A Canadian singer/songwriter who enjoyed an international hit last year with a song named Here has spoken out about her hair loss.
Alessia Cara was a YouTube sensation before she released her debut album for Def Jam recordings in 2015, but what many of her fans don’t know is that much of her teenage years were marked by patchy hair loss.
Didn’t like frizziness
Talking to Lipstick.com, Alessia says that she sometimes wonders if the start of her hair loss can be traced back to the time she started straightening her hair because she didn’t like its frizziness. “There were times when I just wanted to look like everyone else,” she says, although whether it was chemical hair straightening or heat-styling is not clarified.
Problems began soon after when hair started disappearing down the drain when she was in the shower. “It was one of the scariest things,” she tells the website. “It got to the point where it was visibly gone.”
Although she does not name her hair loss condition, the fact that she says her hairstylist mother used to practice different styles and colours on her, and that her hair started falling out after she started straightening it, could mean it was caused by Traction Alopecia.
This is a fully preventable condition as it is brought on by frequently wearing hairstyles that are affixed too tightly, pressuring the scalp and damaging the follicles. It can cause areas of thinning hair and hair breakage around where the styles were particularly taut – especially when hair extensions are involved – but also generally causes thinning around the hairline which can recede due to bearing the brunt of the tension. This is something the young singer and actress Ariana Grande has spoken openly about experiencing.
Her description of the sudden hair fall and bald patches, as well as still suffering years later is, however, consistent with Alopecia Areata. This autoimmune condition occurs when a trigger – such as hormones, stress or even a chemical reaction – causes otherwise healthy hair to fall out in clumps. For Alessia, her problems began just as she was leaving elementary school and continued through high school.
As with many teenagers with Alopecia Areata, Alessia’s goal became to conceal her hair loss, chiefly with hair styles that could be moulded into shape to hide bald patches. “Even now I struggle with it,” she says in the interview. “Sometimes you can see that my hair is missing in some spots. I have just learned how to accept it.”
Taking things a step further, she has embraced not just her bald patches but every aspect of being “different” in a song she has written called Scars To Your Beautiful. Explaining that it is for “every girl who has struggled with feeling not good enough,” she has committed to performing the song make-up free every time she sings it live.
OK to be different
Struggles with self-image are frequently mentioned by people with Alopecia Areata and Traction Alopecia, so Alessia’s determination to bring things out into the open sends a very powerful message that it’s OK to be different. Of course, Alessia’s hair loss appears relatively mild as she is able to hide it.
Things are naturally more difficult in cases of extreme conditions, such as the Alopecia Areata-related disorders Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis which both lead to a completely hair-free scalp. Alopecia Universalis also involves the loss of all body hair.
Hair loss caused by the more moderate form can be treated in over 16’s using clinically-proven methods which, when used as part of an alopecia areata treatment course, can often work wonders. While it is certainly true that hair loss caused by Alopecia Areata does grow back of its own accord quite often, choosing treatment is often preferential to the “let’s wait and see” route. Many clients tell us how they feel better knowing they are taking control of the situation and doing something proactive.
When hair loss is severe and/or hasn’t responded to treatment, the British charity Alopecia UK do a wonderful job offering support and advice to people with the condition. Their next Big Weekend event in September – the month dedicated to raising alopecia awareness – will bring together hundreds of people with the condition as well as numerous experts in the field.
The Belgravia Centre
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.