Little girl with uncombable hair syndrome has learnt to love her ‘lion’s mane’

·Lifestyle Writer, Yahoo Life UK
·5 min read
Holly who has uncombable hair syndrome with her brothers Daniel and Charlie (Collect/PA Real Life)
Holly Wright, who has uncombable hair syndrome, and her twin little brothers Daniel and Charlie. (Collect/PA Real Life)

A little girl has gone from lovingly being called a "little scarecrow" by her mum when was was tiny for her uncombable hair syndrome (UHS) to a stylish "little lioness" who is proud of her multi-coloured mane.

Holly Wright, eight, is one of 100 people worldwide thought to be diagnosed with the rare genetic condition, which causes frizzy hair that cannot be combed flat, grows in all directions and is usually silvery-blond in colour.

Her doting mum Emma Wilson, 41, was initially concerned her daughter might be teased when she started school, but says she loves her hair and celebrates looking different.

The family live in Northallerton, North Yorkshire with Holly's identical twin brothers, Daniel and Charlie, five, who both have straight hair.

Holly with her wild hair in 2022 (Collect/PA Real Life)
'It's like a beautiful Lion's mane. So, being a Leo, I think of her as my little lioness,' says Holly Wright's mum. (Collect/PA Real Life)

"Holly is really proud of her hair. If anything, she is a bit sad that her wild hair is calming down as she gets older – which is a characteristic of the condition," says Wilson.

UHS typically shows up in children between three months and 12 years.

"She's very sociable and outgoing, and very confident in herself so she loves having different hair," smiles Wilson.

Wilson, who works in the mental health field, believes Holly's condition was passed down on her side by her dad, Peter, 68, whose hair was very similar.

Read more: Girl with Uncombable Hair Syndrome is finally able to have her hair brushed after nine years

Emma, Holly and Peter in 2017 (Collect/PA Real Life)
Emma Wilson with daughter Holly and dad Peter in 2017. (Collect/PA Real Life)

But she only stumbled across the official condition on a Facebook group she joined for parents trying to navigate their kids' untameable hair, seeing a photo of another child with the same look.

But, she adds, "We didn't have a formal diagnosis until 2019 when we went on BBC1's The One Show."

They were sent to see a trichologist, or hair specialist, in Manchester who did testing and confirmed what Wilson already suspected about Holly's hair.

"The trichologist told us that, as Holly gets older, her hair will become more manageable and that's the case, but what I didn't expect was that Holly would not want it to change," she says.

Holly on a swing with hair flying. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Holly Wright didn't want her trademark hair to change as she grew older. (Collect/PA Real Life)

And, despite her natural instinct as a mum to worry about potential bullying, much to her relief there wasn't any at all, and the other children at school were just fascinated by Holly's hair.

Wilson, who no longer lives with her children's dad, Carl Wright, 36, and is in a new relationship, says, "The other kids just wanted to stroke her hair which looks frizzy, but is actually very soft and fluffy to touch.

"In fact, it was never other kids but adults who made upsetting comments like, 'Did she put her hand in the socket?' when we were out." But Wilson was always very protective of her daughter.

"When people did make comments in front of her, I would always just say, 'I think her hair is beautiful,' so she would not grow up feeling bad about herself or how she looks," she explains.

Carl and Holly in 2021 (Collect/PA Real Life)
Holly Wright and her dad Carl. (Collect/PA Real Life)

It was when Holly met another girl with UHS on The One Show that she was inspired to grow her hair longer just like hers, enhancing it further when she asked to have the same pink streaks her mum had put in. To Holly's delight, her mum agreed.

"Holly has a really positive identity, and her hair hasn't damaged her confidence in any way. She is a very strong-willed and assertive little girl, and she likes the fact her hair is unique to her," says Wilson.

Read more: Toddler with uncombable hair syndrome looks like an adorable 'dandelion clock' on windy days

Holly's birthday 2021 (Collect/PA Real Life)
Holly Wright has enhanced her hair with pink streaks, just like her mum's. (Collect/PA Real Life)

UHS is the result of a mutation (a change) in three genes that tell the body how to make the hair strands on your head. It has also been linked to other medical conditions, which Holly doesn't have. The only other difference she seems to have from her twin brothers is that her fingernails grow faster.

Parents of children with UHS are advised to use soft brushes and avoid hair dryers to prevent damage to the hair, but Wilson usually lets Holly choose how she wants to look after her hair, whether leaving it to dry naturally or use a hairdryer.

Holly, whose other love aside from her hair is football (as an avid Leeds United fan), and also has aspirations to be a post woman when she grows up, clearly has her style preferences already figured out.

"She knows what she likes and sometimes I'll plait it for her to sleep in, so it looks crimped the next day. But for school and especially PE, she just likes it up and off her face," says Wilson.

Read more: Uncombable Hair Syndrome makes this child's mane almost impossible to brush

Holly's hair in 2021 (Collect/PA Real Life)
Holly Wright loves her hair and who she is. (Collect/PA Real Life)

On how they do care for it, she adds, "We wash Holly's hair once a week on a Monday night and after using normal moisturising shampoo and conditioner, I will use argan oil on her hair to keep it moisturised. It never gets greasy, so washing it once a week is enough.

"It's great that Holly is so proud of her hair and of how unique it is, and I think it really suits her personality.

"It is like a beautiful Lion's mane. So, being a Leo, I think of her as my little lioness."

Watch: This adorable baby has uncombable hair syndrome

Additional reporting PA.

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