What happens when your crowning glory loses its lustre and starts to fallout?
Very few people are comfortable about discussing their hair loss but Alopecia UK aims to raise awareness of the condition as much as possible during September’s month-long Alopecia Awareness campaign called ‘#GetTalking’.
Alopecia can affect 1-2 people in every 1,000 in the UK, and women of colour are no exception. There is a real stigma around hair loss and Alopecia UK wants to do something about it. A focus for the month-long campaign is their Big Weekend event taking place in Birmingham between 22-24 September, where there will be workshops, demonstrations and key speakers; it’s also an opportunity to speak to other people who may be in similar situations.
Talking about it can be very difficult and our Editor-in-Chief, Joy recently had the privilege of speaking to Sandra Brown-Pinnock, a pioneering figure in the hair-care industry being one of a small number of the only black-owned hair shops in London, about her struggle with stress related alopecia.
Sandra says she first became aware of the issue at 42 when she started to see bald patches in her hair. After exhausting all recommendations from her friends on products to use and receiving the diagnosis of stress alopecia, she made the courageous decision to shave her head, she said: “It took me a while to embrace it; my hair was down to my shoulders and I really did love my hair.”
It can be difficult to come to terms with having alopecia as it often comes with no other symptoms. Sandra explains: “I didn’t know what was wrong with me; I wasn’t losing weight, I didn’t feel unwell, my hair was just falling out.” As the name suggests, strain and anxiety are the main triggers of stress alopecia. Sandra’s hair had managed to grow back through nurture and a special shampoo that she had developed, but after her mum recently passed away, she rediscovered some more patches and decided to shave her hair again. “With stress alopecia, the more I stress about it, the quicker I lose my hair so I made a conscious decision to not stress because as long as I knew what it was, that it was just because of stress, I was able to stop worrying about it.”
These days, Sandra is happy to embrace the person that she is.
“Some days I don’t wear my wig and people see me as I am and they say, “Oh you look cute!” So, I accepted myself more as I got positive feedback.”
Starting a dialogue and educating ourselves, even if it doesn’t affect us directly is so important. As Sandra said, her acceptance of herself grew as she got more positive feedback and being open and honest in conversation is a great way to do that. She does admit, however, that: “It’d be so much easier without the stares, giggles, and the questions on my ‘cancer,’. Today I can take the condition in my stride, but my heart stops when I think of all those people who are too young or too fragile to handle it. I just wish people would learn more about it.”
Find out more about: Alopecia Awareness Month