So, when did you realize hair loss and thinning hair was a problem for you? Oh, well, that's a great question. I was kind of in denial. I remember being at my niece's wedding. A year and a half ago in May. I saw all my sisters. I had five, and now I have four. One lost from cancer.
The girls are of different ages. The oldest one was the one with cancer. I am the second youngest of the five, and I realized that their hair was far thicker and fuller than mine: all my sister's hair, even the sister who was suffering from cancer.
I also noticed I couldn't do anything with it for the wedding. It was very flat, and I thought, oh, you know it's the conditioner. I'm not doing it, right. I was in a different country with different humidity. I thought, oh, maybe it's those factors.
What did you do next? It was confusing and scary, but I thought, Oh, no big deal. It'll be fine. I kind of went into denial again, and I thought I'll change conditioners. Then that July, a friend of mine was doing my hair. I was blessed to be able to be a guest coach for the Phoenix Suns of the summer league.
So, of course, as a guest coach, you have to have someone do your hair. She was doing my hair, and it was kind of odd. She was like, you know... I'll tell you later. She didn't want to upset me because I'm going to have this big guest coach gig.
Then, later on, she said, I have to talk to you. You are too young to have empty patches on your scalp. You need to get it checked. So I went to my first Dermatologist. He told me I had scarring alopecia, and I'd be bald in about a year. I was shocked and devastated.
After that point, I reached out to him for more help. He wasn't responsive. So I went to the second Dermatologist. She said I didn't have scarring alopecia. I asked her if we could do blood tests or a scalp biopsy to find out what's going on. She was too busy.
Then I went to my third Dermatologist, who was fantastic. She said, yes, we're going to do a scalp biopsy, and we're going to take blood. We did that. She diagnosed me with allogeneic alopecia, which was such a relief because you can do something about it. So she's a fabulous doctor. She talked to me about nutrition. She spoke to me about my health.
She talked to me about stress. She indicated that I needed to make changes. What she focused on were topical solutions. She suggested some, and she also talked to me about stress. So then that's when it started. So what happened next?
What kind of solution or game plan did you guys develop? Well, this was in August, I guess, of 2017 now. What I started to do was I like to consider myself to be pretty healthy, and I used to take a lot of supplements. Well, I stopped taking supplements a couple of years ago. Because honestly, I just got too busy and didn't have the time.
So I kind of stopped taking vitamins. I started to read and research. I am OCD and ADHD, and once I sit my teeth into something, lookout. So I began to research what the hair needed from a nutritional perspective. I found that there wasn't any one product that would work well for me.
So I started to put together my whole supplement regimen. I probably had 50 bottles of supplements day. I put them together, and I would do it so that I would package them up so I could take them with me and take them twice a day. What I learned was that the soluble vitamins, once they're out of your system, they're gone. You have to keep replenishing.
So I put together a twice-daily regimen. Everybody was making fun of me because there were little tiny piles of vitamins all over the place. I try to do a month or two supply at a time. Put them into those little Ziploc baggies. You know, snack bags. I would have a stack with them and make sure I threw them in my handbag. I took them with me when I traveled.
That was the nutritional aspect. The topical aspect was I went and got a basic 5% minoxidil—all just the stuff off the shelf. Then I started kind of turbocharging. It was easy shaking it up, the acid retinol, and other things. Then I would use it on my head religiously twice a day.
It certainly works, but I would start to kind of play with it for myself to reformulate it. So it didn't bother me cause I don't wash my hair every day. So that was the next thing I did add. Well, that sounds pretty time-consuming. Maybe even costly. It was, it was, um, But I didn't have a choice cause there was no solution on the market that was easy to use and complete.
The other thing I did with my supplements is I made sure that it was also all my daily supplements. Not just hair based supplements. Everything I need in one pack. Then the third thing I did, which was probably one of the most important things. Was understand that I needed not to be stressed. I needed to make changes in my life.
The high cortisol levels and the hormone levels are not helping at all. There's one more little thing I did. I started understanding scalp health. I even put cornmeal on my head as an exfoliator. It works pretty well. I can't get it out, but it does a good job. I started to use exfoliators as well as mechanical scalp massagers to loosen up all the crud that gets stuck on your scalp. We as women, put stuff on hair. We may use a spray, we may use other products, and we don't wash every day.
So that's the other thing I did, and it was pretty helpful. I'm committed to this. It seems like this was a serious issue. For you, it was devastating. You see me happy now I cried and cried and cried. When the first doctor told me I was going to be bald in a year. I thought who was going to want me, who's going to want a woman in her fifties with no hair.
Will I be alone for the rest of my life? And I know that might sound, uh, Vein or trivial, but it's true. It was important to me, and I felt like I got my life back.