21-year-old Russian documentary filmmaker Elizaveta “Liza” Popova was signed by Moscow-based model agency Lumpen, following in the footsteps of other high-profile models who have been affected by hair loss.
Childhood hair loss
The artist was first diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata at the age of four. In an interview with American Vogue, Popova revealed how, during her childhood, she was bullied about her hairloss, both in school and at home.
“My mother cut her own hair, and from that, [she] made a wig that I wore for 13 years of my life”, she explained. “My parents instilled in me, and still do, that my bald head will scare people”, a belief reinforced by the fact that long hair is viewed as a symbol of beauty in their native country.
Popova remained intensely insecure about her condition, revealing that she was “afraid to admit it to anyone, even my best friend since fifth grade“.
However, when she was scouted to model for a jewellery company, they required her to pull her blonde wig back into a custom hood – something she could not do – and was instead asked to take it off.
Upon revealing her bald head, she received many compliments from those in the room: “All of the people around me – fashion stylists, hair stylists, designer who were at the photo shoot, began to praise me and say, ‘You are so beautiful! Why do you wear a wig?'”
Since then, she has slowly begun to embrace her bald look in public. This has been an admittedly rocky process and she has received a mixed bag of responses, ranging from the aggressively critical to the overwhelmingly positive.
What is Alopecia?
Alopecia Areata is characterised by sudden, patchy hair loss on the scalp, but it can often develop into more severe forms, namely Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis – the former causes total baldness of the head including eyelashes and eyebrows: the latter results in the complete loss of bodily hair as well. Judging from the pictures provided in the Vogue article, it would appear she experiences one of the two.
Popova isn’t alone. According to a review carried out at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in 2015, the autoimmune disorder affects approximately two per cent of the global population.
Little is known about the mechanics behind its various forms, though they are all thought to manifest following ‘trigger incidents‘. Examples of these include stress, sudden trauma, allergies, infections and skin injuries.
Alopecia Areata treatment can prove to be effective when the hair loss in question is patchy and confined to the scalp only. Many Belgravia clients with this form of alopecia have seen encouraging hair growth results from tailored treatment courses, which centre around formulations of topically-applied high-strength minoxidil. These can be paired with complementary non-pharmaceutical hair growth boosters.
While there are no proven cures for either Alopecia Totalis or Universalis. research is continuing to explore the use of JAK inhibitors drugs, such as tofacitinib and ruxolitinib, to treat all forms of the condition. This suggests that a treatment plan may arrive sooner rather than later for those experiencing the two more severe forms of Alopecia Areata.
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.