Disclaimer: This is my hair loss story and includes details which I have researched myself. Details may not be accurate due to hair loss being subjective to the individual.
This is a hard post for me to write, but one that I have wanted to do for a very long time now. I hope that this may be helpful for someone who is going through this right now, or may be able to raise some awareness of hair loss.
The Stages I Experienced
There were 5 key stages of Hair Loss which I experienced:
- Speaking to loved ones and professionals/acceptance of the hair loss
- Trying to find the cause of the issue
- Maintaining my confidence and a positive mentality
- Overcoming the hair loss
As you can see, I went through the motions with my hair loss. It hurt me badly! Not physically, but mentally.
“Why? Why are you doing this to me?”
I felt lost and like my confidence took a massive dip! I didn’t want to go out in case people would notice my thinning hair, and in case they actually mentioned it to me.
As a female in my 20’s, I used to hide behind my long hair. I would use it as a way to communicate. For me, my hair masked my face and made me confident. It was a conversation starter – “Wow. Look how long your hair is”, “Your hair is growing so fast!”, “How long does it take to dry your hair?”.
I think this is something a lot of young Females do. Nothing wrong in it, I just noticed I felt exposed when my hair fell out.
The First Signs
My first signs weren’t immediate. Over the space of a week or so, I noticed I was loosing more hair than usual when washing my hair. I just put it down to being the time of the year, but surely in December, your hair should be thickening up for the cold, right?
On a weekend away to London with my parents, I noticed that my hair was dropping out while waiting in a restaurant for a table. Something I hadn’t noticed before; so it was definitely out of my normal hair pattern. I found myself ignoring the signs (here comes the Denial), and casually mentioned it to my Mom – “I don’t think my hair is normal, I’ve noticed I’m loosing more than normal”.
On Monday, I popped in to see my hairdressers and she was fantastic. She noticed that it was coming out more than normal for me and said I should go to the Doctors in case I was Anemic, and mentioned she has seen it a few times when people have low Iron. I felt more relaxed knowing that I wasn’t alone in this. I did book my Doctors appointment and had a blood test to check my Iron levels as well as for possible thyroid problem.
“Your blood test results have come back clear”
Google, Google, Google and then a little more of a Google
Once my blood tests come back clear, it was back to the drawing board. What could the heck be causing this?
I was now at around week 3-4 of hair loss and it was picking up the pace. I stood there, and also got my Mom to stand there and count the amount of hair I lost after every shower. On average, it was around 250 hair strands per wash! Not including the amount of hair I lost on drying my hair!
My Parents and Boyfriend were fantastic and a great support to me. They would take it in turns to help me dry my hair as I couldn’t bear to touch it! My Dad and Matt learned how to plait my hair so they could help me every morning and night before bed.
“How can you be doing this to me? I treated you so well!”
After lots of Googling – and 3 more Doctors appointments, I came to realise what I was suffering with was Telogen Effluvium. They said online to see what was happening 3 months ago and see if you can pinpoint any dramatic changes in lifestyle etc. For me, I had a procedure done for my Endometriosis. This then messed with my hormones and sent my body into a state of shock. This was the stem of the issue – again, this is me who diagnosed this.
People I spoke to regularly – friends/colleagues – would ask if it was alopecia, but this was ruled out as my hair loss was not located in patches and was consistent across all of my scalp.
Keeping my Head Held High
Now that I kind of came to terms with what was happening, I watched YouTube videos and read blog posts about people’s experiences.
“Don’t stress – Hair grows back”
The people were right, now that I am writing this as a reflection post, I can see that they were 100% correct. Hair does grow back, but at the time I was not thinking that at all! Doing a daily count of the hair I lost became of my daily routine – not a healthy one either!
What I did learn about it though from the internet, was that you just get back on the horse and ride it out. I plaited my hair, stepped out the door and didn’t let it affect me. Too much anyway. You also know what I learnt about British people in this phase (where my fringe was hardly visible and my scalp was on show to the world? British people are just too polite to say anything to you! No one once said to me “OMG! What’s happened to your long hair?” or “What’s going on with your hair? Are you suffering from hair loss?”. Not once did that happen! Phew!
At this stage I a had a day out in Chester, and decided to call into Lush for the very first time. I stumbled into the haircare section and decided to speak to one of the lovely staff members about my hair loss. She explained that one of the Founders of Lush is a Trichologist – studies the structure of hair and scalp. I picked up a pot Roots – which stimulates hair growth at the scalp and it packed with mint, and I also picked up a New Shampoo Bar – which smells like cinnamon and also stimulates hair growth. It is said to be a popular choice for those who lost their hair through chemotherapy.
The Science of Hair Growth
Ahh, the boring section, or possibly the interesting section?
Hair growth works in a cycle which spans over (around) 3 months. It has the Anagen Phase (aka. growth), Catagen Phase (aka. transition), Telogen Phase (aka. resting), Return to Anagen Phase (aka. growth) and Early Anagen (new hair pushes the old hair out of the scalp resulting in hair loss).
Telogen Effluvium can happen at any stage, which is why you are asked to think back to 3 months ago and see if anything has happened during that time. For me, when my hormones took a hit after my procedure; it was like a pair of scissors was took to my hair underneath my scalp; so when it tried to come through my scalp, it just fell out in mass!
The promising signs for me are that I saw baby hairs coming through almost immediately. It was like my hair strand was cut in two, but the second part was acting like a new baby hair; not part of the strand which was affected by the chop. If you know what I mean…
The Changing State of my Hair
While experiencing hair loss, I noticed that my hair was changing rapidly. One month my hair could be bone dry, and then the next month I could have extremely oily hair. I changed my hair care routine, washed it at different times and tried switching to sulfate free shampoo as well as testing out multiple conditioners; just to see what worked for my hair that month. This is something which I hadn’t read about online, but something which I noticed during my own experience.
I also noticed that underneath my hair, I was sporting a beautiful grey/blonde streak – yes, I believed I was Anna from Frozen! My grey/blonde hair soon changed to brown though, but I did notice small grey hairs appearing all over my head. It was just hair with no pigment, apparently.
Chopping off my Remaining hair
My hairdresser and I sat together over the months of my hair loss, slowly taking bits of my hair off slowly to help the process. Every few months, we would discuss the idea of cutting my hair off into a short Bob to try and bring my hair back into style I would be happy with.
Once I finally was assured that the hair loss was slowing down, after shedding about 70% of my hair over the year, I took the plunge and had my hair cut off. My plait was a tiny strand down my back now, and my new growth was a mess around my scalp.
Christmas Eve 2016 (1 year after my hair loss started), it was time for me and my hairdresser (who was utterly fantastic) to sit down and cut my hair into a short Bob. My Mom sat the other side of the Hairdressers nervously waiting for me, as I was sitting there watching my hair take on a new shape!
I cried with joy!
I was amazed that my hair looked so good again. I could finally style my hair again and I felt like I was becoming myself again.
Since then, my hair has continued to grow and I am hoping to grow it back to the length it was. My whole goal for growing my hair in the first place is that I wanted to donate it to the Little Princess Trust – who make wigs for Children with Cancer.
I will get there again though, I am more determined than ever! With tubs and tubs of Lush’s Big Shampoo – which is my staple shampoo (sea salt to stimulate growth & coconut oil) and minimum heat, I am hoping to keep my hair healthy as possible and show it the love it deserves.
I hope that my story helps anyone who may be suffering from Hair Loss or if you know someone that is. Please know that everything will be ok and try to talk to others as it really does help. You will be surprised how many people suffer but never speak about it.
January 2017 – Now
After my hair cut on Christmas Eve 2016, I have decided to include photos of me over the year and a half since the cut to show my hair growth.
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