Memphis makeup artist talks about her personal struggle with hair loss

Memphis makeup artist talks about her personal struggle with hair loss
Memphis makeup artist talks about her own struggle with hair loss (Erica Cox)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After 14 years in the beauty industry, a Memphis makeup artist is coming out about her own struggle with hair loss.

Erica Cox told FOX13 she was already suffering from hair loss, but it got worse when she started wearing weave extensions to hide her condition.

She said that ultimately led her to shave her head despite being nervous about what people would think and her new look is gaining a lot of attention.

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Cox said she feels so relieved by her decision and there is only a small amount of people who aren’t accepting of her bald head, but she sees this as an opportunity to address hair loss because so many others suffer from it.

Cox said it has taken her years to work up the courage to share her struggle with hair loss. “Only my family knew about my struggle with alopecia,” she said.

The makeup artist and business owner said she covered her thinning hair with wigs, weaves and extensions until now.

“This is for all the people who feel the way I felt, confined or suffering in silence,” she said. “Get me the biggest chandler earrings you got.”

African American people contribute to 85 percent of all U.S. beauty industry sales in 2017 even though blacks are 14 percent of the U.S. population. That’s according to Nielsen.com. Every year African American women like Cox dish out hundreds to thousands of dollars on upkeep for their hair.

“For women of color, your hair is your everything,” Cox said. “I was on the trend train of buying frontals and expensive bundles.”

But Cox told FOX13 cost her more than just money. “Traction alopecia is just that it is. It is traction and pulling on your edges or on your hair,” she said. “It probably wouldn’t have progressed if I had treated it earlier.”

More than 3 million people in the U.S. are dealing with alopecia, a hair loss condition transcending race and gender.

Cox recently decided she had enough of keeping up with beauty standards and shaved her head bald.

She received an overwhelming amount of support. “I feel like I cut off all of the stress. The hair that was left felt like it was going in the garbage with it. The stress of being confined.”

But there were some downsides like hateful comments. “In my case I felt like I was an easy target for people to be very opinionated. For people to be ugly,” she said.

And lack of awareness. “Just a stranger was like, oh you are going to beat cancer.”

Despite that, she said she doesn’t regret her decision of carving her own lane when it comes to beauty.

“Enhancing what you already have. This is what I must work with. This is what I have to enhance that and let the wigs be an option if I chose to do that later,” she said.