"I was so ashamed of myself," says Diane Mastromatto. "Believe me, you go into a dark hole, you do, it’s natural. You look in the mirror and you’re saying to yourself, ‘Who is this person staring back at me?'"
It's hard to imagine feeling so unrecognizable, but for many, hair loss causes that reaction. The are a vast multitude of reasons that both men and women lose their hair, including male and female pattern hair loss, certain medications, and genetics, and the treatment options can be limited. Rogaine works for mild to moderate hereditary hair loss, but may not be right for more severe cases, and those that aren't genetic. Hair transplant surgery is often prescribed for those with more pronounced hair loss, but the procedure is quite invasive. Finding a remedy otherwise isn't easy.
Enter Cesare Ragazzi, an Italian company that makes the most personalized hair and scalp prosthesis available called Capelli Naturali a Contatto, roughly translating to "Natural Contact Hair," or CNC for short.
CNC offers a fully customized system to cover any hair loss and perfectly match your existing hair (or perfectly replicate it, if it's all gone). It can be placed over places with complete hair loss or significant thinning of the hair. It's supposed to be the most natural looking and feeling hair prosthesis in the game.
Mastromatto started losing her hair as the result of a traumatic emotional experience in her forties. On a trip to the dermatologist, she had a spot on her scalp examined that turned out to be skin cancer. The cancer grew down her scalp to her skull membrane. Treatment and removal caused substantial scarring on her scalp.
Jen Murphy who is in her twenties, has been living with trichotillomania for much of her life. Trichotillomania is a body-focused repetitive disorder, similar to nail biting and skin picking. The disorder has resulted in permanent hair loss. Both women have spend a lot of time and money trying out different solutions to cover their hair loss.
At the beginning of her hair loss, Mastromatto used clip-in extensions, which added fullness in places where her natural hair was starting to thin. She tried a piece that tied in with fishing line that ended up being so painful that she could barely sleep. She also tried bonded wigs, which are wigs that are semi-permanently adhered to your scalp, to little success. Murphy has put in the work as well. She hid her hair loss with bandanas, shaved her head for four years, hair extensions, and even did full wigs.
"I think as a woman on this journey," Mastromatto says, "You’re always looking to find the best fit for yourself." Murphy echoes the sentiment. "When it comes to hair loss, I think there’s a lot of denial," she says. "You kind of work through your own solutions before you’re willing to go to anyone and ask for help."
After these women tried nearly every option they could find to address their hair loss, they moved to the CNC. They both say that the look, fit, and feel of the hair and scalp prosthesis is second to none, unlike any other remedy that they had tried in the past.
"The CNC is a perfect replica of the person’s scalp, and can be full or partial," says Stefano Ospitali, CEO of Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories. "At licensed CNC Centers, we take exact measurements of the client’s scalp to create a mold. All of this information, and, when possible, a sample of the client’s hair, is sent to Italy, where a 39-step process where we use 3D technology to print an exact replica of the client’s head"
The 3D technology is also used to import the precise measurements of your prosthetic into their database, ensuring that when you need to create a new one, that it will be identical. The base of the prosthetic is created with a special blend of polymers that mimic the look of the skin and color of your natural scalp.
Every CNC is creating using natural, unprocessed hair, allowing it to fall, bounce, and behave as natural hair. It can be styled however the wearer prefers, and no two hair pieces are created the same.
"Over the polymer base, we inject strands of unprocessed, virgin hair, strand by strand, for an exact match of the client’s natural hair in terms of color, wave, and texture," Ospitali explains. "Then, the CNC is sent back to the states and at one of our centers, we are able to take care of the first cut and style."
Another aspect that sets the CNC apart from other hair prosthetics is that you can keep the hair that you still have under the CNC. Ospitali says, "With our technology, it is not necessary to shave the existing hair under the CNC, and our client is able to swim, shower, and exercise daily."
"To watch them map out everything and then once the final piece comes, it fits you like it is your second skin," Murphy explains. "They do such an incredible job of creating their own natural hairline where the hair would have been. You can’t tell the difference between my hair that I have, and the piece that I wear. It’s incredible."
"I can go to a hair salon and have them put my hair in an updo, without them standing in the back and wondering why my hair is thinner in different spots or wondering how to work with something that they’re not comfortable with," Murphy says. "I love being able to go to the hair salon and getting my hair dyed and cut just like any other woman, and I can do that now."
According to users, the CNC comes at a reasonable price point as well. Depending on what the hair and scalp prosthesis needs to cover, it can range anywhere from $3,600-$6,000, on average.
"I’d be replacing my old piece once a year, which was about $1,900-2,000 per year," Murphy says. "I have spent well and above what I should have on my hair throughout the years. If this is what I’ve got to spend, it is absolutely 100 percent worth it if I don’t have to find another solution, because this works."
"It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made," Murphy raves. "It’s like second skin. I don’t even notice it’s there, whereas my other pieces, within a week or a week and a half, the bond would start loosening up and I’d start picking at my hair. It’s like night and day. It’s not even 'comfortable' because I don’t even think about it half the time. Three-quarters of the time I can’t even feel when it’s on."
Murphy finishes our conversation in a way that sums up her, and many people's experience with the CNC, "We forget the sacrifices that we unknowingly make just so we can feel like everybody else. But I don’t have to make those sacrifices anymore."