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Last updated: August 05, 2017

Here’s How You Can Help Your Client with Cancer Handle Hair Loss

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Isadora with her new Follea wig, thanks to Martino.


Martino Cartier has many titles to his name—celebrity stylist, salon owner, educator, TV personality and even owner of Martino by Martino Cartier. But perhaps Martino’s most powerful title relates back to his philanthropic work. He is the founder of Friends Are By Your Side, a nonprofit organization that donates wigs to cancer patients who lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy.


Martino found the best kept secret: European hand-selected hair by Follea. Follea launched in 2008 to help women overcome the devastating effects of excessive hair loss and thinning due to alopecia and chemotherapy. Each and every high quality wig and hair enhancement are made with the top 10 percent of hand-selected human hair in the world, boasting virgin-like color results and shine, as well as exquisite cap construction.


Martino also discovered the passion driving Follea Founder and CEO Daniel Hafid. As a child, Daniel worked alongside his father’s developing wigs. He was exposed to the sufferings of women with alopecia and the impact beautiful hair has on their emotional well-being. He then vowed to find a cure for alopecia. He started by developing hair pieces that are true-to-life replacements of natural hair. Now in his fifth decade, Daniel launched a life science company focused on developing next generation medical therapies for the treatment (and he hopes cure) of alopecia. Daniel’s life science company has published dozens of groundbreaking peer-reviewed scientific discoveries from a new drug that dramatically reduces hair shedding and traction alopecia to treatment for patients that fail minoxidil. Now on the cusp of launching some of these discoveries, Daniel’s vision is set to become a reality.


Made with only the finest European hair, Follea wigs and hair enhancements move naturally, offering virgin-like color and shine, as well as exquisite cap construction. What captured Martino the most was that Follea made it their mission to help women around the world overcome the devastating effects of hair loss. With this in common all of their goals are to ensure women not only look their best, but also feel confident and beautiful.


Meet Isadora, Martino gave her a reason to smile again since her ovarian cancer diagnosis. “It’s a nasty, nasty, nasty disease,” says Martino. “When women come in here, I can make them laugh, I can make jokes, I can flirt and I can turn it around. This woman wasn’t buying it—it was not working because at the end of the day, no matter what I said to her, all she kept thinking in her mind was, ‘I have ovarian cancer.’”


Martino’s main goal when finding the perfect wig for a client is to shift her focus. He says he wants clients to place all their focus on getting better, not on the fact that they lost their hair. He had two wigs from Follea by Daniel that he had recently received from an upcoming brand partner for Wigs and Wishes to work with and he knew during his 10-minute consultation with Isadora that the Follea Gripper Wig would be perfect for her.


“Isadora was freaking out,” shares Martino, “and I knew if this wig was not exactly like human hair growing out of a scalp, for even her to forget she had a wig on, she was never going to be happy.” So Martino grabbed one of the Follea Gripper wigs from his office and brought it to Isadora, who immediately asked to try it on upon feeling the 100 percent European fine-haired wig. She talked so fast with excitement that even Martino couldn’t understand everything she said.


However, Martino told Isadora that he didn’t want to put the wig on over her hair because the wig contained silicon grippers that are meant to grasp the scalp. Their unique design fits over the scalp so no one, not even an oncologist, can tell the client is wearing a wig. Isadora stopped and exhaled as she made sense of the information Martino told her.


Martino snaps a pic of Isadora with her newly shaved head
before he sets her new wig.


So Isadora came to the salon a different day prepared to have Martino shave her head and give her the new wig, but 35 minutes later she was on the couch not quite ready to part with her natural locks. After a glass of wine and some reassuring words, Martino began the shaving process. He then placed the Follea Gripper wig on Isadora’s newly bald head. “I turn her—this panicked, fear-stricken woman—and she lets out a screech and a laugh and a smile, calling herself Carrie Underwood,” says Martino. And just like that, that Follea Gripper Wig changed Isadora’s life, letting her forget for just a moment that she had ovarian cancer.


Martino’s Top 8 Tips For Helping Clients Dealing With Hair Loss
1. When your client first tells you she has cancer, don’t respond with big eyes and a fearful gulp. “I want hairdressers to realize that you can do it, you’re just afraid because it’s something you don’t know,” encourages Martino. Loyal clients trust you and you’ll be one of the first people she tells about her diagnosis. Help her through this process. 


2. Select a wig based on the client’s features. Select the best hair possible, such as Follea’s 100 percent European hair with the cuticle in-tact, not over-processed hair from China or India. Martino says he looks at a client’s age, face shape and their natural hair, whether they still have their hair or a picture of it.


3. It’s important to take your client’s lifestyle into consideration when selecting a wig. For example, if a client is really sick they likely won’t have the energy to maintain their wig on a daily basis. They need a wig they can throw on quickly and head out the door. “As hairdressers, we learn to judge a client by their lifestyle quickly,” says Martino.


4. Consider the different features of a company’s wig and how it fits with the client’s lifestyle. Martino says he chose a Follea wig for Isadora because they are self-adjustable, made with non-slip patented technology and are made of fine European hair—making them more natural-looking than wigs from China or India.


5. Have fun with the head shaving process! Chances are your client is hesitant about parting with her natural locks. Take away that fear by shaving her hair into fun styles rather than shaving it clean off. Martino often shaves the hair into a Mohawk and sprays it with crazy colors.


6. Make it a family affair! If your client is a mother, Martino encourages them to bring the kids. He says it gets the kids laughing at mommy’s Mohawk instead of crying because she has cancer.


7. When cutting and styling wigs, treat them like you would extensions. When cutting extensions, you would never cut them blunt because your client would look like a doll. Same goes for wigs. Grab your texturizing shears; de-bulk and texturize but never cut it blunt and it shouldn’t look like a wig.


8. Be patient with your client. Martino says 99 percent of the time clients fall in love with the first wig he selects, but not the way Isadora fell in love this time. The other one percent can be a nightmare. That one percent hasn’t accepted their diagnosis yet and are most likely scared of wigs because they’re old-fashioned and do not mimic hair the way Follea does. Patience is key.


When shaving a client’s head, Martino likes to shave the hair
into fun styles to make the process less daunting.