Maybe at first you notice some extra strands in the shower drain or your ponytail doesn't feel as full as it once did. The truth is, hair loss isn't just a men's problem - it's common for women, too.
"Most women will experience hair loss or thinning of some sort in their lifetime," says Lucinda Ellery, founder and CEO of Lucinda Ellery, hair loss management specialists. "However, it is the severity and nature that will differ from person to person. It's estimated, for instance, that around half of women over the age of 65 experience female-pattern baldness, the most common type of hair loss, which is thought to be inherited."
Reasons for Hair Loss
There is a range of reasons behind thinning hair, from pregnancy to dietary changes, stress, thyroid issues, ovary issues, medications and weight loss, to name a few. For both men and women, the primary cause is heredity, though lifestyle also plays a role. Most commonly, it starts for women in their late 40s, 50s or 60s, though it can be triggered at any age.
"I have a lot of experience when it comes to hair, and I could tell pretty quickly when something was not right with a familiar client," says Peter Lamas, founder of his Peter Lamas line of natural, botanical cosmeceuticals to restore hair and skin. "The hair may look thinner, weaker and more delicate."
Don't panic if you see a little shedding - it's normal to lose about 100 hairs per day. But if you notice an increase when you brush your hair or on your pillow, consult your doctor or a dermatologist to rule out any underlying health issues. "Hair, just like our nails, skin and eyes, can tell us exactly what is going on internally," Ellery says.
A Healthy Diet
So what can you do to prevent diminishing locks? Unfortunately, if it is genetic, there isn't a solution, but there are steps you can take to protect the hair you have. Eat a healthy diet and load your plate with proteins, which are essential to hair and skin. "Fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, are a great source of omega 3 which helps hair stay in great condition," Ellery says. "Iron-filled foods such as spinach and kale are also great to incorporate into your diet to help your hair stay looking great."
And it's not just about what you put in your body - it's also crucial to stay as zen as possible. "Stress is terrible for your hair," Lamas says. "That will tighten the root, making the scalp more tense and preventing circulation from reaching the root."
To fake thicker locks, the right style is crucial. "The cut of your hair has much to do with how thick it looks," Ellery says. "Having a short cut can create an illusion of fullness." Keep strands healthy with regular trims to reduce split ends. And while getting extensions might seem like an easy fix, they are often too big and heavy, which can weigh the hair down and cause more damage.
Limit heat styling as much as possible, and when you have to blow your hair dry, use a good heat-protecting spray. Don't brush too often, and avoid fine tooth combs and brushes with plastic bristle brushes, especially those with bobbles on the end of the bristles, as these can get tangled and encourage breakage. "A brush is an investment," Lamas says. "Buy one that is more pricey than not because they tend to have a better design so they grab hair without tugging." Even puling hair back can damage it, as well as tight braiding. Vigorously towel-drying wet strands can cause breakage, as the friction weakens the root and follicle, leading to more hair loss.
Coloring and processing hair can also do harm. "Chemicals can weaken hair that is already grown out," Lamas warns. "Plus, the skin absorbs everything that you put on it. That dye or bleach will stay on the scalp."
Ultimately, there isn't just one solution when it comes to thinning hair. "It all works together," Lamas says. "It's not one shampoo or serum that makes a difference. Exercise, eat a healthy diet and don't smoke. Hair is like a car - you have to maintain it. What you put in it what you get out of it.