Did you know ... it is estimated that more than 50% of women will experience hair loss at some point in their life! And, I'm not talking about hair loss due the over processing of chemicals you might have done in the salon; I'm talking about hair loss that's bigger than that! I'm talking about hair loss from hormone imbalances such as menopause, rapid weight loss, vitamin deficiencies, toxic substances, extreme physical or emotional stress, thyroid issues, medications, genes, aging, childbirth and I could keep going but we'll talk more about the why it happens and what causes it later.
I have become so aware over the past few months of the effects that hair loss has on women. I have several clients that suffer from it so I have put some time into the research of who it effects, what causes it, why it happens, where it might show up and how to treat it or lessen the hair loss. Keep reading for the who, what, where, when, how & why and for my professional recommendations if you are suffering from hair loss.
the 411 on hair loss - what's normal & what's not normal
So, what exactly does normal hair loss look like? I'm so glad you asked! I can tend to get a little nerdy when I start talking about hair but I will keep it in laymen's terms for the sake of simplicity. Anything that is going on inside your body will typically be seen in your hair, skin & nails before you even know that something just isn't right with you. But, before we can talk about losing hair we need to understand how in the world you even have hair protruding from your scalp to begin with & what the life of a single strand of hair looks like. There is SO much that happens beneath the surface of your scalp so buckle up and let's get started!
Your Hair goes through 3 cycles/phases:
*Note: Not every strand of hair goes through the same phase at the same time.*
The ANAGEN PHASE (AKA The Growing Phase): This phase can last anywhere from 2-8 years & will vary from person to person. This is the active phase (growing) & generally refers to 85%-90% of the the hair on your head at any given time. During this phase, a new hair is formed & pushes hair that is in the Telegon phase out of the follicle and results in shedding.
The CATAGEN PHASE (AKA The Transition Phase): During this phase is when the hair follicles shrink & growth stops for about 2-3 weeks. Only about 3% of your hair follicles are in this stage at any given time.
The TELEGON PHASE (AKA The Resting/Shedding Phase): This phase lasts for about 3-4 months and is when your follicles are completely at rest. 6%-8% of your hair follicles are in this stage at any given time. At the end of this phase, the hair falls out/sheds and is what NORMAL hair loss looks like. You will lose 75-150 hairs A DAY ... YES I SAID IN ONE DAY! This is normal hair loss. All of those hairs you see in the bottom of the shower (these are the cutest hair traps for your shower that I've ever seen) or in your Wet Brush every day is more than likely normal hair loss.
So, if that's normal hair loss, how can you tell what hair loss is abnormal?
This answer is not as confusing as the 3 phases you just learned about. You are typically aware of how much hair you have on your head and what that feels like. If you ever experience these 2 most common symptoms, you just might be experiencing abnormal hair loss:
1. It becomes very apparent that your hair is thinner or you see an excessive amount of shorter hair (also referred to as baby hair) around your hairline or throughout your hair.
You would think that your hair going through the 3 phases above, that it would be thinner but all 3 phases are happening so simultaneously that, if it's normal growth, transitioning & shedding, you won't even know it's happening. BUT, if one day you look in the mirror & think, "man, my hairline seems to be receding" or "my ponytail just isn't as thick as it used to be" or "I can now see my scalp" ... chances are, you are experiencing abnormal hair loss.
2. You have "bald spots" on your scalp or around your hairline - most commonly referred to as Alopecia (there are different types of Alopecia that would need to be diagnosed by your doctor) or female pattern balding.
Alopecia or Female Pattern Balding would be very obvious as you would usually see bald spots throughout your scalp or it may appear that your hairline is receding & would need to be treated by your doctor. Female Pattern Hair Loss is usually the result of aging and hormone changes as you age or family genes can cause thinning of the hair along the top of your head.
here are the most common causes of hair loss in women & how to promote healthy hair growth
Chemotherapy & radiation therapy can both cause sudden hair loss that can occur anywhere on the body. Most of the time the hair does come back but it could be permanent if the hair follicles are damaged. If you are experiencing hair loss because of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, I would recommend Alra Mild Conditioning Shampoo. Alra Mild Conditioning Shampoo is a gentle cleanser + conditioner combo that provides relief from irritated, dry and itching scalp during and after cancer treatment. A compromised immune system due to radiation or chemotherapy may result in hair loss (alopecia), sensitive scalp, or hair that is brittle and dry. Gentle care and conditioning is very important. Their unique shampoo not only cleanses effectively, it also works as a conditioner, leaving fine hair shiny and healthy looking.
Drug use, both recreational & prescription medications, can also cause sudden hair loss but the hair will typically start coming back after discontinuing the drug or medication. If you are discontinuing a drug or medication, Omega-3 (this one is my favorite because the lemon flavor takes away the fishy aftertaste) is a great supplement to help support healthy hair & regrowth after discontinuing a drug or medication.
The following list of causes are typically temporary and can be lessened & turned around with the help of products & supplements but they do wreak havoc on your hair (I will share with you my favorite products for hair rejuvenation for hair loss throughout the following paragraphs):
Extreme physical stress or shock to your body such as losing a lot of weight in a short amount of time, surgery, anemia & medical illnesses,
Extreme emotional stress such as the death of a loved one, a traumatic experience or a mental illness,
An abnormal thyroid and thyroid medicines,
Some medications that treat blood pressure, gout, cholesterol lowering, blood thinners, psoriasis, anti-arrhythmia, seizures, acne treatments & antifungal medicines; as well as high doses of vitamin A. If you take a medication for any of these conditions, hair loss could be a side effect of the medication.
Hormone changes caused by pregnancy, menopause, birth control pills, testosterone or progesterone medications.
If you are experiencing hair loss due to any of the causes listed above these are a few of my favorite products that will definitely make a difference in your quest to fight thinning hair and hair loss:
Viviscal Hair Growth Supplement for Women: Recommended by Doctors and Stylists, clinically proven to nourish fine or thinning hair, reduce shedding and promote existing hair growth. Clinical data showed a 32% increase in the number of hairs and 39% decrease in hair shedding in clinical studies. 92% of Women reported an increase in hair thickness, noted a significant increase in their quality of life and were satisfied with their results when taking Viviscal Hair Growth Supplement for Women twice a day for 3-6 months. Viviscal's Award Winning Formula won Harper’s Bazaar Anti-Aging Award in 2020. Viviscal is 100% drug free, made with proprietary Aminomar Collagen Complex and other key ingredients to support healthy hair growth including Biotin, Zinc, Vitamin C, Iron, and Niacin. Viviscal offers scientifically formulated products that promote healthy hair growth from the inside plus gorgeous hair on the outside. For best results take two Viviscal Hair Growth Supplements daily plus use the Viviscal Densifying Shampoo, Conditioner and Elixir hair care system to gently clean the hair and scalp for healthy, conditioned and nourished hair. No Parabens, SLS or Sulfates. Safe for daily use. 9 out of 10 consumers said their hair appeared thicker and fuller after just 1 week of using the Viviscal Densifying topicals.
Viviscal Professional Thin to Thick Shampoo & Conditioner: Viviscal Thin to Thick Shampoo promotes the appearance of healthy looking, beautiful hair growth and Viviscal Thin to Thick Conditioner nourishes hair with weightless moisturizers for gorgeous, thick-looking hair. Only Viviscal hair care contains Ana:Tel, a proprietary complex that includes clinically tested ingredients derived from natural sources, such as pea sprouts and grape seeds. Combined with Biotin, Collagen & Keratin, the Viviscal Thin to Thick hair care collection promotes the appearance of healthy looking hair growth.
Viviscal Thin to Thick Elixir: Professional Thin to Thick Elixir is the ultimate lightweight, densifying leave-in hair care treatment that encourages thicker, fuller hair. This nourishing serum features Ana-Tel, a proprietary complex comprised of pea sprouts and grape seeds that helps to promote thicker hair. Biotin, collagen and keratin nourish and balance the scalp. The non-greasy, easy-to-apply treatment is suitable for all hair types and free of sulfates, parabens and artificial colors. Thin to Thick Elixir is recommended for use alongside Thin to Thick Shampoo, Thin to Thick Conditioner, Volumizing Fibers and Viviscal Professional Supplements.
Toppik Hair Building Fibers is a gem that I discovered when a couple of clients revealed to me that they used it to keep from seeing their scalp through their hair. It really does make your hair look thicker and if you are self conscious about seeing your scalp, you need this product in your life. Toppik Hair Building Fibers are made of colored keratin protein and blend undetectably with existing hair strands to instantly create the appearance of naturally thick, full hair. To Use: Dry and style hair as usual. Shake or spray into thinning area. Gently pat hair to disperse fibers. If applying Hair Fibers near the hairline, use Toppik Hairline Optimizer to achieve a natural-looking front hairline. Using the Toppik Hair Fibers Spray Applicator makes applying the building fibers so much more easier.
I have also researched other natural remedies for hair growth and here are some of my favorite:
Scalp Massage: Massaging your scalp everyday will encourage hair growth & thickness in the dermal papilla cells. A scalp massage can be done in conjunction with some of the hair oils and masks listed below.
Aloe Vera: Spraying aloe vera on your scalp a few times a week will soothe the scalp, condition the hair, reduce dandruff and unblock hair follicles that might be blocked due to a buildup of oils. Aloe vera is also used for treating hair loss.
Ginseng Hair Loss Liquid Spray: A ginger extract, anti-hair loss essence can effectively prevent hair loss, stimulate new hair, inhibit scalp itching, and strengthen hair roots in addition to nourishing hair, strengthening root nutrition, promoting hair growth, effectively preventing hair loss, effectively treating hair loss, and providing protection for your hair.
Rosemary Oil: Rosemary oil is known for it's ability to promote hair growth, reduce hair loss & stimulate new hair growth. Mix a few drops of rosemary oil into a carrier oil (see my list of suggested carrier oils below) and massage onto your scalp or you could mix a few drops into your shampoo & conditioner daily (or every time you wash your hair). Note: Do not use essential oils directly on your skin; always mix them with a carrier oil or shampoo or conditioner.
Geranium Oil: Geranium oil has been known to promote hair growth and increase circulation. Mix a few drops into a carrier oil (see my list of suggested carrier oils below) and use it make a hair mask or add it to your shampoo & conditioner. Geranium oil can help strengthen, hydrate & restore your hair.
Lemon Oil: Lemon oil as well as fresh lemons are known to enhance hair quality & growth, maintain a healthy scalp & encourage hair growth. Mix a few drops into a carrier oil (see my list of suggested carrier oils below) and use as a hair mask for 15 minutes before shampooing your hair. You can also apply fresh lemon juice to your scalp and hair 15 minutes before shampooing your hair. My preferred method is the lemon oil mixed with a carrier oil.
My suggested carrier oils for the above essential oils are:
Argan Oil: It has anti-inflammatory properties that helps with soothing dry scalp & reduces the appearance & effects of psoriasis and dermatitis.
Pumpkin Seed Oil: Unrefined pumpkin seed oil is rich in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, thought to help promote scalp health and the growth of thick, lustrous hair. Great moisturizer for dry scalp.
Moringa Oil: Moringa oil has been know to help fight inflammation in you scalp that causes eczema, psoriasis or dandruff.
Jojoba Oil: Jojoba oil has antibacterial properties which makes it great for dry, flaky & itchy scalps caused by inflammation. Inflammation can cause hair loss!
my final words to a woman that is experiencing hair loss or hair thinning ...
Thinning hair or hair loss can put a damper on your spirits and has been known to be the cause of depression in women (& men but this article is for my fellow women). It can be a very frustrating topic for so many women. My hopes in writing this blog article is to help even just one woman find the will to try some things that will help with thinning hair and hair loss. Not all of these products or suggestions will work for everybody but with a little trial and error you can find just the right combination of products and daily regimens to help you with thinning hair. Your thinning hair regimen must be something that you commit to doing everyday.
If you need further help with thinning hair, please do not hesitate to reach out to me for help.
Professionally Licensed Hair Stylist