It’s hard to oversell the transformative power of a day at the salon; we all know that feeling of renewed confidence and verve a new cut or fresh color can impart. Sadly, for many women, this experience is one of the things cancer takes from them. However, the dedicated staff at Indulge Salon and Spa in White Bear Lake offers a variety of wig services for clients undergoing cancer treatment that help women look and feel like themselves again.
“We were seeing more and more clients going through the cancer journey, undergoing the struggles of treatment and losing their hair,” says salon owner Kim Schoonover. “We wanted to help them.”
Last spring, Indulge started carrying wigs and offering private, complimentary consultations in the salon’s lower-level spa. Clients can discuss their needs with a stylist, who can help them pick out a wig that closely mimics their hair type and texture, or offer ideas for a sassy new style. Indulge offers both synthetic and human-hair wigs sourced from Aderans Hair Goods, an international company that hand-processes wigs in small batches to ensure quality.
Custom pieces are also available, which can be designed, cut and even highlighted to the client’s specifications. Full headpieces start at $400, which includes any cutting and fitting needing to be done once the piece arrives.
In April, the salon began a partnership with HealthEast Cancer Care Center to provide free wigs to patients who otherwise couldn’t afford them. The Hair with Heart program accepts new or gently used wigs (often donated by cancer survivors) that are cleaned, sanitized and styled at Indulge. HealthEast patients referred to the salon are treated to the same private, supportive consultation in a separate room, as well as styling, ensuring the wig they choose fits them perfectly.
“We are so grateful to Kim and her staff for creating this program,” says oncology nurse navigator Beth Forristall, who says the clinic received many donated wigs but had no way of cleaning and redistributing them. “Treatment can be really isolating, and women with breast cancer may have already had their bodies altered; this is a way we can give them another piece to feel like themselves.”
“They gave me the confidence to fight it,” Cindy M. says of the staff at Indulge. She was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer earlier this year and was referred to Indulge through HealthEast. “I cried while the stylist shaved my head, but they were so caring and compassionate. Kim took almost two hours to just sit with me and listen to my story. I had tears in my eyes when I walked out of there.”
The stylist showed her how to wear and care for her wig, and Schoonover gave her tips on protecting her scalp.
A large segment of the staff involved volunteer their time for the program.
Having a wig makes it easier for Cindy to envision the other side of her cancer experience, and when she returns to her job she can still look like herself. She hopes to donate her wig back to the Hair with Heart program after treatment. “My son said it looks better than my own hair,” she says.
The most transformative part of the experience for Cindy has been the warmth and support she received at Indulge. “Kim has facilitated healing for me,” she says. “There aren’t a lot of resources like this, but just knowing that somebody in the community really cares … I can’t say enough.”