Scandal’s Mellie Grant [Bellamy Young] may have had the most voluminous, perfectly coiffed hair on screen, but achieving her insanely thick texture and pinned curls was really a whole lot of “smoke and mirrors.” In reality, extension tracks and wigs were par for the course for Young, 51, who has been dealing with hair loss for nearly 17 years.
“I went through a personal event, a traumatic event. I went to sleep, woke up and had lost a silver dollar-size piece of hair right in my part — bald as a baby — overnight,” the actress exclusively told Us Weekly while promoting Shapiro MD‘s hair growth system. “I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know that was a thing that could happen. I didn’t know if it meant I was really sick. I didn’t know how to handle the situation.”
At the time, talks of hair loss were dealt with “in the shadows,” but the Prodigal Son star was able to find temporary solutions through cortisone injections, beauty products and supplements.
While on the hunt for a more permanent solve, Young explained that she was also dealing with the mental affects of hair loss. “There’s such a shame component, especially when no one is talking about it,” she explained. “You thought you were alone in this problem and you don’t want anyone to know. You put in the little powders to fill it in or you clip in the hair, you wear a full wig, you do anything. Inside, you’re hiding from the world because you have this terrible secret of not being enough or feeling ugly or feeling like you might be sick – all of these inadequacies.”
That feeling of isolation is what prompted Young to not only be vocal about her experience and connect with others dealing with hair loss — be it postpartum, hormonal or genetic — but also want to share the solution that helped her on both a physical and mental level.
“It’s a delight to be able to talk to people with some ideas, with a solution, with something that’s worked for me and be able to say, ‘Try this, look into this, this is something that’s made such a difference in my life,’” Young explained, referencing Shapiro MD’s patented line of dermatologist-formulated products.
She added that the line, which is complete with shampoo, conditioner and a leave-in foam, is the “real deal.” “It’s the first thing that has sort of instantly, in the shower, made my hair feel nourished and softer,” Young said.
In fact, after following the regimen for a bit, she’s proudly rocking her natural hair for the first time in years. “I lived in extensions — lived in them,” she said. “It’s uncomfortable. You can’t touch your hair, your sweetheart can’t touch your hair. You want to go on a trip or something, you’ve got to remember to pack your hair, you know?”
While the admittedly low-key beauty lover is embracing life without clip-ins, Young doesn’t underestimate the power that glam — wig included — plays when helping her get into character for a show. Take Scandal for example.
“We put that wig on me for Mellie and it did all the work. It made me stand differently. It hurt,” she laughed. “So Mellie’s anger was not anything I had to manufacture. I was uncomfortable and angry about it — what it takes to be a woman, particularly in that world. That anger was real and easy to get to once I slipped that wig onto my head.”