female hair loss in my 20s

I never thought I'd have massive hair loss in my 20s, but I did. Here are the things I've learned about hair loss and about myself in the process. | via The Spirited Violet

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I thought I would open up a little bit more about what my experience with female hair loss in my 20s has been like.  First of all, when I found out my hair loss was due to an autoimmune disease I have kept my hair regrowth hopes and expectations very low (and continue to).  Since I am adopted and have limited medical history, I’ve just tried to be open minded that female hereditary hair loss might just be something I have.  For me, this has been the healthiest way for me to move forward and accept my hair loss in my 20s.  However, it wasn’t always that easy.

GRIEVING WILL HAPPEN

You know the 7 stages of grief?  Well, I had them.  I was angry my hair was falling out and then I was angry because I cared so much it was falling out.  I began realizing how much I cared about dead protein on my head and I spent a lot of time crying.  I began bargaining about all of the things I had done with my hair (how I brushed it, what I shampooed and conditioned it with, did I blow dry it too much?) and rationalized that this is actually the reason my hair was falling out.  As people noticed how thin my hair was, I became extremely embarrassed and more uncomfortable with my appearance if it made them uncomfortable.  I became upset when I couldn’t figure out how to match a hat with my outfit and frustrated when I realized my hair was waaaay too noticeable if I wanted something easy like a ponytail.

FEMALE HAIR LOSS IS DIFFERENT

This is a picture of my hair in 2014.  I took this picture because I was noticing how prematurely gray I am 😉 .  I can see now that my hair was receding in these photos, but I didn’t know what to look for at the time.  See, the thing with female hair loss is it begins at the parts of your hair.  Male hair loss is more circular.  I had had a lot of physical trauma and injuries from car wrecks so I lost a lot of hair during that period, but I had no idea it would keep happening and it was so slow I didn’t notice!

This was my hair in 2014 prior to my diagnosis with an autoimmune disease. I can see the hair loss pattern now, but at the time I didn't know what to look for! | via The Spirited Violet

Sooo…this is what my hair looked like in May of this year.  Devin and I are kind of short and we don’t spend a lot of time looking at the top of my scalp 😉 .  I actually found out about my hair loss because a friend kindly said she had been worried about me and my stress levels since she could see so much of my scalp.  Like the grieving cycle, I was in denial even though I went home and combed my fingers through my hair.  It wasn’t until I went to the zoo and found myself sunburned on weird parts of my scalp that I took pictures of the top of my head and found this.  I was shocked to say the least… I wasn’t expecting to have hair loss in my 20s.

I spent the next few weeks until my Doctor’s appointment frantically researching everything I could about hair loss.  It wasn’t the happiest of my times.  Devin spent a lot of time daily reassuring me that he didn’t care about my hair and then wide-eyed when I read the price of different treatments to him.  I had decided that I was going to do laser treatments because ATLANTA IS TOO HOT FOR A STINKING WIG.  Seriously though, there is a reason why Atlanta is called Hotlanta.

This was my hair in early 2016 before I realized I had an autoimmune disease. I was diagnosed a month later. | via The Spirited VioletThis was my hair in early 2016 before I realized I had an autoimmune disease. I was diagnosed a month later. | via The Spirited VioletThis was my hair in early 2016 before I realized I had an autoimmune disease. I was diagnosed a month later. | via The Spirited Violet

THE SUPPLEMENTS YOU SHOULD TAKE

Through my research and a conversation with my Doctor I found that the most important things to have in your diet are pretty simple:

  • Biotin
  • Prenatals
  • Protein
    I typically drink a protein smoothie everyday.  I love Garden of Life smoothie powders because they are organic, non-GMO, dairy-free, gluten-free, and void of any other food trigger any person could possibly have.  I mix them with berries, almond milk, spinach, and a banana and it helps me know that I’m getting a nutritional supplement in my day that I probably would not have otherwise.
  • Iron (if your Doctor says you need it)
  • Vitamin C (if you have an issue with iron)
  • Vitamin D (if your Doctor says you need it)

After my lab results, I had such a big Vitamin D deficiency that I’ve had to take 50,000 units for prescription.  I researched prenatals for a few hours in the store trying to find something that had a lot of iron and Vitamin C (helps you absorb iron).  I also began putting protein powder in my smoothies that were very vitamin fortified to cover any gaps I could have in my diet.

What I was surprised to learn though is Rogaine isn’t recommended to women who want to have children.  That was baffling to me, but since Rogaine regulates your hair cycles once you stop taking it…your hair falls out and you can’t take it while you’re pregnant.

IT GETS BETTER

While this has been a weird experience to have and I do have lots of hair growing in now, I’m oddly really grateful I’ve had this experience.  It has been eye opening for me to see how many things I invest my time in that really have nothing to do about the type of person I am even if they do make me feel good about my appearance.  It has helped me shatter some expectations about physical appearance I’ve had of myself and gain empathy for an issue I have never had prior to this. (I decided to get a haircut later which helped out as well.)

I would be lying if I didn’t say that I do have hopes that my hair will keep growing, but in the mean time, my hat collection has been nicely expanding 🙂 .

Have you ever had hair loss?  Have you ever had anything with your physical appearance that has made you think differently?

  • Paige Cassandra Flamm

    Right after I graduated high school I lost a lot of hair. I think a lot of it was stress related since I hadn’t been living at home the entire school year, but there was so much hair missing that my pony tail was about as thick as my pinky. Luckily it was one mass shedding and then it all grew back, which resulted in sprouts of hair all over my head for months and months and months, and since having kids it’s came in thicker than it was previously, but it was horrible. Hoping that you find something that works for you eventually!

    • I can’t imagine moving out my senior year- I’d be stressed out too!! I’m glad your hair grew back and is so full now. I think it is gorgeous! I’m excited for my hair to start growing back in too.

  • Paige Cassandra Flamm

    Right after I graduated high school I lost a lot of hair. I think a lot of it was stress related since I hadn’t been living at home the entire school year, but there was so much hair missing that my pony tail was about as thick as my pinky. Luckily it was one mass shedding and then it all grew back, which resulted in sprouts of hair all over my head for months and months and months, and since having kids it’s came in thicker than it was previously, but it was horrible. Hoping that you find something that works for you eventually!

    • I can’t imagine moving out my senior year- I’d be stressed out too!! I’m glad your hair grew back and is so full now. I think it is gorgeous! I’m excited for my hair to start growing back in too.

  • I had this happen for the same reason…something that really helped me was consuming daily collagen! I knew it would strengthen the hair I still had (I was really just hoping it would make it better so maybe no one would notice my loss? ha), I didn’t know it would cause actual new growth. But it did, for me!

    • I will definitely have to try that!! When were you diagnosed with hashimato’s?? I have little baby hairs everywhere springing up. It feels like someone shaved my head underneath all of my hair!!

  • I had this happen for the same reason…something that really helped me was consuming daily collagen! I knew it would strengthen the hair I still had (I was really just hoping it would make it better so maybe no one would notice my loss? ha), I didn’t know it would cause actual new growth. But it did, for me!

    • I will definitely have to try that!! When were you diagnosed with hashimato’s?? I have little baby hairs everywhere springing up. It feels like someone shaved my head underneath all of my hair!!

  • You know I know how hair loss feels! I agree with you and believe it’s a blessing in a way because it is a reminder that we are not defined by our hair or appearance, but who we are inside and how we treat others.

    • I’m glad you have been so open about it because it helped me realize that it wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought it was going to be. You’re awesome!

  • You know I know how hair loss feels! I agree with you and believe it’s a blessing in a way because it is a reminder that we are not defined by our hair or appearance, but who we are inside and how we treat others.

    • I’m glad you have been so open about it because it helped me realize that it wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought it was going to be. You’re awesome!

  • Autumn I think it’s so awesome that you opened up about this! I know my family history: my dad and all my brothers are bald and my mother has dealt with thinning hair over the years (and even wore a wig for a while until she got tired of the upkeep and decided she was putting too much effort into appearance instead of just loving herself exactly as God made her). I’m honestly very conscious of my hair and am always sort of waiting for it to thin out more and more. This post was really great for me because when the time comes, I hope I’ll remember your awesome perspective!
    I had a boyfriend in college once tell me offhandedly that I had thin hair and it was a dagger in the heart and the beginning of my insecurity with it. Words stick!
    That being said, regardless of what’s happening on the top of your head, you are so beautiful inside and out!

    • Can I just say that that guy was LAME. I have little insecurities I’m still trying to work out from silly things past people said as well and I’ve been married for 5.5 years. I’m glad you opened up to me about your Mom because I honestly hadn’t known anyone who had female hair loss…especially when they were young. If you want to check out the supplements I have been using, we should talk sometime!

  • Autumn I think it’s so awesome that you opened up about this! I know my family history: my dad and all my brothers are bald and my mother has dealt with thinning hair over the years (and even wore a wig for a while until she got tired of the upkeep and decided she was putting too much effort into appearance instead of just loving herself exactly as God made her). I’m honestly very conscious of my hair and am always sort of waiting for it to thin out more and more. This post was really great for me because when the time comes, I hope I’ll remember your awesome perspective!
    I had a boyfriend in college once tell me offhandedly that I had thin hair and it was a dagger in the heart and the beginning of my insecurity with it. Words stick!
    That being said, regardless of what’s happening on the top of your head, you are so beautiful inside and out!

    • Can I just say that that guy was LAME. I have little insecurities I’m still trying to work out from silly things past people said as well and I’ve been married for 5.5 years. I’m glad you opened up to me about your Mom because I honestly hadn’t known anyone who had female hair loss…especially when they were young. If you want to check out the supplements I have been using, we should talk sometime!