Okay, that was
a bit of a cheat on Monday - all process, no news. But it was quick and easy to write and I needed time to prepare for the arrival of a houseguest. No excuses today.
It is located in Portland, Oregon, but only a 15-minute drive from where I live in Lake Oswego so it meets my requirement of being easy to get to.
First, I gave Joseph a long speech and he was quite tolerant about it, checking out my hair as he listened: the gradual hair loss over ten years or so in two locations on my head, my solution of pinning up my long hair that covers one area but not the second balding spot just above my hairline, that both balding spots are becoming larger and more sparse.
I mentioned how much I dislike pixie cuts. I may have mentioned it twice. (Have I explained here that an additional problem with pixie cuts for me is the frequency with with they must be trimmed to look good? I don't have that much money.)
Joseph and I also discussed both wigs and going bald as a style and that either of these might be acceptable to me in the future, if necessary, but for now I want to pursue the possibility of a style that would hide the bald spots enough that I can live with it – at least for now. More drastic measures to be negotiated as required.
Together we (ahem, that would be “I”) ruled out a soft perm although that might be a solution to give the illusion of thicker hair for some people. He also asked if I object to using some hair spray which I don't.
I decided to trust Joseph and he went to work with the scissors, checking to see if I had a problem with him chopping off seven or eight inches of my hair. There was a time, when I was much younger, that whacking off so much would have been emotionally wrenching. These days I don't care.
Here is what I looked like when Joseph was finished: (sorry it's not focused better; my ancient camera was acting up).
Yes, a downside is that to get this look every day, I have to refresh my skills with a hair blower (settings on warm and low) and a large round brush similar to this one - not ideal for a woman who has become impatient with a lengthy morning ritual. But neither is losing my hair ideal although it has happened.
The biggest thing I've learned from my work on this project is that it won't get better without compromise.
And with that word in mind, here are snaps of the crown of my head before and after Joseph's work:
Actually, I don't look as bald as the “after” photo indicates. At home the same day and since then when I've washed and dried it myself, it looks much better.
No one would confuse this with the thick hair I had when I was 20 or 30 or even 40, but it works for me for now.
Getting this result also involves, in addition to the cut itself, a small amount of very light mousse applied only at my crown. As Joseph indicated, my mistake with that product or gels in the past was using a too-heavy version and a too-heavy hand. In that case, it weighs down hair and separates strands thereby showing more scalp.
Following Joseph's instructions for the mousse and the final spray – again, a light touch – keeps my hair pretty much in place. Enough so that as a week has passed now, I am no longer obsessively checking out my crown in the mirror throughout the day.
What about my forehead hairline you might ask – the other balding spot. Joseph explained how to make use of a cowlick I have in that area. (No stylist ever in my entire life mentioned cowlicks to me before.)
For the years I've been pinning up my long hair, I've brushed it straight back from my forehead. Saying, “Don't do that,” Joseph showed me how parting it at the cowlick – but only back an inch or so from my hairline – and brushing to the side camouflages that front balding spot.
Take a look (sorry for the black-and-white; those newfangled florescent light bulbs above my mirror make dreadful colors in photographs):
Pretty neat, huh.
• For women with age-related, hormonal hair loss, nothing regrows hair. Anyone who tries to sell you anything – potions, lotions, pills, treatments, diets, etc. – that regrow hair is a flimflam man (or woman).
•Surgical transplants work for only two to five percent of women. See this WebMD article for an explanation.
•Backcombing to create volume damages hair resulting in weakening and breakage.
•If you dislike the time involved in hair care, bald is the easiest “style” of all and if my hair gets too thin for Joseph's remedy to continue working, I will seriously consider it.
•Wigs and wiglets are an option. These days, synthetic hair looks terrific, is easy to care for and not expensive. In fact, it might be fun to have a whole wardrobe of different styles and different colors too, like the young people who dye their hair Crayola colors.
We could take a page from their book and make a statement that deliberately wearing false-looking hair is fun - even when you're old.
For me, full-time hats, caps and scarves are not an option (now, anyway). But they can work for many people.
As I said somewhere earlier in this series, if there were any product or treatment that reliably and efficiently regrows hair, believe me, we would know about it: whoever invented or discovered it would be too eager to make him/herself a zillionaire to keep it a secret.
I accept that I'll never have my own full head of hair again and given the decreasing funding available for medical research these days, I would rather that money be spent on curing debilitating diseases than what is, at bottom, a vanity issue.
What I deplore, however, is that within the hair profession, hardly anyone will talk about thinning hair – not industry associations nor many individual salons - and it makes me wonder if they are loathe to be associated with old women. Is it ageism that prevents them from talking about it?
But I do believe there are individual Joseph Pearces out there - men and women who have developed their skills and enjoy helping clients with a wide variety of hair problems including elder women with our thinning hair.
I wanted to be able to headline a TGB story blaring something like: A FIX FOR THINNING HAIR. I'm disappointed that I cannot. There are those other solutions above but if, like me, it seems simpler to keep working with your own hair for as long as possible, you will need to research your local stylists and salons as I did.
Yesterday's post contains some advice to help you find your own Joseph Pearce. It's not easy – I spent several weeks (not full time) searching online, reading, calling, emailing until I found this man who turned out to be the right one for me.
I am so grateful to Joseph for listening carefully and working so well with a woman whose first move was to give him a set of limitations. When/if my hair becomes too thin to wear this way, it will be Joseph to whom I'll turn to discuss the next option. I hope you can find a similarly talented person.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ross Middleton: Continuous Creation