Georgie's Story | @her_hair_my_head
Hi, my name is Georgie and I run the Instagram page @her_hair_my_head. I set up this page two years ago with the aim of documenting my hair loss journey, sharing advice on wigs and toppers, and raising awareness of alopecia.
My hair loss story
I have had Androgenetic Alopecia for about 15 years; this means my hair is slowly thinning. When I was a teenager, I went through a short but intense phase of pulling out my hair, which is called Trichotillomania. It got to the point where my hair was so thin that people started to notice and make comments. My parents took me to see my GP and I was hypnotised to stop pulling (a very strange experience!). In the main, it worked and I stopped pulling. My hair recovered slightly once I had stopped pulling, but it never properly grew back. I had no idea about alopecia at this point and so I thought that I had damaged my hair.
When I got to my twenties, I found that my hair was slowly getting thinner – especially around the hairline at the front and the parting. It wasn't until 2016, after I had my first daughter, that I was actually diagnosed with Androgenetic Alopecia. It is quite normal to lose hair after you have a baby. During pregnancy, the rate at which your hair falls out slows down and the hormones mean that, for many women, their hair looks thicker and glossier. Then, a few months after the baby is born, the hormones change and your hair starts to shed again. I went through this normal process, but my hair never went back to its pre-baby thickness. I reached a point where I was very self-conscious and was worrying about my thin areas every day.
Dealing with thinning hair
The turning point for me was when my best friend got engaged. She asked me to be her maid of honour. I was thrilled, but also horrified at the thought of everyone staring at me and taking photographs. I knew that I had to do something about my hair, otherwise it was going to ruin the day. I had been using a brown dry shampoo (Batiste) to cover my thin patches and also a couple of slightly thicker brown hair sprays (Bumble & Bumble and Toppik). But I found these really tricky to apply; they went over everything – on my teeth, up my nose, on my forehead, on my clothes – and if I got too sweaty they would run onto my face.
I wore a halo hair extension for my wedding a few years earlier, but this did nothing to hide the fact that my hair was thin on top. I decided to do some Googling about different types of hairpiece, thinking I might need a wig – and that's when I discovered toppers. I had never even thought that something like this existed.
I found a small UK-based company called Beautiful Betsy that sold human hair toppers and I spent hours watching videos made by the owner Paula about how to wear and apply this specific topper. I had no idea about base sizes, cap construction or synthetic toppers. There are no wig shops that are particularly local to me and I didn't even think to find one.
My first topper (human hair)
After much deliberation, I bought my first topper online. When I first put it on, I thought it looked so fake and not like my hair at all. I felt sick. When I look back at the photo now, I actually think it looked ok and I don't know why I was so worried. It took me a long time and a lot of wearing this piece to feel comfortable. I had a fringe cut in and had the ends trimmed to match my own hair, which made a huge difference.
I pretty much wore this piece every day for a year, until it started to get a bit thin and scraggly. I kept trimming the ends and my own hair, until it was a short bob. I think it was 12 inches long when I first bought it. My first topper cost around £300, which to me back then was a huge amount of money to spend on hair. Before then, I think the most I had ever spent on my hair was £120 on a full head of highlights. I decided to allow myself one topper a year, which gave me enough time to save up.
My second topper (human hair)
A year later, I bought my second topper was from the same company. But by then Beautiful Betsy had expanded its range and so I got a different base with longer, thicker hair. Paula was offering face-to-face consultations in London and so I got to try on a few different shades and styles. She no longer sold the exact same piece I had bought a year earlier. This new topper was quite a lot longer, thicker and had been highlighted – it was absolutely gorgeous.
I loved wearing it, but it was not that great for everyday wear and I really struggled to maintain the hair. I also took it on holiday to Fiji and Australia and I think a combination of me not knowing how to properly care for it and the humidity ruined it. I wore it on the beach, in the sea and the beating sun. I would never do that to a human hair piece now!
It was around this time that I had discovered hair loss pages on Instagram and I started to follow a few people on my private Insta page. All of a sudden a whole world of alternative hair opened up to me. I found out about synthetics and so many different brands. I constantly saw images of women with fabulous hair and wanted to look like them. I moved on from wanting hair that looked exactly like my old bio hair to wanting different, more fabulous hair.
One lesson I learned from those early days is that just because a piece looks good on someone on Instagram, doesn't mean it will look good on you. I bought quite a few pieces that I saw on other people on Instagram and they either weren't right for me or just didn't suit me.
My first synthetic topper
I wanted to try a synthetic topper and in a slightly more adventurous colour than plain brown. I found a local lady who offered face-to-face consultations alternative hair consultations. She didn't have any toppers in stock for me to try, but she had lots of colour swatches and so we looked through a catalogue together. I chose the synthetic Evanna topper by Rene of Paris in Marble Brown LR. It was still brown but had fun blonde bits at the ends.
In hindsight, I paid over the odds for this piece. It is pretty standard to pay more for a piece that you buy through a wig shop than if you buy online. You are paying for the time and expert advice from the wig shop owner, and the chance to try different pieces on before you buy. She also charged me for a cut, when she only took a few snips off the length and it really didn't need altering. Lesson learned!
I LOVE Evanna. She is light, comfortable and a great starter piece. She's not the most realistic looking as she has large, dark knots, but I was so happy wearing her. I'm sure at some point, I will get fed up with my current long bio hair, get it cut short and buy another Evanna. I have literally worn this topper out. She might have also got a bit singed when I opened an oven door and loads of steam came out. (Something to note when you wear synthetics is that they don't like intense heat or steam.)
The world of Instagram hair
It was the summer of 2019 when I decided to set up my own Instagram page all about hair loss. Although they have changed my life for the better, I found wearing toppers stressful, as I was constantly worrying about whether people could tell it wasn't my hair. What made me decide to share my hair loss publicly was something very personal that happened to me earlier that year. I suffered a miscarriage and had to have invasive surgery afterwards. Going through that experience made me realise that there are worse things in life than people knowing you have hair loss and that who cares if people know I wear toppers. At that time I very much had a 'fuck it' mentality. As awful as that time was, I'm so glad that I did start my Instagram page, as sharing my hair loss with other people was a huge weight off my shoulders.
Since then, being a part of the hair loss community on Insta and sharing my story has been a huge source of pleasure, support and enjoyment for me. I feel less alone and so much happier about my hair. I love helping other women who are going through the same issues as me.
How much does alternative hair cost?
The only downside to constantly being exposed to all this fabulous hair is that I am constantly spending money on hair; £300 does not seem quite so much when you see wigs and toppers selling for thousands of pounds.
I should note that the most money I have ever spent on alternative hair was a human hair wig for £650, but it didn't work for me in the end so I sold it on to someone else. Certain popular brands have a brilliant resale value and are in demand, so are fairly easy to sell on if they don't work for you.
My usual budget for alternative hair is anywhere between £120 and £500, depending on whether it is synthetic or human hair and the quality. I have been eyeing up a couple of pieces that are nearer to £800, but I would have to sell off some of my older pieces and save up for a while to be able to afford something like this.
Elle Wig from Jon Renau | Available from Peluka Salon
Top Smart Wavy Topper from Jon Renau | Available from Peluka Salon
If you want to buy alternative hair and do not have hundreds of pounds to spend, synthetics are a much cheaper option. Look out for discount codes and sales from wig companies and you can pick up some amazing bargains from wig banks, such as the one that Francesca from Peluka Salon has recently set up.
For more information about wigs, toppers and hair loss, visit my website: www.herhairmyhead.co.uk