When you read a customer testimonial saying ‘such-and-such company saved my life!’, it’s natural to take it with a healthy pinch of salt. However there is something so sincere in Ann’s voice when she tells me ‘Aspiration saved my life’, not just once, but a number of times during our conversation, the statement is evidently a matter of fact as far as she is concerned.
In fact my whole interview with this attractive and well-spoken fortysomething turns out to be more moving than I had anticipated. ‘It started in my late teens/early 20s’ she began. ‘Suddenly my hair which had been so thick I could hardly do anything with it and hairdressers hated me was better behaved and stayed in the right place when I styled it. At first I was delighted. Then it slowly dawned on me that the reason was because it was no longer as thick as it used to be. This was mildly concerning but it only became alarming when it carried on getting thinner. And thinner until light shone through.
I remember there was a family celebration when I was about 24 and taking hours and hours to get ready in the bathroom feverishly trying to make my hair look alright. This was the start of years of doctor’s visits, consultant’s visits, you name it. I was tested for everything under the sun. I even went private. Nothing. None of them had a clue what was wrong with my hair or if it would ever grow back. I even tried hormone treatment for a while, although no hormone imbalance had been found. Still nothing.
I tried all the off-the-shelf remedies as well including Regaine. If anything my hair got even worse and a few bald patches appeared. My mother and sisters still had lovely thick dark hair, so it seemed it wasn’t a genetic problem. I felt like a freak and kept wondering what I had done to deserve this. Luckily I had worked at the same job since leaving college so there were no job interviews to get through and work wasn’t too bad as I’d known my colleagues for years and I was just ‘Ann’ as far as they were concerned, but my social life was pretty limited as I just didn’t feel like going out. And though I lived with my mother, I found it as difficult to talk to her and my sisters about my problems as any other hair loss sufferer and they to me, as they finally admitted years later.
You ask if I considered wigs, but I just regarded them as artificial and dishonest. I wanted the real thing back. It seemed that there had to be some medical reason that my mother and sisters had their hair and I didn’t. I did get to the point where I used a hair loss camouflage product though. Awful stuff it was. Like black boot polish. It didn’t really help my confidence as I then got so scared to go away and stay in anyone’s house or a hotel, because I knew the pillowcases would be black in the morning. In my heart I knew it didn’t look good, and my family later admitted it, but desperation can do funny things to people and I think most hair loss sufferers live in a state of denial for a long time because the truth is too unbearable. Not that I realised there were other female hair loss sufferers at the time. It seemed like it was only me and all other females I looked at had lovely thick hair.
Things came to a head when I was in a London department store in about 2004 going down the escalator. Some teenage boys were whispering and giggling behind me and then one blew on my head. He could see my bald patches. I was mortified. I literally spent hours each morning trying to get my hair right in the bathroom angling the mirror this way and that (with my mother helping by this point). Life just seemed to be getting harder. I often felt suicidal and I think I might have at least have become a recluse except that my sister had been checking out wigs and salons and finally persuaded me to consider better cosmetic solutions, particularly since I was leaving my job and hoping to start a new phase in my life. She then found Aspiration online and booked a consultation. I met Andy Pollard who showed me a human-hair ‘system’ and explained how they worked. I felt very traumatised when I arrived back at the salon a few weeks later to have one fitted as, after twenty years of suffering, part of me didn’t believe I could ever look normal. But once the system was fitted I couldn’t believe the transformation. Ten years immediately dropped off and I realised I was prettier than I had ever given myself credit for.
I booked some extra salon sessions in order to learn how to undertake the re-grooms myself and with my new-found confidence emigrated to a new country, where I am now very happy and live my life to the full, looking people in the eye instead of staring at the ground and trying to blend in. No more worrying about staying in hotels or at people’s houses and I wash and treat my new hair almost exactly as I once treated my own. Sometimes I even leave it messy and enjoy how natural that looks too. The other day I flew back to England to see my mother and said ‘Twenty years suffering Mum’ and she replied ‘I know.’ It’s so hard to talk about hair loss when you’re going through it, but if my story can help another woman to pluck up the courage to do something about their hair loss, then I will be very glad to have been of help. Aspiration saved my life. Then it gave me a new one’