Khloé Kardashian's experience with COVID-19 feels like a lifetime ago. Her diagnosis was very early on in the pandemic —March of 2020 — a scary time for everyone in the entire world, even moreso for those directly affected.
"At the time, COVID was new a new thing," Kardashian recollects during our recent Zoom call. We're in the virtual meeting to discuss Dose & Co, a collagen supplement company that now counts the reality-show star as its spokesperson. The immediate mention of COVID feels too familiar. I myself had just recovered from a breakthrough case, and Kardashian was more than willing to swap symptom stories. Hers, included a significant amount of hair loss.
"When I got COVID, I actually lost a great deal of my hair," Kardashian explains, describing the hair loss as late-onset. "It happened in chunks, and it was like two or three weeks after I had COVID. I was really bummed — you don't feel good about yourself. A couple months after, my doctor, who is a great friend of mine, was like, 'You know what, I've seen so many women, specifically, who have lost a lot of hair and they think it's because of COVID.'"
American Academy of Dermatology confirms that we now have significant evidence to support the claim that COVID survivors may experience hair loss. According to board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Annie Chiu, this is due to something called "acute telogen effluvium," which happens at the cellular level when there's a shock to the body, like a fever. "The virus pushes growing anagen hairs into telogen, so you will see prominent hair loss in a short amount of time," Dr. Chiu explains.
For Kardashian, the shedding was a short-term problem. Today, she says, her hair feels strong again, even after dyeing it platinum blonde. "It's interesting that a year and a half later, I've seen such a difference in my hair," she says. "The growth, the thickness, the fact that I'm able to bleach it — it's amazing."
So, what worked to promote hair re-growth? Kardashian believes that for her, it was equal parts patience, a regimented collagen routine, and treating her hair with DIY masks made with pantry items...like mayonnaise.
"I was brunette for a long time, because my hair was through the wringer and I wanted to try to keep it as healthy as possible," she explains. "Then, doing things from the inside out really matters. I'm very militant about my routine: I take Dose and Co Pure Collagen every morning, I pour it into my coffee before I put my creamer in, it dissolves instantly, and it's tasteless. I also love doing hair masks, whether that be avocado oil, or anything in the pantry; I put mayonnaise in my hair and just let it sit there for a little bit."
There's some scientific evidence to support that collagen can help support healthy hair growth, but it's still a bit unfounded. "While there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of ingestible collagen improving skin, hair and nails, there is still little scientific data," explains dermatologist Dr. Marnie Nussbaum. "The issue is that once the collagen is ingested in your stomach, it is broken down into smaller proteins and amino acids. It's unclear how much of these amino acids actually travel and make it to the scalp or hair. However, we do know that hydrolyzed collagen (amino acids or smaller proteins) has antioxidant properties, we just don't know if that relates directly to the hair."
Slathering mayonnaise through your ends likely won't help with re-growth, either. However, because the condiment contains olive oil and egg yolk, it could help condition and add extra shine to your ends. A quick, albeit messy alternative if you're out of Olaplex.
While Kardashian's hair-loss-and-re-growth experience worked for her, you should first talk to your doctor if you're experiencing hair loss of any kind. Regardless of what route you go — collagen, mayonnaise, or even PRP — find solace in the fact that like Khloé Kardashian, your hair can fall out "in chunks" and still grow back healthy.