Paigey Cakey, a rapper from north London, was 18 when she first started to notice her hair was falling out.
She used mascara to cover up an ever-growing bald patch on the right side of her head, caused by traction alopecia.
At college, the 25-year-old wore particularly tight hairstyles and used strong gel which she says put undue pressure on the hair follicles.
Last November, after years of covering up the patch, she underwent a hair transplant.
“I felt vulnerable but now I feel empowered,” she says.
Paigey features in the latest Newsbeat documentary, Too Young To Go Bald, which is available on iPlayer.
She admits she was lying to herself about her hair loss and was “trying to fit into society” by hiding the bald bits.
“I was using really strong gels that were like concrete on my hair. I was in college so you want to look good.”
Traction alopecia can be caused when the hair is pulled too tightly by hairstyles like corn rows, extensions, dreadlocks or even ponytails which are stretched.
It can be made worse when used with hair straightening chemicals.
It is more often experienced by women of East Indian or Afro-Caribbean origin and the hair loss depends on the way the hair is being pulled.
Initially, Paigey chose to ignore what was happening but then had to hide it every day when she realised it wasn’t growing back.
No-one knew that she had bald patches as she’d use layers of mascara and gel to colour it in, reapplying at every opportunity.
“I always had to make sure I had at least two mascaras because if I lost one, I’d need another there and then.”
In November, Paigey went through with a hair transplant, and revealed the extent of her hair loss on her YouTube channel.
She travelled to Turkey, where the procedure is generally cheaper than the UK, to have 3,400 hair follicles replaced in sections of her head.
Hair transplants aren’t usually available on the NHS, and can cost anything between £1,000 and £30,000.
Paigey says the transplant itself was painless, but says the injections to numb parts of her head were the “worst pain” she’s ever experienced.
Immediately following the procedure, she thought she’d made a huge mistake as she describes her head swelling to “twice the size” and being covered in “blood dots”.
“I wondered what I’d done. But as the weeks progressed, I started to feel a lot better and I could see the hair coming through.”
She says her hair loss has caused her to reassess how she perceives image, saying she had the stigma in her head that “hair is beauty”.
“Beauty is your inside, it’s your personality and what shines from beneath.”