Loss of confidence.
Those feelings and others are the result of what might be termed the last frontier of beauty taboos. Hair loss. Female hair loss. And it’s a heartbreaking curse. One that goes after a big part of your identity – your hair.
If you are dealing with this catastrophe then you need these …
Fact is female hair loss goes beyond worrying. It’s scary. Terrifying. What’s worse when you first notice it your obsession with your hair can go to a whole new level.
For generations it’s been seen as mainly a guy problem.
Women who struggled to keep it a secret often suffered in silence hoping no one would notice.
They didn’t want to talk about it.
If asked they denied it.
So while it has been something we have tried to ignore, more and more, it is being discussed out in the open. Which is where it is anyway. For all to see.
So if it has suddenly become alarmingly clear you are losing your hair and are wondering what to do, there are a number of ways to approach this unglamorous problem.
Sure thin may be in just not when it comes to our hair.
To help you deal with this we’re going to cover a number of topics including:
- Exploring Hair Care Product Options
- Stepping Up to Prescribed and Over the Counter Products and Beyond
- Styling Secrets Those With Thinning Hair Need to Know
- Your Hair Is What You Eat
- The Hair Growth Cycle Explained
- It’s All in the Cut
- Common Culprits
Hopefully you see something there you’d like to explore and learn more about. But first let’s define the problem.
Thinning Defined: Thin hair is defined as strands that are both sparser and have a smaller diameter. In other words they are finer. The shaft itself is thinner. What strands you have left turn all weak, wimpy and wispy on you as they shrink, getting smaller and smaller and lighter in color.
Depending on who’s stats you believe there may be more than 35 million women in the US alone who are living with hair loss despair. If you are one of them, like most your thinning is found around the crown of your head. Your part widens. The amount of hair found there is relatively sparse. The strands are becoming thinner, finer, smaller. It’s like they are literally disappearing from view. Leaving you facing this huge wall of worry about what’s going on with your once luxurious mane.
A Further Word About Androgenetic Alopecia
That loss of hair around your crown brings with it a word you never want to hear. It is “alopecia”. If you do hear it you will likely cry. Because that term describes a genetic condition that results in miniaturized hair being produced by your follicles. It means that over time new hair growing in proves to be progressively thinner and thinner. Yes, thinner and more wispy. It’s a gradual process. One you won’t notice at first. But it will become self- evident eventually.
Unfortunately this problem generally can NOT be reversed. But you can, to put it clinically like your doctor might, stabilize it. You would do so by trying topical medications like Minoxidil. You might get involved in some kind of stress reduction program to lower any elevated cortisol levels you are suffering from. And naturally a hair friendly diet rich in protein, iron, B1 and zinc, among other things, would be highly recommended.
Still, for many dealing with this problem, it is self-inflicted. Some are like married to their hot styling tools. Others are addicted to coloring or chemicals to modify the natural texture of their hair. Others still do the little things wrong, like pulling their pony tail to tight or in the exact same spot or using ties with metal in them some way. All can be hard on your hair causing excess breakage.
If it’s not that, then it may be due to hormonal imbalances that develop as we age. Or stress even.
So what’s a girl with thinning hair to do?
But Wait You’ve Got Options
As it turns out, many things. Let’s look at a few real quick. Starting with turning to hair care products that can literally work wonders for the appearance of your troubled tresses.
Pick Your Products Wisely
Naturally some with less on top often turn to mousse and thickening sprays to create the illusion of volume or bulk. Which makes perfect sense since the idea is to apply the polymers found in both to coat the hair shaft which makes it appear to be heftier than it is. Plus who doesn’t know mousse is a great volumizer.
But the last thing you need is to dehydrate things up there. So see if you can’t find alcohol free products to use.
Oh and silicone based might not be bad either if your hair is prone to snagging and tangling. Just so you watch that the “-cones” don’t weigh your hair down.
Shampooing presents a challenge for those in your shoes. Yes you want to keep your hair fresh and clean. Otherwise those wimpy strands may get weighed down by the oil your scalp produces. Yet too much shampooing can dry your hair which is the on ramp to more unwanted breakage and hair loss. What to do?
Okay so the idea is to use products that are both gentler and hydrating. On the label you want to see things like Vitamins A and E, lipids and amino acids. These work to reinforce brittle strands while leaving them thicker and stronger.
When you do shampoo focus on the roots. That will cleanse and degrease where you need it most. The rest of your hair will be cleaned up by the soap running off your scalp. Oh and not scrubbing the strands below your ears will avoid any risk of roughing up the cuticle which can kill the shine.
You can also pick up one of the volumizing shampoos to beef up your strands. Seeing omega-3, 6 or 9 fatty acids on the ingredient list is a clue the product will plump and strengthen your strands as you wash them.
Another route is to…
Fortify Breakage-Prone Strands
This fortification takes the form of strengthening conditioners and shampoos. You want ones that are loaded with amino acids. Wheat, soy and oat proteins would be good too. These natural moisturizers tend to glom onto your strands making them more resilient and less apt to snap off during styling sessions. Not only will such ingredients improve your hair’s overall strength and condition, they will make each strand look and feel thicker.
Unleash the Hair Spray
Want more lift and added thickness?
This versatile styling product can do more than just lock down your style.
Those with panthenol in them will even swell the spritzed hair shafts some. Okay, not a lot but some.
Others that contain Keravis, which is a kind of protein and you know your hair is nothing but, can invigorate strands to better stand up against every day wear and tear.
Seeing UV blockers included is an added plus that can not only protect against those strand killer rays of the sun plus they can help guard your color.
Mask It – No It Is Not What You Think
With “mask it” we’re not talking about ways to hide the problem but more why you want to deep condition and use super hydrating masks on your hair. Here’s a hint. They will nourish, restore moisture, help your tresses regain elasticity – in essence taking years off your hair.
Deep conditioners typically contain either amino acids, proteins, or panthenol to strengthen and soften damaged hair. That’s why they need to become regulars in your hair care routine. Because being better conditioned will put the kibosh on split ends which can dull your sullen strands.
Another good thing to use every now and again is an exfoliating scalp mask. It not only takes out dead skin off your scalp such masks will also stimulate better blood circulation. The tool to use to distribute this product all over your head would be a seamless wide tooth comb.
You’ll find masks like this applied a couple of times a week will both strengthen and hydrate. If hay like hair is a problem, the right mask can make it feel like soft and touchable again.
Just understand that when it comes to products designed to treat this condition you should realized there is a bit of trial and error involved. Meaning there is no one surefire treatment that will work for everyone every time. You will have to experiment to find out what works best for you.
Moving beyond the product aisle…
Revisiting Scalp Massages
While avoiding products that can damage your more delicate strands and using more than can help them it’s also important to give your scalp some TLC. Reason being this often ignored area is where healthy hair begins. It’s the key to hair growth since any nutrients are absorbed through it. Yet it is rarely receives any attention. What to do?
You want to do a full 60 second scalp massage – which can seem like forever I know as those one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippis tick by slowly. However sticking with such a soothing program will stimulate blood flow promoting growth. It works even better if you pick yourself up a shampoo that has mint or menthol in it so you can do this while lathering up.
So whatever you do, do not overlook this as it’s an easy way to improve nutrient delivery and blood circulation to the hair follicles while stimulating the nerves in your scalp.
Still there are other treatment options available.
Over the Counter Products and Beyond
Your physician or hair loss specialist can recommend other treatments to try.
Some find a topical application of minoxidal (Rogaine) helps slow the loss. But that is not without its downsides or side-affects.
- For one it can trigger facial hair growth and who wants that?
- Two, it can irritate your scalp.
- Three, it is not an instant fix. For those it helps it can take up to six months of faithful slathering before you begin to see results. So you have to have patience and press on in the face of an agonizingly slow progress.
- Oh yes, and fourth it simply may not work for you.
- Plus once you start you can’t stop so it’s a lifetime commitment to save your hair. With a lifetime of paying the price for the product. And they aren’t exactly giving it away.
Devices like the LaserComb can be tried too. It’s a handheld that uses laser light to stimulate your scalp which in turn is supposed to encourage it to grow more hair. The FDA has deemed it to be safe. That doesn’t mean it’s effective for all. So as with many things in life results are mixed and like minoxidal it may not work for you.
There’s even something call low level laser therapy. Just beware this are not cheap and may not work as advertised. Just saying.
Styling Secrets Those With Thinning Hair Need to Know
As you’d expect there are some ways to make the most of the hair you have by using some simple styling tricks. While these purely cosmetic solutions won’t replace hair lost they can make what you have look fuller and thicker. While cutting down the time you spend trying to make it look like what you have is fuller and thicker.
How ‘Bout Them Buns?
This is a way to almost magically create more hair out of thin air. Well, okay the look of more hair if you’re going to be picky about it. Those foam donut bun makers like the ones sold by Conair or Goody are prefect for creating the illusion of having just a ton of hair.
The look is so simple. Even better a chic top bun awaits – only moments away.
Here’s how. All you do is create a high pony, slip the doughnut over the tail keeping it at the tips with the hair pulled straight out. Then you just roll it to your head while wrapping the hair more or less evenly around the donut to create a perfect elegant bun. Easy Peasy. Spritz with hair spray as needed to hold down any persistent fly aways and you’re good to go. Won’t harm a hair on your head but will give you a flawless looking bun.
Bonus. Sleep on it and after taking the donut out the next morning you’ll be delighted to find some serious beachy waves – no styling required. A time saver that is easy on your hair too. All for less the price of a small pizza.
Put the Volume on a Roll
Hot rollers may not be the first styling tool you think of yet they are one of the oldest styling tools going. New and improved, what’s available today is nowhere near like what your mother had to work with. Fact is these old school hot stylers can give your hair a lushness and fullness you cannot get any other way.
Plus they would be preferred over their Velcro cousins since they won’t rough up the cuticle or crease your strands. Sticking four to six of them around your crown and rolling from the middle of the strands out gives you absolutely slinky waves.
These are perfect for giving your mane a healthy lift that usually beats what the best curling irons can produce as well. Making them much like a push up bra in that respect – they help your hair to be all it can be. Plus they are much less damaging to your fragile hair.
The other benefit here is they let you avoid any and all backcombing or teasing to achieve volume on top which as you know can also be hard on those delicate tresses. They absolutely let you style soft and sexy volume into your hair safely – if that makes sense. Spraying on a root volumizer first insures your hair holds the look all day without deflating.
Fake It With Extensions
Or how about this? You can add literally gobs of hair in mere minutes. How? Clip on extensions. And I know. These won’t exactly put the hair where you need it, on top. But they can blend in seamlessly, camouflage hair that isn’t there and will give a lift to your spirits by making you feel better about your hair.
Just throwing another idea to consider out there. Because really cool clip-ons can add fullness and badly needed body to otherwise limp, lifeless, thinning hair.
Going to Extremes With Color Does Not Help
Ever see someone with hair so light it’s almost transparent? It’s like you can see their scalp even though you likely can’t. This suggests that ultra light hair doesn’t do your thinning situation any favors.
Of course those with darker hair aren’t any better off. Because of the contrast between the color of your hair and your scalp even only slight thinning is more noticeable.
Best advise? This is where a medium shade of brown would be your best friend. Being a happy medium, that is not too light nor too dark, your hair will look fuller yet you won’t be drawing attention to any scalp seeking to peek through the thinning forest.
As an added bonus hair dye naturally causes any hair shaft to swell giving you more voluminous thicker looking hair.
Your stylist can also use streaked highlights for a multitonal shade full of visual contrast to create added depth which perks things up on top. These are perfect since they should be focused on the crown area anyway just like sun lightened hair would be naturally. Finish the look by framing your face with golden shades for a completely natural look.
Caution. Your stylist should know this, but you want to keep it real by not going crazy with the number of highlights you have added. Also with thinner hair you want smaller sections of hair highlighted too.
Your Hair Is What You Eat
What’s On the Menu?
Your hair is comprised of a kind of protein called keratin. Not eating enough protein over time can contribute to thinning. This is why you want to tap in your hair’s inner strength by starting your day off with a protein laden breakfast. Doing so will give your body sufficient amino acids needed to grow stronger hair. Protein powerhouses include eggs, cheese, meat, and salmon. Omelets anyone?
But that’s not all eating right can do. Putting lettuce or carrots on your plate insures you are getting Vitamin A which stimulates production of sebum by your scalp. Vitamin E found in peanuts improves the circulation. And don’t forget Vitamin B. All are needed for your follicles to produce robust hair shafts.
The significant role diet plays with growing healthy hair is why some of the fad diets like the cabbage soup diet or other severe calorie restricted diets can lead to hair shedding.
Pump Some Iron
A little known yet common contributor to hair loss is an iron deficiency or anemia. Any shortfall of iron can stunt hair growth. To insure you are getting the iron you need you want to eat things like beef, the dark meat of chicken or turkey, cocoa, and of course spinach.
The Hair Growth Cycle Explained
All follicles cycle through three stages or what you might call a hair life cycle over and over. In a nutshell there’s the anagen phase when it is growing like crazy, the catagen phase when it in essence stops to catch its breath, and the telogen phase when the follicle goes to sleep or rests. Those are the three main terms you need to know.
- Anagen can last anywhere from two to seven years. During this phase the hair shaft is being added to at the rate of about half an inch a month. After putting on hair nonstop, at some point the follicle gets a signal to shift to the catagen state.
- The catagen phase goes from two to three weeks following a period of prolific growth. This is the renewal period when in essence the strand is preparing to fall out. Which is perfectly normal. At any point in time maybe 1% of the follicles are in this mode.
- Hair in the latent telogenic phase is inactive. It’s said to be resting. It can enter this phase as a natural part of the hair growth cycle or go there in response to stresses on the body. Normally this phase lasts maybe three months. But again stressors can prolong it. Hair that falls out is in this stage. From here healthy hair production will crank up as the follicle return to the anagen phase and resumes growing.
Anyone with thinning hair will likely discover they have more follicles than usual in resting mode. And slumbering follicles aren’t producing any hair. If you are experiencing hair loss, what is really happening is the anagen phase is shortening while the telogen phase is goes on longer. Not exactly the recipe for more hair.
It Could Be in the Cut
Cut in the Volume
If your locks are thinning then you might want to consider a shorter cut. Finer hair is more easily weighed down. It has less body. If you want to cook up some instant body have your stylist trim off a couple of inches. Ideally you want to keep the length collarbone long or shorter. It’s simply a fact that the shorter your fine hair is, the more volume it will display. While oomph throughout can be achieved by adding long layers.
The result of a visit to the salon can be swingy shoulder length hair (think long bob) that is giving you all the bounce it can.
Snip the Ends
While we’re on the topic of cutting, another thing that can make your hair look thinner than it is is frayed ends. If that’s the case then only a scissor session will help. You want to have those tattered ends dusted. That means such a small amount is snipped off that it floats off into the air – assuming that’s all you need clipped off. This will not only improve the appearance of your hair, but it will strengthen it as well. Eliminating any risk of those splits running further up the shaft resulting in more breakage and hair oss.
Remember the number of hairs you seen caught in the drain are not something to obsess over. Because the number really depends on how often you wash your hair. If daily you might find 10-15 hairs. Every other day means you can see twice that and still have nothing to worry about. Longer times between actual shampooing and the amount of hair circling the drain will increase all the more. It’s a matter of simple addition not calculus.
The Most Common Culprits
The hit parade of causes comes down to a few that come up over and over again. Plus others that are rarer but still culprits in this game of biggest loser.
For starters, the most common cause is hair that is stressed from hot styling tools or under duress from chemical treatments. Look at this as stress the physical kind. This is why you don’t want to touch your mane with anything heated unless you’ve first applied a heat protectant. That helps but still doesn’t make your tresses bullet proof which suggests you don’t want to resort to hot styling tools any more than you have to.
And if you are a color-aholic, try to think of your hair before you take it from brunette to blonde to raven on a whim in a matter of weeks.
Mental Abuse or De-Stress to Prevent Hair Loss
Stress, the mental kind, comes in second on most lists. Here’s why stress is bad. When you are stressed out, more than the normal amount of the hormone cortisol is released. This affect the follicles and not in a good way. Sometimes the shock to your hair follicles causes them to go into the resting phases of the growth cycle. The result of sleepy follicles is more hair loss as the strands from those follicles fall out or shed.
At the least, stress can impact the thickness of the hair shafts or how well your hair grows. Which would explain why losing your job, losing a loved one, or dealing with money problems takes a toll on your mane. Get past that and you should find your hair growing as well as before.
To help with that you would do well to take better care of yourself. Fit a warm soothing bath or two into your weekly schedule. Get a relaxing massage. Make sure you get “me” time into your life.
Next up would be a thyroid gone crazy or gyrating hormones. More the latter than the former.
This is part of why pregnancy results in temporary hair loss problems. When you are with child more follicles are likely to go into the resting phase. While the shifting balance between androgens and female hormones as we age is what increases hair loss during menopause.
Okay so thyroid disorders are on the list here.
Beyond that medications like some birth control pills can affect your locks loss.
Radiation and chemotherapy can cause hair loss too.
And like was discussed, dietary issues.
Obviously none of the info shared here can replace the advice of a trained medical professional. If this is a persistent problem you’ll want to see a dermatologist or trichologist to have some blood work done to rule out hormonal or thyroid issues which might be contributing to your thinning problems.
Plus dealing with hair loss is a lonely journey. You won’t likely find much in the way of support groups. Your battle against this problem is more of a one on one situation. Which again makes this a lonely quest. Good luck.