Grateful 365 #27 – Hanging-in-There Hairs

Hair before

Since my diagnosis, my hair and I have been through a lot. I’ve been annoyed by it, missed it, hated it… Today however, I realized just how lucky I am to have what I have and am seriously impressed by the tenacity of my remaining strands!

Since the traumatic shower where I first experienced hair loss in a very big way, to the decision to be done with all my paranoia and grief and shave, I’ve kept a small patch bangs just for fun. (It would have been a mohawk if my initial alopecia hadn’t taken out clumps down the middle of my head! XD)

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I’ve since been informed that it’s actually a punk style called the “Chelsea,” and I’ve come to really enjoy the lengthy patch of bangs at the front of my chromedome.

Sure, I’ve lost a few of those initial long hairs and the patch has shrunk a bit, but I can’t help but be amazed that over halfway through my chemo, these tough little strands that remain have hung tight and stayed with me! Don’t get me wrong about the chromedome either– I really enjoy being able to switch color and style on a whim with wigs and not having a fully follicled head is pretty much the pinnacle of simplicity and ease when it comes to daily upkeep! Still, it really is comforting to have something to sweep back and brush.hairpanel

I have no idea if I’ll be able to keep this patch through the course of my treatment, and if it goes, I’ll likely miss it, but I’ve already prepared for it.

In the meantime though, I like imagining that I’ll end treatment and be able to keep rocking my rebel punk ‘do as the rest of my scalp catches up!

So thank you, my little scalp soldiers! Hang in there and carry on!

 

~all the love~

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Wig Accessory Essentials

So I’m in the process of compiling step by step photos for some of the cool things I’ve learned to do with my wigs, and am hoping to put up some DIY tutorials for fellow wig wearers out there.
In the meantime though, let’s make sure that you have everything you need.

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Wigstand#1- Wig Stand.
Unless you are really limber and very patient, a wig stand is your best bet for getting some of the more complicated hair maneuvers right. All my wig stands are open plastic models, which can make getting a feel for how the head sits tough at times. Styrofoam head models are probably the easiest to style on as they fill the wig better and give benchmarks for how the wig will sit on the head.

#2- A Comb or Wig Brush
Combs are the easiest to find anywhere and don’t need any kind of specialization to work well and avoid damage to your wig.
If you have longer wigs or find yourself dealing with snags often, a wig brush may be the way to go. I know what you’re thinking, “can’t I just use a regular brush?” Well, sure you can, but keep in mind that brushes designed for natural hair usually have a level of pliability to their bristles. This softness can catch, stretch, mangle and break synthetic wig strands quite easily.
wig_brushWig brushes usually come equipped with sparse metal bristles– not the pinnacle of comfort on a scalp, but much less likely to damage your wig in the long run.
A wig brush usually won’t cost much more than a normal brush, but if for whatever reason you feel inclined to use a ‘normal’ brush on a synthetic wig, keep in mind that stiffer, sparser bristles are better and work gently with it.

#3- Wig Cap or Cushion Band
I put this on here only because I know that for some people it’s a must. Wig caps do a good job of dealing with keeping oil and sweat from your scalp off your wig, and can really help alleviate itching and discomfort if you are dealing with scalp sensitivity. wigcushionband
Personally? I tried some and really didn’t care for them. My favorite underwig accesory is The Cushion Band found here: http://www.headcovers.com/175/cushion-band-gel-headband-grips-wigs/ . I probably need to do a review of some sort on it because as my head started to get tender, it pretty much alleviated every complaint I could have had about wearing wigs.

wigpins#4- Bobby Pins, Barrettes, and Snap Clips
Bobby pins and snap clips are especially helpful for taming wayward strands or keeping a wig looking the same way you styled it all day long. Barrettes can do the same thing, but with flare!

#5- Claw/Jaw Clips and Hairbands
Whether combing, cleaning, or styling, wig generally become easier to work with when sectioned off. For ease and minimal chance ofd breakage, alligator clips are your best bet. For long lasting hold, use hairbands the same way you would with normal hair…just not too tight!

#6- Wig Sprays, Shampoos, and the Like
wigwash4Listen, there are a ton of products out there for wig wearers, and I’m sure that a lot of them are awesome and well worth it– especially if you’re sporting a hundred dollar or more ‘do!

For me though, I’ve found that I really only need a mild, no residue shampoo like Burt’s Baby Bee to keep everything nice and neat.

Bottom line is that you shouldn’t wind up spending more on upkeep than you did on the wig– do your research, price check, and always, always look for testimonials!

Well, that’s about it for today, but I should be returning with more articles on how to style and care for the hair you wear!

Holiday Handbag Cuticle Oil by butter London is One Slick Product

ButterI’ve now received two different samples from Butter and have been pleased with both. Having already liked the first polish I received, I was all set to like whatever lay inside the second fashionably squared bottle that came in the mail.

The back label reads: “Fun memories for you, intensive nourishment for your cuticles. This cocktail of vitamin and natural oils smells great, works even better. Mineral oil free.”

So I really don’t have the foggiest idea what’s in it.

What I do know is that it certainly keeps it’s promise of a pleasing scent.

Moreover, a little of this oil goes a long way…and on more than just your nails! When I first applied it, the feeling reminded me of a dry oil spray I love…and so it occured to me that it might feel nice on my winter parched hands.

One try and I was sold- a single swipe from the nail brush applicator is enough to cover front and back of both hands without feeling greasy or leaving a lingering shine. It’s quick to absorb, smells amazing, and leaves skin feeling supple and hydrated.

My real love for this product though is it’s more…cerebral application. That is, if you happen to be sporting a chromedome this stuff quickly does away with dryness and itchiness of the scalp. A real relief if you’ve become too aware of the top of your head for one reason or another.

So there you have it- a little bottle that packs a punch and lasts forever.

The Here and There on the Hair You Wear~!

So my hair fell out. It’s still falling out (itchy, messy short hairs EVERYWHERE!!! @.@ Rrrragh!!). I’ve learned to cope, and have since assembled a mighty army of beanies, baseball caps, hoodies and wigs. Which wigs?

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Glad you asked.

You see, I’m a geek and as a geek I go to conventions. As a geek at conventions, I often indulge in dressing up like my favorite characters in an increasingly heard-of activity called cosplay. As a cosplayer, I had discovered the joys of wigs for fun. Pink, blue, green, long, short, spiked…these were wigs designed to stand out and turn heads.

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I guess next to the ears, anything looks normal~!

My two most natural, both short haired black wigs, I had always felt looked passable…but then my confidence was shattered when I overheard a friend of a friend, obviously unaware of my situation, ask his companion why I was wearing a wig. Oops. I guess they’re only natural when you’re dressed as an elf or mystic warrior.

There was my problem though: I had never, ever, worn a wig in an attempt to look like I wasn’t wearing one. I had no idea how to even start looking for what I needed. So I did some reasearch. I read all kinds of advice (which I will later try to pick through and condense into something helpful), and approached my first purchase warily.

Now I’ll be honest. I started on ebay. I had learned fancy words and thought I could use them to get something premium at a discount price. The result was…okay.

“BRAND NEW WITH TAG HIGH QUALITYJAPANESE MONOFILAMONT TOP ANDImage KENAKALON FIBERED WIG” The seller proclaimed. “WITH BANGS, LEYERED CUT. COLOR:RED AUBURN WITH HIGHLIGHTS.”

Spelling errors aside, I liked the look of it. I’d dyed my hair red for years, and was digging the idea of a wig along the same color scheme Also monofilament (even if it had been misspelled) was one of those qualities I was using as a search term. They tended to fall more naturally and look more realistic…or something.

I got the wig for $30.99 plus $3 for expedited shipping. Not too bad. Not too good. It arrived promptly, and was…unnervingly blonde. I thought it looked fake. I thought it looked garish. I was totally over reacting because it really is a great wig…it’s just jarring to see yourself in different hair. Especially when it’s a color you’re not used to.
It wore well and breathed well though, and for awhile it was my one and only choice for hair I wear via sheer necessity Gradually I got used to it though, and now I really do kind of love it…even if it’s not really red at all and has a slight synthetic feel to the strands.

EBAY Japanese Monofilament Wig:
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Pros:
Great highlights
Breathable
Very styleable
Convincing skin top
Great combination of straight hair and waves

Cons:
Slightly wiggy feel to the strands
Cap shows here and there
Loses strands easily

I’ve come to love this wig in recent days, so II guess I kinda lucked out. However, I likely won’t be repeating my ebay experiment and I’d reccommend you steer clear of that market as well. Search terms like “monofilament” or “skin top” can yield subpar or no results. Searching for name brands or certain styles might up your chances of getting something amazing (they often come with certificates of authenticity if you get fancy enough with your desires.

…buuut even then you still run the risk of getting old and damaged, barber-cut, or at worn-out wigs. There’s also less selection, and chances are that unless you really know what you want, you’ll just end up settling. If not on style, then on color. If not on color, then on length. If not on length,the on cut…. You get the picture.

So then, if ebay is out, what else is there? Well, personally I checked out a lot of sites. Cancer sites, fashion sites, charity sites, innovation through technology sites… I mean A LOT of sites. …and then I ended up using VogueWigs.com.

Why I Use VogueWigs.Com

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Why?

Well first and foremost, It’s easy to navigate. This is important. I absolutely LOVED headcovers.com, but aie-yai-yai was their navigation a nightmare. With VogueWigs.com, you can sort by hair type, length, price, brand, and a variety of other features. The front page is intuitive and log-in features a wishlist for easy reference. The site also has a fairly good selection with many brands and price ranges represented. Finally, the site has prices in line with, if not lower than, most other sites of it’s ilk. As a bonus, they often run specials, and one day, I will catch that elusive 3 for the price of 2 Forever Young wig sale they seem to only have when I’m out of money and payday’s long in the future.

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However, the BEST thing about VogueWigs.com? The absolute BEST?? Two words: Fan. Photos.

Why do I love this feature so much? Well, because we can’t all be angle-jawed, high-cheekboned, perfectly lit

mavens(not all day, every day anyways!) 

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Seeing what these wigs look like on real live human beings gives you a feel for what these magical head tribbles will look like without a pit crew of make-up artists to tend to them. Add that to the rate and comment system and you have the next best thing to trying it on yourself.

On to the products!!!

Okiedokie, so my first purchase involved two wigs from the Forever Young company. I’d actually stumbled on the site while searching for this brand as it has a good reputation for quality wigs at a low cost. I picked one mid-length wig (Always Sexy in RS30 @ $33.95) and one longer wig (Glam Rock in HL4-30 @ $37.95) in an attempt to figure out what features I liked and didn’t like in a wig.

ImageAlways Sexy Synthetic Wig by Forever Young
I recently purchased this wig in color RS30 (dark auburn with highlights), and have been very pleased with the quality I received for the price I paid.
This wig features a lot of body, great natural looking highlights, a comfortable design, and multiple wear options. The hairline and part are very convincing, and I’ve had several people compliment me on my “new hairstyle”–the best compliment ever for my current wig wearing purposes.
My only complaint is that it has a lot of body…which for someone with a head on the smaller side (like me) can make the silhouette feel a little bulbous. My favorite way to wear is tucked behind my ears– my friends have noted that this makes my ears stand out a tad strangely (again- there’s a lot of volume!), but have concluded that it gives me an elf like appearance which I’m all for. So far I’ve accomplished half pony tail with claw clip/barrette, low pony tail with elastic, and pig tails with elastic and have enjoyed the variety.
Washing and styling is a breeze, and the synthetic hair bounces right back into place after drying without much help on my part.

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Pros:
Suitable for all day wear. Breathes well and doesn’t get sweaty or hot.
Realistic part and hairline
Pleasant touch and feel to the strands
Easy to style
Easy to wash
Cut lends itself to multiple hairstyles

Cons:
SO much body on the sides that it can be a nuisance
Somewhat strange silhouette on smaller heads if worn as is
Elf ears (which I kinda like~!) when you push the hair behind your ears
Sometimes the bangs can be a nuisance in your eyes

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Glam Rock Synthetic Wig by Forever Young
I recently purchased this wig in color HL4-30 (a dark chocolate brown), and have been very pleased with the quality I received for the price I paid.

This wig is phenomenally versatile and very convincing. The skin top absolutely had one of my taller friends befuddled, and the hairline looks super natural once on. The layers around the face do a beautiful job of framing without looking fake or wiggy. The hair strands themselves soft and pleasant to the touch as well– I love to twirl strands of this one!
Glam Rock is easy to style as well and has a world of possibilities for wear. So far I love low front pigtails, clipped and flipped pony tail in back, over one shoulder low ponytail, low centered ponytail with barrette, and even a bun with chopsticks. No matter what style, the bangs and layers frame the face beautifully without getting in the way or appearing too full.
I’ve used this wig for every day wear and have yet to find it uncomfortable, itchy, heavy, or hot. For a longer wig, it breathes very well.
Washing is super easy as well- warm water, gentle shampoo, and air dry. The strands pop right back into shape and you’re fresh and ready to go!

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Pros:

Suitable for all day wear. Breathes well and doesn’t get sweaty or hot.

Realistic part and hairline
Pleasant touch and feel to the strands
Easy to style
Easy to wash
Flattering cut
Lends itself to multiple hairstyles

Cons:
None really
I absolutely love this wig!!

So those are my thoughts on wig shopping~!

No Time for Paranoia. AKA! One Less Thing to Worry About.

It’s funny how quickly things move sometimes. I fell asleep the other night, too exhausted to finish the small article I was writing on superstition and paranoia.

You see, I’d been having nightmares. Nightmares about my hair falling out. My teeth falling out. That kind of thing.

I’d started finding hair on my pillow in the morning. My head felt like it was itchying. I was getting paranoid.

I developed some rituals. 5 strokes of the hairbrush and straight into a pony tail for the rest of the day,. No touching the hair before I went to bed. No showers after the second chemo.

Basically, don’t look at the hair. Don’t think about the hair. Don’t touch the hair.

ESPECIALLY don’t touch the hair.

That’s what I was writring about. Maybe in more detail.

The night after neulasta was AWFUL. I had some oxy/acetominaphin to help get me through it though, so after an hour or so, it became tolerable and I was able to get some on/off sleep in so long as my head wasn’t involved. (And yes, that is another article because I feel it’s important. Neulasta is NO JOKE.)

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love dressing up. I love spooky stuff. I wanted to participate. I planned on taking the max dose of oxy for the celebration. Dress up. Have fun. …A shower was needed.

I will summerize the shower: traumatic shower is traumatic.Image

That dream where you run your fingers through your hair and it comes out in clumps? And doesn’t stop? THAT.

I got so overwhelmed that through the tears, I started hanging it up on the towel rack. What else could I do? It wouldn’t stop!!

It was so much like my nightmares that I have expected my grit teeth to fall out of my head too! Maybe my arms would melt away and fall off next!!

Before I continue, I’ll tangent with a short story. I gave my hair an ultimatum. We could live together if it thinned. We could live together for a long time. I might get it cut a bit shorter, I might wear it up a lot more, but we’d deal. HOWEVER. If it clumped and came out? Done deal. It was getting shaved. I knew I couldn’t deal with it. Too much. Much too much.

So yeah, I got over the shock. I got over the horror. I got annoyed. Stupid fucking hair!!! It had ONE JOB, dammit!!! ONE!!

Cool thing though, the chemo left patterns. I saw two tulips and later on a heart. Maybe even the word “hi” if I looked hard enough. It was going to be okay. The hair stuff? If anything, it just showed that the chemo was doing it’s thing. Hunting shit down. Getting cancer dead.ImageImage

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I could dig it. I could deal with it. I don’t make idle threats, so at least I knew that I wouldn’t have to deal with the awful hair on my pillow much longer.

I’m blessed with wonderful friends. My housemate has worries of her own in the cancer department that make this lymphoma of mine look like a cupcake stand. She’s also lost her mother to cancer. There are all sorts of reasons that helping me with my hair issues probably made her uncomfortable or potentially brought back memories. Still, she’s the best make-you-bald barber I’ll ever had. Through the process we smiled and laughed…she made me forget everything I was worried about or afraid of.

I can’t even express my gratitude for her in general, let alone for her help with a difficult task. I really am SO blessed.

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So now I have a new haircut…and one less trouble. :)