The star of Mean Girls, Mamma Mia and Ted 2 has been in the press this month after chopping off her famously long blonde locks and donating them to hair loss charity Locks of Love. Locks of Love is a charity that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children and young adults in Canada and the US who suffer from long-term medical hair loss, whatever the diagnosis. Now sporting a long bob, Amanda Seyfried has not only made a physical donation to the charity’s work but, in tweeting about it, she has raised the profile of alopecia in the young. Seyfried is not the first celebrity to do so: in March 2013, Jessie J had her head shaved live on Comic Relief, and then donated her hair to the UK-based The Little Princess Trust. How can a hair donation help others? Occurring at such a formative time in a person’s life, alopecia can be especially detrimental to a child’s self-confidence, often making them withdraw from friendship groups and avoid normal childhood activities – and there is very little on the market to help them out. Wigs are, on the whole, made for adult-size heads, and home adjustments involving tape or glue can cause further irritation to the scalp. Furthermore, they are rarely age appropriate. The high quality hair prostheses that are made and provided by Locks of Love can help restore a child’s confidence, enabling them to be with their peers once more. What makes young people lose their hair? There is no one cause of hair loss in children. Charities like Locks of Love and The Little Princess Trust help children affected by cancer treatment, burns, scalp infections and alopecia. Most of the young people they help suffer from alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that ranges in severity from small, round bald patches to the loss of all the hair on the head (alopecia totalis). It is understood that the body’s immune system confuses the hair follicles for foreign bodies and therefore attack and shut them down; why this happens, however, is unknown and there is as yet no cure. Sometimes the hair grows back, but sometimes it does not. Alopecia is not an uncommon condition in the UK with around one in 100 people affected, and of these many are children or teenagers. Worryingly, it seems that the problem is getting worse: a hair loss clinic in Manchester reports that the number of under-21 it saw tripled between 2007 and 2009.