Welcome to today’s episode of Healing Through Hair Loss. My name is Cyndi Buchanan, and I am your host. In today’s episode I’m going to be talking about to shave or not to shave. How do you know when in is the right time to shave your hair? Or should you shave your hair?

I’ll tell you a little bit about my story and how I personally decided it was the right time to shave my head. Now I’ll go into this by telling you that this is a very, very personal decision. I really feel like you need to take your time with and feel dedicated to really knowing what it will be like when you shave your head, because it will be a bit of a shock. In this episode, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my personal emotions that I felt after I shaved my head. And I’m also going to share some tips to prepare yourself for shaving your head.

I decided to take the plunge and shave my head when I had lost about 80 to 90% of my hair. I was absolutely tortured by my hair loss. Every time I took a shower I was terrified of how much hair I was going to find in the drain or in my hand whenever I would’ve rinse my shampoo or conditioner out of my hair, that I was using the very, very lightly. And I was even just scared to just sit and live and do normal things.

I would be sitting on the couch, watching TV, and just gently stroke my hair. And a massive handful of hair was right there in my hand. I was tear to do anything. And even more importantly, I didn’t want to be around my family without wearing a hat. I didn’t dare go out in public without wearing a hat. I just hated the way I looked. I had never felt so low about myself in my entire life.

And I had discussed with my husband for a few weeks, toying with the idea of shaving my head. And one morning he just saw how distraught I was and just saw the toll that my hair loss was taking on me. And he just looked at me and he said, “Do you want me to help you shave your head?” And my immediate response was, “God. Yes, please.” And so we went in the bathroom and cut what little shrivel of hair that I had left and then we shaved the rest.

And I will tell you that in that moment, when I was in the bathroom, getting rid of the little bit that I was hanging onto in hopes that something was going to change, it was going to grow back. I just had to wait it out, it was going to grow back. That feeling of power that I felt when I shaved my head, it was like me taking the power back. It was that feeling of relief that I don’t have to worry about what I’m losing anymore. I can focus on what I can gain.

Now with that being said, I’m over a year past shaving my head, I have no hair. I have lots of wigs and I have some fantastic tattooed-on eyebrows, but I have no hair. My hair folliclis are still on vacation, but I’m at peace with it now. I’m still looking for cures and ways to get my hair back, but I am at peace with where I am right now.

Let me go back to that day that I shaved my head, so that I can kind of paint the picture for what emotions you’ll expect to have that first time that you look at yourself in the mirror and see yourself bald. Okay, for one thing you need to be prepared for your scalp being super pale compared to your face. I shaved my head in January when I didn’t have a tan, I hadn’t been out in the sun, but my face was significantly more tan than my scalp. And so that was a bit of a shock to me. And over time, it balanced out and my head got a little more color in it, and my face kind of evened out. And so the skin tone eventually evened out. But I will say that was a shock to see, whoo, man, my head is pale. I’m a white girl.

And overall, it was just shocking to look in the mirror and see myself bald. I still am shocked sometimes when I look in the mirror and think, “What in the world happened? Is this really me? Has it really been this long that I’ve been bald?” But I was happier looking at myself in the mirror bald, than I was looking in the mirror at myself with just the few strands of hair that I had left. I finally felt like I could be myself again, like I could just lounge around the house bald and not have to worry about scaring my kids. My kids are totally fine with me being bald. They’re even okay with me being around their friends bald. In fact, some of their friends kind of think it’s cool.

And that’s one of the things that I’ve worried about too. I have an 11-year-old and a 16-year-old. And I worried about if they had friends to sleep over at our house, should I wear a wig the whole time that they’re there? Should I wear a hat to concealed my bald head? But the first time that they had friends over it was okay. Their friends didn’t even honestly care. They didn’t ask questions. They didn’t ask, “What happened to your hair?” They just did their thing.

But I will say that there are some people that I have seen in my alopecia support groups whose kids have had a harder time adjusting to their parents’ hair loss, particularly with their peers. Their peers tend to ask questions and that can be kind of hard. But for me personally, I’ve been very lucky in that arena that my kids have been extremely supportive, and some of their friends. And my husband has been incredible. I mean, he’s the one who helped me shave my head, but he has truly been just an amazing support through this hair loss process. I truly don’t know what I would’ve done without him throughout this.

With all that being said, there’s my story. There’s how I decided to shave my head. I want to give you all a few pointers and tips to prepare yourself for if and when you do decide to shave your head. One thing, if you have already made up your mind that you are going to wear wigs after you shave your head and you don’t really want to be open about your hair loss, I would go ahead and get your wigs that you want to try out before you shave your head and start playing around with them. Get comfortable with what you look like in the wigs.

Because I will say, the first time that I started wearing wigs, it was kind of a shock to go from no hair or very little hair, to a lot of hair. So give yourself time to adjust to what you look like in wigs, because you will look very different in wigs, unless you are able to find one that looks exactly like what your natural hair looked like.

I would also suggest that you go ahead and stock up on beanies, hats, sunscreen, all the things that you’ll need to protect your head and to keep yourself warm. Because when you shave your head, it is cold. And you will find yourself wanting to maybe even sleep with a beanie on because your head is going to get cold, especially in the winter months. Now in the summer months, you’re going to want to protect your head with a hat or sunscreen because you sure don’t want your head getting sunburned. That would hurt.

I would also prepare by having good discussion with those that you live with, whether it’s siblings, a spouse, your kids. Just have conversations with them before you shave your head, and just be on the same page with each other. And just prepare them and just let them know mentally what you’re going through and what you’re thinking, and have them be your support. And they will more than likely be more supportive than you could ever think of or realize.

I hope that you all have found this episode helpful. And know that if you were struggling with this decision, you’re not alone. There are tons of other people who have gone through this before. And most of the people who I have talked to, who have shaved their heads, have not regretted it. There’s been a few people who have, but the majority of people with alopecia that I know who have shaved their heads have to told me that it’s the most liberating thing that they could have done for themselves. So know that I’m here for you. I’m cheering you on no matter what decision you make on this. Stay well.