After writing a beauty blog for over half a year now, I think it’s about time I tell you about something beauty related that affects me on a daily basis. I apologise in advance that it’s going to be a long one and it might get a bit emotional.
Disclaimer-I’m not writing this for sympathy or attention, I’m writing this for my 14-year-old self and potentially others out there who suffer from a similar problem. I also wanted to write this in hope that people who do not suffer from a condition like this may begin to understand how it feels. I also want to say that I am very aware that there are many many people out there who have much worse problems than me, the thought of this helps give me a reality check when I’m feeling low and makes me thankful for what I have.
But that doesn’t mean that I’m not suffering too.
Okay so where do I begin? I guess I should tell you name of the condition, it’s called Androgenic/Androgenetic Alopecia (AA) or is more commonly known as Female Pattern Baldness.
When I first noticed what was happening I went online in search of forums. All I could find were middle-age women going through menopause talking about hair loss. Nobody remotely close to my age, so if you’re losing your hair and in your teens, I’m here to say that you’re not alone and you’re not a freak. You’ve just been handed some really rubbish genes and it’s okay to cry about it, I mean Lord knows I do! But and I know it’s really hard, some days you have to try your best to forget about it. Admittedly I’m still struggling with that last bit.
So to give you a quick summary, I started losing my hair when I was around 13/14 which is an early age to have this condition, it’s much more common in menopausal women. I’ve always had fine hair (the individual strands are thinner) but it was only then that I started to get thin hair (less strands overall). So, of course, I started to google possible causes and came to many conclusions the whole time my mum telling me that it is hereditary as she is also a sufferer (but didn’t show signs as early as I did) and it was passed onto her through my grandad. In simple terms Androgenic Alopecia is caused by a sensitivity to Testosterone or so I have read and was told when I was diagnosed about a year ago.
I could insert some very unflattering photos of what my hair actually looks like but I don’t want to risk completely humiliating myself on the internet. A guy in one of my GCSE classes (without knowing about my condition) pretty much summed it up by saying ‘it’s like your head is too big for your hair’ so I suppose just imagine something like that for now. But if you think you might suffer from something similar and want to talk about it you can always reach me at email@example.com
So now I’m going to tell you a bit about how it affects me personally In hopes that you the reader of this can begin to understand or this may answer some of the questions you may have, now this is going to be very frank and honest but this is exactly how I see it:
The paranoia of people laughing behind me drives me insane, my lack of hair is very visible from the back especially if I have my hair down but this is very rare now as I am acutely aware of how it looks. I tend to only have it down if I’m with my family, at home, or having a day where I’m fed up of not feeling normal teenage girl, I lie to myself and say it looks okay when really I know I’ll spend the rest of the day trying to cover up the worse areas, hoping it’s not windy and that no one notices.
Now some people are probably thinking it’s just hair. Well it is just hair, that is until it starts getting taken away from you. And for me personally having long thick nice hair is a very feminine trait and I can’t help feel like I’m having my femininity taken away from me. It’s something that up until that point, you take for granted because it’s always been there.
This leads me onto my next point, now you could say this is very vain but it’s the society that we live in. Having nice hair is one of the things that other people are attracted to and I don’t have that ‘luxury’. I guess what I’m trying to say is that losing my hair has destroyed my confidence, I was never the most outgoing person growing up but my hair has completely hindered my confidence. In all honesty I don’t think I could ever feel completely confident in my own body, I don’t think I could ever truly love myself. And if you don’t love yourself then how can you expect someone else to love you? And as a self-confessed hopeless romantic this thought tears me apart.
‘Why don’t you wear a wig?’ Now you tell me, when you’ve had a haircut do people often notice? I’ll take that as a yes. Now explain to me how people aren’t gonna notice that my hair looks at least 3 times as thick, is probably a slightly different colour, texture and length. I can’t exactly just say I had a haircut when it’s clear I suddenly have more hair. My fear is that everyone will know. My other issue with wigs is if I were to start wearing one, how do I eventually tell future friends, partners, etc.. that I wear one? What if they reject me? Some people would argue that those people were clearly not worth it then. But do I really want to put myself through the unnecessary rejection and humiliation? No, definitely not. And thirdly I think I would cry every night if I had to come home after feeling on cloud nine, take off my wig and face what really reflects back at me in the mirror.
Bright overhead lighting and bathroom lighting will always be my nemesis.
I don’t want to see what my hair looks like from the back when I go to the hairdressers because I don’t want to leave feeling like s**t.
Out of respect please don’t tell me how annoying your thick hair is because unfortunately I’ll never have any sympathy for you.
My most common thought everyday is about my hair and some nights I cry myself to sleep over it.
I’m so jealous of most people my age who don’t have to worry about hair loss and how they take this for granted.
I don’t want you to take my picture because I know I will always look bald in it and nothing you say will ever change that feeling. When I take selfies it’s always in dim lighting and I always crop my hairline out because I don’t want everyone to see what I see all the time.
‘Can’t you get a hair transplant?’ No, that can only be done if you’ve gone bald in a specific area and you have hair follicles elsewhere that you can spare, I have neither of those.
Sometimes I joke about going bald because it’s the only thing that stops me from crying in front of other people.
I have real selfish moments of ‘why is this happening to me?’ ‘I’m a good person, blah, blah, blah..’ It’s then when I have to remind myself that I’m not dying and this condition doesn’t affect my health.
Is there a cure? No…there’s not. You can’t really fight your genes, no miracle cream is going to give me a full head of hair. I don’t know how much I’ll lose or how quickly it’ll happen, it’s unlikely it’ll grow back, all I can do is try slow it down. But this is how it is.
Sometimes I have thoughts of cutting it all off and not leaving the house until it grows back but I remind myself it’s a ridiculous idea.
I’m scared that if one day I am lucky enough to have kids of my own I’ll pass this onto them and they’ll be forced into feeling the same way I do, and I wouldn’t wish this feeling of constant paranoia and feelings of low self-worth on anyone.
So there we go, that was a bit of an insight into my thoughts. Next I thought I’d talk about the products I use:
- Well firstly I should probably mention that I take iron tablets (the GP first thought a lack of iron might be the cause) and a vegetarian supplement.
- The Elvive Fibrology Shampoo, Conditioner and Thickness Booster every time I wash my hair. Do I feel like it really makes a difference? No, but I’m scared that if I stop using it more hair will fall out.
- After washing my hair I spray it with Elvive Fibrology Double Elixir.
- Occasionally I’ll also use the hair mask from the same range.
- I also use half a capful of Regaine foam every night on my scalp, again I’m scared what will happen if I stop using it.
- I’ve also tried Alpecin caffeine shampoo ad serum/tonic and also the female version of Alpecin (Plantur 39), I don’t think either really did anything for me.
Here’s a couple of links with a bit more information on AA:
So that was a very truthful account of my experience with Androgenic Alopecia, if you take anything away from this please just let it be that you don’t take what you naturally have for granted.
As always, your favourite slap head. (That’s the humour trying to kick in!)