Hair can be a deeply personal part of our bodies and appearances, which can make dealing with hair loss extremely emotionally taxing. By the time they turn 40 years old, 40 percent of women experience hair loss, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, and hair loss is often linked to perimenopause and menopause — which all women go through when they hit early middle age. That’s a staggering number of women that experience hair loss, especially considering how little it’s talked about. There’s not much of a stigma around male pattern balding, but many women battle hair loss in silence, which is why it’s so important for celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith, Tyra Banks and Keira Knightley to open up about their experience and show others they’re not alone.
Hair loss in women can be caused by a number of factors, but what it comes down to is stress. “Changes like delivery, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation and hormones place a stress on the body,” dermatologist Dr. Lindsey Bordone told SheKnows previously. “In response, the body works to conserve energy and resources from areas of low priority, such as hair growth, in favor of supporting other more critical changes taking place.” When that happens, the body starts shifting hairs in to the “shed phase” of the hair cycle, Bordone explains. Autoimmune disorders like alopecia, intense illnesses like COVID, and even simple genetics also come into play when it comes to female hair loss.
No matter the cause of hair loss, we know one thing for sure: With lush heads of hair or not, everyone is beautiful, and these celebrities are here to prove that. Though there are a lot of ways to combat hair loss, from hair products and treatments to over-the-counter medications like minoxidil, sometimes it’s unavoidable and genetic — and sometimes those options are too costly or inconvenient anyway. To inform yourself about hair loss, we collected 21 empowering stories from female celebrities who experienced and opened up about their hair loss.
A version of this story was originally posted February 2018.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith first opened up about her alopecia diagnosis in 2018 and later shared evidence of her own hair loss journey on Instagram in 2021: “Look at this line right here,” Pinkett Smith said in the video, pointing out some of the newer bare patches. “Now this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide, so I thought I’d just share it so y’all not asking any questions — but you know, mama’s going to put some rhinestones in there, and I’m going to make me a little crown.”
More recently, the Red Table Talk host has spoken about wanting to lift the shame around alopecia by talking more openly about it, including in her 2023 memoir, Worthy. “A lot of people who suffer from alopecia have shame about their condition,” Pinkett Smith told SheKnows in October 2023. “And one of the things about this book that I’m hoping, you know, people will embrace and receive is that there’s no need to have shame about any of it.”
Christina Milian says she experienced postpartum hair loss after her first two pregnancies and, thanks to a solid amount of research on post-pregnancy hair loss, was more prepared for it after welcoming her third child Kenna in April 2021.
“With my first two children, and most specifically with Violet, I’d say somewhere between four and six months [after birth] I noticed hair loss,” Milian told SheKnows. “It just kept happening, I washed my hair and next thing I know it was in my hands… It was scary, like ‘what is happening right now?’”
She said she felt self-conscious about the way it looked and felt and that there was no information out there and few people talking about the issue outside hyper-specific mom-centric blogs. So she turned to her gynecologist:”He broke it down for me and told me to watch my diet, but he also said it’s not only the ends of your hair — it’s also about focusing on your scalp.”
Ariana Grande experienced hair loss and damage dating back to her time on Nickelodeon’s Victorious, when she had to bleach and dye her hair every week to achieve her character’s signature red locks. In a 2014 Facebook post, the singer explained that the process “completely destroyed my hair,” and she began wearing a ponytail frequently because “my actual hair is so broken.” Grande explained that the style was what “works for me now,” adding that it was helping her feel comfortable “for the first time in years.”
Viola Davis began experiencing hair loss from alopecia areata at 28 years old. After she learned her balding was from stress, she internalized the struggle until she learned to embrace her hair for what it was. “I woke up one day, and it looked like I had a Mohawk. Big splash of bald on the top of my head,” Davis told Vulture in 2014. “I was like, ‘What is this?’ Until I found out it was stress related. That’s how I internalized it. I don’t do that anymore. My favorite saying in the world is, ‘The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.’ I am telling you, I have spent so much of my life not feeling comfortable in my skin. I am just so not there anymore.”
Because she was embarrassed by her hair, Davis got into the habit of wearing wigs wherever she went. It wasn’t until she was older that wigs, which she still wears, became an option, not something to hide behind.
“I never showed my natural hair,” Davis said. “[The wig] was a crutch, not an enhancement. I was so desperate for people to think that I was beautiful. I had to be liberated from that [feeling] to a certain extent.”
Glee‘s Lea Michele opened up about her experience with postpartum hair loss in early 2021, a few months after giving birth to her first child.
“The postpartum hair loss is REAL,” Michele wrote on her Instagram Story at the time, alongside a photo of a clump of hair that hand fallen out. “Enjoying this long hair while it lasts because the mom bob is right around the corner.”
In a 2024 TikTok, Lili Reinhart revealed that she was diagnosed with alopecia while “in the midst of a major depressive episode.” The Riverdale star recorded the video while undergoing red light therapy, which she called her “new best friend” in the caption. (Per the Cleveland Clinic, red light therapy has been promoted as a way to improve hair growth in people with alopecia.)
Khloé Kardashian got COVID early on in the pandemic (March 2020) and said the virus caused her to lose “a great deal of my hair.” It fell out “in chunks,” she told Refinery29 in 2021 and made the reality star feel “really bummed — you don’t feel good about yourself,” she said. A few months later, Kardashian learned from her doctor that she wasn’t alone in thinking COVID caused her hair loss. It ended up being a short-term problem, as Kardashian said she’d seen “such a difference in my hair” a year and a half later. She attributed the renewed growth to patience, collagen, and DIY hair masks.
After she wrapped the final season of Sex and the City, on which she played Charlotte York, Kristin Davis began experiencing hair loss. “My hair just was not what it used to be,” Davis told Women’s Wear Daily in 2017. “It was very fine, like it had gone away, there just was hardly any hair there. [It] was always very difficult hair, which no one believes when I tell them — it’s always been not quite that easy, but because I had a lot of hair the professionals could help me make it look nice. It’s not like I woke up and I had Charlotte hair.”
At first, Davis ignored it and concentrated on other parts of her life. But when she tried to do her hair one day, she realized she didn’t have much left. That’s when she turned to Volaire hair-volumizing products at the recommendation of her hairstylist, Luke O’Connor. Davis was such a fan of the products that she later became the brand’s ambassador.
After color-treating her hair for years, Keira Knightley saw that her hair was falling out. The hair loss became so bad she wore wigs for five years until her hair grew back after she became pregnant with her daughter, Edie, in 2015.
“I have dyed my hair virtually every color imaginable for different films. It got so bad that my hair literally began to fall out of my head!” Knightley told InStyle U.K. in 2014, per People. “So for the past five years I’ve used wigs, which is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to my hair.”
Selma Blair began to experience postpartum hair loss after she gave birth to her son, Arthur, in 2011. In an effort to keep it real, Blair — who like many moms experienced the hair loss from changing hormones — opened up about the chunks of her hair that would fall out in the shower and how she would flaunt her bald patches instead of wearing extensions.
“This is so not glamorous, but it’s true: 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. Why do actresses never talk about that?” Blair told People in 2011. “It just started falling out at the three-month mark. And I’m not a girl who likes extensions, so Selma’s going to be bald!”
Like a lot of people, Tyra Banks began experience alopecia areata, the medical term for spot baldness, from stress. Her stress reached an all-time high when she was writing her 2011 book, Modelland, which resulted in her losing her hair.
“Honestly, chilling for me was eating a meal,” she told The Wall Street Journal in 2011. “I couldn’t just look at the ocean. And in hindsight that wasn’t healthy. How can I say this without tearing up? I got a little alopecia from the stress.”
After 30 years of silently dealing with her “debilitating” hair loss, Hairspray star Ricki Lake opened up about her struggle and took the plunge of shaving her head — and she says it taught her so much about herself, her self-image and the community she surrounds herself with.
“I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life,” she wrote in a powerful Instagram post the time. “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.”
In 2021, Lake revealed that she’d partnered with hair growth and scalp health brand Harklinikken, which she credits for helping her hair grow back. “It’s better than it was. It’s healthier and more vibrant than I ever thought possible,” she said on The Drew Barrymore Show at the time. “People that don’t go through hair loss, they can’t really relate. They don’t understand, but it was a big deal,” she continued. “It was something that consumed my life. So now that I’m on the other side of it… I’m in a place of peace and joy, which I did not expect or see coming.”
After rough-handling her hair for years with extensions and weaves, Naomi Campbell experienced significant hair loss. She revealed to Evening Standard she “lost all of it.” Since then, Campbell has become more careful with her hair, leading to most of her bald spots growing back. “I do take more care of my hair now, because I lost all of it with extensions,” Campbell said. “I am more careful, and I do different things.”
Neve Campbell started losing her hair when she was as young as 23. The alopecia areata was caused by stress from the Scream actor’s career, a divorce she was going through at the time, and stalkers.
“I was horribly overworked and going through a divorce,” Campbell told The Daily Mail in 2011. “Also, I had stalkers and started receiving threatening mail. I was so distressed by it all that my hair started falling out. Life hasn’t always been a bowl of cherries.”
Rosie O’Donnell revealed her battle with hair loss on Twitter with a makeup-free photo showing off her bald spots. The comedian revealed that her hair loss was caused by aging, which is frequent in women over 40. “male pattern baldness … aging is fun,” she wrote on Twitter in 2016.
Former Little Mix member Jesy Nelson began experiencing hair loss when she was as young as 13. In an interview with Fabulous magazine in 2012, per Daily Mail, the singer revealed she was bullied because of her alopecia areata, which caused noticeable bald spots from stress.
“I was probably about 13 when my hair just started coming out,” she said. “Stress can cause alopecia, and it wasn’t nice. I got picked on because I’ve always liked to dress differently. I’ve never really wanted to fit in with everyone else.”
Tamar Braxton experienced hair loss after the birth of her son, Logan, in 2013. Though fans of her show Braxton Family Values tried to come for her about her edges, she set them straight.
“When u HAVE your baby …(my son) your hair falls out!!” she wrote on Instagram, per Madame Noire. Braxton also took the opportunity to give a shout-out to her favorite hair oil, Simplicity Hair Oil, for helping her nurture her scalp and hair back to life.
Fitness influencer and Sweat app founder Kayla Itsines often had fans comment to ask about her long, thick ponytail. In a 2017 Instagram post, the Sweat app founder revealed she uses clip-in hair extensions due to her “genetically really thin hair.” Her mom and grandmother both have thin hair, and Itsines says it’s “something I have come to terms with over the years.” She described her thin hair as a “little insecurity” and said she could see it thinning more as she got older. “I’ve tried everything to fix it, trust me. But, at the same time, I am at peace with it and I will not let it rule my life. So instead I focus on being healthy and happy.”
It wasn’t until 2020 that ZaraLena Jackson, who starred on the reality series Ex on the Beach, discovered she had alopecia universalis, an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss all over the head and body. Jackson went on to lose all her hair in six weeks, a process that started when the influencer broke out in rashes across her body. A week later, she told Look Fantastic, she noticed a bald patch at the front of her head. “I was like ‘Oh my God! I’m losing my hair, I’m bald!’” she recalled. “I didn’t anticipate what was going to happen.”
Jackson experienced anxiety, panic, and desperation as she lost her hair without knowing why. After getting diagnosed, she began seeking treatments while sharing her experience on social media. Eventually, the reality star started taking a JAK inhibitor, a medication that helps to reduce inflammation and is used to treat other autoimmune conditions like eczema, vitiligo, and psoriatic arthritis, per the American Academy of Dermatology Association. After a year on the treatment, Jackson had “full regrowth” of all the hair on her head, face, and body, she said on TikTok.
Olivia Bentley, a star of the British reality series Made in Chelsea, said she began experiencing alopecia and hair loss at age 16, after she started taking the birth control pill. Bentley recalled being bullied for her hair. “It made me feel really insecure,” she wrote in an essay for The Sun in 2022. “I couldn’t understand why it was happening to me.”
Bentley eventually accepted her hair loss and even ditched the long wig she often wore. “The wig was a protective thing and I wouldn’t go anywhere without it,” she told The Sun in 2021. “Life is so much more comfortable now. It was like wearing a woolly hat all the time… Not having to deal with that any more feels liberating.”
Scottish TV personality and actress Gail Porter lost her all her head and body hair to alopecia in 2005. She’s experienced intermittent regrowth, but has embraced being bald and rarely wears wigs. “Absolutely nothing can break me and I know I’m a very lucky human,” Porter told fans on Instagram in 2022, while sharing that her eyebrows and eyelashes were falling out after “alopecia had a good old go at me again.” Porter continued, “More than a million more important things in this world, but anyone that does get scared about losing your hair… you’ve got this. Believe me.”