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Woman 'doubles' hair thickness with these 8 hacks following 'devastating' health diagnosis

Woman 'doubles' hair thickness with these 8 hacks following 'devastating' health diagnosis

The university student says the condition left her with 'literal strands'.

For millions of women across the globe, healthy hair is absolutely paramount to their self-confidence.

Such was the case for university student Sophia Simoes, who says that throughout her life, her long, luscious locks were not only a 'comfort blanket' but a benchmark for her self-esteem.

You can only imagine her stomach-wrenching heartache, therefore, when back in 2018 - just months into her first year at Newcastle University - she was diagnosed with a life-changing health condition which caused her hair to fall out in devastating amounts.

Upon starting university, the 18-year-old Norwich-born beauty - who had always been lucky enough to boast naturally long and thick hair - did what thousands of students do when they live away from home for the first time.

"There was obviously a lot of partying, late nights, not getting loads of sleep, not eating the best food," Sophia says.

On top of the heavy nightlife routine and poor diet, upon finishing her first year, she went on to spend the summer working at a children's summer camp.

"The days were extremely long, and I was eating the beige meals with limited greens as the kids. There was a lack of proper rest, as well, so I started feeling run-down and faint.

Sophia boasted lengthy, luscious locks before going to university in 2018.

"And then I noticed my hair had started falling out."

The now-25-year-old part-time actor admits she originally put her deteriorating health and hair loss down to the job.

"And I’d had my hair cut just before starting uni," she explains. "So, I thought it was just growing back slightly thinner than before."

Sophia says, however, that it wasn’t until she returned home and took a trip to her regular hairdresser's that she realised how drastic her hair loss had become, after the stylist used half a bottle of dye - as opposed to her usual two bottles – to colour her thinning tresses.

The heartbroken partnerships executive went on to raise her concerns with her mother, a GP, who advised she get her bloods taken, just to check there weren't more serious health complications going on behind the scenes.

She began to experience extreme fatigue after helping out at a kids summer camp in 2018.

It was after receiving her blood test results that then-second year student Sophia was dealt the agonising blow.

"It was the worst cast of anaemia that my mum’s GP surgery had ever seen," she recalls.

"My count was 3.4, but it’s normally recommended to be between 9-30, so I was severely below where I should have been."

For those unfamiliar with the brutal health condition, anaemia describes an iron deficiency, where the body does not produce enough red blood cells because the level of iron in your blood is too low.

While it's most common symptoms include unexplained fatigue, a lack of energy, general weakness, headache, for some patients, hair loss can be an added consequence.

Sophia says her confidence took a huge hit following her diagnosis.

"My hair was always part of my confidence," Sophia admits. "Even on those days when my make-up didn’t go right, or when I just wasn’t feeling my outfit, if my hair was good, I felt better.

"So, going from having such incredible hair to having literal strands was a massive confidence knock. It honestly broke my heart. It was my comfort blanket."

She continues: "I used to love doing all different types of hairstyles, but I had to come to terms with the fact that my hair just wasn’t there anymore. It completely took away all my self-esteem."

Sophia was immediately prescribed with iron supplement tablets to aid her general health.

She was unable to style her hair creatively as a result.

But when it came to regrowing her once-healthy hair, she had no idea how to determine the fact from the fiction when it came to the multitude of TikTok hacks and hair-care myths already out there.

"Knowing it was bound to be such a long process to get my hair back to how it was, really hurt," she confesses.

"I was told by so many people that it wasn’t something that was going to happen overnight, and that would really get me down."

Over the next four years, Sophia tried and tested a plethora of supposed 'hair hacks' in order to suss which would be the most effective.

Eventually, she compiled an eight-step hair-care routine which she says - and we can see from the pictures supplied - completely transformed her hair, even going as far as to double its thickness entirely...

The brunette beauty implemented an eight-step haircare routine.

Castor oil

Sophia tells us in 2020 she started oiling her back each evening before she intended to wash it.

"I'd normally wash mine in the morning, so I just put it everywhere the night before.

"I'd massage it into my roots, drag it through to the ends and then sleep with it in two plaits."

Moroccan oil

"After the castor oil and hair wash, I'd apply a pea-sized amount through the mid to lengths of my hair once it was dry, just to give it a soft and glossy finish," Sophia says.

Sophia applied several different oils to her hair.

Washing hair once a week

Don't be grossed out, Sophia claims it's very do-able.

"You just need to get comfortable with slicked back hairstyles, and make use of the grease in your hair!" she laughs.

"Usually by day 4 of wearing it down, I'd either have to do a half-up-half-down look, or a pony tail, a bun or a plait. Those would see me through to day 7."

Less hair drying

Keeping heat as far away from your hair is vital for growth, she tells us.

"If you can try not drying your hair altogether, then great," Sophia explains. "But if not, reduce it to once, maybe twice per week. It's best to let it dry naturally."

She drastically reduced the amount of times she washed her hair.

Invest in your salon shampoo and conditioner

"I found that I had to invest a little more into my hair care products to see a huge result," she admits, adding her favourites are Olaplex, Kerastase and Redken.

"But if you're only washing your hair once a week, you can make these products last a lot longer."

Shampoo twice and use a scalp massager

"I was told by hairdressers that the first wash gets all the debris out of your hair, and the second wash actually cleans it," Sophia goes on, explaining she also uses a scalp massager for both washes.

"It gets the blood flowing and is supposed to stimulate hair growth. Really scratch at your head like they do in the salon!

"And you only need to apply your shampoo to the roots, it'll get to the ends on its own, and only apply conditioner to the ends."

Sophia can now style her hair as she chooses.

Rosemary oil

According to Sophia, there really is some truth to this viral TikTok trend.

"I apply this in the same way I do with the castor oil," she tells us. "Massaging it in everywhere the night before I wash it.

"It definitely made my hair softer and added a couple of inches on - although it does smell horrible!"

Sleep in a bonnet

The last trick on Sophia's list, she claims helped enormously with helping to prevent hair damage.

"It kept my hair fresher for longer and still feels soft, even after the second or third day of washing it because I'm not sweating onto my pillow," she explains.

"It also kept it nice and straight so it's ideal for styling it afterwards.

She insists you must be patient with the results.

Looking back on the last four years, Sophia emphasises that it definitely wasn't a quick-fix.

"I had to really work at it and be consistent with all the remedies and tips and tricks I was trying," she admits. "I had to be so patient but that’s what it took. Looking back now, though, it does feel like the last four years have flown by.”

"I just hope no one has to go through the same thing I did, because not only did my general health take a huge hit during my lowest patch, but my entire appearance had been impacted.

"Overall, though, I’m really proud of my hair journey. I get complimented all the time on my hair, and no one will ever know exactly how much that means to me."

Featured Image Credit: Supplied

Topics: Hair, Health, Beauty, Hacks, TikTok