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

·5-min read
Ruby Chapman has Uncombable Hair Syndrome. (PA REAL LIFE/Collect)
Ruby Chapman has uncombable hair syndrome. (PA Real Life/Collect)

A mum is encouraging her daughter to "rock" her extraordinary hair, which is nearly impossible to style.

Ruby Chapman, three, has uncombable hair syndrome (UHS), a rare genetic condition that means her hair is frizzy and untameable, and grows extremely slowly.

The condition is characterised by hairs which grow out from the scalp in multiple directions and are fragile, usually silvery-blonde and very difficult to style.

Mum Terri Chapman, 35, a beauty therapist, who lives in Gibraltar with Ruby and her husband Ross, 40, initially thought her daughter just had crazy hair and was partly relieved to discover UHS is actually recognised, but she worries Ruby could develop a complex about her locks.

“It really is very strange hair," she says.

“On a windy day, it looks like a dandelion clock with all those fluffy bits blowing about everywhere.”

Read more: Girl with uncombable hair syndrome is finally able to have her hair brushed after nine years

There was no sign of Ruby having UHS when she was born. (PA REAL LIFE/Collect)
There was no sign of Ruby having UHS when she was born. (PA Real Life//Collect)

When Ruby was a newborn, there was no sign that her hair would be at all unusual.

“She was born with very dark hair but by the time she was six months old, it was very blonde and looked almost crimped,” Chapman says.

As her hair grew so slowly – a common feature in UHS – Ruby’s untameable locks did not cause problems until she was 18 months old, after she had a "growth spurt" of hair.

“It was so difficult to comb and it never laid flat, no matter what I did. It would just stick up all over the place,” Chapman says of her daughter's locks.

“Ruby’s only ever had three haircuts in her life because of the UHS, but it’s only a trim on the back or on the fringe, because it doesn’t grow out evenly.”

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Ruby Chapman on her second birthday (PA REAL LIFE/Collect)
Ruby Chapman on her second birthday. (PA Real Life//Collect)

Chapman had never heard of UHS until she bumped into one of her regular customers while pushing a one-year-old Ruby in her pram and they asked if she had the condition.

“I went home to Google it and was staggered to see all these images of kids whose hair looked very similar to Ruby’s,” she says.

“It was a relief in one way to learn UHS was a recognised ‘thing’ and that my daughter didn’t just have crazy hair.

“But I was concerned to learn that there is no cure for her fluffy hair.”

Watch: Doctor explains what uncombable hair syndrome is

Until that point Chapman had hoped the unruly hair was a phase that Ruby would grow out of as she got older.

“But as soon as I read about UHS, I just accepted that Ruby’s hair was what it was," she says.

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UHS makes hair very difficult to comb. (PA REAL LIFE/Collect)
UHS makes hair very difficult to comb. (PA Real Life//Collect)

Now Chapman accepts Ruby will wake up with a serious case of bed head each morning and has learned the best ways to care for her daughter’s mane.

“We have to really look after it, so I will use a conditioner spray two or three times a day to try and keep it under control,” she says.

When Ruby is out and about, her mum says, she always turns heads.

“She does get a lot of attention because of it and people are always commenting and saying things like ‘Oh my goodness, look at her hair’.

“I am really careful to make sure we do a positive reinforcement when that happens.

“So when she hears a comment, I will tell her ‘the person who said that just really likes your hair’ – but I do wish people would think a bit more about what they say in front of her.

“I don’t want Ruby to have a complex about her hair; I want her to rock it.”

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The family believe Ruby inherited her hair from her dad, pictured here when he was young. (PA REAL LIFE/Collect)
The family believe Ruby inherited her hair from her dad, pictured here when he was young. (PA Real Life//Collect)

The family think Ruby likely inherited her hair type from her dad, whose own hair as a child and teenager was similarly unruly.

He just kept his hair short and found it "settled down a bit" when he was a teenager, something that often happens as children with UHS reach puberty.

The family are expecting another baby but won’t know until after the birth if the new child has uncombable hair too.

The family have an upcoming appointment with a hair and nails medical specialist in April to make sure that the gene mutation causing UHS will not cause any serious health problems as Ruby grows up.

“I’ve read that children with this condition can also have trouble with their teeth, so we want to be prepared for any issues that may be ahead of us,” Chapman says.

“And of course, I’m a bit concerned about how it will be for her once she starts school.

“She’s already pretty confident about her hair though,. If people tell her they like it she’ll say ‘thank you’ and give it a little toss."

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Ruby Chapman with her mum, Terri and dad, Ross. (PA REAL LIFE/Collect)
Ruby Chapman with mum Terri and dad Ross. (PA Real Life/Collect)

Chapman says the family aren't yet sure how they will handle any negative comments she gets at school.

"But no matter what, we want her to be proud of her hair,” she adds.

You can find Terri and Ruby on Instagram under the handle @telsbells.

Chapman is also about to launch a new handmade baby and toddlers’ clothing range called Poppy and May that is also on Instagram: @poppyandmay.

Additional reporting PA Real Life.

Watch: Adorable baby with uncombable hair syndrome

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