Alopecia is the medical term for baldness or hair loss. It occurs at the site where most of our hair grows, the scalp. However, it can also present itself in various areas throughout the body. While we typically associate the term alopecia with complete baldness, there are several types—including pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia, which affects 30 million women in the United States, according to NYU Langone.

It’s a common condition. Yet, there is still a lot of shame attached to hair loss in our society—especially for women. 

Thankfully, there have been celebrities brave and bold enough to share their journeys with hair loss. Their struggles help to remove the stigma of hair loss and remind those of us who are suffering with baldness, whether temporary or permanent, that we are not alone. 

Telogen Effluvium

This is the type of hair loss that is the result of a lot of shedding. The causes for this type of hair loss can be certain medicines, physical or mental stress, a change in hormones or poor nutrition.

Tyra Banks 

Tyra Banks has been in the business of beauty for decades. In addition to her own megawatt career as a supermodel, Banks went on to judge and critique other women’s beauty through her hit show “America’s Next Top Model.

As she worked on her 2011 fiction novel “Modelland,” Banks was under a lot of pressure. It started to take a physical toll. In 2011, she told The Wall Street Journal  that she found it hard to find time to relax outside of sustaining herself.

“Honestly, chilling for me was eating a meal,” Banks told the publication. “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.”

Christina Milian 

Christina Milian is a triple-threat. She’s a singer, songwriter, actress and mother of three. The 41-year-old told Hola that her hair changed a bit with each one of her pregnancies. After the birth of her daughter Violet, she noticed her hairline started to recede.

“Especially in my temples. My hairline was going back, back, back, back. That’s when I first noticed my postpartum hair loss,” she said.

Then, three to six months after giving birth to one of her sons, it happened again. 

“I was in the shower. I remember the day because I went from having full, beautiful, long hair to looking at my hair going through the drain,” she said. “I didn’t know where it came from. And then, instantly, from that point on, it took a toll on my confidence. I couldn’t figure out if I were stressing out or what was wrong.”

Milian warns other women, “Don’t be hard on yourself.”

Traction Alopecia

This type of hair loss is common in African Americans. It is caused by the tension created from certain hairstyles, chemicals and scarring.

Naomi Campbell 

Photo credit: Dave Benett/Getty Images for DKMS

During an in depth and very personal interview with ES Magazine, the legendary supermodel opened up about the price she’s paid for wearing extensions throughout her illustrious career. She shared that she was left with bald patches. Fortunately for Naomi though, the damage wasn’t permanent.

“I do take more care of my hair now,” Campbell shared. “Because I lost all of it with extensions. I am more careful and I do different things.’ Did it grow back? ‘Yes. Thank God.’”

Quinta Brunson 

Quinta is a Black girl’s Black girl. And she’s concerned about her edges. She spoke about them at length in her memoir. Brunson said that for a while braids were her signature style. But they came with a price.

“For a while braids were my go-to, but I had to give it a rest after suffering from a bit of traction alopecia around my edges,” she told Glamour. “Such is life,” she concluded. 

These days, when she’s not on the red carpet, Brunson uses Jamaican Black Castor Oil, slicks her hair into a bun and wears head wraps to keep her hair protected.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata occurs when a person’s immune system attacks hair follicles causing hair loss.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley 

Photo credit: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

At the top of 2020, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley revealed that she had been living with alopecia.

“I’ve only been bald in the privacy of my home and in the company of close friends,” Pressley said in a video published by The Root. “I do believe going public will help. I’m ready now, because I want to be freed from the secret and the shame that secret carries with it. Because I’m not here just to occupy space — I’m here to create it.”

Viola Davis

 At 28 years-old, actress Viola Davis awoke to a surprise. She’d lost half of her hair to alopecia.

“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.

At the time, she wondered what all of this was about.

“I found out it was stress related. That’s how I internalized it. I don’t do that anymore,” Davis said. 

She coped with the hair loss by wearing a wig wherever she went: around the house, in the Jacuzzi, even a wig when she worked out. She never showed her natural hair.

“It 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,” Davis said.

In 2012, Davis debuted her natural hair at the 2012 Oscars and she’s been offering us stunning hair looks ever since.

Photo credit: Dan MacMedan/WireImage

Jada Pinkett Smith 

Jada Pinkett Smith first revealed her battle with alopecia in May 2018 during an episode on Red Table Talk.

“It was terrifying when it first started,” she explained. “I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands and I was just like, ‘Oh, my God, am I going bald?’”

For a while afterward, Pinkett-Smith wore a turban to cover the increasing baldness. Eventually, Pinkett-Smith cut her hair a bit. But it didn’t entirely fix the issue. “

Taking care of my hair has been a beautiful ritual, you know? And having the choice to have hair or not, and then one day to be like, ‘Oh, my God, I might not have the choice,’” Pinkett Smith said

Finally, in 2021, with encouragement from her daughter Willow, Pinkett Smith made the choice to embrace the condition and shave it all off for good.