Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I’m always intrigued by women who reject the ideas of coloring their gray hair or having plastic surgery, because they want to “grow old gracefully.”

I never thought there was anything graceless about having my hair colored when I was 35 and I still don’t, at 67. My mother-in-law colored her hair until she died, at almost 90, and she was the most graceful woman I have ever met.

As for plastic surgery, I guess you could say turkey necks and jowls are graceful (on turkeys), but I wouldn’t apply that adjective to a turkey neck and jowls on a woman. Sure, it’s “natural” to have gray hair and sagging skin when you age, and if you want to keep them, I say “knock yourself out.” As the French philosopher, Voltaire, said: “I don’t agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

Yet, I was amazed by the response to the first question on a poll that we posted on FabOverFifty last week:

You notice your hair is thinning and your scalp is showing. You:

  • Try to rearrange your hair to disguise the bald spot (69%, 331 votes)
  • Invest in a quality hairpiece or wig (14%, 68 votes)
  • Do nothing (12%, 56 votes)
  • Buy scarf and hat wardrobes to stylishly cover it up (5%, 23 votes)

“Huh?” I thought, when I saw the numbers. Have all of you who chose the first answer taken leave of your senses? Are you certain that you’d actually emulate Donald Trump, even when you know it’s virtually impossible to disguise a bald spot by arranging neighboring hair over it. What are you thinking?!? Would it embarrass you to wear a well-made hairpiece or wig? Would you worry that others would discover your “secret”? Do you think thinning hair, plus a combover, really truly look better?

If you’re going to try and rearrange your hair to cover an obvious bald spot, it seems to me that you aren’t too excited about seeing scalp in the first place. On the other hand, if you don’t give a hoot whether your scalp shows, you wouldn’t bother doing a thing and you’d have selected the third response on the list. As you can tell, I don’t think much of combovers. They’re bad enough on men; they’re horrible looking on women. I’d rather shave my head. It makes a more dramatic statement then oddly positioning a thin cluster of hair over a shiny bald spot.

A full head of hair acts like a frame around your face and is integral to looking fresh and more youthful. Really. It is.

Thinning hair is one of the most obvious signs of aging. No matter how thick your hair was at 30, it’s just not going to be quite as thick when you’re 50 and 60. If the thinning is unnoticeable, you’re a lucky lady. If it’s obvious, and you see patches of scalp right smack in the front of your head, like I did, you’re less fortunate. But make no mistake about it: A combover is definitely not a substitute for a full head of hair.

When I accepted that my once thick, curly hair had become thin, dry and resembled straw—and there was no turning back—I decided to check out custom hairpieces. I remembered seeing ads for years from a New York company, called LeMetric, and when I discovered it was still in business, I made an appointment to meet with the owner, Elline Surianello. After examining my thinning tresses, she explained that she could create a hand-made piece, made of genuine hair, that could be sewn into my own hair or attached with clips (there are pros and cons to either method); washed with regular shampoo, and dried and styled with a blow dryer. Elline and I discussed the most flattering length, texture and style; the cost, and how frequently I’d need to return to her salon to have the piece adjusted if I chose the sewn-in method, since it would loosen as my own hair grew.

That was about three years ago, and not a day has gone by
when I haven’t worn a hairpiece.

My first piece was fairly straight; the new one, which is about two months old, is curly and pretty much resembles the way my natural hair used to look. Getting a piece was one of the best beauty decisions I’ve ever made. I feel good wearing it and get compliments on my hair all the time, to which I usually respond, “Thank you, but it’s not my own hair.” People are flabbergasted. Even a salon owner in my neighborhood couldn’t tell I was wearing a hairpiece.

Then again, I think, IT IS my own hair. After all, I own it. It’s really no different than my silk-wrapped nails, jewelry, makeup, shoes and clothes. It all helps me look the best I can. But don’t trust me. I’m biased.

Just take a look at these two photos, and tell me, which Geri Brin do YOU prefer?

P.S. A custom, hand-made hairpiece isn’t cheap, but Elline also sells synthetic wigs and pieces that cost substantially less and will make you look great. BTW, Elline has become one of my dearest friends and she did not pay me a penny to write this blog. You can email her at to discuss your options, even if you live outside of New York. Or call her at 212.986.5620