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Tears welled in her eyes as she gently touched her hair and recognized her reflection in the mirror again.
It’s been almost 20 years since she has seen her inherited, long raven-hued locks. Since the day Michelle suffered a savage attack at the hands of her ex-husband, who slowly burned all the hair off her head.
Her husband also denied her immediate medical attention, instead locking Michelle inside the house for days while she was suffering from serious scalp burns.
Michelle (her name has been changed by the News to protect her identity) found the strength and courage to leave her extremely controlling husband but was left with permanent reminders of that abusive relationship.
“I used to have really beautiful hair,” she says.
The small amount of Michelle’s hair that grew back did so finely and in patches. There is visible scar tissue on her scalp.
Still, Michelle says, “I’m very lucky.”
In the decades since, Michelle has searched for hair replacement options: weaves, wigs, extensions, taping. It’s been an unpleasant trial and error hair journey to this point, one that Michelle says she could write a book about.
Her previous hairpieces screamed fake, says Michelle, and weren’t very functional.
She found places that would just sell the wigs, without giving customers a chance to really see what they were committing to wearing every day. One time Michelle went to a salon and observed everyone in the salon staring at her.
“It was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I’ve ever had for my confidence,” she says. “They are all staring at your scars. It’s a place of beauty.”
Eight months ago fate intervened when Michelle was walking past The Dye Lot hair salon in Lower Lonsdale and spotted a private room dedicated to wig fitting.
Michelle met Dye Lot co-owner Christina Thomson, who helped develop the salon’s Wig Room for clients who are dealing with hair loss.
The Dye Lot has three specialists trained in wig fitting. There are synthetic and human hair options depending on how much clients want to spend or what purpose the hair pieces will serve.
Rows of wig-coiffed mannequin heads in a variety of styles line the perimeter of the Wig Room, a brightly lit, welcoming space at the side of the salon. A bouquet of cheerful fresh flowers sits by the long mirror at the fitting station furnished with a comfortable chair.
Michelle was fitted with a topper, not a full wig but a custom-made hairpiece that clips on top of her crown to mask the hair loss and marries naturally with her remaining hair.
Thomson then went in and added wefts of hair, making Michelle’s mane look really full and long.
Before Michelle wore the wig home that day, Thomson coloured and cut it to complement her client’s features.
And talk about low-maintenance hair. Michelle hasn’t had to wash her wig for a month and it looks like a fresh salon blowout with bouncy curls.
“My God, I felt pretty,” says Michelle of that first glimpse in the mirror. “I have never felt pretty like I have since I was 18. I got a lot of my confidence back because of the Wig Room.”
Having a custom-made wig has made a world of difference for Michelle.
“For the first time this year since I was 18 years old I was able to go on a vacation and not be worried about my hair getting wet if I go into the ocean,” she says.
Dye Lot co-owner Alison Alexander says it’s been gratifying to be able to help women suffering from hair loss for myriad reasons including radiation treatment, alopecia and hormonal imbalance.
“And it’s been quite different than what we thought we were getting into,” she adds. “Every story seems to be so different.”
Michelle is now remarried and in a loving relationship with an “amazing” man. When asked how her life has changed and how her story helps other women, Michelle lights up.
“Ever since I have been open about it not only do I feel empowered, I’ve let my guard down and people get to know why I feel excited every day. Because I’m excited to be alive,” she says.
– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/living/fashion/wigs-add-world-of-confidence-for-women-with-hair-loss-1.11469521#sthash.TB47PDaI.dpuf