Hair loss is not reserved for men only. According to the American Hair Research Society, around 50% of all women start losing their hair by the time they are 50. For some, it will begin in their 20s or 30s. Genetics, stress, pregnancy, menopause, and a poor diet can cause hair loss in women. Hair loss treatment should be customized to the root cause, type, and severity of hair thinning.
What is the hair cycle?
Each one of us has 70,000 - 100,000 hair follicles on our scalp. Each follicle produces 20 - 25 hairs during its lifetime. The hair cycle takes 3 - 4 years from when hair is produced in the hair follicles, grows, and falls. Shedding 80 - 100 hairs a day is typical. When someone's shedding rate is higher than production, thinning hair and baldness occurs.
What are the most common types of hair loss in women?
Female pattern hair loss (Androgenetic alopecia)
Female pattern hair loss is the most common type of hair loss in women. Its starts with a gradual hair thinning on the top of the head and the temples. Female pattern hair loss is more common in women with a hereditary tendency for thin hair on the mother's or father's side. The best treatment for female pattern hair loss in women would be Minoxidil 2% topical solution combined with a DHT blocking shampoo and oral supplements.
Sudden hair shedding (Telogen effluvium)
Sudden hair shedding, aka Telogen effluvium, happens when there is an acute sudden hair shedding. With this kind of hair loss, shedding the hair on the whole scalp takes a matter of days. Common causes for acute hair shedding are a significant illness (COVID, Flu), stressful events, after a crash diet, and after childbirth. Telogen effluvium will typically start 6 - 8 weeks after the stressful events and continue for 6 - 9 months. Telogen effluvium can progress to permanent female pattern hair loss in women with a hereditary tendency for thin hair. The best treatment for women with telogen effluvium would be a scalp treatment serum combined with a good treatment shampoo and oral supplements. Adding collagen peptides can further help replenish the micronutrients required for new hair regrowth.
Tight hairdos cause traction alopecia (hair loss). The mechanical stress on the hair roots cause areas of thin hair - usually on the edges of the hairline. The best treatment for this hair loss is a change of hairstyle - combined with scalp treatment serum, a good treatment shampoo, and oral supplements.
The typical alopecia areata starts when there are one or more round, bald areas on the scalp. In 90% of cases, the hair will regrow in these areas after 10 - 12 months. For proper diagnosis, consult with a local dermatologist.
What are the best treatments for female hair loss?
Since its creation, minoxidil has been the most effective way to regrow hair in women. This is an FDA-approved ingredient for hair loss available in a concentration of 2% for women (5% for men) and has been found safe to use for both males and females. It is most effective for women to treat overall hair thinning. For optimal results, minoxidil should be applied twice daily for 4 - 6 months.
DHT Blocking Scalp Serum
An alternative to using minoxidil is using a high-quality DHT blocking scalp serum. These scalp serums use active DHT blocking plant extracts to counteract the effects of DHT on the hair follicles. The best hair care serums will also contain ingredients that stimulate blood circulation in the scalp, essential vitamins and minerals needed for hair regrowth, and act as antioxidants to reduce the harmful effects of toxic chemicals and air pollution.
DHT Blocking Shampoo and Conditioner
Look for shampoos and conditioners that contain DHT-blocking ingredients. DHT is an androgen hormone that attaches to the hair follicle and is linked to hair loss. Some of the best ones also include ketoconazole ingredients, saw palmetto, pumpkin seed oil, rosemary oil, and biotin.
Rosemary Leaf Oil
This wonderful-smelling essential oil has been shown to promote hair growth and stimulate the scalp. Try mixing a drop or two of rosemary leaf essential oil into a carrier oil (such as olive or coconut oil) and massage into the scalp. Leave on for 10 - 15 minutes before shampooing.
Vitamins E, D, B6, and folic acid are essential for a healthy scalp and hair regrowth. Vitamin D deficiency can exacerbate hair thinning and cause brittleness, making the hair more susceptible to breakage. It is also a crucial nutrient for immunity, bone health, cell regeneration, and hair follicle production. You absorb most of your vitamin D requirements through the sun, but dietary supplements can also help your intake.
Zinc, selenium, and copper are minerals that are essential for a healthy scalp and hair regrowth. Iron levels play a huge part in hair and nail health. Women who do not have enough iron in their bodies may find that it causes hair to fall out in a fashion similar to genetic male and female-pattern baldness. Be sure to fill up iron-rich foods such as spinach, lean protein, peas, and fruits.
Regular scalp massages can encourage scalp health, improve blood flow to the area, and increase hair oil production, making the hair stronger and fuller. The best time to massage is in the shower after applying shampoo and conditioner. Gently move your fingers in a slow, circular movement around the head to reduce stress and promote hair growth.
Be Mindful of Styling
You may want to reduce the amount of stress on your delicate strands. Try to avoid hairstyles that pull at the root, such as tight ponytails and buns. You'll also want to be mindful when choosing products that may contain harsh chemicals. Whenever possible, limit or avoid heat styling entirely as it can cause damage that leads to shedding and breakage.
Under and overwashing hair can impact the volume and feel of your hair. Not washing enough can cause a buildup of product that weighs down hair, but washing too frequently can strip the hair of natural oils necessary for vitality and moisture.
Surgical Hair Replacement
Hair transplantation involves removing single hair follicles from the back of the head and reimplanting them into the scalp area where the hair is thinnest. This procedure is very lengthy and costly, but the results are natural-looking once it heals. If you are interested in exploring the possibility of a hair transplant, contact your dermatologist for medical advice and consultation.