Hair can be a deeply personal part of our bodies, which can make dealing with hair loss extremely emotionally taxing. By the time they turn 40 years old, 40 percent of women experience hair loss according to the American Academy of Dermatology. It’s a staggering number considering how little hair loss is talked about in women compared with men. Though it’s less stigmatized for a man to experience balding, many women battle hair loss (particularly after pregnancy) in silence, which is why it’s so important for celebrities such as Kristin Davis, Tyra Banks and Keira Knightley to open up about their experience and show others they’re not alone.
“Changes like delivery, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation and hormones place a stress on the body, and in response the body works to conserve energy and resources from areas of low priority, such as hair growth, in favor of supporting other more critical changes taking place,” dermatologist Dr. Lindsey Bordone told SheKnows in 2019. “When this happens many hairs are shifted to the shed phase of the hair cycle and then in a one- to three-month period, shedding begins.”
Hair loss in women can happen for multiple reasons — stress, menopause, pregnancy and postpartum hormone changes, diet, rough handling — but one thing is for sure: With lush heads of hair or not, everyone is beautiful, and these celebrities are here to prove that. Though there are a lot of ways to combat hair loss — including over-the-counter medications such as minoxidil — sometimes it’s unavoidable and genetic. To inform yourself about hair loss, we collected 10 empowering stories from female celebrities who experienced and embraced their hair loss.
A version of this story was originally posted February 2018.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith first opened up about her alopecia diagnosis in 2018 and even shared evidence of her own hair loss journey in an instagram post from late 2021: “Look at this line right here,” Pinkett Smith said in the video, pointing out some of the newer bare patches. “Now this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide, so I thought I’d just share it so y’all not asking any questions — but you know, mama’s going to put some rhinestones in there, and I’m going to make me a little crown.”
In her post, she went on to add that she had plans to take her hairstyle “down to the scalp” because of the loss but stayed positive and totally on-brand throughout, naturally: “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends … period!😆 ”
Christina Milian says she experienced postpartum hair loss after her first two pregnancies and, thanks to a solid amount of research on the subject of hair loss after birth, was more prepared for it after welcoming her third child Kenna in April 2021.
“With my first two children, and most specifically with Violet, I’d say somewhere between four and six months [after birth] I noticed hair loss,” Milian told SheKnows. “It just kept happening, I washed my hair and next thing I know it was in my hands… It was scary, like ‘what is happening right now?'”
She said she felt really self-conscious about the way it looked and felt and that there was no information out there and few people talking about the issue outside hyper-specific mom-centric blogs. So she turned to her gynecologist:”He broke it down for me and told me to watch my diet but he also said it’s not only the ends of your hair, it’s also about focusing on your scalp.”
After 30 years of silently dealing with her “debilitating” hair loss, Lake opened up about her struggle and took a plunge of shaving her head — and she says it taught her so much about herself, her self-image and the community she surrounds herself with.
“I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life,” she wrote in a powerful instagram post the time. “It has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things. There have been a few times where I have even felt suicidal over it. Almost no one in my life knew the level of deep pain and trauma I was experiencing. Not even my therapist/s over the years knew my truth.”
Glee‘s Lea Michele opened up about her experience with postpartum hair loss in early 2021, a few months after giving birth to her first child.
“The postpartum hair loss is REAL,” Michele wrote on instagram at the time alongside a photo of a clump of hair that hand fallen out. “Enjoying this long hair while it lasts because the mom bob is right around the corner.”
Viola Davis began experiencing hair loss from alopecia areata at 28 years old. After she learned her balding was from stress, she internalized the struggle until she learned to embrace her hair for what it was. “I woke up one day, and it looked like I had a Mohawk. Big splash of bald on the top of my head,” Davis told Vulture. “I was like, ‘What is this?’ Until I found out it was stress related. That’s how I internalized it. I don’t do that anymore. My favorite saying in the world is, ‘The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.’ I am telling you, I have spent so much of my life not feeling comfortable in my skin. I am just so not there anymore.”
Because she was embarrassed by her hair, Davis got into the habit of wearing wigs wherever she went. It wasn’t until she was older that wigs, which she still wears, became an option, not something to hide behind.
“I wore a wig in the Jacuzzi. I had a wig I wore around the house. I had a wig that I wore to events. I had a wig that I wore when I worked out. I never showed my natural hair,” Davis said. “It was a crutch, not an enhancement. I was so desperate for people to think that I was beautiful. I had to be liberated from that [feeling] to a certain extent.”
After she wrapped the final season of Sex and the City, on which she played Charlotte York, Kristin Davis began experiencing hair loss. “My hair just was not what it used to be,” Davis told Women’s Wear Daily. “It was very fine, like it had gone away, there just was hardly any hair there. [It] was always very difficult hair, which no one believes when I tell them — it’s always been not quite that easy, but because I had a lot of hair the professionals could help me make it look nice. It’s not like I woke up and I had Charlotte hair.”
At first, Davis ignored it and concentrated on other parts of her life. But when she tried to do her hair one day, she realized she didn’t have much left. That’s when she turned to Volaire hair-volumizing products at the recommendation of her hairstylist, Luke O’Connor. Davis was such a fan of the products that she later became the brand’s ambassador.
After color-treating her hair for years, Keira Knightley saw that her hair was falling out. The hair loss became so bad she wore wigs for five years until her hair grew back after she became pregnant with her daughter, Edie, in 2015.
“I have dyed my hair virtually every color imaginable for different films. It got so bad that my hair literally began to fall out of my head!” Knightley told InStyle U.K. “So for the past five years I’ve used wigs, which is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to my hair.”
Selma Blair began to experience postpartum hair loss after she gave birth to her son, Arthur, in 2011. In an effort to keep it real, Blair — who like many moms experienced the hair loss from changing hormones — opened up about the chunks of her hair that would fall out in the shower and how she would flaunt her bald patches instead of wearing extensions.
“This is so not glamorous, but it’s true: I need to take longer showers so that I can collect the hair that falls out and throw it away so I don’t clog the drain. Why do actresses never talk about that?” Blair told People. “It just started falling out at the three-month mark. And I’m not a girl who likes extensions, so Selma’s going to be bald!”
Like a lot of people, Tyra Banks began experience alopecia areata, the medical term for spot baldness, from stress. Her stress reached an all-time high when she was writing her 2011 book, Modelland, which resulted in her losing her hair.
“Honestly, chilling for me was eating a meal,” she told The Wall Street Journal. “I couldn’t just look at the ocean. And in hindsight that wasn’t healthy. How can I say this without tearing up? I got a little alopecia from the stress.”
Neve Campbell started losing her hair when she was as young as 23. The alopecia areata was caused by stress from the Scream actor’s career, a divorce she was going through at the time and stalkers.
“At 23, I developed alopecia,” Campbell told The Daily Mail.” I was horribly overworked and going through a divorce. Also, I had stalkers and started receiving threatening mail. I was so distressed by it all that my hair started falling out. Life hasn’t always been a bowl of cherries.”
Rosie O’Donnell revealed her battle with hair loss on Twitter with a makeup-free photo showing off her bald spots. The comedian revealed that her hair loss was caused by aging, which is frequent in women over 40. “male pattern baldness … aging is fun,” she tweeted.
After rough-handling her hair for years with extensions and weaves, Naomi Campbell experienced significant hair loss. She revealed to Evening Standard she “lost all of it.” Since then, Campbell has become more careful with her hair, leading to most of her bald spots growing back. “I do take more care of my hair now, because I lost all of it with extensions,” Campbell said. “I am more careful, and I do different things.”
Little Mix member Jesy Nelson began experiencing hair loss when she was as young as 13. In an interview with Fabulous magazine, the singer revealed she was bullied because of her alopecia areata, which caused noticeable bald spots from stress.
“I was probably about 13 when my hair just started coming out,” she said. “Stress can cause alopecia, and it wasn’t nice. I got picked on because I’ve always liked to dress differently. I’ve never really wanted to fit in with everyone else.”
Tamar Braxton experienced hair loss after the birth of her son, Logan, in 2013. Though fans of her show Braxton Family Values tried to come for her about her edges, she set them straight.
“When u HAVE your baby …(my son) your hair falls out!!” she assured them, but also gave a shout-out to her favorite hair oil for helping her nurture her scalp and hair back to life. “But if it didn’t work I would BUY me some.”
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