Whether your hair is shedding more than usual or has simply lost its oomph, Anabel Kinglsey, a leading trichologist at Philip Kingsley shares her advice for helping to revive your hair
Shedding your hair is normal and it’s common to lose up to 100 hairs per day, provided they are growing back. “Hair shedding can also fluctuate from day to day, and some people find that it fluctuates seasonally,” says Anabel.
“But if you notice that you’re consistently losing more hair than usual, or that the nature of your hair shedding has changed, then there could be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed.”
Since more than a fifth of women and nearly two-thirds of men experience hair loss or reduced hair volume, it’s clearly an issue that affects many of us at some point in our lives. We ask Anabel for her advice on the causes of and fixes for hair loss. Here’s everything you need to know.
First, there are two different type of hair loss…
“You may be genetically predisposed to hair loss. This means you’re more likely to experience gradual reduced hair volume and hair density. It’s a condition called male or female-pattern baldness,” says Anabel.
“Excessive hair shedding is a reactive type of hair loss as it is usually triggered by an internal imbalance. The most common causes are vitamin and mineral deficiencies, typically a lack of ferritin (stored iron), vitamin B12 and B6, and vitamin D. Crash dieting, stress and thyroid imbalances can also be triggers. Hair is highly sensitive to general health and is often the first indication that something isn’t right within our body.”
The most common causes are…
A diet lacking in protein or iron
“One of the most common causes of hair loss is a lack of iron, which together with protein, is needed for our body to produce hair cell protein,” says Anabel. A deficiency can cause excessive hair shedding, as well as loss of length – “particularly around the temple areas”.
Vitamin B12 deficiency
“A lack of vitamin B12 can affect the health of your red blood cells and since these carry oxygen to your tissues, this can have a negative effect on hair,” says Anabel. “This can occur more frequently in vegans, as you can only obtain B12 through animal proteins.”
“Stress can disrupt your eating habits and digestive system, as well as raise your levels of male hormones, which causes hair loss.” To keep stress levels at bay, make sure to carve time out of your day to do something just for you. You could also try yoga, Pilates or meditation. Yoga in particular is proven to help reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, according to researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore.
A thyroid imbalance can cause loss of hair. This is because the thyroid gland helps to regulate our metabolism. It also controls the production of protein and how our tissues use oxygen.
“This is also known as androgentic alopecia, which is one of the most common genetic causes for hair loss in men and women,” says Anabel. “This is when certain hair follicles on your scalp become sensitive to the male hormones (or androgens) that circulate through our bodies. This causes your follicles to gradually shrink and this means that they produce finer and shorter strands with each hair growth cycle.” Androgenetic alopecia affects about 50% of men over the age of 50 and about 50% of women over the age of 65.
Hair isn’t immune to the ageing process; just like the rest of our body it changes as we get older. “Strands gradually reduce in diameter and can’t grow as long as they once could,” says Anabel. “This might become more noticeable from our 40s”.
How you can fix it…
Losing your hair can be stressful but Anabel explains that, “Hair loss is common. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix and it’s best to take a holistic approach to the problem. Try looking at all aspects of your health. Hair cells are also the second fastest growing cells the body produces so if your hair loss is reactive, it can grow back very quickly if you find the right treatment.”
Try a nutritional supplement
“Hair is often the first part of the body to suffer from a deficiency,” says Anabel. “If your hair is lacking in volume or thinning, you might need to increase your iron levels. So try to eat red meat at least twice a week. Eggs, tofu and brown rice are also good sources if you’re vegetarian. Dietary supplements containing iron, vitamin C and vitamin B12 may also help.”
Try a treatment
Natural remedies hailed as ‘cures’, such as sea kelp, licorice root and onion juice lack science-based research to prove that they work, so the jury’s still out on these. But the good news is that there are hair treatments for when your hair is looking significantly lacklustre. “Daily application of stimulating anti-androgenetic scalp drops can help to slow down the thinning of individual strands,” says Anabel. “To immediately give the appearance of hair thickness, use a thickening protein spray when styling.”
“Finer hairs are weaker, so it’s important to take extra care when styling,” says Anabel. “Choose a brush that is gentle. The best are cushioned at the base with rounded, plastic prongs.” If you have longer hair, avoid pulling it tightly into a ponytail or topknot, as this can also break the hair.
If all else fails, seek professional help…
“Reduced hair volume is progressive and the sooner you address it, the better the outlook,” says Anabel. “Similarly, if excessive daily hair shedding continues for longer than three months, see a trichologist as there is probably an underlying factor that needs to be addressed.
For genetic hair loss, hair transplant options are available through independent clinics. These are costly treatments, though, and it can take up to two years to see the long-term benefits.
If you’re experiencing excessive hair loss, if your hair is coming out in patches or if you have a sore or inflamed scalp then it’s important to see your GP.
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