“Almost no one in my life knew the level of deep pain and trauma I was experiencing.” After 30 years of silent suffering, Ricki Lake has fully embodied self-love and is embracing her head of sparse, silver hair. But she hasn’t always felt this way. “Debilitating hair loss,” as she described it to Good Morning America, put her in defense-mode for most of her life, trying everything from vitamins to wigs to hair extensions. Finally, she grew tired of the fight and made the bold decision to shave her head.
“It was such a right of passage last year taking the leap of faith to shave my head, and my hair, thankfully, has grown back,” the actress, 52, explained on a Jan. 27 segment. “And I learned so much through the process of really letting go of something that had been really bothering me.”
Once she’d finally done the deed, a new anxiety overcame her. “I was afraid of coming out,” she recently told People. “Because no woman as far as I knew had ever gone public about female baldness.” Last year, she ended up telling the world in an emotional Instagram post that now has more than 73,000 likes. “I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life,” she wrote at 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.”
She attributed her hair loss to constant dying, styling, and teasing over her years in show business (particularly during her 1988 role as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray), “yo-yo dieting,” hormonal changes, stress, pregnancy, and genetics, among other things. And she tried every possible solution to make it stop
“I’ve been to many doctors, gotten steroid shots in my head, taking all the supplements and then some. My hair would recover and then shed again. It was maddening,” she wrote. A year after the big shave, she’s rocking a salt-and-pepper pixie style with the help of a Scandanavian hair company called Harklinikken, founded by Lars Skjoeth. “His topical extract has been a game-changer for me,” Lake wrote on Instagram, showing off her progress. According to People, Skjoeth diagnosed her with a hereditary condition called androgenetic alopecia.
“My hope is that I am able to help others struggling, as I did for far too long,” Lake continued. “This journey has been such a gift for me, I finally truly love my hair, and more importantly love myself unconditionally from the inside out.”