When you hear the word 'balding' you probably imagine a middle-aged man, right? But it turns out that hair loss is very common amongst women. Terrifying, right?
Considering how emotionally devastating losing your hair can be (just think of all those tears shed over a bad haircut), it's important to understand why you're losing hair before you can actually treat it. Get to the root of the problem with this advice from hair loss clinic founder Lars Skjoth of Harklinikken and trichologist Anabel Kingsley of Philip Kingsley.
Whether it's a rocky relationship or a ridiculously demanding job, stress levels can take a serious toll on both your psyche and, surprisingly, your hair. 'Stress can, through a convoluted route, increase testosterone levels — which in turn can affect the hair growth cycle,' explains Anabel Kingsley.
How to treat it: Take hair loss as a sign that it's time for some major TLC. Whether you use daily yoga, weekly trips to a therapist or meditation, focus on bringing those stress levels down. While this is understandably difficult to self-remedy, stress-induced hair loss will typically only last as long as the stress itself does.
Don't be alarmed if your hair starts to fall out after you've given birth, according to Anabel Kingsley, 50 per cent of women experience postpartum hair fallout. Delivery itself is extremely taxing on the body, and that, coupled with the imbalance of hormones post-pregnancy, leave many women noticing considerable hair loss.
How to treat it: There's no need to go overboard on treatment. Either let time run its course until the hair thickness improves, or try a hair growth vitamin like Viviscal to speed things up a bit. Either way, your hair should return to its pre-childbirth state within 6-12 weeks.
Anemia is a blood condition in which your body is iron deficient and doesn't have enough red blood cells to efficiently transport oxygen throughout the body — in this case, to your hair. If you suffer from anemia, you may experience fatigue, severe weakness, headaches, and hair loss.
How to treat it: Head into your doctors office for a blood test to confirm whether or not you're anemic. If you test positive, you can rest easy knowing that simply changing your diet to iron-rich foods (think fish, leafy greens or beef) will most likely do the trick. If you're going through menopause, your doctor might even suggest taking iron supplements to help you reach the necessary amount of iron that women need per day (the National Institutes of Health recommends 18 milligrams).
ANDROGENETIC ALOPECIA (AKA FEMALE PATTERN HAIR LOSS)
'The most common type of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia,' explains Lars Skjoth. 'If you can rule out traction as the reason for your hair loss, the thinning of hair around your temples will indicate that you are suffering from genetic hair loss which can be seen as early as teenage years.'
How to treat it: Considering that there's only one FDA-approved treatment for female pattern hair loss (you guessed it — Rogaine), it's important to see your doctor before experimenting with treatments. Otherwise, give a more holistic approach a try using a regime that tackles hair loss from a few different angles, like Philip Kingsley Trichotherapy Regime — it offers nutritional supplements, anti-androgenic scalp drops, and a strengthening protein spray to replenish the hair.
While a tight pony might be the quickest way to get your hair out of your face and still look presentable, the style could be seriously harming your hair. Depending on how taut you pull your pony, you could be placing additional stress on the hair follicle, resulting in a type of hair loss called 'traction alopecia.' 'We see this a lot in African American women who wear tight braids or in athletes who wear ponytails every day,' explains Skjoth. If your hairstyle makes your scalp feel sore, it's too tight.
How to treat it: Loosen that ponytail and try to limit the overall time in which you wear your hair in tight styles. Otherwise, the hair follicle will be subject to permanent damage that could inhibit regrowth for the rest of your life.
'Many of the female clients I see have hair loss that's purely due to an inadequate diet,' says Anabel. 'It's actually harder to nourish your hair than any other part of your body since hair is non-essential tissue, making it the last to receive nutrients and the first that nutrients are withheld from.'
How to treat it: Since hair is made up of protein, it needs a steady supply of protein in order to grow sufficiently. Kingsley recommends eating at least 120 grams of protein for breakfast and lunch. A few key foods: eggs, fish, lean meats, poultry, nuts, or vegetables. Remember that plant protein isn't as easily absorbed by the body as animal protein, so be sure to get a good mixture of both.
A HYPO/HYPER THYROID
Thyroid disorders can lead to quite a few physical changes, most notably weight fluctuations or pale, dry skin. However, one of the most common symptoms that's often brushed aside is actually brittle, thinning hair.
How to treat it: Have a doctor do a blood test in order to accurately diagnose a thyroid problem. With the right prescription medication, your thyroid hormone levels will return to normal and the hair loss will ultimately subside.
FREQUENT USE OF HOT TOOLS
Using a hot tool to straighten or curl your hair every now and then won't result in too much damage, but if using hot tools has become a part of your daily routine, you might want to rethink your styling choice. 'While breakage from hot tools isn't true hair loss from the follicle, it can still thin the appearance of the hair considerably,' explains Anabel.
How to treat it: Cool off the hot tools (hair dryers included!), and up your usage of intensive hair treatments. Harklinikken's Hair Hydrating Mask Treatment contains natural ingredients like olive oil, avocado oil, and plant extracts to rehydrate the hair shaft and make each strand stronger.
EXTREME WEIGHT LOSS
Weight loss is typically done gradually, so when extreme weight loss occurs all at once, the body treats it as it would a physical trauma (like childbirth or a surgery), withholding nutrients from non-essential tissues and ultimately resulting in hair loss.
How to treat it: Be sure to eat a protein and vitamin-rich diet. Once your body stops treating the weight loss like a physical stressor, your hair loss should remedy itself,
HARSH HAIR TREATMENTS
Similar to the breakage that occurs from overusing hot tools, constant dying or processing of the hair can lead to weaker, thinner strands. When you dye your hair, chemicals in the dye actually have to break through the cuticle for the pigment to be deposited into your since the cuticle protects the hair shaft, lifting it up during the dye process can create significant damage.
How to treat it: Focus on re-strengthening the hair. Keep at least 8 weeks between hair dye appointments and invest in a few hydration-boosting hair products to reseal the cuticle and retain moisture in each strand.
POOR SCALP HEALTH
An occasional bout of dandruff isn't the worst thing to happen to your hair, but if it's a recurring problem, the thick, flaking skin on your scalp could stunt hair growth or even cause existing hair to fall out.
How to treat it: Keep your scalp healthy by using a dandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care with Almond Oil Shampoo whenever you notice flare-ups. If that doesn't do the trick, head in to see you doctor to make sure you don't have a more serious scalp condition, like psoriasis or a fungal infection.
POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME
In case you aren't familiar with the condition, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that affects the function of the ovaries. "PCOS may impact the hair because it can result in excessive production of androgens — male hormones — that can shorten the growth phase of the hair growth cycle," explains Kingsley.
How to fix it: While treatment for PCOS can sometimes be complicated, a prescription anti-androgenic medication (possibly birth control) will most likely be prescribed to reverse the hormone imbalance and aid in hair loss recovery.