Celebs you didn't know had alopecia

A Spotlight On Hair Loss

famous people with alopecia

Psst…This post used to focus on female celebrities with alopecia. But of course, there are plenty of famous men with the condition, too! So my list now features both men AND famous women with alopecia. Enjoy!

Alopecia ain’t exactly glamourous. Clumps of hair clogging up the shower drain, leftover strands covering your pillow, bald patches flashing at inopportune moments – doesn’t sound like a lifestyle of the rich and famous, right?!

Well, hair loss is actually pretty common in Tinseltown. So here are few of the many celebrities who battle the bald, just like us regular alopecians.

Top 6 Female Celebrities With Alopecia

1. Jada Pinkett-Smith (Actress)

Jada pinkett smith

I’ve written about Jada’s struggle with alopecia in a previous post. But I’m only adding her to my top famous female alopecians now, after the Oscars showdown between her hubbie and Chris Rock. (If you missed it, a quick recap: Jada was there, looking fabulous, bald head prominently on display. Chris Rock, as MC, quipped: “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it!” The “joke”, obviously, a comment on her naked head.)

Will Smith responded somewhat hysterically. Trying to slap Rock across the face, then cursing and yelling at him after he’d stormed back to his seat. But Jada’s response to the comment, I thought, was far more interesting. She just rolled her eyes and smiled, as if to say “Yes, this idiot’s annoying me, but I deal with this all the time. I’m ok.”

LA Says: THAT’s the response I try to have when people remark in a negative way about my alopecia. And it’s why Jada continues to be an inspiration for alopecians everywhere. In her own words: “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends … period!”

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2. Gail Porter (TV Presenter)

gail-porter

Probably the most well-known female with alopecia, Gail is one of my hair loss heroes. Her story is the stuff of nightmares: she woke up one morning to find clumps of hair all over her pillow, and in the shower drain, too.

4 weeks later, Gail was completely bald – including her eyebrows and eyelashes. 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 with 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’s 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.

LA Says: While I don’t have AT, I do have pretty widespread alopecia areata; far far worse after giving birth to my daughter last year. I also lost my right eyebrow during the pandemic so I’m edging closer and closer to the fully bald look! Let’s hope I can draw on Gail’s sense of humour if that happens.

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3. Viola Davis (Actress)

viola davis alopecia
Photo credit: Getty Images

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 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.

LA Says: I wore wigs for a couple of years too, but found them so uncomfortable I preferred to ditch them like Viola. Although I must admit, my colourful headscarves come in very handy sometimes – when I just can’t deal with the comments!

4. Ricki Lake (Presenter/Producer)

rikki lake alopecia

The witty talk show host appears to have it all together. But what I find most endearing about her is that she’s not afraid to show her vulnerability. I first noticed this after watching the powerful documentary: The Business of Being Born, which she made with her director friend Abby Epstein about the birth process in US hospitals. 

She gave birth live on camera in that film – talk about being vulnerable! And more recently, after 30 years of quietly battling hair loss, Ricki shaved her head and posted the following on Instagram:

“I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life. It has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things. There have been a few times where I have even felt suicidal over it. Almost no one in my life knew the level of deep pain and trauma I was experiencing. Not even my therapist/s over the years knew my truth.”

LA Says: Can’t you just hear her intense struggle in those words? But wow, how good she must’ve felt to open up at last! I know I felt a major sense of relief when I did the same, back in 2018 (albeit to a much smaller audience!!) Ricki’s dramatic move and powerful message have inspired other alopecians to share their own experiences, and to not be afraid of owning their condition.

5. Jesy Nelson (Singer)

jesy nelson alopecia

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. 

As a teenager, she was bullied due to her weight. But it was only when she’d found fame and perhaps, a new level of confidence, that she revealed just how stressful this time was. So stressful that it caused her hair to fall out, at the young age of 13.

Fortunately, it came back – and despite tabloids jumping on every opportunity to reveal her “thinning hairline”, Jesy seems to have kicked her alopecia to the curb.

LA Says: Like Jesy, I went through a pretty difficult time at secondary school – which contributed to my own hair loss. So I can relate! And I love the lesson Jesy has to teach us: that when you have enough confidence in yourself and your abilities, the rest can fall into place. Including your hair.

6. Keira Knightley (Actress)

Image credit: Rex
Image credit: Rex

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.

LA Says: I’ve heard this happen to a few readers/friends – but what’s even more common is postpartum hair loss, with women losing their hair for the first time after giving birth. My own alopecia became more severe after an initial ‘regrowth sprint’ during pregnancy, which you can read about here.

But Wait...There's More!

Still famous(ish) and still worthy of inclusion in my list of female celebs with hair loss:

  • Jemima Goldsmith: The British journalist/activist had her first bout of alopecia after a pretty big shock – when a plane she was on to Kenya was hijacked. Not long after, two bald patches appeared on her head. And although the hair did fill in, it was white in colour (a common occurrence with alopecia). She’s had to dye it ever since.

 

  • Katie Price: Katie was treated for stress-related alopecia in 2021…and decided to film a wig documentary for alopecia sufferers, having relied heavily upon wigs and extensions during her modelling career. She attributes her recent bald patches to the stress of her bankruptcy, plus being a mum to five kids – and if you’ve read my piece on postpartum hair loss, you’ll know how common that is!

  • Neve Campbell: The Scream star started losing her hair aged 23, in the wake of her divorce proceedings, plus after receiving threatening mail from stalkers. Scary stuff.

  • Naomi Campbell: Naoimi admits her significant hair loss may have stemmed from all the wigs, weaves and extensions she’s worn throughout her modeling career. She reports that now she takes much better care of it, and that her hair has regrown as a result.

  • Tyra Banks: This business-savvy beauty and I may not have a lot in common…apart from alopecia areata, of course! She first started getting patches while writing her memoir Modelland, and attributes her hair loss to the stress around that time.

  • Representative Ayanna Pressley: The first woman of color to be elected to Congress from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Ayanna is an inspiration in so many ways. But what’s close to my heart is how she handled and spoke up about her alopecia, in the hopes of encouraging others to do the same – which I cover in this post.

Let's Hear It For The Boys!

In Tinseltown, there aren’t just female celebrities with alopecia. There are plenty of men, too. Some are really open about it and are 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. 😉

Other Admirable Alopecians

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.

Final Thoughts: 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.

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Author

Lady Alopecia

Alopecian. Yoga Teacher. Copywriter. Here to share information, offer support and show people the adventures that can lie in hair loss. I’m proud to have alopecia and I want to help others embrace their baldness, too!

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Comments

14 Responses

  1. Hi I have noticed a receding hair line at the front right of my hair. I am seeing a dermatologist next week. It started about the same time as I developed a rash on my cheeks

    1. Hi Karen, thanks for your comment and I’m really sorry to hear about your recent hair loss – it sounds like there’s some inflammation or autoimmune response present, if you have a rash too. Feel free to check out some more posts on my site, like nutrition tips and natural remedies. I favour a holistic approach when possible, rather than the steroid creams and injections many dermatologists recommend (which in my own experience, have had pretty bad side effects!) This post about potential causes might be helpful for you, too.

      It’s easier said than done to ‘not stress’ – and I know it can be frustrating to be told otherwise! But alopecia isn’t always permanent and with some lifestyle measures, you can control the rate of shedding or maybe even reverse it altogether! Have a look around my site for more tips on that, if you like. And wishing you all the very best…take care!

  2. I have androgenic alopecia due to pcos.I have 3-4 bald patches right now.What I want to know asap is why does my scalp itches and kind of swells so much especially at night?

    1. Hi Bhumi,

      Thanks for your question and I’m very sorry for the late reply. I just had a baby so I’m slower than usual in getting back to comments! Let me reiterate that I’m not a doctor, just a person who has had alopecia for 20+ years…so if you’re very concerned, you might like to visit a professional. However, it sounds like you’re experiencing inflammation right now, that would explain the active alopecia (leading to itchiness) and also the swelling around your patches. Have you noticed any rash, too?

      Anyway, you can reduce this inflammation with some dietary and lifestyle measures, such as reducing your intake of gluten, dairy and suger, cutting them all out together if you can. A good probiotic can work wonders too, especially if you have a lot of gut inflammation going on (often as a result of antibiotics, or a time of stress). Please have a look at this post I wrote on nutrition, if that helps!

      I’d also recommend a stress-relieving activity like yoga to reduce inflammation further…and to try some gentle topical treatments for scalp soreness. My favourite natural shampoo is Revita but I also use some natural remedies like aloe vera directly on the patches to cool them down. Check out this post I wrote for more options but I think in your case, rubbing fresh aloe gel (directly from the plant, if you can find it) would be best for you right now!

      I hope that helps, and good luck!

      Emma / Lady Alopecia 🙂

  3. There is no sustainable medical treatment for proper alopecia (Trust me, I have it and I am up to scratch on the research. Giving people false hopes or peddling snake oil cure is counter-productive.) There is no cure that works in a reliable, or even anecdotal way. On the positive side, it’s not dangerous at all. Sometimes it reverses itself for no clear reason, sometimes it does not. For women, it’s devastating for the self esteem – unless you are a very strong and confident person with lots of support from your friends and family. Even then, it’s hard to cope. Of the female celebrities listed above- only one of the women actually has real and lasting alopecia and that is Gail Porter. The others do not have big bold patches and are not bold or wearing a wig. There are lots of people whose hair thin out a bit due to illness or deficiencies in the body, who walk around talking about having alopecia. That is incorrect. Alopecia is when your immune system attacks the hair follicles so the hair falls out. Typically it happens very fast. A bit of extra hairs in the hairbrush is not alopecia.;

    1. Hi Hanna,

      I appreciate your comment and am open to all opinions…but as a long-term alopecian myself and a lay panel member for Alopecia UK, I can also say I’m up to scratch on the research! I would never give anyone false hopes or peddle “snake oil cure” – that’s not what I’m about at all. I set up this site to be the kind of resource I never had and to say what worked (and what didn’t!) for me. Also to hopefully inspire people a little by sharing those people who’ve gone through similar traumatic experiences. All of the celebrities on this list HAVE (or have had) alopecia. Not just extra hairs in the hairbrush – they’ve all either had total hair loss (Matt Lucas, Eve Bretts, Viola Davis AND Gail Porter) or had patches…which is still alopecia. Even the tiniest patch which others mightn’t notice can seriously affect the self-esteem and mental health of those experiencing it, which I’m sure you understand. Thinning hair is also a major worry for people, it’s a scary thing to go through either way. This site is to empower and inspire people with all forms of hair loss, it’s not for me to dictate the “suffering scale”! It’s not a competition. And whether people choose to wear wigs or not is their decision. To your final point, it doesn’t always happen very fast…I got my first bald patch when I was 10, it spread throughout my teenage years but it wasn’t until I was 25 or so that I’d lost 80% of my hair and shaved the rest off. And I could say the same for many people in the bald community that I’m friends with, including the readers of this site who’ve written in.

      I do appreciate your writing in but I felt I had to respond. I’m a real person who genuinely wants to help others, and support people going through what I did! Hopefully if you read some of my other posts like this one about regrowth, or reasons for alopecia, you’ll learn a bit more about why I’m here. Not to compare our types of alopecia or how “bad we have it” but to build a community so we can reach out to each other and support each other.

      I wish you all the very best in your own journey and take good care.

      Emma (Lady Alopecia)

  4. I know several people who treated alopecia with garlic serum! They had not lost all their hair, but had several empty spots on the top of the head, but rubbed fresh red garlic on the places several times a day for a week or more, and the hair on the hairless spots grew back again.

    1. That’s so interesting, Bella – thank you! I’ve heard that fresh garlic is great…fresh red onion and ginger worked for me, too! They boost microcirculation to the scalp and I noticed that after a few days of rubbing the fresh ginger on my patches, small fuzzy white hairs (vellus hairs) appeared. Nice to get confirmation on the garlic too, though! Thanks again 🙂

    1. Hi Fredis,

      Thank you for your comment, and I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter’s hair loss. There is no one “cure” for alopecia, unfortunately…but yes, there are treatments available. Check out this post for a few of the top shampoos out there and this post to see how nutrition can affect it. But overall I would say to reduce inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy and sugar, to try and reduce any external stresses where possible and to rub either fresh aloe vera, red onion juice or coconut/sesame oil into the scalp every night (or she can apply a different one each night). Please feel free to get in touch with any further questions!

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

        1. Hi Emiliana, thanks for your question – and it’s a good one! I had been interested in them in the past…in fact, I remember years back writing to the University of Chicago when they were testing Ruxolitinib and asking if I could be part of their clinical trial (I didn’t hear back.) …I think it’s still quite early days for JAK inhibitors in general though and I’m awaiting to hear more concrete research/positive results specifically related to hair loss before I cover it here. I don’t really like to share too much on any ‘quick fixes’ that could a) have long-term damage to the immune system or b) adverse short term effects (severe headaches, infections etc). Which is why I don’t write about minoxidil or corticosteroid injections…they can be temporarily effective but in my experience, are dangerous in the long run. I’ve read a little about the potentially harmful side effects of JAK inhibitors so far, plus I’m not a major fan of immunosuppressants if there’s a more holistic approach available. But it’s certainly something I’ll keep an eye on so thanks for raising the issue!!

          Emma 🙂

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