Hair loss is often associated with men, but the reality is more than 50% of women will experience hair loss in their lifetime. It can be a life-changing experience that brings about feelings of anxiety, self-consciousness, and worry. Fortunately, there are ways you can minimize or even stop female hair loss and thinning to restore your luscious, youthful locks. Here is the best hair care routine for women dealing with hair loss.
What causes female hair loss?
Typically a shortened hair cycle is the root cause of female hair loss, also known as anagen effluvium, but what affects the hair cycle to start with? Often it’s a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors that cause a dysfunction in the hair cycle, shortening the anagen (growth stage) phase and prolonging the telogen (resting stage) phase and exogen (shedding stage) phase.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), It’s completely normal to lose between 50 and 100 strands of hair per day. However, if you find that hair loss seems sudden or excessive, you should talk with your doctor or dermatologist about underlying health conditions such as thyroid issues, lupus, anemia, etc., that could be contributing to your hair loss. While health conditions could be the culprit of your hair fall, other factors could be harming your hair cycle.
- Hormones: Two common types of hair loss, telium effluvium and androgenetic alopecia, are thought to be caused by an increase of male hormones called androgens. This hormone increase is triggered by childbirth, pregnancy, ovarian conditions, menopause, or contraceptive pills.
- Hairstyling: Excessive coloring, bleaching, and heat styling cause the hair to become brittle and dry, eventually damaging the hair structure, causing split ends, breakage, and hair fall. Additionally, consistently tight hairstyles like ponies, braids, or buns that pull on the root of the hair can also cause hair loss.
- Diet: A balanced diet is one of the most critical elements of strong, thick hair. We need various nutrients to manage energy balance and keep our essential functions running so that the body can also allocate resources for healthy hair growth.
- Stress: Stress has a significant impact on our body by changing how it stores, manages, and distributes nutrients and energy. High levels of constant stress will put the body into a fight-or-flight state can have detrimental effects on energy production, hormone balance, and overall health.
- Natural Aging: Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) affects most women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. As we age, decreased IGF-1 and microRNA31 shorten the length of our hair growth phase (anagen). Hair moves sooner into the resting phase, causing excess shedding and thinning of hair. The increased dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels combined with reduced scalp blood circulation associated with female aging, will cause follicle miniaturization and slow hair regrowth.
What is the best hair care routine to reverse female hair loss?
It’s important to note that there is no single miracle cure for hair loss. You may need to use one or a combination of treatment options for weeks or months to see the best results. If you find that over-the-counter solutions are not working, contact a board-certified Dermatologist or physician to help you create a customized routine.
Shampoo and condition hair properly.
When choosing a shampoo and conditioner for your thinning hair, opt for a moisturizing option that contains scalp-friendly ingredients like zinc pyrithione (ZPT). A hydrated scalp creates a healthy environment for hair regrowth, and ingredients like ZPT, often found in anti-dandruff products, can remove dead skin cells from the hair follicles that may inhibit growth and contribute to an itchy scalp. You may also want to talk to a dermatologist or stylist about the best shampoos to add some volume and hydration to thin hair.
When shampooing (which should be done 2 -3 times a week maximum), be sure to focus on the scalp only, massaging the shampoo into the roots. Rinse thoroughly with warm water to ensure there is no product buildup left behind. Follow up with a nourishing conditioner, applied evenly from the mid-hair shaft to the ends of your damp, freshly shampooed locks. Once your hair is thoroughly saturated, allow it to sit for 2 - 4 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. A weekly deep conditioning hair mask is also great to incorporate into your hair care routine to reduce frizz and restore natural oils.
Apply hair regrowth solutions
There are plenty of over-the-counter products on the market with an excellent reputation for slowing down hair loss while promoting regrowth. Minoxidil is the only FDA-approved topical medication that can claim new hair growth. When applied to the scalp and hairline, it works by stimulating the hair follicles to encourage hair strands to grow back thicker and quicker, reducing the appearance of patchiness, widening parting, and thinning. While it is proven to be very efficient, it does take serious commitment - minoxidil must be used daily to see results. Most women will benefit by using a 5% solution strength, 1 - 2 times daily.
Consume a nutrient-rich diet
Eating a healthy diet can support normal hair growth and help fill nutritional deficiencies causing hair loss. Pay attention to what is in your daily diet! Ensure you consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that can provide the body with antioxidants, essential vitamins, and minerals. Hair thrives on lean proteins, iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E, B, and A. Load up on foods that fight against hair loss and free radical damage such as:
- Leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark berries
If you feel gaps in your diet that you are not achieving through eating whole foods, you can consider a daily supplement. Your doctor may run a blood test to check for deficiencies and, depending on the results, recommend you take biotin, zinc, iron, or other supplements to boost your intake. Preliminary studies have also shown that marine collagen plays a role in hair regrowth and can lead to luscious, long hair!
Take time to relax and recharge.
Stress and anxiety play a major role in hair loss and are also linked to three conditions that can trigger one to lose their hair: telogen effluvium, trichotillomania, and alopecia areata. Many stressful situations can cause this loss, from chronic illness, pregnancy, depression, post-partum, menopause, and even monthly menstruation. The good news is, stress-induced hair loss does not have to be permanent! If you can get stress under control, your hair will likely grow back. To counteract stress and protect your tresses, try these simple methods.
- Relaxation techniques such as mediation, yoga, or deep breathing
- Exercise regularly, preferable 30 minutes per day
- Spend time with people who have a positive impact on your life
- Get outside and enjoy the sunshine
- Do you have hair loss or hair shedding?
- A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair
- A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 5% and 2% topical minoxidil solutions in the treatment of female pattern hair loss