Meet Lauren Engle, a strong woman in her thirties with a drive to empower women through her blog,Corner of Hope & Mane, that is solely focused on providing information to women with hair loss.
In her blog, Lauren shares her experiences with hair loss and her ways of hiding it, which includes her favorite and tested hair products, hairpieces, and hair accessories. CosmoBiz reached out to Lauren and asked her to share her story and techniques in hiding hair loss with us.
Lauren lives a pretty normal life with her loving husband and two sons. The only thing that’s “not-so-fab,” as she describes on her blog, is her form of hair loss, called Androgenetic Alopecia. “I’ve been dealing with noticeable hair loss since 2010–I’m sure it started before that, but my form of hair loss tends to sneak up slowly.” Lauren shares what had happened, “It was exacerbated when I got pregnant with my first son; my hormones went into overdrive and caused a huge shed that I never recovered from. That, combined with my androgenetic alopecia caused me to lose about 40% of my hair in five years’ time.”
Unable to find answers on her condition online, Lauren decided she would be the source. “A few years ago, I started my blog, Corner of Hope & Mane because I couldn’t find any information out there coming from women like me,” explained Lauren. With the lack of information online, Lauren understands how frustrating it can be with little to no information at all; “I was relatively healthy, and the seemingly only thing “wrong” with me was my hair loss. Most of the stories you find are those with medical-induced hair loss, so I wanted to spread the word that this condition exists.”
Before she started wearing wigs, Lauren had been using products that give the illusion of having thicker hair. In her blog, she posts about her experiences with hair products aimed to hide hair thinning. She shares the pros and cons of the products so that her readers can decide for themselves if the product would be effective for them. Here are a few of her favorites:
Bumble & Bumble Brownish Hair Powder. “I used Bumble & Bumble Brownish Hair Powder as a way to shade my scalp. A few spritzes on either side of my part line completely narrowed it and made it look like I had a normal head of hair.”
Boost n Blend Volumiser. “I also really like Boost n Blend, which is a sprinkle-on fiber that adds density near the root. This product is great because it doesn’t clump or settle and is made from natural ingredients. Many of my readers swear by this product!”
Joan Rivers Great Hair Day Powder. “I also use Joan Rivers Great Hair Day Powder (even to this day to help me blend in my supplemental hair), a compact-like product that I use to create the look of thicker hair around the hairline.”
Today, Lauren often wears wigs to hide her hair loss. “Concealing worked wonderfully for me for many years, but when I became pregnant with my second child, I knew my concealers would not be able to keep up with the inevitable post-partum shed. I decided that once my son was born, I’d start wearing hair…and I did. Two days post-birth, I started wearing faux hair and I’ve never looked back.” Here are a few of her current favorite wigs:
Milan by Noriko. “For many years, I wore another synthetic top piece called Milan, by Noriko. This served me well until I decided to grow my own hair longer, therefore needing a longer piece to integrate. As the Milan only comes in 12″, I made the switch to the Top Secret in 18″. In all my years wearing fake hair, not one person has ever noticed!”
Top Secret by Jon Renau. “Right now, I’m wearing and loving Top Secret, an 18″ synthetic hair topper by Jon Renau. I like to interchange this piece with a full wig in a similar style, Alessandra by Jon Renau. Both come in an amazing array of shaded and highlighted colors that look completely realistic.”
When asked about wig fiber
preference, “Right now, I’m preferring synthetic hair. It’s ready-to-go right out of the box (you might need to tweak it a bit to make it 100% yours) and always keeps its shape no matter how hot and humid it gets.”
“It only needs to be washed every two weeks, and hung upside-down
to dry. Any style that synthetic hair has is maintained, even through washing. It’s extremely low-maintenance.” But despite her preference, Lauren is currently trying out human hair fiber, “As much as I love synthetic hair, I’m getting ready to experiment with human hair — I do miss the softness that comes with real hair.”
Lauren understands that comfort in wearing a wig results to confidence, “I do have a four-step process that I talk about on my blog to keep synthetics feeling soft that works amazingly well, but there is a difference in feel between synthetic and human hair, even when brand new.”
“When choosing “helper hair”, it’s important to determine your lifestyle and overall needs,” she said when asked about the factors that go into choosing wigs. “For me, I knew having two small children and a busy career (and my blog!) I wouldn’t have a ton of time to devote to care and styling. That combined with the fact that I live in the South where it can be very hot and humid meant that I am a good candidate for a synthetic hair topper. It maintains its style and requires no fussing to make it look good, even on rainy days.”
We asked Lauren to give her tips on hiding hair loss; she said “Expect that there’s going to be some trial-and-error with hair loss concealing methods, as well as with supplemental hair. There isn’t a product out there that will work 100% with everyone, but luckily in this day and age there are countless YouTube videos (and even a few more blogs, now) to reference for tips & tricks. My favorite way to conceal is with supplemental hair. I now have better hair than my biological hair ever was.”
On the topic of hairstylists, Lauren expressed to us her not-so-positive experience. “I now live in Dallas, which has many more options when it comes to stylists, but when I started my hair-wearing journey in a smaller town it was hard to find a stylist willing to cut faux hair.” Lauren recalls how she left a message for her own stylist to cut and style her first hairpiece, but was sent a text message instead of call back saying that she refused to cut wigs and toppers and that she’d be better off finding another stylist. “I understand some stylists are hesitant to cut wigs and toppers (presumably, because they don’t grow back?) but it took a ton of courage for me to actually make that phone call to inquire, and I felt dismissed.”
Despite the ordeal, Lauren still has faith in hairstylists and is willing to find one who has experience and is confident enough to cut and style her hairpieces. “As I’m starting to look into wearing human hair, I’ll need to find a salon who has experience working with faux hair, or least one willing to give it a try.”
If there is one thing Lauren wishes is that hair stylists are more aware of the emotional toll hair loss can take on a person. She says that many women with hair loss have stories about how stylists would tell them “it’s really not that bad” or “it’ll grow back”, which can make them feel like the problem isn’t as enormous as it feels. “I’ve personally gotten past my hair loss and enjoy wearing my hairpieces, but it takes some women years to get to this point…and some never will. Those of us that have confided in friends and family about our hair loss typically get told the same thing, but we feel extra-vulnerable sitting in the chair, likely because a stylist’s eyes are inches from the problem.”
For stylists, Lauren suggests, “Rather than hear those vague statements, I’d much prefer a stylist to talk with me about what cuts/styles would work best with my hair. Suggest color treatments that might help to thicken the hair strand. Talk to me about any concealing methods you might know of. Or let me know that you see the issue often (I’m assuming you do, since reportedly close to 50% of women will experience some form of hair loss in her lifetime), and be there to listen.”
As words of encouragement, Lauren has a short message for all women with hair loss out there, “Losing hair is so rough, especially for women. It’s important to note that while it might not seem like it in your day-to-day life, there are countless women out there experiencing the same thing you are. This is part of the reason I started my blog, and the sole reason why I started a private online community where women experiencing any form of hair loss can come and talk freely. For both men and women experiencing hair loss, know this: there is a solution out there for you. Be it concealers or supplemental hair (or just plain ol’ acceptance), once you find the solution that works for you, you’ll feel a great weight lifted. I know I did!”
To check out Lauren’s blog posts on hair loss and her different methods of concealing it and to be a part of her online community, visit her website www.cornerofhopeandmane.com.