Expert Advice

Rare Hair Condition Creates "Mallen Streak" -- A Higlighted Streak You're Born With

Lauren Salapatek | November 6, 2014 | 1:26 AM
Cassandra Messmer as a toddler.
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Cassandra Messmer as a toddler.
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Cassandra Messmer with straight hair.
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Cassandra Messmer with her naturally curly hair.
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Remember the white-haired streak on Cruela Devil, Sweeny Todd or Bonnie Raitt? The truth is out – their hair wasn’t highlighted, they have a rare hair condition called Poliosis.

This rare condition is the decrease or absence of melanin (or color) in head hair, eyebrows or eyelashes. Otherwise known as a “Mallen Streak” – this look is hereditary. Recently, Cassandra Messmer reached out to MODERN with this one-of-a-kind story that talks about her experiences from childhood to the present having Poliosis.

Messmer’s story:  

"I am 26-years-old and yes, I get stopped by people on almost a daily basis, because of my hair. Not necessarily a bad thing, it's just people can't wrap their head around it. It isn't a terrible thing to have and not life threatening, just fascinating.

My latest episode was interesting, to say the least. Standing in the supermarket checkout line. A lady tapped me on the shoulder said, "Hi my name is -----, I noticed your highlights are uneven and was wondering if you noticed your hair stylist messed up? I am a hair stylist I can fix that for you. By the way beautiful curls!" Oh this is just one of many scenarios I have gone through, I am used to it. Since I have curly hair it is also a hand magnet. Everyone under the sun wants to touch my hair, which means instant fuzzy hair, anyone with curls will know what I am talking about.

As a baby/toddler my Mom would get yelled at by other mothers saying, "How dare you dye your baby’s hair." Hearing those stories still crack me up, as I can only imagine my Mother's facial expressions.

Then there was the Private schools, each year it was like they forgot. The school would call my Mother up and ask her if she could stop putting highlights in my hair. Her response every year, "It's her hair, she was born that way," (Lady Gaga's song just totally popped in my head.) Fun Fact: People with Poliosis can't dye their hair, there's no pigment. SO, GOOD LUCK! Please don't contact me about trying, I like my hair just the way it is.

So just to clear this up, I was born with what we call, "Poliosis," not, "POLIO.” It is rare and no, I didn't make it up. Poliosis is a patch of white hair however, in my case it is a streak (i.e. mallen streak). Mine is more blonde than white. During the summer if I am out in the sun, it will turn white. Poliosis is due to a lack, "melanin" (pigment) in that affected area on my head. They say it is hereditary, but I couldn't tell you who on my family tree had it before me.

So after 26 years of the constant hair touching and comments such as, 'People pay alot of money for your hair,' I have decided to embrace it! Only took me 26 years. Since I am in Real Estate, I think I will start calling myself either, 'Mallen Streak Agent,' and/or 'Agent with the Curls.' By the way, I blame my parents for this lovely dye job. Love you Mom and Dad."

Source: @Thomasdekluyver

Notice the lack of pigmentation in the eyelash.

Notice the lack of pigmentation in the eyebrow.

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