One of the worst initial side effects for me when I was first diagnosed with lupus was watching my hair fall out in clumps. Obviously, lupus is way more than just losing your hair, but it really hurt me to see that my hair would be affected. I didn’t want to look sick, I could hide the rashes with makeup or clothes, and I could become a recluse when the pain became too much for me to function, but I couldn’t hide losing my hair… Or could I
I have always had a thick full mane, and have never really worried about losing it, until I was 24 yrs old. All of a sudden my hair just started to thin from the roots, it got so thin that you could see through it. A stylist that I went to in NYC told me that she felt so sorry for me because my hair was so thin. When I look back at this time, it could have been some early onset of lupus or nothing at all. Eventually, I started going to a hair guru, who told me, I had some sort of scalp infection that I had caught from improperly cleaned hair tools. She used this wonderful, all natural, homemade, treatment, and got my hair growing again, and cured the infection. I was happy. My hair was getting thicker and shinier, and I was healthy until years later when lupus came. The hair loss didn’t start initially, but when it did, it was significant and persistent. I developed bald spots in different parts of my head, and in other areas my hair just thinned out. Because this was an internal disorder the hair treatment was useless at stopping it or at least slowing it down. I wore low buns a lot, and cut off a lot of length so that my hair wouldn’t look so thin. I felt like less of a woman, and became even more reclusive. I felt like the side effects from the disease were coming at me like a wave- first the rashes, then the hyper-pigmentation from the rashes, the fatigue and pain, the joint pain, coupled with sleeplessness and the daily Benadryl doses, and now losing my hair, lupus was taking away a lot of my confidence- or it was taking away a lot of the things that I had placed my confidence in. For a while I was defeated and just accepted my current situation and I let it control my daily actions and interactions. When I went out I walked with my head down and just prayed for these days to pass, for this time to pass me by and for things to go back to normal. Eventually, when I realized that I would be in this situation for a bit longer, and that walking around in shame was not good for my spirit or my recovery I decided to do something, anything. I have always been a very resourceful person, and I decided to help my hair as much as I could. In the process I learned though that it just hair, and it will grow back, it does fill out again, things do return back to normal. I also realized that my character and those things that I should base my confidence in are the lessons learned and how I act during the toughest times.
I do believe in being proactive or at least responsive when things happen so here are some helpful hair tips and products that I used, that over time really helped to strengthen the hair that I had left in my head and made the hair that grew back even stronger and healthier than it was before.
- Folic Acid- Folic acid helps your body produce and maintain new cells, and also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer.
- Manetabolism Plus Vitamins- These hair vitamins were recommended by one of my friends, who is also a professional hairstylist. I really like these pills, and a nurse and a doctor created them. You can directly communicate with the founders on social media on Instagram or email, and it works!
- I deep condition my hair overnight twice a month- This works for my hair, but you should adjust your wash and conditioning routine.
- Avoid shampoos with these ingredients for the full article go to:
- Foamers and thickeners. Dr. Dorin says that sodium laurel sulfate, or SLS – the chemical that produces all that nice, bubbly lather – “strips hair of essential oils, breaks down protein essential for hair health, and halts growth. Sodium chloride (better known as table salt) is used as a thickener in products containing SLS, but it can cause dry, itchy scalp and encourage hair loss. Polyethylene glycol (also known as PEG, polyethylene or polyoxyethelyne) is another thickener that strips hair of moisture. If you’re undergoing salon keratin treatments, these ingredients undo the benefits.”
- Preservatives: Johnson & Johnson’s “No More Tears” baby shampoo (don’t laugh – a lot of older babes with sensitive eyes still love it) recently removed Quaternium-15 (a formaldehyde-releasing preservative) from its ingredients without diminishing the product’s appeal. According to Dr. Dorin, “Formaldehyde and parabens such as methylparaben and propylparaben are often included to prolong shelf life. The latter can affect hormonal balance and encourage hair loss.”
- Irritants. Ingredients that cause scalp inflammation and allergic reactions can exacerbate hair loss and make thin hair dry, brittle and lifeless. Dr.Dorin says, “Products containing diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) destroy hair’s keratin and cause scalp irritation. Fragrances and artificial colors (they appear on the label as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color or number) are used for aesthetic reasons, but they may be irritants. And propylene glycol, most commonly used as antifreeze in cars (!!), is often added to keep shampoos and conditioners from freezing during shipping and storage.” Who knew?
- Alcohol. Almost all hair-care products contain some form of alcohol. Used in high concentrations, it dehydrates your hair. Dr. Dorin’s advice: “Avoid products listing alcohol as one of the first four ingredients. The closer to the top of the ingredient list, the higher the percentage in the product.”
- Greasers. Steer clear of “lanolin, petroleum and mineral oil,” counsels Dr. Dorin. “They weigh down thin hair, preventing natural oils from being absorbed.”
- Hydration Method- This is a long process and I have yet to do it for 7 consecutive days, but I made it to for five days. It really did change the texture and health of my hair.
For the first day, it’s recommended you do the Cherry Lola Treatment (CLT) instead of step 1 below. It’s a protein treatment that also helps moisturize your hair. You mix…
- 16 oz. of full-fat, plain yogurt
- 2 tbsp of baking soda
- 2 tbsp liquid aminos (found in soy sauce aisle of health food store)
Please Note! Baking soda is known to have a relaxing effect on the hair and could loosen your curl pattern temporarily. So please be careful or use a very small amount if you are concerned about this.
Apply mixture to your hair and let it sit for 30 minutes under a plastic cap and rinse. Then proceed to step 2 below. The remaining days do steps 1-5. The CLT should not be done more than every two weeks.
I would highly recommend sectioning your hair into at least 4 sections and keeping it that way. Your hair will be so much easier to work with. And as your hair becomes more hydrated, the process gets faster because there are fewer tangles and your hair is softer.
Step 1) Clarify your hair with a mixture of 1-3 tablespoons of baking soda, water and 1 to 3.5 oz. of silicon-free, natural conditioner.
The first time I did the method I used an all-natural conditioner I found at a local beauty supply store.
If your hair is fairly clean or sensitive to baking soda, limit the amount you use.
You can also use a 1:1 ratio of apple cider vinegar (the Braggs brand is great) and water. I didn’t try this option. I always use conditioner and baking soda.
Section your hair in at least 4 sections and add the mixture to your hair from root to tip. Leave on for 15 minutes and rinse out with warm water.
This step helps clean your hair (baking soda or apple cider vinegar) without stripping it of moisture (conditioner adds moisture).
Here’s my hair after applying the baking soda/water/conditioner solution.
Step 2) Warm the silicon-free, moisturizing conditioner like Knot Today in the microwave for 10 seconds. (Do not put the bottle in the microwave. Put it in a microwave-safe container and heat it that way.)
Apply to wet hair in sections and let sit under a plastic cap for 15-20 minutes.
You can also apply room-temp conditioner, wear a plastic cap, wrap up your hair in a silk scarf and sleep with conditioner overnight.
It’s actually best to let it sit overnight and I do notice better results when I do this, but if you are in a hurry, the heated option works too.
Rinse out. Detangle in the shower while rinsing (preferably with your fingers).
Step 3) Mix one cup of Bentonite Clay powder (buy at health store or online) and 2-3 cups of warm water or aloe-vera juice. (Feel free to add a tablespoon of honey and olive oil for extra moisture.) The consistency should be slightly thinner than yogurt. Add more clay or water/aloe vera juice as needed.
Make sure the water is warm or your clay won’t dissolve.
Apply to wet hair in sections and very carefully with a towel handy (because it’s very messy). Be sure to lift up sections of your hair and distribute clay from root to tip.
The clay is detoxifying your hair and prepping it to absorb and retain moisture.
Rinse clay with warm water. Be sure it’s completely rinsed out or your hair will get dry.
THESE LAST STEPS ARE NOT MEANT FOR ALL HAIR TEXTURES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Step 4) While your hair is soaking wet (and I do mean soaking wet), apply a silicon-free conditioner one section at a time. I prefer Knot Today.
If you are doing a wash and go, rinse your hair for a quick second (literally) under the shower after applying.
Step 5) Immediately apply a botanical gel on soaking wet hair. I use Kinky Curly Curly Custard (buy at Target or online). Do NOT use gel with protein like Eco Styler. It should be a botanical gel. Goddess Curls (by Curls) is another and you can also use flaxseed gel. The wetter your hair is when applying, the better the product will dissolve and not leave that residue.
If you see residue, you either did one or more of the following…
- You used too much gel (as your hair gets hydrated you need less).
- You didn’t ensure your hair was soaking wet when you applied the gel
- You didn’t smooth gel through your hair
If you don’t like gel, you can apply natural oil if you wish. You just won’t have the definition. You can also twist your hair and do a twist out if you wish. . I did a twist out using a combination of Aethiopika Hydrate & Twist Butter and Burdock Root Butter Cream and it was gorgeous and lasted for a week.
You may not notice a big difference in your hair after the first treatment. But you will definitely see a difference by the 3rd day.