My Hair Journey and Alopecia

How did I get from an adequate amount of hair all over my head to absolutely no hair on top and thinning hair around the sides?

I’ve never had what old folks called a “head full of hair.” My hair can beat be described as soft and short. But, I had hair all over my head. My mom, being the Southern mother she was and still is, made sure my short tresses were greased, put in ponytails and decorated every time I left the house.

My younger brother and I at our paternal grandparents home, circa 1976.

As I got older, my mom introduced me to relaxers and I learned how to relax and do my own hair. I wasn’t as cute, but hey, I tried. My mom came to my rescue and had my hair professionally done from time to time. I also had a cousin who could cut hair. He kept my short hair looking cute.

Me in middle school, circa early 80s

Then came high school! I really struggled with my hair then. I somehow came up with a Bart Simpson ‘do that I tied a bandana around most days. But at least I got my hair done for the prom.

Prom 1990. My date, Paul is now my hubby. We’ve been together since right before prom. He’s known me with hair and without hair and loves me just the same.

Hello college! I wore “freeze curls”, pulled my hair pulled back in little flower thingees, and was introduced to braids! Braids became my go-to style while in college. During all of this time though, my hair didn’t grow much, so I kept it cut close and shaved in the back.

That’s me, second from the left. I was a sophomore in college…and still had hair on top.

Next up, real life and hair issues! I continued wearing braids after college for years. Everything seemed to be going smoothly….

Me holding my niece Jasmine, circa 1999.

And then I became pregnant with my second son Bryant. I had no hair loss issues with my first son Aaron, so I didn’t anticipate any issues with this pregnancy. Around month 4, I started noticing some thinning, but I just kept my braids in and trudged on. The pic below is one of the last that shows me with hair during that time. A couple of years later, I had no hair on top. My youngest son has no memories of me with hair on top of my head.

My baby shower, 2003. By 2005, I had no hair on top.

WHERE DID MY HAIR GO?

When my hair started thinning out more, I started visiting local hairstylists and getting weaves. During a visit to one particular stylist, she glued hair in the thinning areas and styled my hair. I was happy with that, even though I didn’t know WHY my hair was thinning. During one particular visit, the stylist pulled the track off of my scalp aggressively. When I turned and looked in the mirror, the little bit of hair I had that would cover the tracks was gone. I sat there in stunned silence. When I asked her where my hair went, she flippantly responded, “You didn’t have any hair there to begin with.” She gave me a quick weave and I left, still in shock. Needless to say. I found another stylist.

I also visited a dermatologist who finally gave me a diagnosis: androgenic alopecia, which basically means it’s genetic in origin. This explained why both my mother and my hair were thinning in the same spots. We never talked about it until my diagnosis!

POST DIAGNOSIS LIFE

Since being diagnosed with androgenic alopecia, I have tried every topical agent under the sun, including shots injected into my scalp, to facilitate hair growth. There have been years when I would say, “Screw it. It is what it is.” and not use any products. And then there would be years when I would stay in the beauty supply store, looking for the latest “cure.” Where am I now? Somewhere in between. I have a couple of products I am using that are actually working, but they stink!

Me in one of my wigs…notice the swooped bang!
I keep a few wigs in rotation.

My family has been very supportive on this journey. They don’t make fun of me or stare at me. My youngest son only knows me without hair. When I am around my family I don’t cover my hair up: everybody is used to it. Paul has always said he loves me with a head full of hair or bald. I love him for his support!

I have refined my wig game over time and figured out which styles work best for my face. As you saw from my childhood pictures, I have a healthy forehead, so all of my wigs HAVE to have a bang….NO EXCEPTIONS! I also wear bandanas a lot now. I think the older I get the more tired I get of styling my wigs. I look at other women who without shame rock bald heads and I imagine myself doing that. Maybe one day……

Peace and blessings.

KP

My bob wigs are my faves!
The guys and I at a food truck rodeo last summer…#bandanalife

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