When Beverly Hills hairdresser Laurent D. of Prive Salon meets
with clients who are about to undergo a life-altering change,
he tries to make his time with them as pleasant as possible.
He gives extra indulgence, if that is possible.
see them before they have the chemo," the hairdresser
says with a French accent. "I first put a wig on them
to ease the transition. They have time to get use to what
He uses a hands-on approach and personally selects their wigs,
made of human hair. Once purchased, he sometimes cuts them
to a short, trendy style. "It's the look of today."
Sometimes, customers change wigs to have variety. "I'm
amazed; they sometimes spend a fortune on wigs! It's really
As hair stylist to the stars, he's use to frequent temper
tantrums, high maintenance, heavy demands and changing schedules.
Actors trust him. They have to.
In one given day, he may see a few of the following: Gweneth
Paltrow, Sharon Stone, Jennifer Aniston, Teri Hatcher, David
Duchovny, Tea Leoni, Sophia Loren, Anna Nicole Smith or Josie
Bisset. Not that any of these VIP clients show arrogance!
"But watch - they'll all want me to be at their homes
at 1PM the day of the Golden Globes!"
With an established salon in Beverly Hills, a new salon in
Las Vegas' Bellagio Hotel and even a newer establishment in
the Soho District of New York, Laurent clocks in lots of frequent
flyer miles. "Hair is very important to my customers;
especially to actors, it makes or breaks their careers."
He has become a trusted "pal" to the people he works
wonders with, including many cancer patients. "Unfortunately,
the list is growing in that direction." He recently lost
his mother-in-law to cancer. His wife, Fabiennne, manages
"The good thing is...hair regrows after chemotherapy.
However, the texture changes. I often see people come in with
very curly hair after they've had straight hair."
For that reason, Laurent has designed a hair product line,
including vitamins. "My shampoo is like a baby shampoo,
it gives you fullness without conditioner. Other products
include scalp stimulants, seafoam volumizers, and vitamin
formulas to help hair maintain its natural color, grow faster,
and improve blood circulation to the scalp. Due on the market
in February, the newest is a texturizer for fine hair. Products
contain healthy ingredients like wheat and soy plant amino
client, Yasmine Bleeth, a spokesperson for the American Cancer
Society, got Laurent involved with her charity. In addition,
he donated all his fees recently on "Denim Day, "
a casual day where everyone wore denim.
"Cancer is so huge in America and the age it's affecting
is getting younger and younger." Some of the products
he sells on QVC; there's discussions of him jetting to Cannes,
France (the country is his homeland) to hawk goods on QVC,
France. "Cancer has hit everybody. They all can use a
boost. If I can help, why not?"
Beverly Hills dermatologist, Dr. Howard Lancer, treats patients
for hair loss. "After all, dermatology is about hair,
skin, and nails."
Board certified in Dermatology since 1983, Dr. Lancer has
been Chief of Dermatology at the Cancer Prevention Society
and is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the
UCLA School of Medicine.
On hair loss: "It can happen from shock triggered by
a psychological, emotional, or physical event and results
in the shut down of hair follicle growth (common in young
women); when women develop a male-pattern hair loss - hormone
related issues, breast cysts, ovarian cysts or another imbalance
or mismatch of estrogen and testosterone; infections can cause
hair loss as well as elective cosmetic treatments; so can
But with chemo loss, Lancer feels the only way to deal is
with how to treat the problem cosmetically until the problem
resolves. "Rarely does the problem not resolve."
"Chemotherapy," points out Dr. Philamina McAndrew,
Cedar Sinai Hospital, "is not a magic bullet." Why
do people lose hair? "Most chemotherapies are directed
against cells that are rapidly growing. Normal cells in the
body that are turning over include the hair, nails, skin,
lining of the mouth, lining of the stomach and blood cells.
That's why the side effects of the toxicity from chemotherapy
are what we see with hair loss, nausea, vomiting and dropping
the blood count. "
oncologist, who works with the Israeli Cancer Research Fund
(ICRF), addresses hair re-growth. "Hair will grow back
when you stop chemotherapy."
McAndrew has seen it all. "There are some people who
have used ice caps to decrease the blood flow. That way, when
you have chemotherapy, you don't get a big a dose going into
the follicles of the hair at that time.
"People have use a variety of hair products, but nothing
really keeps you from losing the hair after chemo. There has
been some experimental work done on animals; there are people
who are trying to develop drugs that will help people not
lose their hair during chemo therapy, but none of them are
McAndrew sites the differences from radiation. "If you
have radiation to the head, you may lose your hair permanently.
Some may not grow back. If you have radiation to other parts
of the body, you do not lose hair to your head, If you have
radiation to the breast, you may lose hair to that area."
That's why it's down-home folks like the Kim family who are
like angels. Jennifer Kim, 26, works with her mom Karen Kim
at Wigs Today, located near the Beverly Center and Cedar Sinai
Hospital in Los Angeles.
"Over 50% of our customers are chemo therapy patients,"
the younger Kim said "Those customers who lose their
hair wind up wearing wigs on a daily basis, till their hair
(and the hair length they like) returns - 3, 6, 9 months later."
Kim says that wearing a wig is not like wearing a hat. "It
fits from the top of your forehead all the way down to the
nape of your neck. It's quite tight. Usually women, don't
wear any glue. If they feeling secure, there are two-way tapes
they can attach to the skin and to the wig. All of the wigs
Unlike Laurent, who works with human hair wigs, she prefers
synthetic, even though she sells all types. "Human hair
wigs are very heavy. They may last longer but are more difficult
to care for. And price wise they're more expensive. (Very
good synthetic wigs start at $95. Some go over $300.)
"I think it's a big misconception that you have to get
a human hair wig to look natural. We highly recommend synthetic."
Instruction: "Wigs should be washed once every 20 times
you wear it." Kim warns, "Don't scrub or wash it
when it's wet. Let it soak in the sink with cold water, swish
it around, take makeup off the elastic area, don't rub it,
rinse it out, shake it in the bathtub and don't put it on
the shell, unless you want it stretched. Dry it on a long
bottle cap with no heat, no blow dryer, no curling iron. Drying
time: overnight or eight hours."
Wigs Today caters to women. "We chase men out of here.
Most toupees look silly on men. One way my Mom runs the store
is that we want the person to look natural. We do get some
guys with long hair who work in a corporate environment and
need short styles."
For chemo patients, Kim suggests a visit to the salon before
treatments. "We like to match it as close to their own
hair as possible."
There are about 1,000 wigs in the shop. Her recommendation
for chemo folks: "Buy wigs made of monofilament. They
will make you look very natural, as opposed to other customers,
who come in for fun."
Until last year, monofilament wigs were not available for
women. And now, only two of the four manufactures that Wigs
Today uses, make wigs of this nature. "Look at this,
not only is there a part, but the scalp looks natural."
"The most important thing is how you connect to a customer.
Hair is a very important thing, especially to a woman. Whether
they go to this store or elsewhere, hair is basic. We've had
some women come here in tears after being treated poorly in
Kim receives her customers from word of mouth. For every 100
women customers, they have two men and three children.
"It's really tough on the kids."