Facing up to the wig issue
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For most of us, the biggest questions we have to face relating to our hair, is how much to have cut, or when to have our highlights retouched. But for some women, who have suffered the esteem-shredding horror of hair loss through alopecia or following chemotherapy, there are more fundamental questions, such as will I ever be able to look at myself in the mirror again.
Simon Beale, the man behind Great Looking Hair in Brent Street, Hendon, is the go-to man for women (and men and even children) who, mainly for reasons entirely unrelated to fashion, require help with their hair.
The ex-Carmel College pupil, ex-Vidal Sassoon stylist and ex-kibbutz volunteer, set up GLH after 35 years in conventional hairdressing, having encountered "many clients with problems relating to thinning hair or more severe hair loss due to alopecia or as a result of chemotherapy."
After researching the market for wigs and solutions available for hair-loss, he was struck by the poor advice on offer, and also by the poor quality and high prices of many products.
Simon Beale at work at GLH
"I decided to study to become a wig maker, so that I could develop my own products," he says. Aside from wig systems which use European texture human hair, these now include a partial volumiser system that makes hair appear thicker by attaching natural hair to existing hair; a revolutionary system for hair extensions; and even an eyelash extension system for those who have lost their own lashes.
Among his wig collection are top-quality, wholesale-priced sheitls for Orthodox Jewish women (fitted by his partner Simone Gray), and a high quality, made-to-measure wig system for chemotherapy patients, which is both comfortable and affordably priced - two key considerations for cancer patients.
For those merely interested in fashion, Simon has developed his own system of hair extensions that give you Kate Middleton-style volume and curls but with less risk of damage to hair and scalp.
"I have been supplying and fitting hair extensions for 20 years. Originally, the methods were plaiting and weaving. Then came the system still used today, which involves glueing the extension to the client's own hair. Both systems can cause great damage to hair and, more importantly, to the scalp, by creating traction alopecia [baldness caused by pulling hair too tightly].
"I decided there had to be a better, less damaging way of attaching hair extensions, so I developed a system which attaches the extension to the client's hair with the use of a tiny copper link, which means there is no glue, no heat and no chemicals and also no tension to the scalp."