Never in a million years did I think I would get used to wearing a wig! It's funny how things change!
When first diagnosed, as you've probably already read, I was determined to be one of the lucky ones and to keep my hair through cold capping. Unfortunately that wasn't to be. I lost about 80% of my hair (maybe more) and was faced with either shaving it off or covering up.
To go bald or cover up is very much an individual decision. I would never tell anybody to do one or the other - you will find what works for you.
I tried scarves (husband said I looked like Tupac Shakur) - so they were dumped although that did give me a huge giggle!
I tried beanies and actually quite like them and they're comfortable BUT in public I feel a bit like I can be identified as somebody who isn't well, and for me it's important not to. So beanies are reserved for inside the house and occasional trips to the corner shop who are quite used to seeing me with hair one day and none the next!
Firstly, you should know that if you have breast cancer, you either qualify for a discount voucher (some hospitals give them to you - others don't) of around £100 OR you are eligible to have the VAT removed when you buy from a shop. I've never been given a voucher but I filled in a form at my local wig shop (I didn't even know there was such a thing beforehand!) and that entitles me to buy at a pre-VAT price.
Before starting treatment, I went to the wig shop and tried on several wigs but my heart wasn't really in it. I bought a blonde, long bob - similar to how I'd just had my hair cut - but I didn't really concentrate on how it was made or how it would actually feel when worn all day. Also, as I still had hair, the wig didn't sit flat to my scalp so I couldn't see what the real effect would be. Consequently, it stayed in the box and only made an appearance when I realised looking like Albert Einstein wasn't really acceptable in public! When I put it on I realised my mistake. It was ok but it was at the cheaper end of the market and the parting really did look "wiggy".
So with the encouragement of my friend, I went back to the shop. By
the way, ALWAYS take a friend with you if you can. It's difficult to be
objective and know what looks good if you're on your own. The staff
are incredibly kind and very knowledgeable but a second and third
opinion is always good. Try on tons of wigs! You'll probably be
surprised at what you end up buying!Although I've had long
hair all my life, it never occurred to me to buy one with long hair! I
have no idea why! Anyway, I tried on a long one just out of interest
and was so pleased I did.
Some people want to have a completely different style, length or colour and are quite happy to have a few different ones (purple for Monday, blue for Tuesday, ginger for Wednesday etc) but for me, I wanted something that looked fairly natural.
I bought one that has a lace front and lightweight monofilament top (see photo bottom right). The lace front gives a really natural look to the front of the wig (see photo, top right) and also along the parting. I can part mine on either side or in the middle and although mine is a synthetic wig, it is one that can be curled or straightened. So far, when I've told people it's a wig everybody has been surprised and in fact I was shopping the other day and a lady said "I love your hair" to me. I got into the car and cried my eyes out because it made me feel so good! lol
I always wear a wig cap under my wig as this gives the wig "grip-ability" and it's worth buying one that's slightly more expensive. I've found some slip under the wig but others hold better and I pay around £5 for mine. I've got several and handwash them every few days.
To prolong the life of your wig, never brush it with a normal brush. Either use one especially made for use with wigs or a Tangle Teezer. I use a Tangle Teezer and swear by it!
Especially with longer wigs, with constant wear, the ends can start to feel clumpy and stick together. The artificial hair also begins to look frizzy (you can see it in the photo of the inside of the wig along the rim of the headpiece).
Even if you wash the wig (and you should wash it at least once every two weeks in specialist wig shampoo and leave in conditioner) it won't get rid of this frizz/clumpiness. I watched tons of online videos about wig care and most of them said to steam the wig so I bought a little hand steamer and yes, it worked, but not 100%.
I then found the most fantastic video on YouTube where a guy literally poured boiling hot water through the hair and I'm not sure why it works but it does! I boiled a full kettle, held my wig over the sink and poured the hot water over the hair, concentrating on the clumpy bits and then rubbed a small amount of leave in wig conditioner and rinsed it very lightly again in the hot water. I brushed it with a Tangle Teezer and then laid it on a towel to dry and couldn't believe my eyes! It actually looks better than when I bought it! If you compare the top photo on this page you'll see the ends are a bit clumped together - now compare it to the bottom photo and you'll see the difference the hot water made!