Fascinations speaks to Gail Roux about her hair loss experience and how she deals with life without hair! Gail’s friend won our Marie Claire competition last year and gave her the prize of a wig. Here is Gail’s heartfelt story…
During June 2017 one morning when I combed my hair I noticed an unusual amount of hair remained in the comb. When this happened the next morning and the next I thought it was rather peculiar and started gathering the hair in a plastic bag to monitor what I was experiencing. I was sitting on the couch in our lounge and my partner was standing behind me and said I have 2 bald spots on my head. As I could not see on top of my head I asked her to take a photo with her phone so I could see. I was gobsmacked when indeed there were 2 bald spots. We then knew something weird was going on and started watching the situation closely. We took weekly photos as that is how fast the hair was falling out!
I started telling friends and acquaintances my hair was falling out and each came up with a different remedy to use. I was rubbing natural hair growth remedies on my head daily and using special shampoo’s I bought at the local health pharmacy. I was then told to use a mixture of Bay Rum, placenta and bergamot. I didn’t use this concoction for very long as it was very oily and made my hair look even worse!
Eventually, it came time to go see the doctor to find out what was going on. A blood test was done and I was told I had a Vitamin D deficiency. I was prescribed 50,000 unit Vitamin D tablets to take once a week and instructed to go buy stem cells at a hairdresser in Franschhoek and use it for 3 months. Off to Franschhoek we went – where I bought the stem cells costing R1,800 and was told to rub it onto my head twice a day. By this time I had a huge bald patch behind my right ear. As my hair was quite long it actually looked terrible so I asked the hairdresser if she would cut it for me as well. Off we went with my new haircut the stem cells. I used it religiously, twice a day, however, no hair was forthcoming and still, it was falling out radically. By the middle of July, I was practically totally bald. I was devastated!
The stem cells did not seem to be working and as money was tight, I decided I was not spending another almost R4,000 for another 2 month’s supply. Everyone was telling me to shave it off whilst I was trying to hold onto every last hair I had. Eventually, we went and bought a shaver, but I could not get it over my heart to shave it totally so we did a number 4 shave. As you will see in the photos, there was very little hair and this eventually also fell out until there was nothing left.
During this whole process, I was doing a huge amount of research on hair loss on the Internet trying to find a solution. My pharmacist kept on telling me to go see a dermatologist. She said she had a client who also lost a patch of hair and the dermatologist gave her steroid injections and it grew back. I thought this was not going to work for me as all my hair was gone, not just a patch and it would cost a fortune to inject steroids into my whole head. I eventually decided I would go see a homeopath. He said it impossible living in South Africa having a Vitamin D deficiency, the South Pole, yes, but not here. Cost for homeopath consultation with the medicine was around R1,800 a month and I was diagnosed with adrenal gland stress.
I was also told I am stressed and starting menopause. I was told to continue with the medicine and I should start seeing stubbles coming out in 4 months. I used the medicine for 3 months and when I returned for a follow-up appointment was told that my immune system is battling and was prescribed prednisone to use daily and Elocon lotion to rub on my head. As these were both cortisone based products I was not happy but did as I was told. I once again researched adrenal gland stress on the Internet and picked up it has to do with your endocrine system. Our medical expenses were escalating and as I knew it was going to cost us, even more, to find out what is wrong with me I tried to claim from my severe illness benefits. As I only saw a homeopath I was instructed to see a specialist. I Googled endocrinologists and found one in Cape Town. I emailed him first to tell him my story and hear if he could help me. He was not happy that I was on prednisone so I stopped using it and made an appointment to see him in 2 weeks. So off I went to Cape Town to see the endocrinologist at a consultation fee of R1,700. He did blood tests, which in total cost around R4,000. It showed that there was a problem with my cortisol levels. He said this could have been as a result of me using the prednisone. A few weeks later I had another blood test where he advised that my cortisol levels were fine. He said I have an autoimmune disorder. He tested me for 2, one of which was Lupus – that came back negative. To test me for the whole spectrum would have cost a fortune, which we could not afford so I decided to leave it. He further told me that I had scarred alopecia and that my hair will never grow back and suggested I see a dermatologist. At this stage, our total costs pertaining to my hair loss were hitting R22,000, which was a huge strain on our finances. Furthermore, as I was not able to get a proper diagnosis I was not able to claim from my severe illness benefit. I found this bizarre as I needed the money to find out what is wrong with me. There was nothing further I could do, so bald I was.
It really freaked me out that I got diagnosed with Alopecia. Alopecia is not what caused my hair loss. It amazes me that you pay so much money for medical advice, yet no one to date has been able to tell me why I lost my hair. Also that I was so misdiagnosed! Furthermore, I then started noticing that my eyebrows were getting extremely thin and my top eyelashes were disappearing. I eventually only had a few eyebrow hairs left and this looked really weird so I had them microbladed and bought false eyelashes. The microblading was uncomfortable and painful but you want to look better so you endure it. False eyelashes are not a joke. I really battled with them. It would take me about a half an hour to get just one on. Once I had them on it looked really nice.
The last thing I was advised to rub on my head was organic castor oil and this I used for 3 months. I used it daily and also rubbed it onto my eyebrows and eyelashes. I am now using pomegranate oil. The most bizarre thing of all is that every now and again I feel a hair or two on my head and then it is not long and they are gone again.
It is not a pleasant journey what I have gone through the past year. It totally changes your life. I became a recluse, not wanting to go anywhere and just staying at home. You become depressed and don’t feel like doing anything. Thoughts of suicide start going through your mind and you feel like you don’t even want to live anymore. Total despair! I lost interest in going to the gym and I was an absolute gym fanatic. I would hide away behind my peak caps if I did go out. Eventually, I got the guts to walk around bald. I was amazed at how many people would stop me and tell me what a beautiful scalp I have and how awesome I look. It was nice to hear, but I still wish I could have my hair back. Another bizarre thing is that I only lost my head hair, my eyebrows, my TOP eyelashes and my forearm hair. All other body hair I still have.
My friend Elize sent me a WhatsApp a few months ago asking if I will wear a wig. I told her no as I am not into false things. When I saw her in April at a friend’s birthday party she told me that she entered a competition with me in mind and won a wig! I then thought okay let’s give this a try. She forwarded me the email from Margaux at Fascinations Hair with all of the details. I could choose any HD wig to the value of R5,000. I made an appointment with Jeanette, the consultant at Fascinations. My step-sister went with me. She was amazed at how natural it looks. I was laughing so much I could not believe it. I chose the wig I wanted. As it was under R5,000 Jeanette added a wig stand and a few small items to fill the amount. She was very friendly and helpful as well as the other ladies in the office. It was a real pleasure to have dealt with Fascinations. I felt welcome and at home.
Thank you for the good work you do to help us!
Fascinations Hair has a solution for all types of hair loss, be it beginning, progressive or advanced. They are Jon Renau South Africa and distribute wigs, toppers, extensions and all Jon Renau product ranges. You can visit www.wigs.co.za to view the full collection, book a private consultation or order online.