My extreme hair loss story

This is a very difficult post to write, but here goes… The story of my extreme hair loss.

I’ve always been the one with the hair. ‘Charlene? Oh, the one with the big, bushy curly hair.’ That’s how people have always known me.

My hair has always defined me. Even when I hated my hair as a child. I fell in love with my curls when I was about 20 and I have embraced my big hair ever since. God blessed me with a gorgeous head of hair.

My extreme hair loss

My hair was always there for me. It may sound silly to some, but no matter whether I was fat or thin, whether my skin was pimply or clear, I always had my hair. Until recently…

2016 is year that I would love to forget. On a few occasions I felt that my worst nightmare was coming true – losing the people closest to me. I thank God that it didn’t happen, but the shock and stress of seeing loved ones ill and in terrible pain took its toll. I bottled up all the hurt and the fear and my body just couldn’t take it.

My extreme hair loss story

In November 2016 I noticed that I was starting to lose more hair than usual.

I wasn’t too worried at that stage, but with every wash the loss started to increase. I didn’t want to talk about it as everyone’s reaction was the same… ‘Charlene, you put your hair through too much’. I was having fun with my hair in 2016. I went from blonde, to denim, to various shades of blue and purple, and my goal was to get the perfect shade of grey. I know it sounds hectic, but I was in good hands. Tosca Tygervalley was taking very good care of my hair as I was going for regular treatments and they made sure my hair was protected against damage every time we bleached. So that was most definitely not the reason.

The loss became more drastic. It got to a point were I couldn’t wash my hair without bursting into tears. People still tried to convince me that it wasn’t that bad; telling me that they also lose a lot of hair. Then I showed them this:

My Extreme Hair Loss Pretty Please Charlie

If that is not extreme hair loss, I don’t know what is.

This was the amount of hair that I was losing with every wash (every second day). Even more hair would fall out during the styling process. It’s very hard to look at that picture. It was truly devastating. It still is. Here I was losing the one thing that gave me confidence. The one thing about my appearance that I was actually proud of. The one thing that made me feel good about who I was on the outside.

My hair also changed from soft and shiny, to hard, brittle and dull. Almost overnight.

Then I noticed that my hair was breaking. Most of the hair on my crown was only about 5cms long.

My hair was thinning all over and my was scalp was starting to show.

I totally freaked out. I had no idea what to do or how to handle the situation. My hair was falling out from the root and those that stayed put were breaking off.

I then reached out to the kind people at the Skin Renewal. They helped me to lose a lot of weight last year ( I took part in the Slender Challenge) and I knew that they would be able to help me. The hair loss started shortly after the challenge, and ja, let’s just say that my dear old friend, comfort food, found me again in that difficult time and all my hard work went down the drain. But that’s a chat for another time.

Dr. Graham Duncombe phoned me on a Friday afternoon and we had a long chat.He was so sweet and assured me that they would help me get to the root of the problem (I know, I know!). He sent me for blood tests and we scheduled an appointment for me to see him at Skin Renewal Willowbridge.

In short, the blood tests revealed that my thyroid wasn’t working quite as it should and that iron and Vit B12 levels were not close to what they should be.

Dr Duncombe put me on a course of Metagenics supplements to up my iron levels and to support my thyroid function. I also immediately started on a course of Vit B injections.

After only a week the daily loss was dramatically reduced! I couldn’t believe my eyes. The treatment was working.

Unfortunately, the loss and breakage have not stopped completely. I know that this is a process and that it will take time. I’m just not sure how much time I have left before there is hardly anything left.

I have tried caffeine shampoos, serums, oils, etc but I have yet to find something that really makes a difference.

I may have found a product that does work though! I have been using Resulté Anti-Hair Loss Tonic and Hair Growth Booster for a few weeks now and I think that it’s working. It looks and feels as though my hair is slowly starting to grow back as I can see fine, short hair on the hairline. Fingers crossed!! I’ll let you know how it goes and post a full review after a couple of months.

Resulte Anti-Hair Loss Tonic

For now, this is me:


I took these pics yesterday morning. I just got out of the shower so please excuse what I look like.

I am desperate. The little hair I have left is dry and brittle and it seems to have lost its curl. I haven’t been able to wear my hair loose since November last year. I have to tie it up in the hopes that you can’t see what it really looks like.

I have lost about 2/3 of my hair.

Let me put it in perspective: An Invisibobble used to go around my ponytail twice, now it goes around 4 times.

I’m telling you my story in the hopes that it reaches someone who’s going through the same thing. You are not alone! I’ve realised that people don’t really talk about female hair loss. Extreme hair loss is devastating, I know, but the only way we can find solutions and help each other, is if we talk about it. We shouldn’t hide it. If you have any tips for me, I’d appreciate it!

There are multiple reasons for hair loss and mine was caused by stress and trauma and my body couldn’t handle it all. I am thankful for Dr. Duncombe’s advice to go for blood tests. If I didn’t go, I may have been worse off now (not just talking about my hair).

So what am I doing about my extreme hair loss?

For now I’m taking my supplements, using Resulté Anti-hair loss Tonic morning and night and using Batiste Dry Shampoo in Dark Brown to try and cameoflage the areas where my scalp is visible. And praying.

I’ll let you know how it goes…


29 Replies to “My extreme hair loss story”

  1. Reading your post has certainly resonated with me on a profound level as I have struggling with hairloss. I can’t go through a day without hair shedding. Initially I dismissed this as normal, however it’s progressed drastically.. Combing my hair or the washing of my hair has become a complete nightmare. An outburst of tears as now become normal .

    This entire experience as stripped me off my confidence and feminity. I have become so self conscious, it’s been months since I could wear my hair down. My days start with trying to hide what my hair really looks like. It has reached a point where it has become emotionally draining. On a certain level it almost steals your identity. I feel isolated, going ought no longer excites me as I don’t feel like a woman ought to feel. As vain as it sounds, hair almost frames our beauty and confidence.

    I have have not yet been for any blood tests of such to determine the cause, I will be going through soon. However initially I thought I could turn the situation around by using various hair loss shampoo’s and supplements. From prosana, hannon hair loss capsules even a nutritional supplement called viviscal which contains all the vitamins necessary for hair growth as well as a protein fish ingredient. Too no avail considering the hairloss has not stopped.

    I plan on doing tests and visiting hair options unlimited soon to weigh my options. Im truly so hopeful that I could discover something that could prove to be helpful… Im certainly exhausted with this ongoing sadness that is slowly leading to depression.

    Thank you very much for sharing your story, Its certainly comforting to know that someone completely understands as they going through the same. If you have found something that was helpful, please will you let me know. I must say you are exceptionally courageous for putting your story out there with pictures. Im positive that it has given immense courage to others going through the same!

  2. I started reading this post and it sounded like you echoed my very own thoughts. I didn’t read the entire post simply because I too having been wanting to post about this or maybe build up the courage and I still want to…so I’m gonna revisit this post after I’ve written mine….if that makes any sense. The little bit that I have read has certainly made me feel more brave to write my post and to also take this seriously….which I don’t think I did

    Thank you for giving me the “little kick” that I need…..

  3. Thank you for sharing your experiences – it really does help to know that there are other women out there who have the same problem as I do. My hair started to thin about two years ago. It took me quite a while to actually realise that it was getting threadbare and then anyone I confided in told me that ‘we all lose around 100 hairs a day’. I knew this, of course, but I also knew that what I was noticing was not normal for me. (Funnily enough, I felt irritated with my husband for shedding his hair on my my pillow during the night…errrm, until I realised it was actually my very own hair!) I went to see an endocrinologist who did a battery of expensive lab test only to tell me that all my hormones, thyroid etc levels were fine. Over the next 12 months I spent a whack of money seeing an integrative doctor-homeopath. My hair still continued to fall out. By this time I had even changed my hairstyle to try to conceal the thinning areas. I tried two shampoos for thinning hair, one of which was hellish expensive. All to no avail. This past Friday I went to see Hair Options in Cape Town as I was thinking about implants or transplants or whatever they could help me with. Didier, the owner, was really good: he explained to me WHY this is happening. In basic terms the body is converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and this DHT binds to the androgen receptors in the hair causing miniaturisation of the hair follicle. He held a magnifying camera hooked up to a computer monitor to my scalp and I could actually see that where the hair is thinning there is only ONE hair follicle growing out of each root as opposed to the THREE follicles in the unaffected areas! What a relief to speak to someone who knows the facts and could explain them to me. He has put me on Trichotin to address the problem from the inside and a capillary stimulant cream to apply to the affected areas at night. After speaking to him and reading other reviews of Trichotin I am positive that this is going to solve my problem. I will keep you updated.

    1. Oh my word!! SO glad that you know what’s going on now!! I’ve found that many people (friends, hairdressers and even doctors) try to convince you not to worry… ‘it happens to everyone’ and ‘it’s not that bad’. WTF?! Quite frustrating when no one sees how serious it is before it’s almost too late. I also started on Trichotin!! Fingers crossed that it works for both of us. Please keep me updated! xxx

  4. I’ve been struggling with hair loss for a few years, but I’ve finally got to a place where I understand mine.
    I can’t use regular ladies hair-loss products, they make my hair fall out faster. I also went through the same tests as you, but the trigger for my doctors were the fact that they couldn’t find testosterone in my results… which is the opposite to what they expected.
    Long story short… hair loss products made for woman strip your body of testosterone, which my body is missing anyway. My problem was fixed by an endochrinologist… even though all my hormone levels were within limits, they weren’t in sync if that makes sense. Also my iron and vit B levels are always low.
    I’ve also learnt that hair dye is making it worse… I switched to hair dye for sensitive skin when I was on Roaccutane and my hair miraculously grew back (which was opposite to what was supposed to happen)… every time I switch to normal hair dye my hair falls out again.
    My advise, see an endo… and try switching hair dye at your hairdresser.

  5. Gosh, this is enough to rock any woman. Terribly sorry to hear of your struggles. But one’s hair is merely symptomatic of ones health, so Im 100 perc sure with the right treatments and adjustments youll be doing with these pros, not only will yoir crowning glory be back to its former glossy glory, but yoir health and well being will be fantastic and youll feel amazing! All the best with your journey. And all the hugs to you. Xxx

  6. This post is so freakin’ scary – I couldn’t finish it. I also have curly hair and it’s always been there for me too :)

  7. So beautiful and so brave Charlene! Well done for sharing your story! Due to stress and trauma, I developed scalp psoriasis, this has been incredibly hard for me to come to terms with. Hair loss is one of the side effects, so I know how devastating it is. But one thing is for sure, it’s made me face the things that I would normally push to the back of my mind and it’s made me consciously try to care for and be kind to my myself. Sending you so much love and hugs! X

  8. I am so sorry that this is happening to you. I lost ALL my hair at 14 – and for 2 years we struggled with Alopecia Areata – an auto immune disease. It was devastating at that tender age. But by my matric dance just before my 18th birthday I had hair again – not long, but at least long enough to style pretty. My colour and texture however changed completely – I went from a very light brown (with natural sun streaks) and a slight curl to very dark curly hair. I have had to snub this in the roots twice again later in my life and I still live with the fear that this will happen again.

    Lots of love – it’s tough to deal with.

  9. I feel your pain. I’m also going through the same thing. I’m super depressed about how thin my hair is. My ponytail is probably smaller than a 10c coin. Nothing wrong with thyroid. Iron levels are low. Doctor said it’s female pattern baldness :(

  10. Charlene! Ek het geen idee gehad jy gaan hierdeur nie my skat! Ek glo en vertrou jou hare sal weer stunning lyk soos dit altyd gelyk het!

  11. Charlene. So very proud of you for sharing your story. You are one brave lady. Hope your new treatment will work. Keep us posted xx

  12. So proud of you for sharing this. You are an inspiration for sharing your story. Your hair is YOU and i understand the emotional trauma when losing one’s hair must be difficult and scary. It is what defines us women. Keep up the amazing blog and ur stories behind the products you try and test! Keep us posted on this product x

  13. I feel your pain…my front hair fell out that I actually have bald spots at my temple. The hair growing back just feels horrible and keep breaking off over and over. I went to my endocrinologist thinking it was my thyroid, but apparently I am severely anaemic. So I need to start taking my meds daily. I was due to go for a procedure to stop my periods, but putting it on hold until I can sort the co-payment out (Thanks Discovery for nothing…lol).

    I hope you’ll update with what works for you…I’d be keen to try whatever you feel works for you. I’m using Tresemme anti breakage. Whatever oil I can find, but I wonder if my hair will ever feel healthy again :( I used to have hair down all the way to my bum and I made a big mistake cutting it….it now barely grows. It’s short and sh1t…

    I was actually planning on writing a similar post, so Im glad I read this.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear this!! I’ll let you know how Resulté works for me! Plus I am thinking of trying a supplement that is specifically for hair… I’ll let you know. All the best Simone! xx PS It sucks losing your hair :(

      1. As a woman it’s so demoralising. You have such a stunning head of hair, and you say it was your identity, so I can imagine even worse for you.

        I was the kind of person that took my thick long hair for granted…now I’d give anything to go back :( The bald spots occurred after each of my sons were born, but then the hair would grow back. But after my last child in 2015, it’s just gotten worse and worse. TO be bald, attempt comb overs, it’s horrific. Will check for updates on your journey <3

        1. So sorry to hear all of this Simone. I will let you know what works for me. I’ll also be trying out Trichotin Hair Regenesis soon. Fingers crossed. I’ve heard great things about it.

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