Why we make our studios as luxurious and pampering as we can

While the vast majority of our clients are delighted by our services, we are occasionally criticised on forums for being too expensive and for spending money on fancy facilities rather than trying to keep the cost of our systems as low as possible, so I’d like to explain the reasons why we adopt the approach that we do.

Experiencing hair styling

with normal hair

Most women who have never experienced hair loss will regularly visit hairdressers to have their hair styled and taken care of – they usually enjoy the experience, look forward to going, and appreciate the results and the lift it gives them. The stylists are used to working with normal full hair and having plenty of options to offer their customers.

with hair loss

However the experience of those with hair loss is very different. If you have Alopecia for instance then you may be trying to cover up patches of skin which may be empty of hair. If you’ve suffered from Trichotillomania from teenage years then you may have been too embarrassed to visit a normal hairdresser for most of your life – the thought of admitting that you have sparse areas or overall thinning – and that you did it to yourself – is unthinkable. Even if you were brave enough the stylists will probably have little understanding of what they could do to help you and may even be scared to try because it’s outside their experience and training.

Again and again we hear these sorts of stories from the women who come to us – they’ve felt cut off from support and unable to even access the sort of normal hairdressing service that others take for granted.

Fortunately having once experienced our approach they are almost invariably enthusiastic about what we do.

The importance of being relaxed and comfortable…

Our idea is that you need to make managing hair loss an enjoyable experience – because the misery and depression that often accompanies female hair problems runs deep, and needs to be tackled along with the physical issues in order for many of these women to recapture their confidence and vitality.

Some hair loss “clinics” are rather cold and medically-oriented – the emphasis is on treating a disease – but does that do anything for the client’s psychological needs; their anxieties and their often long-established feelings of lack of confidence and reduced femininity?

… and of feeling safe and understood

So we try to make our studios somewhere that our clients will enjoy spending the day in – after all if they are having a complete system fitted then it is an all-day process. Comfortable furniture and surroundings, a warm and welcoming environment with little luxuries to make your day a positive experience, plenty to read or watch, tea and coffee, or wine or soft drinks if desired – all these help you feel valued and relaxed and ready to look and feel your best.

Just as important we recruit our staff not just for their skills with hair and the ability to create natural-looking results with our systems, but also for their empathy and ability to take good care of their clients – and to enjoy doing so! A recurring theme is how fulfilling they find the work they do.

We believe this approach works, and from the feedback we receive our clients seem to agree with us. Watching their glowing expressions with their new hair confirms it too.

It can’t be done on the cheap

Now we’d love to be able to offer the same service to everyone who needs it, whatever their circumstances, but unfortunately good materials and good quality hair costs money. If we used cheaper materials then the results wouldn’t be as convincing and they wouldn’t last as long. If we didn’t spend the time and attention to detail that we do then again the results would be poorer: the benefits wouldn’t be anything like as positive as they are. Our clients wouldn’t get the often life-changing boost that we are able to give them.

Sometimes a little luxury is the only way to get the right result!

The NHS estimates that 8 million women in the UK suffer from some form of hair loss and The Washington Post reports that the figure for genetically inherited fining alone is 30 million women across the United States. Experts believe the true numbers of women dealing with hair loss are much higher however, because of the shame and despair felt by the hidden millions struggling to cope with the condition.

Research has proven that women with severe hair loss can experience deep psychological distress and intense emotional suffering. Hair loss for whatever reason – genetically inherited female-pattern baldness, the most common form of hair loss; age-related fining; alopecia in all its forms; or as a result of chemotherapy, surgery, accidents, scarring or the self-harm of hair-pulling – can result in behavioural changes and social withdrawal that give rise to personal and work-related problems.

Emotional trauma as a hair loss trigger

Emotional shocks are also believed to lead to actual hair loss, although the link is not clinically proven. But if you lose your hair in reaction to a bereavement or other grievous life or financial event this creates a vicious circle of being depressed about the follicles rapidly shedding, and potentially causing further thinning.

TV personality Ranvir Singh first lost her hair in patches at the tender age of eight when her father unexpectedly died. She admits that she suffers from ongoing insecurities because of it and has been frank about how she continues to manage outbreaks of alopecia at the age of 44.

“I feel dreadful,” Ranvir told the Lorraine show earlier this year. “I’ve always had a fringe. I’ve found ways to cover it. I use coloured sprays and things. I’ve got a patch in the middle, I’ve got a patch at the back.”

Ignorant criticism and abuse doesn’t help

Nothing more dramatically illustrates the abuse women can face over hair loss than beautiful actress Jada Pinkett Smith, dignified in a gorgeous green gown and rocking her shaved head, being publicly mocked in front of a global audience of millions over her alopecia, an autoimmune condition she can do nothing to alter, at the 2022 Oscars ceremony.

The taunt and the furious, punchy reaction of her husband Will Smith did have a positive outcome, however, in sparking worldwide debate about how hair loss impacts the female psyche.

Healing is needed, not judgement

Healing is the essence of what women seeking help for hair loss dream of achieving. Hair can, and sometimes does, grow back, but alopecia in particular is very fickle and there is no guarantee your hair won’t fall out again at some stage in reaction to illness or emotional stress.

Regrettably the world judges women – and men, too, but not as fiercely – on the state of their hair. How healthy, thick, glossy, styled, curled, straight, shaved it is, the colour and the texture, and how healthy and glossy and tempting it looks. Or not.

In an ageist society, any sign of baldness reminds us of our frailty and mortality, especially as modern medicine has yet to find a cure. Losing your hair gives rise to feelings of powerlessness as it shows our bodies are beyond our control.

Far more important than mere vanity

Laura showing her alopecia
Client Laura showing the effects of her alopecia

When our hair goes wrong for any reason, women are hesitant to trouble their GP about their follicular health, fearing that their concerns may be dismissed and well aware that hair loss is not fatal or dangerous, like cancer or heart trouble. Opinions aired about Jada later – including “why can’t she just wear a wig like everyone else” – proved that many people see female hair loss as a trivial issue and that women should just put up and shut up.

Losing your hair isn’t a death sentence, agreed, but for women the result is definitely life-limiting, in the most literal way. A woman can be scared their scalp may be exposed by a sudden gust of wind, a raindrop, or with a hat or beanie removed without the aid of a mirror. She will dread participation in sports, rainy or windy-day walks, or in activities such as cycling – what if the helmet lifts my hair afterwards to show hidden bald patches?

Perhaps the most damaging aspect is in a woman’s perception of herself as feminine – our concepts of not just beauty but the essence of femaleness itself is closely connected to hair and its flowing, silky appearance. Take that away and you remove an essential component of who you are.

Even professionals don’t always offer support

Imogen before and after
Client Imogen had complete hair loss before getting our Freewear System.

Women even hesitate to take the problem to a salon for professional advice. There is that icy fear of seeing a horrified reaction, or of hearing nothing can be done about it. Analysis by trained professionals of such a deeply personal problem needs to be empathetically and kindly delivered, and at times, depending on who they are or what they are privately struggling with, that is not available. All these variables make most women extremely cautious about taking anyone into their confidence.

As for getting romantic and your other half wanting to run their fingers through your hair – well, perish the thought.

It is actually quite astonishing that something that can affect so many women at some stage of our lives is still considered so shameful and embarrassing.

However, while we may not be able to reverse hair loss with medicines, nutrition or therapies – yet – there is hope.

Solutions – and a sympathetic ear

Modern medical hairdressing solutions such as the extensive suite of treatments offered by the Lucinda Ellery Consultancy, each individually and carefully tailored to the person in the salon chair, are a lifeline for women dealing with all forms of hair loss challenges.

Every single woman who visits any one of the Consultancy salons found across the UK and the USA will receive warm and supportive care. You will receive expert advice on a personalised hair system that can be cut and coloured in any way to suit you and your lifestyle. You will be shown how to look after and maintain and manage your beautiful new hair. Ongoing aftercare support is also available to all who desire it.

Science has some catching up to do in the field of hair loss but, with the help of Lucinda Ellery, you can feel and look good again with the appearance of a naturally healthy full head of hair.

Your beautiful new hair will lift you back up mentally and physically. The true, unquantifiable benefit of being thus restored in your own eyes, however – and in those of the people who matter – is the return to being the best version of you that you really are.

– – – – –

If you’d like to speak to us about hair loss issues then either call us on 0208 741 8224 or use one of our Contact forms on the main website for whichever studio is closest to you.
LondonManchesterEdinburgh Midlands (Solihull) – BristolSouthampton

How Lucinda Ellery has helped me overcome a lifetime of hair-pulling.

By Anna Bruning

The day, 20 years ago, I decided to finally request a meeting to discuss my hair loss at the Lucinda Ellery Consultancy ranks among one of the most important in my life.

It had taken me years to get up the courage to make that call to ask for the help with my hair I desperately needed – and to override that little voice within that told me no one and nothing would be able to undo the lifetime’s damage I had done to my follicles. And that I didn’t deserve it. So there!

I had been living with the secretive and ruinous desire to pull out my own hair since the age of 13. I craved that rush of serotonin release in response to a childhood of beatings, vicious putdowns and bullying both at home and in school. But of course the pulling that gives relief from emotional pain also creates it anew, with each fresh cycle of destruction. After all, hair is literally a woman’s crowning glory and there I was, turning mine into a patchy, scraggy mess. Desirable me just when I should be dating? Not exactly.

It is impossible to say what hurt more, the pulling or the realisation that I had just freshly re-sabotaged my brave, struggling follicles under constant attack.

Each time something upset me – and, like for most of us, things do, almost daily – my busy little fingers went cotton-picking straight up into my roots for that sharp nerve twinge, followed by sweet release.

By the time I made that call to the Lucinda Ellery Consultancy there was very little hair left on my head. It had become impossible to hide the large bald patches, even behind the permanent up-do that was my calling card. My partner said he loved me, but I didn’t love myself.

My hair issues hurt my confidence – and my career

My hair story definitely hurt my professional life. Rival colleagues sensed my secret vulnerability. People used to sneak up behind my desk and try to swiftly undo my hairclips.

“Go on, Anna, let your hair down,” was the bullying ‘joke’, fully aware that something was stopping me. For my birthday one year my office designed a collage card featuring my face topped with allegedly witty hairstyles – from Marie Antoinette-like tall-ship wigs to punk Mohicans, from Jennifer Aniston’s iconic ‘Rachel’ style to cornrows, an Afro, dreadlocks and more. Very amusing. Not. Needless to say, it all added to me feeling super unconfident. I never even considered putting my naked head above the parapet for promotion.

Now, after 30 years of unstoppable self-harm – giving in to the overwhelming craving for warm release after the pain of pulling, then knowing I had yet again destroyed weeks’ or months’ worth of hopeful regrowth – I was on the cusp of transformation.

Nervous ahead of the first consultation

I was shaking when I drove to meet the Lucinda Ellery team for the first time, unsure they could help me. Jumpy, I scraped the entire length of my brand new Mercedes. The car proved more expensive to fix than my hair has ever been!

The minute I was buzzed into the Consultancy all that fear dropped away. The salon is gorgeous: a bright, beautiful, safe, warm and welcoming space. I was greeted with genuine care. No one was judging. Everyone was there to help. Privacy and discretion guaranteed.

Best of all, I was told with sincerity and warmth that mine was not the worst case Lucinda Ellery had seen. In fact, I had plenty of natural hair on my head for them to work with.

I also heard for the first time that hair-pulling is surprisingly common. I had researched my condition and had come across the term Trichotillomania. Have to say, still not thrilled with the ‘mania’ element of the term that is cobbled together from various Greek medical words. And I had no idea how many women might suffer from this destructive impulse. I was pretty sure I was the only one. Back in the day, that sort of information simply wasn’t out there.

The salon had the reassurance. Although just under 2% of us worldwide have the condition, more commonly known as TTM, they explained that it is more prevalent among females. You just feel alone because we don’t exactly see TTM women power-posing their way across the planet, gleaming scalps signalling our sexual allure and feminine mojo. And I wasn’t mad. I was merely one of those (mainly starting in childhood, in response to events we cannot control) who find release in hurting their own largest and nearest vital organ, their skin – by worrying at it and its variations. Girls and boys skin-pick, nail-bite, hair-pull, cut, ink, score and pierce their skin. Taking it out on ourselves provides relief from circumstances we cannot alter.

Lucinda Ellery explained the various practical hair solutions the salon offers. It was made clear it was entirely my choice as to which system might best serve me.

I decided on the Intralace, where a fine mesh is placed over your own hair which is then lifted through it and attached to it. Hair is then added in any colour you desire. You can stick with your own shade or have your hair tinted to match what you’ve selected instead. The result is then styled very naturally in the shape and length you desire.

Normal everyday activities will not disturb the integrity of the Intralace, because it is attached to your own existing hair base. It will never fly off in wind, rain, gales, during sport, or while you’re getting romantic. Moreover, the system prevents you pulling or scratching your own hair underneath, giving your follicles a chance to heal and regenerate.

I could participate in daily life again without worrying that the Intralace would desert my head at the hint of a breeze or that scalp would show through come the teeniest drop of rain. No one would ever know, unless I chose to tell.

My dream hair

In contrast to previous salons where stylists had been hoity about being asked for a hot look – sorry (so not sorry!), your thin, miserable strands won’t achieve that, fnarr fnarr! – here I had been encouraged to bring in photos of what I dreamed of.

I wanted to go back to the long blonde hair of my early teens (before I started pulling). It is now me. I always ask for dark roots, to indicate healthy regrowth. My own hair continues to grow strongly, if inevitably patchily, underneath.

My first day back at work there were plenty of comments – mostly genuinely complimentary, but with the less civilised colleagues (every office has ’em) wondering out loud why I looked so different.  As time went on, any unusual interest in my appearance died down. I didn’t stand out for all the wrong reasons. The more confident new me finally had the courage to aim for – and attain – a senior professional role.

It’s your hair, you paid for it

After leaving the salon with your new hair, you will need to adjust. As I headed home wearing my first Intralace, that nagging inner voice told me my lovely blonde locks looked obviously fake. My new hair felt too thick, too blonde, too obviously added on. It didn’t feel like me. I was used to doing without.

I was warned the system initially might feel too closely fitted – but of course your own hair, which anchors it, continues to grow out, millimetre by millimetre, day by day. In just days that tightness definitely eases.

In fact, I enjoyed the Intralace being so deeply entwined with my own hair. I knew it wouldn’t come off unless I went back to the salon to beg them to remove it, and that was never going to happen.

It took me just one evening to get over any lingering doubts. By the next morning my Intralace felt as if it was entirely my own, as if I’d never been without it. With my mind basking under a flatteringly full head of hair, it reset to an entirely more positive view of myself and the world.

Best of all, no one would ever know. Unless I choose to tell, as I am telling you now.

© Anna Bruning

Anna Bruning is a former Sunday Times journalist. She has been a client of the Lucinda Ellery Consultancy for 20+ years

If you’d like to speak to us about hair pulling please call one of our studios or use our Trichotillomania Contact form.

Hair replacement systems for women versus Human hair wigs

Deciding what the best solution is for your hair loss is a very personal process which can depend on a number of factors, for instance:

  • The type of hair loss you have
    Is it patchy, overall, thinning, or receding?
  • The extent of your hair loss
    It can be mild thinning to complete baldness
  • Whether your hair is growing back or not
  • Your age
  • What type of activities you like to take part in
    Are you a sporty person, an outdoor enthusiast, or are you engaged in a regular round of social events?
  • Whether you have a partner or not and want to look your best for them all the time
  • Whether you want a 24/7 solution or are happy with a temporary one

FrancescaAll these factors and more may be relevant to your choice and it’s important to understand how the different methods of attachment and different approaches to wearing the various types of wigs and hair systems can be accommodated into your lifestyle and daily routines.

The choice is often confused by perceptions that may be out of date or skewed by images of men’s wigs and hair pieces – which seem to be more prevalent in the media than women’s ones – or by cheap “glamour” wigs.

Cover up or disguise?

Fundamentally there are two approaches:

  • To cover up the hair loss completely – which is basically what full wigs do – by hiding the existing hair (if any) completely.
  • To disguise the problem by adding new hair to the existing hair and blending the two types together.

Of course it’s not entirely black and white, and there are examples of partial coverage from both sides of the spectrum, but this can be a good way to think about them initially.

Activity types – matching your hair to what you like doing

If you are the sort of person who regularly goes running, or swimming, or plays a lot of sports then that may be a major factor in your choice. If you want something that will be secure and easily washable and will allow you to look good at the same time then a hair system is likely to be the best choice, unless you are happy to be seen removing a wig before taking part and replacing it later.

Alternatively if you are more of a social person and regularly attend functions or meet friends and want to swap looks and styles easily, then a wig or selection of wigs may give you a flexibility that suits your lifestyle more than a system.

24/7 or temporary?

JoeleneFor some women what matters is looking and feeling good in specific circumstances while for others it’s an overall feeling of confidence that’s the key consideration. If you are happy to remove a wig when you get home or go to bed then that may suit you best, but if you want to be able to forget about your hair loss and get back to a full-time normal feeling then it’s likely that a hair system will be a far better solution.

Many women, particularly with partners, feel very self-conscious removing a wig as it makes them feel less attractive and “incomplete”, so having a hair system that doesn’t need to be removed in a day-to-day setting helps them to feel fully themselves all the time.

Connecting to your hair

How your chosen solution attaches to your existing hair can also greatly affect your final choice. It’s common to see images of men’s toupees being glued or taped into place on a bald head, but unless you have complete hair loss – Alopecia Totalis – it’s much less common for a woman to have to use such a method. That’s because women usually have some remaining hair, and that can usually be used as a base; although sometimes a much smaller section of hair may be fixed by an adhesive method to cover a receding hairline in a case such as Lichen Planopilaris.

With partial wigs or toppers it is more common in women to use clips to help secure them to your remaining hair, and that method can also be used with clip-in extensions for volume. While with hair systems it is more common to have a method of integrating the new hair into your own hair. That can be by using a mesh system as with our Intralace Systems or by gluing extensions to existing hair as we do with our Medi Connections.

The main question here is what feels secure and comfortable for you. Clips sometimes need adjusting and tape and glues on the scalp can lose their adhesion or sometimes cause irritation. If that is a concern for you then you may well feel better with a system that has more durable connections to your own hair.

Maintenance of your hair choice

Another consideration that may affect your decision is maintenance. Both wigs and hair systems require looking after, but with wigs it’s down to you to keep them clean and well conditioned, whereas with a hair system they can normally be washed as a normal part of your daily routine, while there are other aspects of keeping them well maintained that the salon will do for you at regular visits. In the case of systems that are connected to your own hair these will need adjustment as your hair grows – otherwise the system will gradually become loose.

Both wigs and hair system will wear out in time, and generally speaking the more you pay for them the longer they will last.


Good hair systems and regular maintenance are not cheap – although compared to regular trips to the hairdressers they may not be too much more. Wigs have improved in quality and appearance in the last couple of decades but good ones are also not cheap, and if you want to have more than one for changing styles then they soon add up. So overall costs may be quite similar and it will ultimately depend on what you think is acceptable in terms of appearance and realism.

The final decision

Now we have to declare that we’re biased. We don’t make conventional wigs, although our Intralace Freewear systems are perhaps closer to wigs than to systems in some ways. We think our systems, along with their associated hair partings and fringes, which we’ve developed and refined over four decades (and which are even patented in the US) are often the most suitable solutions for the many women who come to us for help.

However we’re fully aware that there is no universal solution that suits everyone and we’ll always try to advise our clients on what best for them – not for us. We won’t ever pressure you into something that you don’t feel is right for your situation. The final choice is yours after you’ve explored all the options. Come and talk to us and let’s explore those options together.

Tel: 0208 741 8224 or use any of our UK contact forms for:
Midlands (Solihul)


The real effects of social media on young women today

Pressures on teens due to social media are a real, and often surreal, challenge in society today. 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45% say they are online ‘almost constantly’. And while the benefits of social media are numerous, there are significant downsides including bullying and pressure to live up to the perfectly crafted images of friends and influencers.

According to a recent study, 24% of teens said that social media was a negative in their lives, with comments including:

  • “Gives people a bigger audience to speak and teach hate and belittle each other.” (Boy, age 13)
  • “People can say whatever they want with anonymity and I think that has a negative impact.” (Boy, age 15)
  • “Because teens are killing people all because of the things they see on social media or because of the things that happened on social media.” (Girl, age 14)

When these additional pressures are added to existing ones the effects can be difficult to handle.

Jordan’s Story of Hair Pulling

One such story is Jordan, a 14-year old who has been battling Trichotillomania or TTM (an impulse control disorder where one pulls out their own hair and is often triggered by anxiety) for three years. TTM has been known to impact 2.5 million people in the US.

For Jordan, TTM began as she was entering 6th grade and she experienced severe anxiety over getting good grades and being popular with her classmates. As a way to cope with the pressure to be perfect she began pulling her eyebrows, lashes and hair on her head, leading to bald spots that she needed to cover with hair pieces and headbands.

She felt an overwhelming anxiety about the pursuit of being perfect. Looking at the likes of Instagram and these staged perfect lives of young women her age just added to this anxiety – as it does for so many these days.

She was bullied, told she looked like a boy, and was not accepted by the “popular” crowd whose acceptance she so desperately sought.

After her mother heard about Lucinda Ellery and the Intralace System, where mesh is integrated into existing hair and in doing so creates a barrier to pulling, she knew this was an avenue she needed to pursue; she booked an appointment and hours later Jordan emerged with a full head of hair and renewed confidence.

Because of the mesh integration, pulling is also no longer possible, so TTM is essentially stopped in its tracks. Jordan then began a new school and learnt to let go of the concept of perfection.

Jordan stated “it is hard being a young woman with added pressures to be society’s definition of perfect. The anxiety this caused me ultimately manifested in me pulling out my hair but equally I have friends who starve themselves or self-harm; all ways they deal with the increasing social pressures we face these days”. Jordan adds “with my new restored confidence and the Intralace acting as a barrier I can now deal with feeling great in my own skin and defeating TTM!”

Jordan before having the Intralace fitted
Jordan before having the Intralace fitted
Jordan after having the Intralace fitted
Jordan after having the Intralace fitted

So here is a little bit about me, my name is Lucy and I’m 20 years old. I come from a small town in Suffolk, UK but currently studying Food with Nutrition in Bath at university.

Lucy wearing her Intralace

I wanted to share my Alopecia story to help others. It’s been (and still is) a battle, however I feel I am at the stage where, through my own experience, I can start supporting and helping others who are also experiencing any form of hair loss. I used to always focus on the negatives of alopecia but over time I’ve learnt to slowly accept it and try and focus on the positives—for one it makes you a WAY stronger person. You are beautiful with or without hair.

Lucy wit most of her hair gone

Firstly, I thought it would be relevant to outline my own story, from when I first discovered I had alopecia, to now.

My alopecia story first started at the age of 15, around 5 years ago now in 2014. Running my fingers through my then, long and thick brunette locks in a geography class at school, I halted as I suddenly felt a small bald patch at the back left-hand side of my head. As soon as I got home from school that day, I looked in the mirror and the reflection confirmed to me that a circular bald patch was apparent– It was very small, no bigger than a 5 pence piece.

For a few weeks, I shrugged it off. I began Googling explanations as to why as a 15-year-old girl could be experiencing a form of hair loss like this and (as expected from Google) there was a multitude of different explanations and reasons as to why it could be happening to me.

Little did I know what journey had just started!

At this early stage, I didn’t really think that much of a bald patch on my head- it was something at the back of my mind. In all honesty, I tried to avoid thinking about it. I was a busy teenage girl who was very social and highly dedicated to her studies. Although this doesn’t mean I didn’t check it every other day, hoping that it may have miraculously disappeared! However, in the weeks to come this balding patch at the left-hand side of my head had begun to increase in size…

A growing bald patch due to Alopecia

I didn’t really want to consider myself facing ‘hair loss’ at the age of 15. After all, hair loss is not something you consider experiencing in your teenage years at all- something I only thought happened to middle aged Dads! I tried not to think anything more of it nor do anything about it; I feel like I had subconsciously convinced myself that it was fairly common.

Nearing Christmas of 2014, I had noticed that my first patch was evidently becoming much bigger.

After Christmas and entering the new year of 2015 I noticed that my hair loss was worsening, at a swift rate too. My main concern was the worrying volume of hair falling out as I brushed it or in the shower as I was washing it. By this point, I had also unfortunately noticed that multiple further patches were also beginning to form on my scalp. Although others hadn’t realised, running my hands through my hair I could unquestionably detect a reduction in the thickness of my locks. My hair felt thin and limp, styling it how I used to had become a problem. Anyone who has (or is) experiencing Alopecia will understand how tiring and upsetting it is trying to constantly hide growing bald patches (also the strong hate for windy weather!).

The first patches growing larger

It was at this point that I found myself sadly realising that my experience of hair loss was going to affect me more than I had initially thought.

I can still vividly remember standing in front of my mirror, after a shower with drenched hair and wrapped in a towel. I stood in shock as dense hand falls of hair followed my hair brush as I retrieved it from my scalp. Thick strands, falling to the floor. It felt so wrong that this was happening to me! Every time I would comb through, bundles of strands would fall away. I think this was the first point where I couldn’t help but let myself cry!

More patches of hair loss appearing

Following this point and noticing the formation of other smaller patches, in early February I phoned the doctors and booked an appointment. The first doctor I saw gave me a selection of various creams and shampoos, initially suggesting that my bald patches were a cause of a problematic scalp. In all honesty, I felt relieved by this, the dreaded term ‘Alopecia’ wasn’t mentioned, and I held high hope the creams/shampoos prescribed by my Doctor would miraculously help regrow my hair!

Cut a long story short, the shampoo did not help- neither did the creams. Sadly, the patches were continuing to worsen- slowly but surely! The gradual process of my hair loss felt extremely difficult and draining, as it was occurring and deteriorating over a period of months which prolonged the confusion and anger, I was experiencing. ‘Why me?’ I would repeatedly find myself thinking. Finding clumps of hair on my pillow as I woke up or on the shower floor whilst I washed my hair, was, to simply put it- devastating and heart-breaking for a 15-year-old girl.

The areas of hair loss getting larger as the Alopecia progresses

After returning from a school ski trip to Italy in March 2015 (around 6 months after finding my first patch), I revisited the doctors as the patches were becoming so awful and the prescribed shampoos were really doing nothing in my favour. This second Doctor first delivered to me the daunting word I had never hoped to hear, he had diagnosed me with Alopecia. After this diagnosis, I was sent to the dermatology clinic at my local hospital where a dermatologist put me on a course of steroids named Prednisolone. These steroids work with immunosuppressive effects which aim to stop/slow down my own body from attacking my own hair follicles! I held high hopes that this course of steroids would stop my immune system from attacking my own hair follicles, and they did… however only for a short period of time when my steroid dosage was at its highest.

Over the course of 8 weeks I would decrease my Prednisolone dosage by 5mg each week (starting at 40mg to begin with). At first, I saw great results- for the first 4-5 weeks things were looking fab as I had begun to grow ‘fluffy’ light hairs upon my bald patches. Yet as soon as my dosage decreased, my hair fall began to worsen again, which at the time was so frustrating and upsetting for me as my initial patches had begun to regrow (hurrah I had thought!). Once finishing my first set of Prednisolone, I was able to show my dermatologist my hair growth where the Prednisolone had worked at the higher dosage, but I was also able to show her my new patches, where my hair fall was continuing once I had begun to reduce my dosage level.

Lucy's first visit to Lucinda Ellery

I was put back on the same type of steroids for a longer period until December 2015, to see me through my GCSE examinations without possibly experiencing complete hair loss. Steroids came with many side effects, which weren’t the best experience (yet I felt as though I would do anything to stop my hair loss at this point). Although, as the end of December came around and my course of steroids finished, it was safe to say I was pretty damn happy to get off the stuff!

From December 2015 until March 2016 (when I lost all my hair) it was a downwards spiral unfortunately.

Lucy with her new hair

In later April, I lost all my hair on my head, around 4 months after finishing my course of steroids. This was when I visited Lucinda Ellery for the installation of my new hair (which was utterly life changing and I cannot thank them ever enough!). This period in my life was shocking and traumatising- no teenage girl should have to experience hair loss and a bald head at this age. Or any age- I completely sympathise with anyone who has or is going through it. I will always be here for you! Things do get better- trust me on that one!

However, in a certain way it also felt like a huge relief for me. For so long I had been fighting with this draining battle against me. In the latter stages of my hair loss I was able pick hairs from my head with no pain at all, strands would quite literally slide out. The journey felt so prolonged and heart-breaking for me and those around me. The worst part of my alopecia journey by far was the slow process of losing all my hair.

Lucy having lost most of her hair

In Mid-2016, I lost the rest of my hair on my body. I often say I miss my eye brows and eye lashes more than the hair on my head! At least with wigs and hair replacement systems you’re able to ‘conceal’ hair loss with brilliant alternatives but unfortunately there is still very little concealment for the loss of eye brows (sadly faux eye brow stickers were not for me!). I had also never applied false lashes prior to this point so the whole concept was daunting and unfamiliar to me. Luckily now I’m happy with my everyday makeup routine, and definitely mastered the art of applying eye lashes!

Lucy with new hair and wearing eyelashes

It has been a long journey, but I feel like I have now reached my most content point. I started university last September in the beautiful city of Bath and I have fallen in love with the city. I am absolutely loving my Lucinda Ellery Hair replacement system- as always! For the last three years, I have been in love with my hair system that they created for me. The Intralace Freewear system, in my eyes, is not a wig and I call It ‘my hair’. It is secured on with medical tape which is highly secure, and I change this at home usually once a week. I sleep, shower and can even swim in it. I style it with heat and wear it up in high pony tails etc, something that would be slightly trickier with a wig I feel- it seems like my own hair! I feel myself with my Lucinda Ellery hair, I honestly could not imagine a better alternative. I greatly look forward to visiting the LE salon in London. I always feel so welcomed and looked after by all the staff who help me, and my hair, look as great and natural as possible. They always take their time and make everything so comfortable and relaxing for me. My hair makes me feel like me… a happy me!

Lucy wearing her hair in soft curls

Lucinda Ellery hair consultancy changed my life for the better when they gave me my hair back. When you lose something like this, you realise how much you took it for granted before. Therefore, I will never stop appreciating and loving my LE hair as much as I do now.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to have my Alopecia story published with the Daily Mail and some other publishers. Since then, I have been completely amazed by the wonderful feedback/support I have received from the article- from so many people who I know, old school peers, work mates to complete strangers! It really did feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I felt so much better for it. More importantly, it felt so great to know this would hopefully support and comfort others going through something similar. I have had countless messages from people experiencing similar and nothing feels better than comforting each other and being reassured that you are NOT alone. The reaction from people was something that terrified me before it was published, but I was shocked at how kind and supportive people can be!! It was a secret I kept for 4 years and I learnt a lot from it, one of which that I shouldn’t have been afraid or ashamed to share my story, everyone is facing their own problems big or small and people are way more supportive than you could ever imagine.

Lucy is now much happier

Please if you have Instagram, follow my page @myalopeciajourney. It’s my Instagram page which is dedicated to anything alopecia/hair loss related. On there I share my Alopecia Universalis journey, with all things hair, eye brows, eye lashes and alopecia makeup and support. It’s a great place to raise alopecia awareness and meet, comfort and chat to others who can relate to one another. I have also set up a YouTube channel where I will be uploading alopecia related videos also, it’s really exciting.

Lucy is now trying to help other girls who are going through similar problems with Alopecia

When my hair first started falling out, I felt so down and ashamed of my own body for what it was doing to me. I was afraid to tell others because of what they may of thought of me… but over time my thought processes regarding this changed. I began to accept my alopecia and consequently became much happier within myself. I can honestly say that things do really get better, don’t get me wrong I can still have down days or struggles but overall, I’m happy!

It took me time, and I am still learning to accept my alopecia, but I truly feel that happiness within yourself starts when you begin to accept and love yourself the way you are, and happiness truly is the strongest beauty.