- Gina’s story
- Hair loss and CCCA
- The struggle is real!
- Bald is beautiful
- Gina Knight is an influencer, entrepreneur, and wig specialist who celebrates and openly talks about her journey with hair loss
- CCCA is a form of scarring alopecia that is particularly prevalent in black women.
- Getting diagnosed with CCCA was a long journey hindered by racial bias. If you’re experiencing similar symptoms, it’s important to be your own advocate, and ask for a second or even third opinion if need be.
- In 2018 Gina took the bold step to shave all of her hair off, and is now confident AF without wearing a wig, using them now as an extension of her personality.
We went LIVE with influencer and entrepreneur Gina Atinuke Knight to talk about the bald, the bold and the beautiful. Gina’s personal story has educated and inspired us on the topic of hair loss, and we just had to share her nuggets of wisdom with you too!
Growing up Gina was brought up in private foster care with a caucasian family. From a young age this led her to suss out how to do her hair, and from age 10 she had started styling other people’s hair too, charging a small fee for her artistry (we know… MAJOR Girl Boss energy). “Being able to do hair and immerse myself in that culture of hair was really important for my black identity,” Gina notes, with her hair idols being Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill growing up. After graduating university Gina started a retail job at Aveda, and then went on to work at a salon. She also started her own blog ‘Natural Belle’. She was one of the first bloggers to blog about natural hair, making her a pioneer in the digital natural hair movement in the early 2000s.
The struggle is real!
It was upon a visit to her hairdresser that Gina recalls the first signs of hair loss. Her barber noticed a small patch of hair missing, but Gina thought nothing of it at the time, thinking he was talking about the slight dip she had in her skull. Gina recalls “In hindsight…I thought ‘did he see that before I even noticed what was going on’?” The patch was in fact an early sign of central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), a form of permanent hair loss, that Gina would soon come to struggle with.
Eventually, the hair loss became noticeable enough to visit the doctor’s, however her doctor put the loss down to her hair and styling practises. This was Gina’s first encounter with racial bias on her hair loss journey. As someone who wore their hair natural and barely touched it, she struggled to understand how her styling practises could be the cause of both thinning hair and losing clumps of it at a time. She went back to the doctor’s again after giving birth, as her hair was falling out at an even quicker rate than before. Again her hair loss was dismissed, this time as postpartum shedding, and no blood tests were done to get to the root of the issue.
Gina adds “I don't think doctors really put enough weight on the emotional trauma that comes when you lose your hair,” as at this point, she had begun hiding the bald patches with clip-in extensions, wigs, and tight hairstyles because she was uncomfortable with the way her hair looked. “I went and tried to find all the miracle cures, I was obsessed with castor oil, I was standing on my head…” she recalls, however none of this helped her hair loss.
Hair loss and CCCA
So what exactly is CCCA? In simple terms it’s a type of alopecia. This form of alopecia is scarring and can be particularly prevalent amongst black women. Unfortunately it’s not curable but if you catch it early on you can slow down the process with the right medication, to help restore the hair follicles that are still alive. Hair loss can be down to a number of factors, from deficiencies to thyroid issues. The research around hair loss is still very limited and definitely needs to be expanded, as an issue that is often dismissed as purely cosmetic. When there’s so much emphasis on hair as a symbol of beauty especially in the natural hair movement and in the black community, the results of hair loss can be demoralising. The need to normalise conversations around hair loss, and educate ourselves further on, is something that both Gina and the team at Carra are passionate about. We go into the different types of hair loss in more detail in our blog post with dermatologist Dr Mary Sommerlad here: https://carra.co/blog/cracking-the-code-to-scalp-health-with-dr-mary-sommerlad
Bald is beautiful
After eventually being diagnosed with CCCA Gina was adamant that she shouldn’t have to change herself because of her condition. This inspired her to start her own wig company, and whilst wigs were initially a way of covering up the hair loss, this soon evolved into something purely aesthetic and an extension of her personality. In 2018, Gina took the bold step to shave off all of her remaining hair. She hated it at first as it was a decision that she felt had been forced upon her, recalling “It took me until last year before I genuinely felt more attractive without a wig… and it’s taken a long time… it’s a process where you go through your stages of grief.” However Gina now feels more confident bald than she does wearing a wig! Gina is a massive advocate for the hair loss community, and emphasises the need for more representation, as over 50% of women go through some sort of hair loss in their lifetime. As something that is still taboo to talk about in a lot of communities, yet so prevalent, it’s time that we collectively make a change. We are grateful that Gina has made such great strides in conversations and representation around hair loss.
If you have noticed any early signs of hair loss we advise getting a GP recommendation to a dermatologist, so that you get an expert opinion.
Want to watch the full conversation with Gina Knight and Carra CEO Winnie? Find it here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CYobPFNpoZp/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
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