11/12/2011 08:31 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

As we find ourselves in the midst of another unflattering Movember where men everywhere grow interesting (sometimes borderline-sleazy) moustaches for a good cause, the topic of hair growth seems to be on everyone's brain. Hair on the brain is one thing, but hair on the head is another thing entirely.

It's debatable which is the lesser of two evils -- a bad rug or a bad comb over. Luckily, there have been medical advancements and social and cultural shifts that make solutions for hair loss and hair thinning in both men and women something to embrace. Here's my "piece" on why these days, faux hair doesn't have to be a faux pas.

Go big or go home.

The toupee, the wig, the weave... the transplant! What is it about fake hair that has kept women and men sporting them for decades? Confidence, style, and position in society, to name just a few.

It seems the need to wear hairpieces stemmed from a long-standing cross-cultural stigma associated with baldness that dates as far back as 3100 BC. The Roman poet Ovid once wrote, "Ugly are hornless bulls, a field without grass is an eyesore, so is a tree without leaves, so is a head without hair." It's no wonder people sought methods for dealing with baldness.

Toupees, wigs and special powders were added to hair in an attempt to disguise hair loss and give the wearer a thicker mane, but these methods didn't come without a stigma! Even in Julius Caesar's hay day, he tried both wearing a toupée, and shaving his head. Even his trademark laurel wreath could have been worn to cover up his shrinking hairline.

He wasn't the only one to hail big hair. In the 18th century French court of Versaille, women often donned elaborate wigs or hair extensions teased to exponential heights. They reached exponential weights due to the application of powders, fragrant pomades and even decorative embellishments. This gives new meaning to getting your hair did!

Even the big wigs are doing it.

Around 1954, rugs became all the rage thanks to Max Factor, who improved toupee craftsmanship by making them virtually undetectable, an art that garnered a celebrity following. Even today, celebrities like Charlie Sheen, Jeremy Piven and John Travolta are rumoured to sport hair pieces for aesthetic purposes in an effort to fight the battle of the bald. This is probably a good time to "plug" transplants, since designer Marc Jacobs, actor Christian Slater and even Joe Biden all have them and aren't ashamed to admit it. It's evident that hair transplants have gone "mane-stream" when the American vice president sports them!

Men are certainly not alone. Women also experience hair thinning or loss due to stress, diet, hormonal changes, over-processing at the salon and medical treatments. According to Dr. Paul Cotterill MD, certified by the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery, one in three will experience female pattern thinning. Although some medications are effective in slowing down the hair loss process, there is an increasing number of women who are taking the leap and having transplants. This is due to new technological advances that use smaller grafts as opposed to thicker plugs that create softer, more natural finishes.

I think that wigs, hair transplants and cosmetic procedures are all great solutions to correct these problems. Wigs are also a fun way to experiment with a new length or colour for a quick transformation without the commitment. A number of celebrities, including Dolly Parton and Raquel Welch, and Britney Spears (post-shave) popularized wigs. Cher is a bonafide hair connoisseur and has worn all kinds of wigs in the last 40 years from blonde to black, and curly to straight. They may also be worn as a costume, when they can be of outlandish colour or made from tinsell. And wigs as a hair trend aren't as temporary as you might think. Look at the cult following of Rihanna and Lady Gaga, whose hairstyles have been copied by underground kids and those who just want extra hair for a boost of confidence or sex appeal.

Speaking of sex appeal, one hair loss challenge that's not to be overlooked is the one faced by cancer survivors! In my work with breast cancer survivors undergoing chemotherapy, it is always amazing to see the positive impact that beauty plays in their recovery. Temporary hair and complementary makeup empower women and give them their femininity back. We even recognize breast cancer awareness drives and their signature bright pink wigs. When it's for such a good cause, I'd be hard-pressed to take the positivity out of wig wearing. Bring on the pink comb overs!

A couple of things to think about when choosing a wig:


Custom, handmade, human hair wigs can cost thousands of dollars. If that's not in your budget you can pick up a modern synthetic wig for $100 to $300 that will do the job.

Although synthetic wigs are not as versatile, they are easier to maintain and come in a wider selection of styles and colours.

Style and cut:

Try on several wigs to find a style that compliments your face shape and bring it immediately to a wig specialist and have it thinned out and customized for your face.


Now is the time to try something a little different. Have fun and enjoy your new look!

So whether you need it, want to transform your look with minimal commitment, or just want a good hair day everyday, I say go wig or go home!