The ITV show Loose Women has proven time and again that it is comfortable opening up about issues that few other programmes want to discuss, and its frank and ongoing discussion about hair loss in women seems to be gathering momentum, with the BBC now covering it.
Last year Loose Women said it was setting out to end the “stigma” of women’s hair loss after revealing that around 8 million women in the UK were losing their hair, most of them to the genetic condition Female Pattern Hair Loss.
“It can be deeply traumatic, cause embarrassment, low self-esteem and lead to a sense of losing your femininity,” said presenter Ruth Langsford at the time. Now, the show’s Andrea McLean, who is 47, has revealed on Loose Women that how her own hair is thinning, and how she wears extensions to conceal it.
“It started when I was in my early forties,” she said. “I actually spray it, I put make-up on it to cover it. It makes you feel less womanly and I decided that I won’t take that lying down.”
Losing hair all over
In the same week, Loose Women presenter Nadia Sawalha posted a highly emotional video online – watch below – in which she expanded on the thinning hair that she first talked about on the show last year.
“I think I’ve lost maybe a third of my hair”, said Sawalha in the video. “People do say, ‘Oh my God, your hair’s so thick’, but it’s not. You see here?” she says, pointing at her slightly uneven hairline. “This is where it’s balding. I’m losing it all over. I feel bad even saying this when you think of people who’ve lost their hair completely because of alopecia or cancer treatment but it doesn’t really make it any easier.”
The actress went on to explain that her thinning began when she started going through the perimenopause ,which precedes the menopause. Between sobs, she explained that she went to see a specialist for advice and was told she had “the balding gene”. Continues below…
Women are frequently surprised to hear that there is such a thing, as genetic thinning is often mistakenly thought to affect only men. Female Pattern Hair Loss treatment, however, is well-established and used by women all over the world. The right combination of treatment products can help to stop shedding, encourage regrowth and prevent hair loss moving forward.
Female hair loss is such a serious issue for women that an astonishing 94 per cent of respondents to a Loose Women poll said they were worried about it. Writing about the subject on the BBC website, reporter Laura Lea states that around 50 per cent of women aged over 65 will experience Female Pattern Hair Loss.
Fellow BBC journalist Victoria Derbyshire picked up on the story, the subject being especially close to her heart as the presenter herself endured hair loss after undergoing chemotherapy treatment during her recent fight against breast cancer. “I have to say that losing my hair was the worst bit about cancer treatment for me, more so than having a mastectomy,” said Derbyshire a year after her chemotherapy treatment had ended.
On Derbyshire’s BBC 2 show last week, the presenter featured a clip from former Bucks Fizz singer Cheryl Baker who talked about her own hair thinning, which began after childbirth. This was likely caused by a temporary hair loss condition known as Postpartum Alopecia.
“It’s that hit-you-in-the-face moment when you think, ‘This is my hair, what’s going on?’ and you start to do your hair and you think, ‘I haven’t got as much hair as I used to have,’” said Baker. “I was in absolute shock and like Nadia I shed a lot of tears. It was such a distressing thing to go through. I did everything: I bought a wig, I bought hairpieces and everything I could buy in the chemist to try and address it. I back-combed my hair, I did everything, Then I took a supplement that seemed to work, although it might have been (a question of) time.”
Food supplements are often recommended as part of a hair loss treatment course as all conditions need a properly nourished scalp to maximise chances of successful regrowth. While a balanced diet can achieve this, for those who are concerned that they may not be covering all their nutritional bases, a highly targeted supplement designed for healthy hair growth, such as the range developed by Belgravia named Hair Vitalics, can be helpful and convenient.
Sudden, patchy hair loss
Derbyshire’s show also featured an interview with American singer Nell Bryden, who lost her hair to a severe version of the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata. Unlike female pattern hair loss and postpartum alopecia which both cause thinning hair, this leads to sudden shedding which leaves behind smooth, rounded bald patches. In cases of the more extreme classes of Alopecia Areata – Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis – this can quickly progress to complete hairloss of the head, or head and body respectively. These forms of alopecia are all believed to be caused by the body attacking healthy cells in the scalp in the mistaken belief that they are enemy cells.
“I had very little time between initially losing my hair and realising I had Alopecia and that I was going to go completely bald,” Bryden told Derbyshire. “And in that time we set these markers for ourselves, like, ‘How am I going to deal with the next step?’, so at first it was, ‘I’ll chop my hair and have different haircuts’ and then it was, ‘I’ll wear a hat’. Then I realised towards the end when I was looking at the mirror I saw someone who looked ill. I needed to take back the sense of being a victim, so I shaved my hair off and I felt so much better and liberated and in control.”
The issues highlighted on Loose Women and by Victoria Derbyshire show that women are far from unusual if their hair starts to fall out – literally millions of women around the world are affected. The sensible way to proceed is to get the condition professionally diagnosed by a hair loss specialist who can then, if required, recommend a tailored treatment course in order to help promote hair growth and prevent hair loss moving forward.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.