Did you know that hair and hair style is one of the most enduring ways of displaying fashion and health? Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t, but it’s certainly true that your hair says a lot about you! Permanent bedhead is either stylishly unkempt and takes a lot of effort or it’s a sign of sloppiness depending on the rest of your appearance, and there’s nothing quite as embarrassing as hair loss or thinning hair.
Unlike Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Vin Diesel, Patrick Stewart or Jack Nicholson, most people just can’t pull off the balding or thinning hair look with any panache, and even fewer women can. In this article we’re going to provide some tips and tricks to keep your hair healthy and preserve it as long as possible.
Who Can Suffer From Hair Loss?
In short: everyone can. It’s not just something that happens to older people or those with a genetic predisposition to hair loss or baldness. Hair loss can be caused by stress, grief, illness and even major life events. Hair thinning and loss can come about during or after pregnancy, after major surgeries and even emotional upheaval. It’s much more common than people think.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, two-thirds of men will suffer from some form of hair loss by the age of thirty-five – and this increases to eighty-five percent of men by the time they reach fifty. Women are the hidden sufferers, making up forty percent of hair loss cases in America. Worse yet, three percent of visits to a paediatrician are because of children’s hair loss.
You are not alone. You’re in the majority, and there are ways to help reduce or possibly reverse hair loss.
What Causes Hair Loss?
As we previously alluded to, the causes of hair loss are varied, but scientifically speaking, they fall into a few categories though these aren’t exclusive.
- Hormonal Causes
For women, these causes can be things like pregnancy, childbirth, the menopause, Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or other imbalances. Men can also suffer from hormonal imbalances. In many of these cases the ultimate root (if you pardon the pun) of hair loss comes from how your follicles react to DHT (dihydrotestosterone)
- Thyroid Problems
Hair loss is a common comorbidity related to hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Fortunately, treating these problems can help reverse hair loss, so if you have multiple symptoms that could indicate a thyroid problem, go see your doctor.
Sometimes the medication you need to take has this unavoidable side effect. Sadly, the medications that can cause these are usually ones people need to take long-term such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, beta blockers and more. If you’re suffering from hair loss and take medication, this is probably the cause.
- Nutritional Deficiencies
Zinc, iron, biotin, copper and certain vitamin deficiencies (namely D, B-12, C and A) and even fat deficiencies can affect your body leading to hair loss. For this reason, it’s usually a good idea to take a multivitamin if you suspect you’re not getting enough micronutrients.
- Overuse of Hair Products or Appliances
We’ll touch more on this later, but the basic lesson to take from this is that if you treat your delicate hair follicles roughly, then you’re going to cause damage to them. In time this can become chronic or even permanent.
How Can I Reduce Hair Loss?
There are plenty of ways to reduce hair loss these days, especially as the movement for a less chemically processed life is increasing and people are turning towards organic products to try to improve their lifestyle. However, there are plenty of ways to care for your hair. We’ve broken them down into four categories.
- Techniques for Thicker and Healthier Care
Gently Massage Your Scalp as You Wash
‘Gentle massage’ should be the key words for washing your hair. Don’t scrub at it like you’re angry; this can damage your scalp because your nails will leave micro-scratches on it. Use the pads of your fingers and move in circular patterns.
Shampoo and Condition Correctly
Shampoo is designed to cleanse the scalp of dirt and oils, so you should concentrate this product just on the surface of the scalp and then rinse it away. That’s all you’ll need to clean the rest of your hair on most days. Conversely, conditioners are usually heavier and thicker. Their purpose is usually to help smooth the hair follicles and provide other benefits to the shaft itself rather than the root. You should concentrate the shampoo on the tips and damaged parts of your hair, avoiding the scalp for all but the most cursory brushes.
While we’re here, washing your hair frequently does not cause hair loss, though it can strip natural oils that may protect your hair and scalp from environmental factors like air pollution or other things.
Pat Your Hair Dry
A hair follicle is made of keratin, and keratin can have a smooth or scaly texture. The scaled texture is caused by a variety of things, including rough handling. When you towel your hair dry you disrupt the surface of the hair, weakening the structure and making it drier and more fragile.
Instead, gently squeeze excess water out of your hair with your hands, but don’t wring it. Then pat your hair mostly dry with your towel before letting it finish air drying the rest of the way. Some people will opt for using a fine towel, microfiber towel or even a cotton t-shirt to dry their hair because they’re gentler than standard towels.
Brush Your Hair Respectfully
Growing up, this writer had to endure the cringing sound of their sister practically tearing her hair out of her head whenever she saw it brushed. The sound of snapping hair was horrendous! If you have long hair, brush from the bottom up, and carefully detangle as you go. For people with fine hair, consider using a comb and detangle with your fingers.
If you have curly or natural hair, there are specialist products like detangling products and detangler brushes that will be much kinder to your hair needs than standard products. They might seem unnecessary, but the matrix of a curly hair follicle is more prone to damage than a straight hair follicle; this is why it’s curly.
Moisturize Your Hair
This advice is mostly aimed at the female market, but people of all sexes and genders should treat their hair to a moisturizing treatment at least occasionally. Dry hair is much more fragile than refreshed hair, so for people like us with hair loss, it’s all the more important to use a moisturizing shampoo or conditioner, or even spending a little extra money on a hair mask or oil. Yes, these can be made at home as well for relatively little money.
Eat A Balanced Diet
As we briefly mentioned, your diet has a major impact on your hair, and your hair is a direct reflection upon your internal health and well being. You should eat a diet rich in protein and biotin because your hair is made of keratin – a form of protein.
Eat plenty of eggs and fatty fish for to gain the protein, biotin, omega-3 oils and nutrients like zinc and selenium. All of these things will boost your hair’s health. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, then you can use supplements to gain these essential nutrients.
On top of this, eat plenty of berries, spinach, seeds and nuts to gain even more vitamins, micro-nutrients and healthy fats to boost the strength and vitality of your hair.
- Items to Avoid
Excessive heat of heat fries your hair and weakens the hair follicles significantly, leading to an increase in breakage. In order to protect our fragile hair, we should never use a hair dryer on the highest setting, only on a medium or low setting. If possible, avoid using a hair dryer unless absolutely necessary in order to reduce the amount of time your hair spends under concentrated heat.
Curling irons, straighteners and the like cause the same amount of damage if used too often. If you’re feeling morbidly curious, you can search YouTube for “curling iron fails”, “burning my hair off” and other topics. You’ll definitely learn to be cautious with your tools after that!
Overly Chlorinated Water
Be it swimming pools or in your water, chlorine can and will damage your hair if exposed to too much of it. If you’re a big swimming fan you should use a swimming hat in order to help your thinning hair protect itself. If your water is chlorinated at home, it’s trickier to fix, and a water filter can be expensive. Perhaps you can use a shower hat when you shower unless you’re going to be washing your hair. If you don’t want that, then we can only suggest keeping your hair out of the water as much as possible.
- Hair Products to Avoid
As the recent trend towards alcohol free skin and hair care products shows, alcohol and its drying properties are more and more well known. As we already learnt, moisturized hair is stronger and healthier, so we must avoid anything that will dry our hair and leave it at risk of breaking.
Do you know where else you can find sulfates? In dishwashing products and laundry detergent. Would you put them on your hair? I doubt it. However, products like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth ether sulfate (SLES) are found in shampoos and detergents alike. Their only real purposes are to solve as ‘degreasers’ and to create the nice foamy layer of bubbles you create when you lather shampoos and soaps up.
These two products can cause skin irritation and, as expected of something used to clean dishes and clothes, are extremely efficient cleansers. So efficient that they can strip skin, hair and scalp of all the oils they have, leaving them dry, brittle and more prone to breaking.
Parabens are nothing more or less than preservatives added to products to increase their shelf life. The problem is that parabens are proven to enter the body through the skin. In one study conducted in 2004, a team of scientists found traces of parabens in the breast tissue of nineteen of the twenty women taking part in the study.
- Beneficial Natural Ingredients
Biotin is part of the vitamin B family, though it’s also called vitamin H. This nutrient is proven to improve keratin’s infrastructure, though the exact reason is unknown. Two studies, one in 2015 and one in 2012 in which participants took biotin in the form of a supplement showed significant hair growth and less shedding.
Saw palmetto is a well-known DHT blocker. DHT is the chemical that causes hair loss, so finding any hair product or supplement with saw palmetto is a major boost. One study even found that people who applied saw palmetto as a topical cream saw their hair density improve by thirty-five percent!
Panthenol is known to improve shine, softness and hair strength, but some studies have also suggested that it helps reduce hair loss because it helps improve the diameter of existing hair follicles. This, in turn makes them less likely to break.
A study in 2015 found that rosemary oil has approximately the same effects as the well-known minoxidil 2% brand products when used over a six month time period. Given that rosemary oil is much cheaper than minoxidil, maybe you should simply choose a product that contains this wonderful oil.
What you do want in a hair styling cream for thinning hair is something that does more than just style your hair. Here at Volugenix, we sell DHT blocker supplements that help reduce hair loss if taken regularly. Both our oral supplement and our pomade contain saw palmetto extract, vitamin B6 and biotin to help reduce hair loss.
In addition, our pomade contains rosemary oil to stimulate hair growth and a wide range of moisturizing ingredients such as aloe juice, sunflower seed oil, and avocado extract. The green tea helps stimulate blood flow to the scalp with the intent to increase hair growth.
two-thirds of men will suffer from some form of hair loss by the age of thirty-five - https://www.americanhairloss.org/men_hair_loss/introduction.html
forty percent of hair loss cases in America - https://www.americanhairloss.org/women_hair_loss/introduction.html
2012 - applied saw palmetto as a topical cream saw their hair density improve by thirty-five percent -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2840915/
some studies have also suggested that it helps reduce hair loss https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2133.2011.10633.x
study in 2015 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25842469