A surprising number of women lose their hair but few services exist locally to help them, says the manager of a new wig studio.
Candace Hamilton says just as many women cope with hair loss as men.
While men easily appear bald in public, it’s devastating for women, she said. “They often suffer in silence and hide at home or become reclusive.”
Hamilton knows. Her hair was always thin and she began losing it when hypothyroidism became a serious problem in her 20s.
Along with alopecia, chemotherapy and genetics, hypothyroidism is a fairly common cause of female hair loss.
Once diagnosed, she searched for a wig that would suit her and fit well, but found little selection in southwestern Ontario. Finally she found Continental Hair in Toronto, where she purchased a custom made wig made from human hair.
All Continental Hair human hair wigs are fit, styled and colour-matched by the studio. The company also carries synthetic wigs, which are less durable but a good choice during times of temporary hair loss brought on by chemotherapy. Synthetic is significantly less expensive.
“It was a life changer for me to get a natural looking wig,” said Hamilton.
With a professional background in hair styling and marketing, she approached Continental Hair’s owner, Michael Suba, and proposed he open a studio in Sarnia.
She said Suba needed some convincing to move out of a larger city. But he agreed when he saw market research confirming how few studios carry human hair wigs in this area.
“I know this area is underserviced,” said Hamilton. “And, because I am a wig wearer, I have quite a network I can talk to in Sarnia.”
She found a location in the lower level at 640 Cathcart Blvd. near Colborne Road and opened the third Continental Hair location on Sept. 11. Suba’s other two studios are in Toronto, including one at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
Initially, the Sarnia studio is focusing on female clients but Hamilton said services may be extended to men if the market proves sustainable.
Business has been brisk in the first six weeks and it’s possible a full-time stylist will be hired to work with Hamilton in the next several months.
Meanwhile, she does free consultations that last up to two hours, as well as all the fitting, colouring and styling.
“It takes a lot for a woman to even come in here,” she said. “You feel vulnerable, but discussing your options can provide a lot of encouragement.”
Human hair wigs start at $1,900 and can be expected to last two to three years. Health benefits sometimes cover at least part of the cost. Synthetic wigs start at $650 each.
Seventy to 80% of clients prefer custom made postiche, a human hair accessory that is like a partial wig that snaps onto existing hair. These are available starting at $2,700.
Continental Hair provides wigs free-of-charge to children under 12. The company also accepts donations of non-coloured human hair to be made into wigs for chemo patients.
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