How I Combated My Own Hair Loss as a Veteran Hairstylist
"I was ashamed of my condition, especially as a woman and a hairdresser of 21 years."
As a professional hairdresser, I never imagined I would start losing my hair – and certainly not at 34 years old.
But the stress of going through a divorce caused my hair to thin prematurely, yet I still put on a brave face every day and tried to function “normally.” While simultaneously internalizing all the grief alone, the negative emotions took a toll on my health, causing extreme and rapid weight loss as well as a significant amount of hair loss.
My friend, who is also a stylist, was the first person to point out that she noticed my hair thinning, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel extremely self-conscious about it. I was ashamed of my condition, especially as a woman and a hairdresser of 21 years.
My hair used to be a source of confidence. And despite the fact that I knew hair loss could happen to anyone, I had an incorrect notion that it only happened later in life. So it was brutal to be proven wrong.
After a while, trying to hide my condition became exhausting, but I knew I had to make a change for myself – that’s when I got serious about my daily preventative regimen.
Hair growth isn’t just about treating the hair that has grown out, it’s about what is happening on the scalp. In fact, learning how to treat your scalp is the first step to preventing hair loss. And while we can’t change genetics, we can try to slow down the inevitable by promoting a healthy scalp environment and feeding our bodies with antioxidants.
I feel compelled to share my experience now more than ever with new research confirming that many Americans are experiencing an increase in hair loss from the stress and shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A nationally representative survey of 1,000 women, conducted in late July by lifestyle agency DeVries Global and global insights and data firm Dynata, found that one in five women started experiencing increased hair loss or thinning since the onset of COVID-19. Another study by HairClub, conducted by Wakefield Research, also found that nearly two in five Americans (39%) have experienced hair loss as the result of stress from quarantine, in specific. Including 12% who have experienced significant loss. The research also found that 48% of millennials 42% of gen Xers were more likely to report hair loss than baby boomers.
This is why my goal is to help normalize the conversation around hair loss, and to share a few expert tips on how to overcome this journey.
Three major ones that have helped me have been finding the right haircare products, shifting my lifestyle, and finding a support system.
Finding the Best Products to Treat Hair Loss
I started using Nioxin to treat the areas of my scalp where I was losing hair, and it was a turning point in my journey.
I starting using the shampoo and conditioner in place of my regular products, then added the scalp treatment to my daily routine. I saw results within the first month of using it every day — but timing can vary from person to person — and it helped me regain some of my lost confidence.
I haven’t stopped using the products since then to maintain the fullness I gained.
To shop: $45; amazon.com
Now, four years since my hair first started falling out, I feel more confident than ever. And although my hair has changed, it looks healthy and full. Plus, knowing that I can help my clients in their hair loss journeys is another huge source of confidence and fulfillment.
The best part is that the system comes in six formulas, customized to address different hair types, textures and levels of thinning.
I recommend this product line to everyone who sits in my chair, simply because I have had such a positive experience with it.
VIDEO: What Getting a Haircut Is Like Post-Quarantine
Making Lifestyle Changes to Combat Hair Loss
With hair loss, topical treatments are, of course, helpful, but you also need to address the source of the problem. For me that was stress.
I’ve learned to manage my stress by practicing healthy habits like running and intentional meditation. This, along with a new focus on nutrition to fuel hair growth from within, have been key components in my journey. I’ve tried to eliminate meat, gluten, and processed foods from my diet, and am focusing on eating foods that are rich in protein and healthy fat to build up hair strength and fullness.
When I decided to become a hairdresser, I had no idea all the places and people this industry would expose me to. The journey of hair loss can feel isolating and can truly impact our confidence levels in so many ways. But when I started opening up to my clients, I was blown away by how many of them had been suffering in silence, ashamed and embarrassed to share hair concerns with their own stylist. Nobody should feel alone while combatting these issues, especially those dealing with hair loss. So don't be afraid to connect with your stylist and/or doctor for support.
I promise there are better days ahead.