Ricki Lake: US TV presenter reveals hair loss 'hell'

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Liberated and Free, Me First things first, I am not sick. (THANK GOD.) I am not having a mid-life crisis. nor am I...

Posted by Ricki Lake on Wednesday, January 1, 2020
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TV star Ricki Lake has unveiled her new buzz cut after revealing she has been struggling with the "quiet hell" of hair loss for almost 30 years.

The US talk show host, 51, who recently competed on X Factor: Celebrity in the UK, said the ordeal had made her feel suicidal on a few occasions.

She wrote: "It has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things."

Posting new photos, she added: "For 2020 and beyond, I want to be real."

Lake was praised on social media, including by many women who have experienced their own problems with hair loss.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Ricki Lake backstage at The X Factor: Celebrity in mid-November

Lake had been "suffering mostly in silence", she said, and "almost no-one in my life knew the level of deep pain and trauma I was experiencing".

The TV personality traced her own issues back to playing Tracy Turnblad in the hit 1988 film Hairspray. "They triple-processed and teased my then healthy virgin hair every 2 weeks", she explained.

'I have to be set free'

Other factors included "yo-yo dieting, hormonal birth control, radical weight fluctuations over the years, my pregnancies, genetics, stress, and hair dyes and extensions".

Hair treatments before appearing on TV shows, from her own talk show to Dancing With the Stars, also took their toll, she added.

She has seen numerous doctors, had steroid shots in her head and taken "all the supplements and then some" in an attempt to stem the problem, she wrote. "My hair would recover and then shed again. It was maddening."

Her hair started shedding again "big time" after her latest "extreme diet", when she lost 1st 6lb (9kg) in six weeks, which coincided with two months working in London, she said.

"This time, I say no more. I have to be set free."

What causes female hair loss?

by Health reporter Philippa Roxby

Some types of hair loss in women can be temporary and caused by stress, cancer treatment, weight loss or a lack of iron.

In these cases, the hair will usually start to grow back if the cause is addressed, or it may be part and parcel of growing older.

Other types of hair loss are more permanent and caused by a medical condition. Alopecia is the general medical term for hair loss, and there are many different types.

Female pattern hair loss is the most common type in women, affecting around half aged over 65 - although it can affect younger women too.

There are treatments women can try, but they don't work for everyone and aren't normally available on the NHS. These include steroid injections, creams and hair transplants. Some women also wear wigs.

You should see your GP about hair loss if you develop bald patches, lose hair in clumps or your head itches and burns.

Women often feel distressed by losing their hair and joining a support group can help.

Other famous women with hair loss

Media caption,

My hair was my "crowning glory", says TV presenter Nadia Sawalha

  • In 2017, Loose Women panellist Nadia Sawalha posted an emotional video in which she said she had lost a third of her hair, and her trademark curls were fake. "My hair really started to change after I had my kids", she said.
  • Little Mix star Jesy Nelson started losing hair around the age of 13. Speaking in 2012, she explained that being bullied may have played a part. "My hair just started coming out," she told Fabulous magazine. "Stress can cause alopecia and it wasn't nice."
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Viola Davis ditched her wig for the 2012 Oscars
  • Award-winning actress Viola Davis lost half her hair at 28. "I woke up one day and it looked like I had a Mohawk. Big splash of bald on the top of my head," she told Vulture in 2014, adding that she thought it was stress-related. She wore wigs - but revealed her "natural" hair at the 2012 Oscars.
  • Selma Blair spoke in 2011 about shedding hair after childbirth. "I need to take longer showers so that I can collect the hair that falls out and throw it away so I don't clog the drain," she told People. "Why do actresses never talk about that?" She lost her hair completely after treatment for MS, with which she was diagnosed in 2018.
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Jada Pinkett Smith said wearing headscarves made her feel empowered
  • Actress Jada Pinkett Smith began wearing scarves on her head after losing her hair. "It was terrifying when it first started," she said in 2018.
  • In 2016, Keira Knightley said she wears wigs while filming because of the effect of regular dyeing. "It got so bad that my hair literally began to fall out of my head," she told InStyle.
  • Sex and the City's Kristin Davis spoke about her experience of having thinning hair in 2017. "It was very fine, like it had gone away, there just was hardly any hair there," she told WWD. "When I tried to do something or had to go somewhere I was like, 'Where is my hair?'"

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