By Morgan Allman
Turning 40 can seem like the end of the world. Everything begins to change, physically, and you notice things you hadn’t previously. One of those things might be changing hair, or even loss of hair. Losing your hair can be absolutely terrifying, trust me, I’ve been there, but the good news is, there are ways to fight hair loss. In fact, there are several steps you can take to lessen the likelihood of hair loss, and help to regrow your hair longer and stronger.
Why, why, why
So, we’ve determined that hair loss sucks, but how on earth do we stop it from happening? Any treatment plan begins at the source, or in this case, determining what is causing the hair loss to begin with. Well, let’s first take a look at the various causes and what age has to do with it anyway.
It all starts with our genetics, for both men and women, and contrary to popular belief, these traits can be inherited from either parent. While men tend to begin losing their hair earlier into adulthood, women typically experience thinning around age 40. While you may feel alone in this, it actually affects nearly half of women worldwide, and according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, roughly 40% of women have experienced some hair loss by age 50; a somewhat comforting statistic to be sure.
Also at play is every woman’s favorite time in her life: menopause. During this phase, our estrogen levels begin to decrease, causing the growth process to slow. It also causes our hair follicles to shrink, resulting in thinner, more brittle strands. If you notice hair growth in new areas such as face and neck, this is due to increased testosterone levels. Women who are already prone to genetic hair loss will likely experience an even greater amount during the onset of menopause.
Some medications have side effects that cause or lead to hair loss. So, if you notice a correlation between starting a new medication and noticing hair loss, speak to your doctor about what you are experiencing and potential alternative treatment.
Stop the loss
Now that we know the “why” behind hair loss, we can step into the “how” of slowing the process down. Once you’ve determined if it’s menopause or genetically related, you can begin to fight it. However, be aware that you may need to see a dermatologist to determine if your self-prognosis is accurate before you begin the healing process. Here are a few tips for mitigating thinning and loss.
- Balanced diet
Our hair is simply an extension of our bodies, and is composed primarily of protein, and keratin. Keratin is a tough protein produced by nutrients including protein, biotin, and vitamin A. So, if you aren’t getting sufficient amounts of each of these, your body will struggle to produce keratin, and therefore hair. Your hair also relies heavily on iron, which is used to promote blood flow and the production of new cells, but speak to a doctor before adding any iron supplementation to your diet.
- Managing stress/ sleep
I think we can all agree that sleep is important, but proper amounts of rest are vital for our bodies to function correctly. The hormone that tells our bodies to fall asleep is called melatonin. It has also been shown to promote hair growth, or loss when not enough is produced by our bodies. Likewise, sleep deprivation puts your body in a state of stress, which has been shown to cause hair loss by prematurely pushing the hair follicle into the telogen or ‘resting’ phase, resulting in premature shedding, or hair loss. So, make sure you’re getting enough rest, and managing your stress levels and you may notice a decrease in hair loss overall.
- Avoid chemical treatments and heat
Harsh chemicals can wreak havoc on our hair strands, as they cause damage in the form of over-drying, breakage, and frizz. Chemicals used in straightening, perms, and coloring, as well as applying too much heat too often from blow driers, straightening irons, and curling wands. If you’re noticing hair loss, try reducing the frequency of which you are treating and styling your hair, or even eliminating them all together.
After you’ve tackled the first and second steps to gaining control of your hair loss, you’ll want to – and correct me if I’m wrong here – focus on regrowing your hair and getting back to a healthy, beautiful mane. Follow the tips below for maximum growth potential.
- Proper cleansing
Believe it or not, your shampoo could be making the problem worse. Harsh chemicals may also be hiding here in the form of sulphates, parabens, SLS, and salts. Using shampoos and conditioners with natural ingredients can help protect your hair and prevent breakage. Your scalp also plays a large role in hair growth, remember follicles? And if that’s the case, then making sure you have a clean scalp, free of any buildup or free radicals blocking growth should be a priority. Using a scalp cleanser, even one a week, can help to prevent these, allowing your scalp to breathe and aiding in new growth.
We already talked about our diet and how that can aid in reducing hair loss, but there are other steps you can take to promote new growth. Be sure you’re getting the nutrients aforementioned, but also try to incorporate vitamin C, to promote shine and fight off free radicals; Vitamin D, which has been linked to alopecia; vitamin E, another great antioxidant; and zinc, which plays a large role in the growth and repair of bodily tissue. Adding a daily supplement to your routine is a great way to be sure you’re getting the correct amount of all of these.