Anyone who has noticed a change in his or her hair thickness is likely to panic at the sight of extra forehead or scalp in the mirror. It’s important to remember, however, that you’re not alone. Over 35 million American men and 30 million American women suffer from hair loss. In fact, by the age of 35, two thirds of men will experience noticeable hair loss, and by age 50, 85% of men have thinning hair. Likewise, almost 50% of women will experience hair thinning or loss before the age of 50, and women make up 40% of American hair loss sufferers. In honor of Hair Loss Awareness Month, let’s review causes of hair loss and balding and ways to fix thinning hair.
Why Is My Hair Thinning?
Male & Female Pattern Hair Loss
In 95% of cases, male pattern hair loss is the root cause of hair loss in men. Male Pattern Hair Loss is caused by a combination of genetics and hormones, and usually begins with a receding hairline or loss of hair at the crown of the head. Like male pattern hair loss, female pattern hair loss is also caused by a combination of genes and male sex hormones, which are also found in females in small amounts. For women, pattern hair loss results in an overall thinning of hair rather than a receding hairline.
Male and female pattern hair loss occurs when hormones cause the hair follicles to become smaller. As a result, the hair follicles produce thinner and more brittle strands that may break off easily, or they might stop growing hair altogether. The total number of hair follicles may also decrease.
For both males and females, heredity plays a major factor. If your family members suffer from pattern hair loss, you’re more likely to face the same issues with hair loss.
Because female pattern hair loss is caused by androgen, a male sex hormone, any disruption in the balance of hormones can result in hair loss. Excess androgen can result from ovarian cysts, birth control pills, pregnancy, and menopause. For most women, hair thinning and loss often worsens during menopause, according to the North American Menopause Society.
Hypothyroidism, caused by an under-active thyroid gland, can also attribute to hair loss. The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones for metabolism and growth. If you suffer from an under-active thyroid, your hair follicles may not receive the hormones they need to grow new hair, which contributes to hair loss.
Autoimmune-related hair loss, also called alopecia areata, is the result of an overactive immune system. When you have alopecia areata, your immune system mistakenly targets hair as a foreign object. Alopecia areata can usually be reduced with steroid injections or with the use of topical medication like Rogaine. The exception is lupus, which can cause scarring of the hair follicles. The hair will not grow back, but a new hairstyle can disguise the thinness or bald patches.
Stress and Trauma
Hair shedding following a traumatic or stressful event is fairly common. A stressful event like a divorce or death of a loved one, or a traumatic event like giving birth, a high fever, sudden weight loss, or surgery can cause hair to shed at an unusually high rate. Stress and trauma can force the hair in the anagen, or “growing” phase to suddenly switch the “shedding” phase. Hair shedding typically occurs a few months after the stress or trauma. This shedding is normal and temporary, and hair will regain fullness after six to nine months as the body readjusts.
If the body doesn’t get proper nutrition, it will shift its nutrient supply towards vital organs and away from hair growth. Low protein, low vitamin D, and low calcium can all cause hair loss. This type of hair loss can easily be reversed with proper supplementation.
Anemia, caused by an iron deficiency, is another easily fixable cause of hair loss. Anemia can be diagnosed by a blood test. If you have anemia, your doctor will prescribe iron supplements and hair will regain fullness after a few months.
Involutional alopecia is a natural condition in which the hair gradually thins with age. This occurs when more hair follicles go into the resting phase. Doctors do not typically treat this type of hair loss, but thinning hair can be disguised with scarves, a new hairstyle, or various styling products.
Wearing your hair in braids or cornrows, or pulling your hair too tightly into ponytails or buns can cause traction alopecia. Overuse of bleach, dyes, relaxers, curling irons and straighteners can also cause traction alopecia. If the condition is caught early enough, the hair will regrow.
Some medications, like blood thinners, birth control pills, antidepressants and chemotherapy drugs can cause hair loss. In most case, hair growth will return if you stop using these medications. If you suspect that a medication is causing your hair loss, always talk to a doctor about your options before ceasing medication.
Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that causes sufferers to compulsively pull out their own hair. This disorder is most common in adolescents and teens, with females more likely to be affected. Antidepressants might help to curb this impulse, and behavioral modification therapy is also effective. After the disorder is properly treated, the hair will grow back.
Suffering from any of these hair related issues? Continue reading for tips on how to minimize hair loss and appearance of thinning hair.
5 Hair Loss Hacks: Ways to Minimize Thinning Hair
- Give your Scalp some TLC
Although hidden, the scalp requires care and attention like skin on the face, legs, arms or any other area of the body. An unhealthy scalp caused by dehydration, poor nutrition and inadequate care can lead to stunted hair growth and hair loss. When washing hair, massage the scalp gently with fingertips for 30 seconds to help increase blood circulation and promote hair growth. Like any other area of skin, it’s important to exfoliate the scalp to help remove dead skin cells, dirt and product build-up. Exfoliation should only be done bi-weekly using treatment scrubs.
- Choose a Volumizing or Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Using a volumizing shampoo, with ingredients like protein that coat the hair shaft, will make your hair appear thicker overall. Avoid conditioning shampoos, which can cause build-up and weigh your hair down. According to a study from the University of British Columbia, Ketoconazole, an antifungal ingredient found in some dandruff shampoos, may decrease production of hair loss hormones in the hair follicles.
- Correct Your Conditioner
Use a light formula of conditioner, such as one manufactured for fine hair. A lighter conditioner will moisturize your hair without weighing it down. Only apply conditioner to the ends of your hair, where your hair needs moisture most. Avoid applying conditioner to the scalp, where it can cause build up and reduce hair volume. Don’t skip conditioner altogether, however. It’s important to moisturize your locks to reduce breakage, which will further exacerbate the situation.
- Don’t Tool Around
Over styling can weaken hair strands and cause breakage, which will make your hair appear thinner. Avoid using metal brushes when blow drying, the heat can cause the bristles to get extremely hot and cause breakage on thin hair. Limit your use of the blow dryer, which can dry out hair and make it more brittle and only use curling irons or hair straighteners on a low to medium heat settings.
- Flip Your Part!
Hair tends to lie flatter against the scalp in the direction it’s used to being brushed. By simply flipping your part to the other side, you can instantly create more volume in your hair.
The Best Hairstyles for Thinning Hair
One of the easiest ways to disguise hair loss or balding is by trying a new hairstyle. Any experienced hair stylist will be able to give you advice on how to make your hair look fuller…or try one of our suggestions!
Women’s Hairstyles for Thinning Hair
A short, layered bob – A razored bob will make hair lighter for more volume and movement. Long hair increases the chances that hair will fall to reveal thinning areas, so short hair is a great option for thinning hair.
Blunt ends – Minimal layering will make hair appear thicker and fuller.
Loose waves – If you prefer longer hair, loose waves will add volume and body. Disguise any thin areas of the scalp using the Spray Applicator for a precise application when using Hair Building Fibers.
Highlights with darker roots – Darker roots add dimension and the perception of volume to your hairstyle. Use Hair Building Fibers to fill in any thinning areas.
Accessorize – Pretty accessories draw the eye away from fine or thinning hair. If you pull your hair back, try using the Hairline Optimizer when applying Hair Building Fibers to “fake” a fuller hairline.
Men’s Hairstyles for Thinning Hair
Buzz cut – According to celebrity men’s stylist Thom Priano, a buzz cut is a great “because you can barely see the hair.”
High and Tight – Like a buzz cut, this style camouflages thinning areas by keeping the hair short or “tight.” Any scalp show-through can be disguised with Colored Hair Thickener.
Shaggy – If you prefer to have longer hair, an artfully disheveled look will create the illusion of fuller hair. Hair Building Fibers can be applied in areas where you need a little extra volume.
Swept back – This style, also called the “hipster comb over”, features hair longer on top and shorter on the sides. By pushing back the longer hair on top, you can hide thinning areas at the crown of the head. Try Colored Hair Thickener to disguise any remaining shine.
Go Bald! – Research reveals that men with shaved heads are perceived as taller and more masculine than men with full heads of hair. Men with shaved heads were also found to be more attractive than those with thinning hair.
How do you deal with hair loss and what are some tips that you would share with others going through the same ordeal?