It’s September, which means it’s alopecia awareness month. For those living with hair loss, it means recognizing people affected by alopecia areata, and empowering those living with it.
Stephanie Barber is one of those people living with alopecia areata. In 2022, she founded the Baldy Lox Boutique, which specializes in raw virgin human hair wigs. She also uses the boutique’s social media to share her own journey of living with alopecia areata—which speaks to so many others.
“I had a vision that, one day, I would like to create a safe space for women like me who can design their dream hair in the comfort of their own home,” said Barber, who is based in Devon, United Kingdom.
Founding the online store was a way to fill a gap missing in the beauty industry. “It is normal nowadays to wear hair extensions but, for someone like me, that simply is not an option, so why not normalize wigs?” asks Barber.
As a woman living with alopecia areata, she tried many different wigs throughout the years, but none looked all that natural. The industry, she found, was run by mature women, and she wanted something young, fashionable and trendy to wear. “It was disappointing as to why there wasn’t anything for my generation,” she said. “Soon became my mission to create an alternative, like what you would get walking out of a salon—but with a twist. I wanted to create a luxury and bespoke service that would leave no question of it being a wig.”
While the Baldy Lox Boutique is truly for everyone, it really speaks to women who suffer from hair loss. “I believe that people who have a hair loss condition should have the opportunity to experience beautiful hair styles,” said Barber.
There’s a “Design Your Own” bespoke service on her website, where women all over the world can design their own dream hair, from cap size to length, color, cut and density. Currently, they have shipped to 63 countries, from Mexico to Israel and South Africa. She has already worked with British celebrity stylist Kyle DeVolle, hair stylists who work with Naomi Campbell and session stylist Laura Chadwhick for the up-and-coming October cover issue for Attitude Magazine.
“It’s a struggle navigating through hair loss, because for me, it felt like my identity was taken from me,” said Barber. “I also think it is natural to feel ashamed because of the pressures of what being beautiful means in society.”
When she started the brand last year, Barber opened about her hair loss on social media. “I wanted to advocate for raising hair loss awareness in the hopes of redefining what beauty is,” she said.
“To my surprise, I was astounded by the number of women reaching out to me and sharing their stories. I even received difficult messages from women who suffered in silence and explained how my page saved their lives from suicide, and how their mental state took a 360 turn into feeling inspired and empowered.”
“It was difficult reading some of the messages but incredibly humbling that my awareness touched so many people,” said Barber. “I think everyone’s journey, circumstances and story is different. I do believe if hair loss was represented more in media, entertainment, and fashion, it wouldn’t feel as taboo.”
Barber notes that buying a wig isn’t like buying clothes. “Wigs come with a whole lot of emotions, of which I understand entirely,” she said, which is partly why she hosts one-on-one consultations with her client base. “My customers say it’s like therapy,” she said. “Wigs bring a sense of hope for a lot of people; it’s a way of life, it’s also who I am.”
The wigs aren’t just for clients suffering from hair loss, but everyone. “Celebrities wear wigs on red carpet events to change up their looks without damaging their bio hair,” she said. “Can you imagine the damage it would cause on stars like Beyoncé, Kylie Jenner, Nicki Minaj or Katy Perry?” Clearly, wigs save their natural hair’s health.
For the Baldy Lox Boutique’s Alopecia Awareness Month photo campaign, Barber teamed up with other women with hair loss for a photo shoot with photographer Kazits Jay. “The campaign is all about how to enhance, not define, your beauty,” she said. “My goal was to have a high-end, editorial aesthetic, highlighting the beauty of hair loss and having fun with wigs. It was also my first experience to physically be in the same room with women who look like me.”
The campaign models come from the hair loss influencer community, including Cassidy Valentine, Maggie Mwangi, and Olivia McVeigh, and on the boutique’s buzzy TikTok page, each model’s story is shared. Valentine says she has been wearing wigs for her stress-induced alopecia for almost a decade. “Baldy Lox Boutique has changed the wig game,” she said. “I’ve never felt so confident wearing a wig, and I feel like myself again.”
To Mwangi, it made her feel “like I’m not alone in this journey,” adding that “We’re all beautiful, regardless of whether we have hair or not.” Meanwhile, McVeigh notes that she “doesn’t mind not wearing a wig, but when it’s a Baldy Lox wig, I feel amazing.”
Barber’s wigs are selling out fast, with the most recent drop of 30 wigs selling out in 10 minutes. She plans to expand her business with a “Ready to Ship” designer wig service. “My wigs are designed to enhance your beauty, not define it,” said Barber.
“Empowering people is my number one goal. I encourage people to express themselves with hair and challenge the stigma of living with a hair loss condition. All hair loss conditions are valid, treated equally and catered for.”