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Brief Published: 28 Feb 2020

Exposing the Female-Hair-Loss Opportunity

Female hair loss is coming into the open alongside other key women’s health topics long considered too taboo or discomfiting to discuss ­– from vaginal wellness to menopause. For brands, this is exposing an enormous need for empathy, along with fine-tuned products and services that support women through their hair loss journey.

Two high-profile American women recently revealed their hair loss issues, emphasising its heavy emotional toll. Almost 30 years since first experiencing this problem, American actress Ricki Lake went public via Facebook and Instagram about the “debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely” issue. She buzz-cut her hair (previously fitted with extensions) and posted: “For 2020 and beyond, I want to be real. […] I am so done with hiding.” The New Year’s Day Instagram post now has more than 72,000 likes.

Also last month, Massachusetts congresswoman Ayanna Pressley – whose Senegalese twists had become central to her political branddisclosed to African American publisher The Root that she’d recently started wearing wigs after losing all her hair to alopecia. “I’m trying to find my way here,” she says in a video that has over 126,000 views, “and I believe going public will help.” The video cuts to Pressley without her wig ­– explaining her reveal is “about self-agency, it’s about power, it’s about acceptance”.

These candid disclosures align with a shift we identify in Empowering Future Patients and The Cult of Calming Beauty. Consumers are destigmatising struggles with physical and mental conditions, and embracing vulnerability as a means to self-empowerment and community with others in the same boat.

While it’s estimated that more than half of women will experience visible hair loss at some point in their lives (Cleveland Clinic, 2018), few brands have explored this opportunity. But a recent launch from US toy manufacturer Mattel is a good example of a brand offering emotional support. The 176 different Barbies in its Fashionistas line now includes a bald doll, which “helps girls who may be experiencing hair loss for any reason see themselves reflected in the line”, Mattel explained. 

For a standout example of a brand creating science-backed products in this category, see Bondi Boost Reframes Hair Loss for Women.