This is by far one of the hardest posts I’ve had to write – it’s a bit emotional! Exactly one year ago all my hair started to fall out. Find out why I lost most of my hair and what I’m doing about it.
I’m so sorry if this post sounds very matter of fact. It’s taken me a whole year to be able to write about this experience and I’m not sure how to convey just how horrible it has been and continues to be.
I’ve always had the thickest hair of all my friends. My freakishly long and thick locks had been hard work maintaining over the years but like most girls my hair was my thing. My mane was my pride and joy. I loved styling it and loved being blonde. I loved doing different styles, plaits, waves and messy buns. It was my crowning glory and gave me so much confidence.
It started with a trip to my hair dresser. I remember it really well. It was the weekend of my best friends wedding on 19 August 2017 and I’d had my hair coloured especially for the day. I’d visited this one once before and had a brilliant experience, so I decided to go back for a second time so I looked good for my friends wedding photos. Nothing bad happened while I was there and I left in blissful ignorance of what was about to happen.
A week afterwards I started noticing that a lot of my hair was starting to drop out. When I’d styled my hair to go on an anniversary date with my boyfriend more hair than normal was coming out and I started to worry. It was significantly more than normal. My hair moults with the seasons and as we were going into autumn I didn’t think anything of it initially and just carried on. In my head I put it down to hormones, the time of the month or that winter was coming!
During the next three weeks every time I had a shower my hair fully blocked the shower. One night I was so upset I was sobbing in the shower and my boyfriend Henry had to rescue me and bundle me in a towel to calm me down. There was hair in the bed, hair on the floor, and our poor Dyson hoover was clogged constantly with hair. It came out in my hands when I ran my fingers through my locks and my hair brush was continuously full. My mind lept to the worst possible explanation. I thought I was seriously ill.
I didn’t know what to do with the hair that had come out. Initially I threw it away but, when I thought I was sick I thought I should keep it in case it needed to be looked at or to show the doctor just how my hair I was losing and that my anxiety about it was justified.
After one week I’d filled a Tesco carrier bag full of hair. I’d say I’d lost a third of my hair at this stage.
The next day I booked an appointment at the Doctor.
The two weeks that I had to wait for that appointment was terrible. It felt like the longest wait. The more the hair came out the worse I felt, the more the anxiety built. I cried a lot during this time, I mean A LOT. Justin Timberlake could cry me a river and it would still not have been anywhere near the amount of tears I cried.
After three weeks my bag of hair became bags of hair and our bathroom looked like a hairdressers nightmare. I’d also started to not be able to hide my hair well, tufts had developed and annoyingly stuck out or fell out constantly. At this stage I started wearing my hair up in a bun pinning as much of it down as I could.
Once at the appointment I was with a very kind doctor who gave me a full MOT. She identified that the hair was not coming out at the root and was most likely a bleaching issue.
I broke down. The relief that I wasn’t ill was incredible. It was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulder. I felt terrible, exhausted from the worry. I then felt a huge compassion for people who were sick and did lose their hair. I can only imagine what that feels like, the mere thought of it broke me. Then I felt guilty and ridiculous that I’d made such a fuss and wasted the doctors time.
When my hair was falling out it felt like my identity was being striped away. I had always taken my hair for granted and although I knew I was emotionally attached to my hair this experience had really hammered that fact home. I attach an unbelievable about of emotion to my hair. I didn’t feel like myself anymore.
My hair fell out solidly for about three and a half months until about 20 percent of it was left and the majority of what was left was short tufts. I managed to hide it well using the few strands of long hair to disguise the rest.
After the doctors I immediately went to an independent hair dresser, a reliable friend of a friend, to assess my hair. They confirmed what the doctor had said. When I was having my roots touched up there’s an overlap of bleach. It was left on too long and my hair was breaking off where the bleach overlap was – so my tiny tufts of hair were my natural hair colour with bleached tips. It was a strong look. I don’t have any pictures of this time. I wish I did now so I could compare how it looks now but I just hated looking at my hair. At the time I didn’t want any reminders of what was happening.
This new hair dresser gave me some great advice and I bought a load of proper hair dresser recovery shampoos, conditioners and oils to immediately start replenishing my fragile hair. She gave me loads of advice and recommended regular olaplex treatments to start restoring my hair. She also said I should go back to the hairdresser that did it and make them aware of what happened and see if they’d do anything. But I now had the fear. The thought of going back to any hair dresser filled me with anxiety and I couldn’t face it. I couldn’t even ring them to book an appointment.
After three months I plucked up the courage to go back to my original hairdresser. I took the bags of hair in case they put up a fight. they didn’t they were kind and devastated for me. They were gutted and refunded my money and did everything they should. They gave me products and offered me treatments but I didn’t really trust them anymore. I went a couple of times but every time they tried to straighten my hair and there was no way my hair could handle that. Their advice clashed with the expert advice I’d received from my friends award winning hair dresser friend and I didn’t feel they really knew their stuff. I decided to cut my losses and not return.
I also had to see the girl that destroyed my hair every time I went in and it was just so awkward. She made a very brave phone call to me apologising which was so tough as we got on well and my initial experience with her had been really good. I mean hats off to her for making such a difficult phone call and handling it so well but it was never going to make up for the fact that my hair is going to be ruined for years. It’s going to take years for it to grow back.
I left my hair for eight months using keratin products as I was too scared to go back to any hair dresser for treatments. Finally I was forced into dealing with my hair when I got nominated for a UK Blog Award. There was a big ceremony in London and normally I’d always style my hair but with the tufts I didn’t know what to do – there was no covering it up! My hair always made me feel good in these situations and I had no idea how to feel confident about the way I looked.
There aren’t many (if any?!) pictures during this time where I’ve not severely tied back my hair to hide what had happened. I became very inventive and even braided my hair to add in thickness to the whispy long bits left on my head! I could hide it quite well as there were still two long sections at the front that I could comb around or sweep back and pin to hide the loss.
During this time I felt so much sadness and embarrassment at what was happening. It meant I told very few people and kept all the emotions about it inside. This didn’t do me any good!
After a good week of research between my Mum and I we found a L’Oreal expert at Toni and Guy and he was so sweet with me. He’d actually started following me on Instagram and that is where I saw his work and level of expertise and boy did I need an expert.
We had an initial conversation and took all my concerns onboard and said he could definitely work with my hair and get it blog award ready. This was so reassuring, he even came in early on the morning of the awards to give me the space and time I needed to get up the the awards. It sounds silly but I’d got a bit nervous about going to the appointment so my boyfriend took me for a super early breakfast and offered so much support. On the same day for a bit of a boost I also booked my make up to be done by the MAC counter in Harvey Nichols in London.
He cut my hair short, did an L’Oreal equivalent of Olaplex and dyed it pink. It was the best my hair felt in ages, hell, it was the best I felt in ages. After I had my make up done I felt complete and as the cliche goes, I felt like a million dollars. He cleverly cut in layers and used the two long bits at the front of my hair to shape it into a long shaggy bob. The pictures below show what a great job he did!
Since then I’ve done at least one keratin hair mask a week, sometimes even two. It’s been another 4 months and I realised today that it’s been exactly a year to the day since I started losing my hair. That’s a whole year of bad hair days.
My hair is now just long enough to get in a proper bun and I can curl it occasionally for special events to hide the differing lengths and make it a bit more presentable. My hair is growing through the roots and I’m letting my natural colour take over. The tufts are starting to grow and are nearly reaching my ears. I’m planning on regular Olaplex treatments and heading back to the hairdresser again soon to get my hair reassessed.
I’m still doing hair masks every week and have couple I’m fond of. I’ve been regularly using Palmers coco hair mask and Hask keratin hair mask. I try to leave them on over night if possible or at least for a whole evening, wrapped in foil or cling film to keep the heat in and encourage the conditioner to sink in. I’ll literally try anything though, so any recommendations are welcome, anything to make hair grow, grow, grow!
I couldn’t afford to keep buying Wella professional salon products and I have been using the keratin OGX shampoo and conditioner amongst other keratin based shampoo and conditioners. Afterwards I use a range of products but have regularly used the OGX Renewing Morrocan Argan Oil and a heat protection spray even though I’m not applying heat to my hair to protect it from the elements.
I’ve been really pleased with these products as they’ve kept improving my hair and it’s slowly starting to grow back. It’s still giving me many a bad hair day but it is growing and improving and I can now almost get all my hair into a bun, there’s just a few short bits that give it a month or two I’ll be able to tie up rather than pin.
It has been a devastating experience and I’ll never take my hair for granted again. I can’t wait for my hair to grow back fully and for it not to all be a million different lengths. I can’t wait to be able to do a hair style that isn’t a bun for work. I can’t wait to get my mermaid locks back!
I’m always looking for advice or products to try to help it on its way, so please do recommend anything you have found useful.
Have you experienced anything like this? I’m happy to chat if you’re going through something similar and need to have a good rant. I have found it very tough but remind myself that it is just hair, it will grow back and thankfully I am not ill. I cling on to that when I can’t style my hair in the morning or for when I feel like I look crap and don’t feel like myself.
I’m so happy I’ve finally got to a stage where I felt I could write about it and share it with you. It’s taken me a whole year!