Claire Fullam – better known as Claire Balding on Instagram – dropped in with her husband Ian for a chat with Kathryn Thomas on the Ray D'Arcy show to update listeners on her hair. And no, this wasn’t an item about the dash to secure a rare post-Covid salon appointment.

Claire’s hair became an issue for her back in 2016, when whole sections of it began falling out, leaving an ever-increasing number of bald patches on her 27-year old scalp. Claire reminded Kathryn of how fast it happened:

"I lost 85% of my hair in 3 weeks."

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Claire was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata and she’s opened up about her diagnosis on previous episodes of the Ray D’Arcy Show and on Instagram. Claire’s hair eventually grew back as her type of Alopecia is not always permanent, but she says she needed to come to an acceptance of herself, whether the hair grew back or not:

"I needed to spend a bit of money to get there to understand that hair or no hair, I’m gonna be ok. But I think all the steps that I needed to get there, of course, I needed to go though that as well. I think it’s a process. But 100% I think that if I hadn’t have accepted it, which is easier said than done."

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Claire says her daughter Farah was 5 years old when the hair loss began, and she needed a way to talk to her about it. Claire says this also helped her to embrace the belief that she didn't need to be defined as a person by how she looked:

"We kept comparing me to Princess Fiona. It doesn’t matter what you look like. You know, Kathryn, like us women, our boobs will sag, we’ll get wrinkles, our hair will fall out, our hair will thin, but we’re still Claire and Kathyrn and Ian and everybody else.

"I really found that no-one around me worth their salt cares whether I have hair or not. They just love me for who I am. That’s really difficult for someone to go through that lesson ever, but it’s taught me so much."

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Claire’s husband Ian was supportive and tried to alleviate as much stress on her as he possibly could, but there were times when he felt helpless:

"You’re seeing someone fall apart in front of you and there’s very little you can do, and there’s only so many times someone wants to hear 'Well, you’re still beautiful to me’ or ‘The hair is not what I fell in love with’."

Ironically, the day Claire’s hair started to re-grow, started out as one of her lowest. She had a treatment appointment to go to and was really struggling to put a good face on it, when her inner voice suddenly did a u-turn:

"Do you know what, Claire, just let it go. Because when you struggle, sometimes it’s OK just to put a lid on it then and you didn’t win that fight and go on and fight something else. The instant I did that, everything changed. My hair came back within weeks. A new lease of life I had again and I was slowly but surely becoming Claire again."

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Claire says it’s taken the full 4 years since 2016 to come to this point. But she credits her hair loss with giving her a new purpose in life, particularly in her choice of career.

"I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. But now I do. And it’s because of that horrible time I went through."

Now pursuing studies in trichology, Claire and her husband are developing their new business which is designed to be a one-stop-shop for people to access a range of services associated with hair loss.

You can find out more details about the business and Claire’s personal story in the full interview here.

Claire and Ian’s business can be found at truahair.ie.