Hair-The Reality not the Musical

Barbara Greenleaf

I always liked my hair: It was thick and wavy and adapted easily to every style that was in. But, basically, like teeth until they ache or heels until they blister, hair—until it falls out—is something one simply takes for granted.Recently mine has been falling out or, as the euphemism goes, “thinning.”

From time to time I thought my hair looked a little sparse on top, but I didn’t really pay attention to it until that night at dinner when my husband happened to glance at my head as I bent over to cut into a lamb chop. “My God, you have a bald spot!” he blurted out. When he saw my stricken expression, he said casually, “Oh, it’s only a tiny one; no one will notice.”

That was it: I could no longer ignore the signs of imminent balding. Was it my imagination or was I suddenly growing a high forehead? I wrung my hands over every strand that remained in my comb and every wisp that fell into the sink. I began to look at ads for wigs and experimented with concealing styles. In fact, playing with my fast-diminishing locks became a major activity. I changed my part to the left side since the thinning seemed most noticeable on the right, all the while telling myself that this was not a comb-over. (Right.) I also tried criss-crossing the top layers. Good for Raggedy Ann, not so good for me. Finally, I sprayed brown colorizer on my scalp to make it look like hair, the way a homeowner would spray green paint on his concrete yard to make it look like grass.

These tactics, of course, were merely cosmetic. It was time to get to the root of the problem (you should pardonthe pun). Since desperate times call for desperate measures, I made an appointment with a dermatologist, who prescribed Women’s Rogaine. The instructions say you not only have to rub this foamy substance into your scalp EVERY DAY, you can never stop or your hair will fall out again. Oh, and there is one other teensy-weensy downside: you might grow unwanted hair in places other than your head. Great. Now, not only would my husband and I have matching bald spots, we’d have matching his and hers mustaches, too.

Undaunted, I started using the Rogaine, but my efforts didn’t stop there. I also got a laser comb, which I was supposed to frog walk over my scalp a quarter inch at a time, three times a week. That did not sound too onerous, but it did sound mind numbing. To counteract the boredom and get in a little exercise, too, I began to multi-task by standing on one leg for balance, squeezing a hand-gripper for strength, and climbing up and down steps for endurance. Occasionally, I would go through the mail.  Beeeeep, beeeep . . . 

I’ve only been in the hair-growth game for five weeks and I’ve been told not to expect signs of progress for at least three to six months. Still, each night I search hopefullyfor the little row of fuzz that will signal a return to the old me. Hair. This woman’s crowning glory, indeed!

Excerpt from her new book, This Old Body: And OtherReasons to Laugh at Life.

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4 Responses to Hair-The Reality not the Musical

  1. I think once a day is plenty and, yes, it has been working for me. In reality I don’t even use the Rogaine for Women that often because I feel it makes my hair a bit greasy. However, applying it a few times a week in combination with the laser comb is keeping the wig maker at bay!

  2. Patty says:

    Just to let you know I went through the same thing. There are so many different ways to try to help.
    My hair came back although never a Mane is was good head of hair. So much has to do with stress. Maybe try not to stress too much, and a wig, very in vogue, is good for a couple of months til it grows back. Talk to a therapist if medical testing has shown nothing. Must try medical testing first. Everything might just change with a new way of looking at life. You’ve heard it all, meditation, relaxation, yoga, forest bathing, ahh but have you actually tried it?
    Good luck,

  3. Kathy says:

    This also happened to me and my hairdresser recommended Rogaine for men….the drops not the foam….since I was thinning but not bald. I have used it for 3+ years….it works. My doctor said it was safe. I would rather do a treatment every day than to worry every day about it.

    • Kathy says:

      Do you use it twice a day or once a day? I have just started and using men’s 5% drops twice a day but worry it’s too much? But no matter how careful, some gets wasted on my hair rather than scalp so figure it evens out…

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