Thinning hair is extraordinarily widespread, yet it’s an issue that’s rarely discussed. Hair can fall out for a number of reasons, including hormone imbalances, poor diet and medication. Ageing also plays its part as the scalp becomes tighter and drier as we get older, which affects blood circulation and the growth of hair follicles.
Hypothyroidism, lupus, skin and scalp conditions and even excessive styling are often culprits to hair loss. The smart thing to do is to ask your doctor to give you blood tests to see whether you are anemic (lacking iron) or if you have a thyroid issue – often the most common causes of thinning hair. I can’t stress enough that the first step is to get a medical diagnosis, to understand whether the issue is a temporary shedding of hair or something more problematic or even genetic. You can also ask for a referral to a dermatologist or endocrinologist (a hormone specialist) with an interest in hair loss. The good news is that if your hair is thinning because of shedding, the problem is temporary.
Too much shampooing, styling and color treating can harm your tresses. Heat and chemicals weaken the hair, causing it to break and fall out. Often, it’s a combination of treatments – keratin, coloring and blow-drying, for instance – that does the damage. Avoid using appliances that overheat your hair. Set your hair dryer on cool low settings, and minimize use of flat irons. Do not color your hair more than one or two shades beyond its normal color, because the more severe the color change, the more chemicals you require, which can make hair break.
There are also over the counter products that may help slow hair loss. Products like Nioxin salon treatments aim to unblock clogged follicles by “deep cleansing” the scalp. Kerastase Initialiste serum, which contains plant stem cells, works by nurturing the skin around the hair follicles. Clinical trials showed using it for a month made hair thicker, with 93 per cent less breakage. Minoxidil (Rogaine) works on both women and men, although women should use a lower-strength formula to prevent unnecessary side effects, such as facial hair growth. (Note: Always speak to your Doctor before using a product such as Rogaine/Minoxidil.) Women should not use Minoxidil if they’re pregnant or nursing. Men may be treated with finasteride (Propecia), an oral medication.
You can also nurture your hair from the inside. Eating properly all the time is a must, and foods such as salmon, walnuts, oysters, eggs, spinach, blueberries and Greek yogurt have been shown to help. Many people also swear by supplements, such as Viviscal Hair supplements; Biotin; vitamins D, C, B5; and minerals such as Zinc and Iron.
The condition of your hair doesn’t just affect your looks—it’s an important indicator of your health. If you’re experiencing hair loss, talk to your dermatologist.