In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we sat down with expert stylist and colorist Jazzi Ziegler to talk about treating clients who are dealing with hair loss. We dive into what a consultation looks like, how Ziegler prioritizes the privacy and dignity of each client, and learn about some of the most challenging aspects of hair loss.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
What is your general area of expertise, and how does catering to women who have experienced hair loss due to medical challenges fall into that?
Jazzi Ziegler: I am a licensed hairstylist and I specialize in color. I also specialize in wig fittings. What that means is that I can assess if a wig fits you, if it’s working for you and if it flatters you. My goal is to make it not look like a wig and make it look as natural as possible. The reason why color comes into play here is that a lot of times, you need to customize the color to make it look natural. Wigs are never one size fits all!
What drew you into this profession?
When I was in first grade, my mom made the big decision to go to cosmetology school and change our family’s lifestyle. Because of that, I was a model for her. I had long, thick curly hair and she would practice on me all the time. I always loved how she made me feel so pretty every time I sat in her chair. From there, I spent a lot of time watching her with clients, and I saw how she worked and spoke with people while doing their hair and fitting them for wigs. Spending my childhood happily observing the way she transformed women and made them feel so confident had a lasting impact on me.
I knew that I had the talent and the head for the in-depth color formulating. I knew this was what I wanted to do. Once I started, I just kept going. I love that it’s my job to see someone’s potential and make them feel as beautiful as they can possibly feel.
Considering that hair can be such a defining quality for so many women, what are some of the biggest challenges that women face when it comes to hair loss?
When it comes to hair loss, I think the biggest challenge isn’t necessarily dealing with other people’s perspectives. It’s looking in the mirror at home and not seeing yourself in your own reflection anymore.
When it comes to chemotherapy and subsequent hair loss specifically, it’s hard to watch that transition and not have any control over it. Not being able to control it or know what the outcome will be is really tough. It’s a transition that’s emotional and challenging and only someone going through it can really understand how she feels. Imagine looking in the mirror and not recognizing your own reflection anymore.
What’s your perspective on privacy when it comes to catering to clients dealing with hair loss? With Breast Cancer Awareness Month in mind, we’re wondering: is their medical history always part of the conversation?
When it comes to privacy, I leave it up to each client. The majority of my clients are very private and all I know is that they’re going through chemotherapy. I like to get an idea of whether it’s their first time dealing with wigs in general but her medical history is her business, not mine. I never ask what kind of cancer, where the hair loss is coming from – I don’t feel like it’s my business.
The only thing I need to know is your head size and what your hair used to look like. I ask them to bring me photos of a time when their hair really felt like them. I try to match them with a wig based on that texture, color, and length.
Some women open up to me about their cancer and they confide in me and it becomes an emotional conversation. I’ve treated other clients who have never said anything other than that they’re going through a round of chemo. They all get the same treatment in my chair: the same treatment as any client that is coming in for a regular wig service or haircut. I try to make sure that they have privacy and I block off extra time in case we go over time.
What’s your number one goal when servicing clients who are dealing with hair loss? Does it differ from your standard client experience?
My number one goal when dealing with clients who are experiencing hair loss is that they should feel comfortable. I want to make sure they don’t feel embarrassed. Many women are nervous to remove their wig or hat and I always reassure them that they’re beautiful and that I’ve dealt with this before. I invite them to bring their partner or a friend so they feel comfortable.
Also, I offer them a private room to try the wigs on so they feel comfortable removing their head covering. Letting them guide me with how they want this experience to go. I provide options and a safe space so that this can be a positive and empowering experience.
I like to provide individualized services for each woman that I see. Many women, regardless of their medical history, prefer privacy. I try to provide that extra time, care, and support.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month has us thinking about hair loss in general. Do you think that as a culture we place too much weight on women’s hair as an expression of femininity?
I think as a culture we don’t focus too much on women’s hair. These days, we have that ‘be you and be your best self’ mentality. Individually, as a person, your own features make up your ‘best self’ and when you lose one of those features, it can make you feel different. Encouraging everyone’s individual best self still includes looking in the mirror and seeing the features that make you feel like you. Losing one of those features leads to this internal feeling of missing something vital that defines you.
Losing one of those features leads to this internal feeling of missing something vital that defines you.
If we see a woman on the street with no hair, we might assume she’s experiencing medical difficulties. We might regard her with awe and admiration. But it doesn’t mean that she looks in the mirror and feels that way. I think as a society we are progressing and helping women feel more comfortable with themselves as we empower them. I think we still do have a long way to go, though. We need to reassure women that they are still important, beautiful, and capable no matter what they are facing.
What’s your go-to hair product for wigs?
I use TRESemmé Compressed Micro Mist Hairspray Smooth Hold Level 2. I find it helps the wig maintain hold as it minimizes frizz. This is important because we don’t wash a wig as often as we do our natural hair. For that reason, we need to make extra efforts to fight humidity and make our style hold up.
Hair Stories is an ongoing series on All Things Hair that explores the personal human experiences men and women have involving their crowning glories. Have one to share? Tweet us or send us an Instagram direct message at @AllThingsHairUS.