Ricki Lake Revealed Why Sharing Her Hair Loss Journey Was So Important: ‘I Needed to Be Set Free From This Silent Suffering’

In 2020, Ricki Lake opened up about her journey with hair loss, showing off her shaved head and admitting she struggled. At the time, she called it “debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely.” Now Lake is revealing more about the secret that she kept from the world for so long.

Ricki Lake attends FYC Event For Fox's The Masked Singer in 2019
Ricki Lake | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Ricki Lake said she ‘suffered in silence’

On Jan. 1, 2020, Lake kicked off the new year with a confession on Instagram — and found it liberating. The caption accompanying photos of the actor with a shaved head explained her story.

“Liberated and Free, Me,” she began. “First things first, I am not sick. (THANK GOD.) I am not having a mid-life crisis. nor am I having a mental breakdown, though I have been suffering. Suffering mostly in silence off and on for almost 30 years. AND I am finally ready to share my secret.”

Lake continued, sharing that she had been “struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life.”

“It has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things,” she shared. “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.”

Lake hoped that her vulnerable message would allow her to “help others while at the same time unshackle myself from this quiet hell I have been living in.”

She then shared how an early role in Hairspray damaged her hair. “Ever since I played Tracy Turnblad in the original Hairspray back in 1988 and they triple-processed and teased my then healthy virgin hair every 2 weeks during filming, my hair was never the same,” she explained. “From Hairspray to Hairless.”

Lake also explained how she believes factors such as “yo-yo dieting, hormonal birth control, radical weight fluctuations over the years, my pregnancies, genetics, stress, and hair dyes and extensions” all “took its toll on my fine hair.”

Lake turned to extensions, a hair system, and wigs, said she sought help from doctors, took supplements, and got steroid shots. She would only have some temporary hair recovery, only to shed it again.

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Ricki Lake thought her hair loss was ‘such a shameful thing’

In a 2021 interview with People, Lake explained that sharing her truth wasn’t an easy decision. “I went back and forth about coming forward last year,” she explained. “It’s such a shameful thing.”

“I was afraid of coming out,” Lake added. “Because no woman as far as I knew had ever gone public about female baldness.”

The timing of a new year, she said, “wasn’t a calculated move,” adding, “I just needed to be set free from this silent suffering.”

Through sharing her secret, she discovered “inner beauty, self-confidence and self-love,” adding, “I truly appreciate what I see in the mirror now.”

Lake is now rocking short, gray hair. “When I shaved my head, I never had even an inkling that it would grow back,” she said “It feels like a miracle.”