Celebs you didn't know had alopecia

When the spotlight’s on hair loss

Update September 2019: This post used to focus on female celebrities with alopecia. But then I realised, there’s a few pretty famous men with the condition too – who also rock it! So welcome to the updated version, featuring both men and famous women with alopecia. 😉

Alopecia ain’t exactly glamourous. The clumps of hair that clog up the shower drain, the leftover strands on the pillow, the bald patches flashing at inopportune moments – doesn’t sound like a lifestyle of the rich and famous, right?!

Well, what if I told you that hair loss is pretty common in Tinseltown, too? Turns out that it is. So here are a few celebrities who battle the bald – some you’ll know already, others might surprise you!

Top 5 female celebrities with alopecia

1. Jesy Nelson (Singer)

jesy nelson

Known as the member of Little Mix with the rocking voice and the luscious locks, Jesy wasn’t always so fortunate in the follicle department. When on the show X Factor she reported being bullied as a teenager due to her weight.

What she didn’t reveal until recently was that the stress of this time caused her hair to fall out, at the young age of 13. As someone who went through a very trying time during secondary school also, which led to my hair loss getting worse, I can definitely relate! Jesy is proof that with enough confidence in yourself and your abilities, the rest can fall into place. Including your hair.

2. Jemima Goldsmith (Journalist/Activist)

gemima goldsmith

For this British beauty, alopecia struck hard and fast. Although she would’ve been long used to the stress associated with being in the spotlight, it was a specific incident that triggered hair loss in her case.

A close call on a flight to Kenya, during which the pilot was attacked and the plane dropped 10,000 ft before the culprit was restrained, led to the formation of two bald patches on either side of her head. The patches appeared a few weeks later, as a result of the emotional trauma.

And although Jemima’s hair did grow back afterwards, it was white in colour (a common occurrence with alopecia). She’s had to dye it ever since.

3. Viola Davis (Actress)

viola davis

Star of The Help and ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, this talented lady first developed alopecia areata at the age of 28. In an interview with Vulture magazine, Viola recalls the experience: ‘It looked like I had a Mohawk. Big splash of bald on the top of my head’. Doctors attributed the patches to stress and following their development, Viola struggled with self-esteem issues.

The multi-award-winning actress wore wigs for years afterwards and seemingly had a hair piece for every occasion; from working out to working the red carpet. However, at the 2012 Oscars, Viola debuted her natural hair for the first time and no longer relies on wigs in her everyday life. Atta girl.

4. Keira Knightley (Actress)

Kiera

Getting to change your look for every film might sound exciting, but it often comes at a price.

For his role in The Machinist, Christian Bale reportedly lost a staggering 63 pounds in 4 months; before having to bulk up again for that bat suit. On the opposite end of the scale, Renée Zellweger had to gain 30 pounds for Bridget Jones… twice. And Keira Knightley began shedding strands thanks to the constant hair dyeing required for different roles.

It might sound superficial, especially when you think of all the money she makes – but those of us who’ve experienced hair loss know how scary it is. That you’d try anything to get it back. And that you really can’t put a price on peace of mind!

The actress had to wear wigs for 5 years until her hair eventually grew back in 2015, when she became pregnant with her daughter Edie. Phew.

5. Gail Porter (TV Presenter)

gail porter

Probably the most well-known female with alopecia, Gail is an absolute inspiration, one of my alopecia heroes. Her story is the stuff of hairy nightmares: she woke up one morning to find clumps of hair all over her pillow, and in the shower, large quantities of fallen hair, causing the water to rise above her ankles.

4 weeks later, Gail was completely bald – her eyebrows and eyelashes, too. At the age of 34, she had to face the fact that she might never have hair again; an even bigger stress factor for someone who already had a history of mental illness.

Gail’s condition is called Alopecia Totalis and it’s pretty rare. It must’ve been devastating to the Scottish former model, whose looks played a big part in her career, but her sense of humour and attitude towards the condition is admirable, even when faced with cruel reactions. She has spent years campaigning for alopecia awareness and has moved many an alopecian into braving the bald, too. After all, as she once quipped, ‘bald is the new black!’ I like her style.

Let's hear it for the boys...

In Tinselstown, there aren’t just female celebrities with alopecia. There are plenty of men, too. Some are really open about it and are, in fact, ambassadors for the condition. Others don’t shout it from the rooftops but still have to deal with the stress of their hair falling out under the harsh glare of the media. I admire them all. 🙂

1. Matt Lucas (Comedian/TV Presenter)

What I find really interesting about Matt Lucas (apart from his hilarious comedy sketches!) is that he had alopecia long before he was famous. 

In an interview with The Guardian, Matt reveals that he lost all of his hair over the course of one summer, when he was only six years old. At the time, doctors attributed it to being knocked down by a car two years earlier. But he learned later that it was actually due to an “overactive immune system” (quite like my case).

I love the comedian’s attitude to his alopecia. He notes that it shaped his life and even goes as far as to say:

“Right up until I became famous, my lack of hair was considered the most – perhaps even the only – notable thing about me.”

But the Little Britain star also believes that being bald actually helped him in his career – a career that’s largely built on adopting personas for sketch show characters, and lends itself well to wig-wearing! I’m dying to read his book and get the full story. 😉

2. Anthony Carrigan (Actor)

Truthfully, I’d never heard of this young actor before researching this post. Possibly because I’ve never seen the Fox series Gotham in which he stars. But I know a lot of people do watch it – that’s why I’m including him in my celebs with alopecia list!

Apparently, the young actor went from trying to hide his alopecia for most of his life to fully embracing it – shaving his remaining hair to play Victor Zsasz in the Batman spin-off.

Like Matt Lucas, he acknowledges that his unique look has probably landed him more roles – just one of the positive aspects of alopecia!

Having first experienced alopecia at the age of three, Anthony’s condition worsened steadily over the years and has now manifested into Alopecia Universalis. But he knows how to be bold in the face of baldness – and I salute him for it!

3. Nick Cage (Actor and All-Round Legend)

To me, Nicolas Cage can do no wrong. He is, quite simply, stupendous. And unfailingly entertaining. And batshit crazy, probably – but in a good way.

But the Oscar-winning actor has his troubles, too. And not just that he has had to land a plane full of convicts to see his missus and sproglet. Or had to drive a bunch of fancy cars really fast to save his bro. Or had to drive a motorbike around on nocturnal adventures to scare the bejayus out of people. 

No, ol’ Nick has had to battle with another demon entirely – male pattern baldness. In fact, images of his patchy head soon went viral and led to rumours of a hair transplant. Whether he did or he didn’t, who cares? He’s still a living legend. And his hair loss is just proof that he’s actually human, too. I wasn’t sure.

4. Robert Pattinson (Actor and Sometimes Vampire)

Robert Pattinson emerged onto the scene as the hottest cold-blooded hero imaginable. Young girls and (let’s face it) fully grown women swooned at his glittery godliness. And of course, his luscious locks.

But the British actor admitted that he actually had to wear a hairpiece for the final Twilight film. Why? Well, like Keira Knightley, having to constantly style, dye and bleach his hair led to him losing a vast chunk of it. (Or maybe it was the fact that he’s like, a million years old in vampire years?!)

Although his patches seem to have filled in since, the stubbly hair remained stubbornly white for a while. Which is a common sign of hair regrowth after alopecia. (Or again, maybe it’s a vampire thing.) 

Anyway, baldie or not, he’s still totally swoonable. 😉

Others coming out of the hair closet…

Ok, so they may not have reached the same levels of fame as the celebrities with alopecia above. But these ladies certainly deserve some kudos for revealing their alopecia in a pretty public way. What gorgeous ambassadors for alopecians everywhere!

Aoife Heffron

Ireland’s former Rose of Tralee, Aoife revealed during the interview for the national beauty pageant that her own crown of hair was in fact, extensions… and that she’d been suffering from Androgenic Alopecia for years. Aoife talks more about her experiences with hair loss on her website and is a great example of how to be open and honest about alopecia even under the harsh lights of the beauty industry.

Eve Betts

Imagine how nervous you’d be on a first date. Then imagine taking off your wig to reveal a bald head to your shocked companion. Then imagine doing this in a busy restaurant. Then imagine that your big reveal will be aired to thousands of viewers. Well, that’s what Eve did, on a reality dating show in the UK. Luckily, the reaction she got – from her date and the public – was overwhelmingly positive. And rightly so.

The big unveil comes about 2 mins into the video below, but I recommend watching the whole thing. Fill your day with positivity.

So the follically challenged can be famous?!

It’s true. There’s hope for us all yet. Good, bad or bald.

The thing is, with 40% of women experiencing visible hair loss by the age of 40, the condition is more common than you think. And as we’ve seen, it’s not just female hair loss that’s widespread – men are affected, too!

We’ve also seen that hair loss isn’t picky. It doesn’t choose to affect mere mortals alone.

Nope, alopecia can extend to the silver screen, to glossy magazines and to the red carpet, too. It affects famous women and men all over the world, some of whom have decided to share their story; their own bald truth.

And so, fellow alopecians (who happen to be celebrities): we salute you! May your heads be beacons for a more understanding, hairfree society.

Lady Alopecia xxx

Related posts:

If you like what I’m reading, maybe you’ll like what else I’m into:

1. Yoga – Read my review of a special retreat centre on Ireland’s west coast.
2. Meditation – Learn how it can help with hair loss and happiness!
3. Nutrition – Some handy dietary tips, whether you’ve got hair or not!
4. Travel – My thoughts on how travel can affect your health.
5. Silly Stuff – Like the bald celebrities I’ve got a crush on.

Showing 2 comments
  • Susan Costello
    Reply

    Brilliant
    Please help this nanny
    My little granddaughter has alopecia areata she is just 5 she is struggling she’s gorgeous

    • Lady Alopecia
      Reply

      Thank you for sharing, Susan! And all the love and luck to your granddaughter, I’m sure she will benefit massively from the support of her family. xo

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