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Ashley Tisdale Opens Up About Experiencing Stress-Induced Alopecia

"It’s nothing to be ashamed of."

Despite their red carpet looks and award-winning performances, celebrities are, above all else, humans like the rest of us, who experience the not-so-glamourous side of life. Take actor and singer Ashley Tisdale, for example, who recently shared her more vulnerable side on Instagram, opening up about alopecia, a hair-loss disease that's been affecting her over the past decade.

In post for her bodycare brand Frenshe's blog, Tisdale shared that she recently dealt with some patches of missing hair. "A couple of months ago, while simultaneously moving, starting a home renovation, and kicking off a TV project, I noticed that a patch of my hair was starting to fall out," she says in the post. "Nothing major—just a small section behind my ear—but still, it was happening, and not for the first time. A few years ago, the same thing happened when I was overly stressed, so I knew exactly what I was experiencing: alopecia."

Then, in a video posted to her Instagram page, Tisdale explained that this is something she's been experiencing since she was younger. “In my 20’s, I had noticed that there was a bald spot right at my hairline,” Tisdale begins. “I asked my hair colorist, ‘what is that?” and she said, “oh, that’s alopecia.” After that, Tisdale took a trip to her dermatologist, who confirmed that Tisdale’s missing hair was caused by alopecia, which is an autoimmune condition triggered by stress—in Tisdale's case, it was brought on by the stress of her career. Tisdale wrote, “Sometimes it’s connected to hormones, other times to heredity, and for me, it’s connected to stress overload.”

Tisdale mentions that on top of the stress causing her hair loss, the stress from the condition itself just creates a vicious cycle. What’s more, she shared in her Instagram caption that “any type of hair loss can affect your self-esteem, especially if you feel like you’re the only one going through it. That’s why I want to talk about it openly—because it’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Back on her blog, Tisdale shared a few ways she's been managing her alopecia.

Given that her alopecia was brought on by increased cortisol (AKA, the stress hormone) levels, what helped Tisdale the most was stress management. She points to things like meditation, yoga, and therapy as things in her toolbox for stress management and mentions that, sometimes, stress management for her is "as simple as taking a break. “

In addition, she reveals that she tried platelet-rich plasma (PRP) on her alopecia, which caused her hair to grow back with permanent results. She writes on her blog, “It’s expensive, and it is certainly not the most pleasant experience—it involves microneedling the scalp, after all—but it made my hair grow back amazingly fast, and research shows that it works.” She recently did a round of PRP again , and wears a Hairmax Laserband ($799) three times a week to stimulate hair growth.

Lastly, she recommends an autoimmune paleo diet, cutting out grains among other food groups. She explains, “it helps eliminate and reintroduce inflammatory foods for gut healing.” Tisdale mentions that you won’t want to make a lifestyle around this diet, but it works great for boosting energy levels and healing the gut as a 30-day diet.

As Tisdale mentioned earlier, there’s really nothing to be ashamed of when experiencing alopecia—in fact, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, it's a pretty common autoimmune disorder that affects up to 6.8 million people in the U.S. Of course, if it’s at the top of your list of beauty concerns, talk to your dermatologist and see what’s right for you, but know you're not alone.

by Isabella Sarlija for Byrdie

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