Fashion & Beauty

Scary Hair


By the MyLittleBird Staff

The New York Times recently posted this illustrated story (“The Last Strand: Let’s Talk About Hair Loss,” March 31, 2023) by reporters Julia Rothman (who also illustrated the piece) and Shaina Feinberg about hair loss and what women (mostly) are doing about it. To read their story, click on the link in the copy at right.

LITTLEBIRDS Janet, Nancy, and Mary were sitting around talking (okay, emailing) about our hair problems when LittleBird Janet spotted this horrifying piece in the New York Times. These folks are injecting their own blood into their scalp and other extreme—and, not to put too fine a point on it, expensive—measures. Our back-and-forth, on the other hand, starts with a whine and ends with a whimper—but no blood loss.

Nancy:  I remember exactly how I realized I had a hair-loss problem: Looking in the bathroom mirror one evening, I noticed something sorta pink caught in my hair; when I went to pluck it out, I realized it was my scalp—I’d never seen it before! Now I’m more or less patchy bald on top, and my formerly frizzy “bangs,” straightened with keratin, start at the crown of my head and fall forward. I feel like every sad guy with a comb-over, afraid to be unmasked by a gust of wind.

What really horrifies me is that I always had terrible, unruly hair, curly and unmanageable. But there was so much of it! And now . . .

Janet: I’ve noticed at least one bald spot on the back of my head—a cowlick I’m told. Still, I have been adding marine collagen to my coffee to see if that does anything at all. So far, very little. Windy days aggravate the situation.

Mary: Wind is the tricky problem. I only noticed my spot in a hotel bathroom with many mirrors and bright lights. I have been wearing ponytails to try to prevent more sightings by me—and especially other people!!!

LittleBird Nancy McKeon: left, a 2×3-foot giant Polaroid taken at age 35; right, an iPhone selfie at age 75.

Nancy: I tried Rogaine (minoxidil) for women, wound up (very quickly) with weird spiky black hairs sticking up out of my eyebrows (or what’s left of them). When that happens, they tell you to stop using the product immediately. I also tried Viviscal tablets. Took them for months. Nothing. Biotin. Nothing.

Janet: I’ve heard the problem with Rogaine products is that you have to keep using them, plus they’re expensive. The woman who cuts my mane, who has thinning hair, likes Vegamour and Routine, which both sell shampoo, as well as conditioner and hair-growth serum.

Nancy: The shampoo is probably effective at improving your hair—if you have hair.

Mary: Hair loss seems to have soared during the pandemic. I’m specifically looking into “traction alopecia,” which I seem to

LittleBird Janet Kelly bares her bare spot.

have, due to easily tangling fine hair, which then needs to be untangled with difficulty, and has caused hair loss in that one spot on the back of my head.

Nancy: At a certain (severe) point, which is where I am, I think the follicles just close up. You know how bald men can have shiny heads? The strip of skin at the front of my hairline is all smooth and shiny. I think it’s where my hairline used to be. The skin there is smoother than my adjacent forehead, kinda weird.

Janet: If these crazy people don’t stop passing anti-abortion measures and talking about “woke,” we’re all going to lose our minds, let alone our hair.

Nancy: Just by chance I recently got this PR email about wigs. But do NOT be influenced by the one that woman in the red dress wears in the picture. She looks like she’s trying out for Elsa in Frozen! Or maybe Rapunzel.

A page from the Peggy Knight Wigs website,

Here’s the one I would consider (but obviously not blond). And did you see the price? Though it’s cheap by contrast with the numbers cited in the NYT piece.

Janet: That wig looks great.

Mary: Wigs definitely look appealing at this point!! (I did see that price.) My first step, though, is a multivitamin and untangling methods and products: Have you heard of the “pre-poo”—terrible name for what you do before shampooing . . . ?

Janet: Never heard of pre-poo. (Right, bad name, kinda like that bathroom stuff, is it poo-pourri? Something like that.)

Nancy: Someone the other day mentioned that something is known for causing hair loss—thyroid meds, was it?

Janet: I’ve read those meds make you lose hair.

Nancy: And I’ve been taking them for decades. Sigh. I basically have no eyebrows left either. So I had a microblading consultation last week. The technician, also a makeup artist, penciled in brows, a little too skimpy (kinda ’40s, I thought), but okay.

The problem is that the ink is very dense; the final color will be only 20% of what’s applied. But meanwhile you walk around looking like a circus freak.

I wouldn’t mind people knowing, but I can’t stand the idea of explaining it to doormen and curious store clerks every day for a month. I guess I’d have to explain only once to each but . . .  I’m outside all the time with the dog, running into strangers and half-strangers (other dog owners). I’d get tired pretty quickly of their curious looks and my incessant babbling.

Don’t think I’ll do it until/unless I can find some wide-frame glasses that will cover the brows.

Janet: I haven’t asked, but I’m pretty sure someone I know has had her brows microbladed—they look terrific, btw.

Nancy: Back to my head! One thing I use, when I remember, is XFusion, little particles of keratin protein (it says), that you shake onto your bald spots so your pale scalp doesn’t blind people when the wind does its thing. I use a color a little lighter than my own so it doesn’t show up as dark splotches.

Janet: I just looked up XFusion, which sounds like a brilliant fix.

Mary: OMG, great!! Will order immediately.

Nancy: My hairdresser isn’t a huge fan because she says it drips when you sweat. When’s the last time I sweated? I’m safe.

Mary: Ewww, good warning. I sweat too much at the least provocation.

Nancy: Yeah, but you’re talking about the back of your head, not your front hairline, where it might be noticed. At worst it would be absorbed by the surrounding hair. It’s pretty dusty, so I wouldn’t apply it while wearing the white silk gown you’re about to wear to the gala!

Janet: It is a wild world out there—just now reading about Olaplex, touted by celebs, now women suing with charges of hair loss, etc. Also about “unwanted hair growth”—hypertrichosis—on arms, etc., with minoxidil.

Mary: I’m going to start with a bath now, and lots of conditioner—have just ordered some products, including a comb, which I do not own.

For your gaping or amusement, here are the products I’ve ordered so far. And I plan to wear a permanent ponytail, the best way to cover the problem, so just ordered scrunchies.

Hair loss is a bummer. If you’ve had any luck reversing or slowing it down or learning how to live with it, we’d love to hear from you. Write down your comments in that box below and send them on!
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10 thoughts on “Scary Hair

  1. Margaret says:

    My eyebrows have pretty much disappeared.

    If you know a good microblader, please share!

    1. Nancy McKeon says:

      I can point you to one Val Monroe wrote about (useful only if you live in the New York City area and can afford the $2,000 cost)., also written up in a first-person piece in Vogue magazine. I need a little more assurance (hmm, maybe a lot) before I put my face in someone’s hands. I suspect the people who do the work are competent technically, but I wasn’t wild about the look that was being suggested for me and was definitely not a fan of the lengthy healing time, during which I would look like a circus clown.

  2. Judith Robinson says:

    I am starting to see a bit of hair loss. My sister noticed much more hair shed daily in her brush and began taking Carlyle’s Pumpkin Seed Oil, available on Amazon, $15, 200 softgels, and now I am taking it, too. No results yet for me but she is seeing much less hair in her brush, so I’m hopeful.

    1. Nancy McKeon says:

      best of luck!!

  3. Deba Leach says:

    Suddenly about ten years ago (I am now 75) I noticed my hairline had receded! And my eyebrows had all disappeared! Guess I had not really been looking on the mirror too closely. I scheduled a visit to the dermatologist for annual check up and it was she who asked about the hairline and informed me that there was inflammation up there that could be treated to stop future losses, follicle by follicle. As for the eyebrows, nothing to be done apparently. I have medication (pills and topical solution), and it seems to be working.

    1. Nancy McKeon says:

      I’m afraid it’s too late for me, but if you care to share the brand names it might help others–thanks for commenting, Deba!

  4. Nancy McKeon says:

    Nature’s Bounty Hair Skin & Nails is basically brand-name biotin (plus some keratin). If it works for you, that’s great!

  5. Stephanie Cavanaugh says:

    I do not see Nature’s Bounty Hair Skin and Nails on your list. Been using for decades. My Prince and I swear by them. What’s left of his hair grows like a weed. My hair is full — and I can use my nails as screwdrivers, should I need a screwdriver and not have one handy or be able to find one or whatnot. Costco has the best price.

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Good to know! Thanks, Steph.

  6. Carol says:

    So sad and fortunately a problem I’ve never had so far. I have friends that struggle with it. Hope all your advice helps those who do.

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