October is upon us, and with that comes Breast Cancer Awareness. As we participate in 5Ks, post stories for awareness, and change our themes to pink, we forget that cancer is a battle physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally for anyone affected by it. In the beauty industry, we focus so much on making hair beautiful, luscious, and strong, but often overlook those that no longer have the ability to do that for themselves: our clients going through chemotherapy, our clients with alopecia, and our clients struggling with major hair loss for any reason that may slip through the cracks and stop booking appointments because they feel they have no place in our chairs. It’s time to change that narrative. As hair stylists, it is our responsibility to make our clients feel like the best version of themselves, regardless if she’s wearing a wig, embracing baldness, or trying to grow their hair back out.
Let’s talk about wig and womanhood, as women, our hair embodies our confidence, our identity, and our individuality. With the rise of social media, our attention has shifted to the emotional distress that hair loss causes. We see heart wrenching videos of hair coming out by the clump and families shaving heads together in solidarity of their loved ones, but what about when mom puts on her first wig and feels beautiful again for the first time? These moments are precious, but frequently overlooked in the sea of sadness, and made to be less important than they really are. The maintenance of the wig takes over, the styling becomes overwhelming, and it gets tossed to the side along with her confidence. So how can we as her stylist, her confidant, her mini therapist, guide her through her wig journey?
Simple steps like finding a wig stand to keep its shape, showing her how to gently brush it, and helping pick a shampoo that has a mild, natural scent so there’s no scalp irritation. Teach her how to style it, doing hair that isn’t on her own hair may be a whole new ballpark. A basic curl, flat ironing, maybe even a fluffy blowout. These techniques may seem trivial to you, but to her it can change everything. Having a wig that she can love and care for like her own hair may give her the strength to get out of bed, the confidence to continue living a full life through the struggles, and rebuild that self love that likely has been lost.
As she rebuilds her confidence through caring for her wig, it is so important to stress the benefit of scalp care. Hair loss as it is can be overwhelming, now imagine having to throw in another new step of your skincare routine. It’s new, it’s uncomfortable, it’s different, but it’s necessary. Show her how to give herself a stimulating scalp massage with natural oils, how to exfoliate her scalp, and how to keep her scalp clean. This may seem like it’s obvious for someone who knows a thing or two about skincare, but you can never assume what people know already.
This will be the hardest transition your client will ever endure, and there’s no saying that it won’t be overwhelming for you as well. Be gentle on yourself, even the small things you can do to help her will mean the world. Take the time to teach, learn as you go, take care of yourself, and love the ones you care about extra hard today, tomorrow, and every day.