PCOS Product Review: KeraFiber Hair Building Fiber

The magnanimous forces of the Internet are fighting my bald spot!

The magnanimous forces of the Internet are fighting my bald spot!

So the good folks at KeraFiber heard I was having some hair angst and figured they’d send me some product to review. How aces of them!

One of the side effects of PCOS is hair thinning and hair loss. There are many ways to address this: anti-androgenic hormonal birth control (for example, pills such as Yasmin or Desogen) can help stem the tide of hair loss, as can anti-androgens such as Sprironolactone (which can be taken orally or applied to the scalp topically).

I don’t actually do well with hormones, so I address my thinning hair by simply keeping it short and making sure I get good nutrition, including a biotin supplement. That said, I love cosmetic products, and KeraFiber is an intriguing solution for people like me, who don’t really feel like taking hormones.

KeraFiber is short for “keratin fiber” — basically, little fibers that bond to your hair and help make it look fuller and thicker.

KeraFiber hair fibers are made of all natural organic keratin protein, the same protein that hair is made of. The fibers are charged with static electricity so they intertwine with your own hair and bond securely. Just shake on the fibers and they stay in place all day, all night.

There are two basic parts to KeraFiber: the actual fibers, and a hairspray that helps hold them in place. The fibers themselves have a very velvety texture; when I first opened the bottle, I got some on my fingers, and it was very dry and felt-y. 

KeraFiber Thumb

Thumbs up for PCOS!

The application process is pretty simple: you shake the velvety bits on your bald parts, and then spray it. The most difficult part is, honestly, working with the back of your head. My thinning is mostly happening at the crown of my head, near my cowlick, so I wasn’t able to see if I was blending well. (I wasn’t).

Well, my bald spot is gone, but I didn't blend this very well.

Well, my bald spot is gone, but I didn’t blend this very well.

The trick to making the KeraFiber application look good, I found, was blending the colors well and making sure things weren’t too grainy. KeraFiber comes in nine basic colors, from white to blond to black, and you have to mix the colors together to find your natural color. While I have black hair, it is a soft black, so KeraFiber sent me black and dark brown. I think using more brown and less black would lead to a more natural looking application than my mostly black blend. Another issue: my hair is very oily, so the fibers looked grainy on top of my greasy locks.

For funsies, and to see if I could get a better look using the KeraFiber, I used it on my fiance, who is also balding (not due to PCOS, though, as he lacks ovaries completely):

Holy crap! Now THAT is a difference!

Holy crap! Now THAT is a difference!

Chris and I have very similar hair colors, but I think I did a better job figuring out his particular blend of brown and black. Also, because his hair is dry, not greasy, you don’t see as much of a grainy texture.

Chris’s thick, luscious head of hair lasted him all day. He came home six hours later with no fibers on his shirt, and his hair looked naturally thick. I was damn impressed!

My conclusion? I think KeraFiber is a very valuable product if you want to conceal your hair loss — as you can see in that picture of Chris, you can achieve really dramatic results! I would recommend having someone help you apply it, as it can be difficult to see if you’re achieving a natural blend of colors, and I would also recommend not over-conditioning your hair (the way I do).

You can learn more about KeraFiber at their website here: http://www.kerafiber.com/

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PCOS could be jacking up your ovaries

It’s a really common condition — affecting about 6% of women — but few people seem to know what it is, or seem willing to talk about it. It has baffled a few of my doctors. It’s “thought to be one of the leading causes of infertility in women.”

I have it, and I’m gonna talk about it.

I was diagnosed with PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, in 2011. An endocrinologist diagnosed me after a bunch of gynecologists just kind of waved their hands. My symptoms?

  • Really bad acne (though I nuked that years prior with Accutane)
  • Excessive hair growth (on my face, stomach, chest)
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Dark patches of skin, especially under my arms (it would sometimes peel away in sheets, painlessly)
  • Anovulation (I would only menstruate once or twice a year)

PCOS is kind of a vague condition. Often, as with me, it comes with the tell-tale polycystic ovaries, wrapped in a “string of pearls” of cysts. But sometimes, you can have PCOS without having cysts. If you have an excess of androgens (male hormones) and are anovulatory, you may have PCOS.

That’s the primer. But how does PCOS feel?

Like a monster constantly chasing after your self-esteem.

Socety tells women a lot of bullshit about what it means to be a woman. You have to be beautiful, feminine. Well, the hirsutism associated with PCOS — and beginning with an abundance of male hormones — certainly jeopardizes the traditional“femininity” prospect. Women with PCOS often begin their days getting rid of mustaches or beards, and then worrying for the rest of the day that their five o’clock shadow will rear its ugly head. Meanwhile, they lose their head hair.

I used to think, “How will I explain all of this chest and stomach hair to a lover?” I used to think I’d have to keep it a secret, shaving and plucking assiduously before any encounter. But my fiance knows I have a happy trail to rival his, and really doesn’t care. Even if I let it grow out.

I’m lucky.

Society also tells you that being a woman means being a mother ipso facto. You know what makes babymaking difficult? Having ovaries replete with cysts, manufacturing the wrong hormones. Hard to make babies when you don’t ovulate. Women with PCOS who want to become mothers often have to fight a hard battle to conceive.

And maybe some of us don’t. I actually really don’t want to be a mother, ever. More on why that doesn’t invalidate my womanhood in another entry.

So if not being a woman due to your hair growth and anovulation weren’t hard enough, PCOS makes you fat. It makes you the kind of fat that doesn’t give a shit about your calorie intake. It makes you hormone fat. It makes you fat around the middle.

Fat, hairy, pimply, balding, and bad at ovulating. PCOS does all this. It doesn’t kill you (at least directly — it can cause endometrial hyperplasia, a cancer risk, as well as nonalcoholic fatty liver and hypertriglyceridemia), but it eats at your self esteem.

You don’t need to have the condition to know how that feels.

Living with undiagnosed PCOS, I was told a lot of things. That I was imagining my medical problems, because most of my symptoms were “cosmetic.” That I was trying to blame my weight gain on something other than my own lack of willpower, my own moral failure as a woman. That “everyone gets acne,” even adult-onset acne (which mine was), even extremely painful nodular and cystic acne (which mine was).

That I didn’t menstruate due to stress, and I just needed to chill the fuck out.

Getting that diagnosis was damn empowering. The treatment options aren’t great — I opted with a very strict nutritional regimen — but the diagnosis itself validated that the things that were going wrong weren’t all in my imagination. I wasn’t some stressed out hypochondriac. I had a condition — a common, manageable, treatable condition.

I’m going to talk a lot about PCOS on this blog because it is so involved in a lot of the other body image issues I deal with (you don’t have to have PCOS to know how bad weight gain, skin problems, and other health problems can feel). I’m going to talk about it because something that affects 6% of women shouldn’t be so hush. I’m going to talk about it because there is an awesome community of women out there with it, and dialogue and awareness can lead to better treatment.

Are you a cyster? Do you know or love any cysters?

Cutting my hair short was the best thing I ever regretted

haircut

Regret has never looked so good. Or to the left.

Going from long hair to a pixie is not unlike getting an IUD inserted — you’ll be nervously excited prior, the process and subsequent hours will leave you curled up like a shrimp, bawling your eyes out, and once the initial trauma wears off, you’ll be damned proud of your decision.

(Note: some people report little pain or discomfort with IUD insertions. I want to know what black magic those people have used upon their cervixes.)

I cut my hair because it looked pretty miserable. After rocking several variations on the pixie, in addition to the occasional pre-shoulder shag, for six years, I decided to grow some nice long mermaid hair. I anticipated the thick, lush waves of my teenage years. I had some big Italian hair. It was glorious.

Granted, much has changed since I was a long-haired eighteen-year-old. There were five years of misguided nutrition, most of it low-fat, low-calorie, and pretty much the opposite of what my individual body needed. My PCOS symptoms grabbed hold of my body, stopping my period dead in its tracks, putting lots of weight on previously thin areas (note: this was AWESOME for my boobs), and making patches of my skin dark, not to mention HELLA PIMPLY.

And, most recently, making my hair fall out.

My fiance is losing his hair, too. Male pattern baldness. It runs in his family and, while he is not happy about it, is not the worst thing in the world. It only serves to make him slightly more like a hotter version of Vin Diesel, which isn’t a valid thing to complain about.

His bathroom floor is covered in his short spiral curls. It’s also covered in my longer Botticelli curls. The ones it took me two years, lots of deep conditioner (no sulfates!), and fastidious avoidance of heat to grow. One tile floor, equal parts dude hair and lady hair.

And my head was looking patchy. My hair was just a thin shadow of what it used to be. (I originally wrote “ghost” instead of “shadow,” but I figured the latter was a better image because I’m brunette as fuck.)

I was devastated. Seriously, traumatized. My soul was legitimately crushed because I am one vain bitch, and I’m sick of the slings and arrows PCOS hurls at my vanity bits. First my skin. Then my adipose deposits. Each change took work to accept. And now, my hair.

I scheduled a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible, and then scheduled a hair appointment. I’d rather have short, fuller-looking hair than long, sad hair. A tough decision, but the right one. I wouldn’t have the down-my-back mermaid hair I had dreamed of for my 2014 wedding. Ugh, that was a tough dream to give up.

But I had had short hair for most of my adult life, so this wouldn’t be bad, right?

Wrong.

The lady at the salon was awesome, and will totally have my business for the foreseeable future. She said making dramatic hair changes was a day-making experience for her, and said a pixie would be perfect for my “cute face.” (Damn, I love having a cute face.)

She cut it, and after the initial shock, I loved it! I looked a hundred times better.

But then, I got in my car. Looked in my rear-view mirror, and didn’t see my now-familiar long-haired self anymore. I saw Pixie Me.

No.

Noooooooo.

What have I done?

A bunch of irrational, stupid, shallow thoughts flooded my brain. I’m not feminine enough to pull this off. My god, what will my fiance think? He’ll probably tell me I look wonderful while secretly feeling less attracted to me. I look like a boy. A really cute boy, but a boy.

I did the only thing I could possibly do to make myself feel better. The only thing that ever really makes me feel better during such times of outrageous fortune. I bought lipstick.

A nice, deep plum. As far from natural as possible. Unmistakably lipsticky. Lipstick that says, I tried hard to be a girl today.

I went home, put it on, and vowed never to not wear lipstick until my hair grew out again. I went to sleep in it. But not before crying for hours. My hair was gone. So what if it was thin and scraggly? It was mine. It was my hair. I’d made a huge mistake, and I couldn’t go back.

I messaged my fiance, pathetically entreating him to still find me pretty. I sent him a picture, and sure enough, he did. In fact, he confessed to me a magical fact: he had a favorite hairstyle. And it was short. And he preferred me with short hair. And then he told me that I look like Anne Hathaway (note: I look nothing like Anne Hathaway [see above photo], but I’ll take it!).

Let’s be clear here: the shallow validation of my new haircut by a man made me feel a hundred times better, and now is approximately the perfect time to relinquish all my feminist merit badges. (Note: I originally typed “merit badgers,” and now you know.)

In the week after I chopped off my hair, I received a flood of compliments. Seriously, people love it, or at least they pretend really hard. They say it suits me. Adjectives I’ve heard include “spunky” and “sassy,” and that’s exactly the attitude I’d like to put off!

Within days of the cut, the regret disappeared entirely, and now I just feel damn foxy. And I can feel breezes on the back of my neck. Hell yea.

How about you: have you ever made a beauty decision you immediately regretted, then grew to love?