Hair loss can be an incredibly distressing process, whether the loss is immediate and full, or gradual, and affecting only certain parts of the scalp. As hair can feel like a major part of a person’s identity, and to many women, their femininity, the loss of this makes for a trying and difficult time. Due to this intimate and emotive nature, the act of supporting someone with hair loss can prove extremely tricky to navigate, leaving many wondering what to say to a woman who is losing her hair- especially if that person is somebody close to them.
In the following post, we’ll explain exactly how you can effectively support someone experiencing hair loss, allowing you to continue being the amazing friend you already are without worry that you’re acting inappropriately!
1. Don’t Ignore It
Whilst you might understandably be worried about saying the wrong thing, the absolute worst thing you can do when your friend starts losing their hair is to ignore that it’s happening. As with any type of loss, the pain needs to be acknowledged- otherwise there will be a very large elephant in the room, for both of you. Acknowledging your friend’s hair loss is the first step in successfully helping them through this difficult time.
2. Ask Her How She’s Doing, but Give Her Space if She Needs it
After acknowledging the loss, the next step is to ask your friend how she’s doing. Don’t push the topic or ask any intrusive questions; simply ask how she’s feeling, and let her know that you’re there for her should she require a shoulder to lean on. This will also give you the opportunity to gauge whether or not she would like to discuss the topic more.
If she does choose to open up to you about how she’s feeling, and even if you can’t offer much advice from an outsider’s perspective, simply being able to offload her thoughts onto you has the potential to make a world of difference. At this time, let her know it’s okay to grieve and that whatever her feelings are, they are more than valid!
3. Avoid Comparisons
As with many scenarios, whilst trying to lighten the situation may be your first instinct, emphasising that your friend could be experiencing worse (“at least you haven’t lost ALL of your hair“, “at least you didn’t lose your hair EARLIER“) may very well create the opposite effect to the one you’re desiring. Play it safe and focus solely on your friend and how she’s feeling in this moment, not what could have been. This way, you’ll avoid minimising what she’s going through.
4. Offer to Look at Wig Options With Her
If your friend is considering head-cover options, show her you’re there for her every step of this journey, and accompany her to a wig specialist. Making the decision to seek coverage for hair loss and deciding which route to go down can be an overwhelming one; help your friend stay positive by exploring the benefits of wearing a wig together. Wigs can normalise environments such as going to the gym, gigs and other activities which your friend may be feeling self-conscious about attending, and can massively increase day-to-day confidence.
Suggest that your friend schedules a professional consultation, which will make choosing a wig much easier and more comfortable. If she’s feeling a bit overwhelmed, help her find the appropriate literature, such as our beginner’s guide to wearing a wig.
5. Don’t Make Any Judgements
Everyone copes with hair loss differently, and your friend may make some decisions which you struggle to get your head around, or feel you wouldn’t choose yourself, such as shaving her head. Remember; whatever route your friend chooses, your role is to support, not judge- there is no ‘right’ answer.
6. Encourage New Hobbies
In this trying time, take the focus away from your friend’s loss (without minimising its’ importance) by encouraging her to find and develop her passions. Participating in activities she enjoys, and quite literally doing what she loves, will make her feel more like her old self, proving a helpful reminder that she is so much more than her hair. This could be making time for yoga, jamming out to her favourite music, or taking up something she’s always wanted to try; all will provide a generous boost of enjoyable, self-loving mindfulness!
7. Help Her Find a Support Group or Counselling
Whilst you can provide all the support and love in the world, since you’re not in the same boat, your understanding can realistically only extend so far. By joining a local support group, your friend will be able to meet others going through similar, whether this be condition-specific or regarding hair loss in general. Doing so will provide a different type of support, which when combined with yours as a friend, will prove invaluable.
By following the above rules, you can ensure that your friend feels fully supported on this journey, knowing exactly what to say to a woman who is losing her hair without causing any accidental upset or offence. If you require further hair loss resources, see our blog for additional information, such as how to accept and cope with hair loss, and our comprehensive hair loss guide.