Kristen has written to us about her initial reaction, when she realized she was experiencing Androgenic Alopecia. This type of Alopecia can also be known as female pattern baldness. It is characterized by gradual hair loss from the scalp, with a receding hairline.
Seeing her scalp for the first time, in Kristen’s own words..
I remember the day vividly. The day I realized that the same female patterned baldness I had witnessed in my family members, was now coming for me.
I was fresh out of college, a healthy, single 23 year old woman, filled to the brim with confidence. I no longer had the stress I had from school, and assumed all the hair I found on the floor in the past was from that stress. I had lost track of the strands I was shedding, and didn’t know what my crown looked like. Selfies were not prevalent in 2010. Female patterned baldness or thinning hair didn’t seem possible for me, after all ‘I had my dad’s head of hair’ and my hair was just ‘fine’.
There I was, driving to my friend’s wedding, on a summers day with the sunroof open and not a care in the world. As I was approaching my destination, I glanced in the rear view mirror. I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t embarrass myself with a booger in my nose or something caught in my teeth. Unfortunately, what I noticed wasn’t something that I could wipe or floss away. I saw the way the summer sun was glistening off my scalp, near my hairline.
In hindsight, I’m concerned for how I drove that day, because I was absolutely consumed by what I saw. I questioned the sheen of my scalp. It had to be the way the sun was hitting it, right?! Why was my scalp so sparse? Had I lost hair? My heart sank. My face flushed with dread. It had hit me. It was possible for me to have thinning hair. I did not have my Dad’s hair genes after all.
I assume I pulled myself together and gave myself a strong pep talk before I walked into that wedding rehearsal. I have always been a positive person, and I rely heavily on my faith during hardship. I can only imagine my ‘solo pep talk’ was a mixture of prayer, mantras and some optimistic cliches. I knew one thing, and that was that I had lots of time before I lost most of my hair. I used my loved ones hair loss timeline as my reference. I also believe I told myself how worthy and wonderful I was, because I truly felt that in that moment. I recognized that this was the most hair I was going to have on my head and that I would ‘live it up’ for as long as I could.
Visiting salons had all of a sudden made me anxious, because I felt like my scalp was under a microscope. I learned to tell hair stylists that I had ‘thin’ or ‘fine’ hair right when I sat in their chair, before I told them what style I wanted. It was obvious that I had thin hair, but telling them made me feel more relaxed and in control. I used Batiste dry shampoo in the early days of thinning, and it acted as a solution. With the dry shampoo, I was able to curb the glistening of the scalp and the formula made my strands stay put. I relied heavily on a side part, and it was essential to have clean hair. The cleaner the hair, the fresher the blow dry, the better I looked.
I also would wear my hair in loose updos secured with bobby pins to keep my scalp from showing. I still had lots of confidence while I used Rogaine (A hairloss medication) when I remembered to take it, and washed with a harsh hairloss shampoo when I could. I grew my hair out long, and would get highlights and tried trendy styles. I felt fashionable and didn’t want my hair to get in the way.
The elephant was always in my proverbial room – I was always thinking about my hair. If I was invited somewhere, my first thought was how I had to plan enough time to shower and prep my hair. No matter how cool and comfortable I felt, I had the nagging reminder that hair loss was my present, and my future.
The constant reminder of my hair situation began to chip away at my confidence. For many years I was able to brush these feelings to the side where they weren’t so loud. But in doing that I created a quiet resentment of anyone who had thick, flowing locks. I lived this way for a long time, housing the secret of hair loss deep in my psyche.
It came to a point where I didn’t want my thinning hair to ruin my plans, as it had for long enough. After a long time of giving myself time and attention, I began to love myself for who I was, not for what I looked like. Eventually, I let hair loss sit in the back seat of my life.
Above, Kristen wears Kai by Rene of Paris in Rose Gold Rooted. We hope you took some inspiration from Kristen’s story, and we certainly admire her strength! You can follow her story @lossknotlost on Instagram
September is Alopecia Awareness month, and we are showcasing many inspirational journeys here on HairWeHaveOn. Stay tuned to Everything Alopecia for new posts.