You can learn to tie scarves in clever, creative ways. Top the scarf with a dramatic hat, and it won't look like a disguise for lost hair.
Turbans are another option. Unlike hats, which tend to sit on the upper part of your head, turbans surround your entire head. And unlike scarves, they don't need tying or adjusting—you just pull them on. They also keep your head nice and warm.
Turbans may fit like a simple cloche or have a twist around the front, or they may have pleated folds of fabric such as terry cloth, jersey, or felt. They're easy to put on and take off, many are washable, and they're cheap ($5 to $100). Some come with an attached fringe of hair along the top, like bangs, but the hair may not be very good quality and may look more fake than a wig.
See the Resources section for a variety of attractive, inexpensive turbans.
When Jeannie lost her hair, she bought a supply of funky baseball caps, and wore a different one to work each day. After the first day, everyone in her office showed up in caps, wearing them until Jeannie's hair grew back.
This is your chance to be wild. Whether it's a straw boater or a tight-fitting cloche, give in to your fantasies of being a 1940s movie star and invest in a few exotic hats.
If you lose your eyebrows and eyelashes, you may want to use makeup to restore balance to your features. It's a tradition that goes back decades. Greta Garbo, for instance, shaved off her eyebrows and painted on graceful arches, which became part of her signature look.
Here are some tips:
- Start by thumbing through a good fashion magazine for possibilities.
- Practice your technique, trying out shapes you like, in front of your mirror.
- Feather in strokes along your brow with slightly different colored eyebrow pencils to get a more natural look.
- Use eyeshadow to make up for the lack of eyelashes, and try a thin pencil line over your eyelids for contrast.
- If you really miss eyelashes, try false ones. You can go very subtle or get great big batting ones like Liza Minnelli or Dolly Parton.
- Avoid permanent tattooing (micropigmentation) over your eyelid or brow area. The ink used for this procedure can contain metal-like molecules that may react within a magnetic field, making it difficult to get an MRI scan in the future.
- As your skin changes, be sure to alter your foundation and shading to complement your skin tone and wig color.
You might want to treat yourself to a full makeover. Many beauty salons have a makeup expert on staff, and sell cosmetics that you can buy after your appointment. You can also go to the makeup counter in any department store for a free session with a stylist—many ask you to buy the products they've used on you, but it may be worth your while.
“I knew my hair would come back and I was just more comfortable in a scarf. I didn't let anyone see me bald, my husband in particular. I figured he had enough to deal with and I guess I worried he'd find me unappealing. I wore beautiful scarves and earrings and made myself up, something I never normally did. It made me feel much better about myself.”
Kutluk Oktay, M.D.