Shedding Light on Shedding: How I Navigated Female Hair Loss

Hair loss affects approximately 40% of women by age 50—so why is it not talked about more?

I wake up, brush the loose hairs off of my pillow and take a cool shower, delicately washing and conditioning my hair with personally customized products from Prose before letting it air dry. I unclog the dark clump from the drain and clean up all the hair from the sink after brushing through a Curlsmith weightless air dry cream. Then I head into the kitchen to eat a few handfuls of nuts and take Nutrafol hair supplements. Thus has become my daily routine as I try to improve the health of my hair and rebuild my confidence since this overactive hair shedding began several months ago.

I am not alone: female hair loss is on the rise in the high-stress mid-pandemic world we live in. This is not the first time I have experienced thinning strands, but it is the first time I feel brave enough to share my story in hopes of shedding light on the well-kept secret of female hair loss that in fact touches many of us.

Primarily thought to be a men’s issue, hair loss affects approximately 40% of women by age 50, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Even though a high number of women are affected, many are so embarrassed that they never go to a doctor. Why is male hair loss so openly discussed and treated while women suffer in silence?

Societal pressure for women to have long, full hair dates all the way back to biblical times: The phrase “crowning glory” is believed to originate from 1 Corinthians 11:15: “if a woman have long hair, it is a glory unto her.” Throughout history, a healthy head of hair has been associated with femininity, fertility, youth, and beauty. In Victorian times, long beautiful hair was so highly prized in art, literature and popular culture that it was believed to hold a woman’s magical powers and contain her vitality. So it’s no surprise that when a woman starts shedding more hair than usual, she may feel like they are losing part of their identity. As board certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman tells me, “I have had more women break down in tears in my office when talking about hair loss than when discussing a cancer diagnosis.”

This story originally appeared on: Vogue - Author:Kristin Auble

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