (626) 355-1546. Snail mail

Robin Spurs Accessories
130 . Montecito Ave. #130
Sierra Madre,  CA   91024

The hats are stylish and comfortable. They have velcro attachments so bangs or bottoms may be added. But if you dont, they are still fine and the velcro does not get in the way. I bought 2 hats and one bottom to interchange.

MEHNDI (HENNA) (TATTOOS FROM INDIA)

Henna (also known as Mehndi in the Indian sub-continent) is used in bridal make up on hands and feet, and by those people whose hair are greying (as a substitute to hair dyes). It is a natural product - extracted from a plant (herbal dye). Henna is also used as a temporary tattoo. The herb is used to create patterns that when dry crack leaving a stain behind for several weeks. It's become quite popular in New York City. Usually Indian town markets have the product, not be in the form of a paint, but a powder, which you will have to mix in water, and apply its thick paste on your eyebrows/scalp and keep it on for at least a couple of hours to get maximal absorption. You must not disturb the paste after it has been applied for the next couple of hours.

A Mendhi artist usually charges about $20 per session. There are also home kits for Mendhi available through fashion magazines. There are two different types of kits. One has press on designs and the other has a stencil with a brush. If you are worried about hair growing back on the tattoo, don't worry, apparently the tattoo won't stop hair regrowth. Also, keep in mind that the absorbed chemical smells a little funny.

You can buy Henna powder from Frontier Natural Products Co-op. They carry a long list of brand names. Henna is made by Rainbow Research Corporation, toll-free (800) 722-9595. You may be able to get it direct from them.

MISCELLANEOUS

An alternative to wigs include wearing cotton scarves. They work better than silk scarves which tend to slip off rather easily. Sweat bands may be improvised from a bandana (99 cents at our local crafts store) or a terrycloth headband. They work great during excersise to keep the wig on. One of our participants wore Triangle scarves with a padded front and an elastic banded cap of the same fabric under the flap. She found a wonderful lady in Onamia, MN that sold these at an Art fair for about $6.00 a piece and over the years she has owned over a hundred of these in all different fabrics and patterns. You may also try

SCARF SHAPER HEADWEAR
P.O. Box 652
Old Greenwich CT 06870
Telephone: (203) 637-9906
Fax: (203) 637-1031.