August 26th, 2020
Throughout August National Hair Loss Awareness Month aims to get to the root of the issue that affects 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women across their lifetime. The annual campaign is designed to increase understanding of hair loss and provide advice and support on the complete range of ways to manage it.
‘The Hidden Impact of Hair Loss’ report by Dr Nigel Hunt, Associate Professor in Health Psychology at the Institute of Work, Health and Organisations at the University of Nottingham, examines the extent to which personal and working relationships are affected by hair loss and whether there is a stigma in today’s society for people with hair loss. Interestingly, the report highlights that, while it is common for people with hair loss to approach their doctor for assistance and guidance, many do not feel that they are taken seriously. This can make sufferers who are already self-conscious about their hair loss, feel even more isolated and more distressed, which in turn can make the problem worse.
While many myths surround hair loss, it’s important to know there is help. In many cases, genetics plays a significant role, and often, hair loss is a normal part of ageing. Other causes include: stress; illness; medical treatments or medication; diet; styling practices and trauma.
How can you tell if the amount of hair you are losing is abnormal?
On average, we have 120,000 hairs growing on our scalp. Finer hair textures hair more – coarser hair textures have less. It is normal to lose up to 100 hairs a day (provided they are growing back as before). Excessive daily hair shedding is not a subtle hair loss and it is hard to miss – you may lose up to 3x the normal amount (ie 300 hairs) a day and will definitely see more strands when you shampoo, brush and handle your hair.
What actually causes hair loss?
Hair loss can be caused by many things. Additionally, there are also different types of hair loss. One of the most common types of hair loss in women is Androgenic Alopecia, or reduced hair volume. This is a slow, gradual and progressive reduction in hair density whereby hair follicles become smaller, and hairs become finer with each hair growth cycle. The reason why hair follicles miniaturise is down to genes – it occurs when follicles are genetically predisposed to be sensitive to normal levels of circulating androgens (male hormones). ie it generally isn’t caused by a hormonal imbalance, or by too much testosterone.
Another very common hair loss, especially in women, is Telogen Effluvium (TE), or excessive daily hair shedding. This is not genetic – it can happen to anyone – and it does not change the size of your hair follicles, or hair diameter. What TE does result in is a sudden and large number of hairs moving from the growth to the shedding phase of your hair cycle. It is a reactive hair loss caused by an internal disruption. The reason why TE is so common is that the growth of your strands is very easily thrown off-kilter.
Your body views hair as non-essential to survival, so it is the first thing to take a hit when your general health, lifestyle and/or diet is not up to scratch.
Philip Kingsley Tricho 7 Volumizing Scalp Drops (£50) a stimulating hair thickening treatment containing 7 specific ingredients that repair and protect the scalp and nourish hair from root to tips. Enriched with anti-oxidants, this soothes and repairs hair, protecting against environmental degradation and immediately gives the appearance of more volume.
Watermans Grow More Elixir (£20) this hair growth treatment will nourish and strengthen hair follicles and is perfect for individuals that only wash their hair a few times a week. Apply the no rinse, leave-in treatment directly to the scalp for ultimate growth results.
Living Proof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment (£25) works to relieve an irritated, itchy and dry scalp both instantly and over time. It has a vitamin B3 complex to rebalance the scalp’s natural ecosystem and hyaluronic acid for a controlled release of hydration. Apply to clean hair and leave in, fast-absorbing and weightless without leaving any residue.
FFØR Re:Gain Remedy (£18) a natural, effective leave-in regrowth treatment to combat hair loss and encourage growth in weak and thinning hair. Vegan-friendly, with Redensyl™ and organic peppermint and lemongrass, it will help stimulate the scalp to reduce hair loss with noticeable results for thicker, denser hair.
What’s the difference between hair loss and alopecia, or is it just a question of severity?
Alopecia is the umbrella term for all types of hair loss. It’s the word pro or pre-ceding it that is important. For example:
- Androgenic Alopecia (aka hair thinning/female pattern hair loss) is hair loss caused by androgens (male hormones).
- Alopecia Areata is patchy hair loss occurring in areas and is relatively common, caused by a faulty immune response.
- Alopecia Universalis is hair loss affecting the whole body.
- Cicatricial (scarring) Alopecia is relatively rare; hair loss is caused by a faulty immune resonse causing the follicles to become scarred, leading to permanent hair loss.
- Traction Alopecia, caused by too much traction being placed on the hair follicle over a prolonged period of time.
Living Proof Full Dry Volume Blast (£25) and Full Thickening Cream (£33), the spray can be used on dry hair and the cream on wet hair after a shower. Whichever one you prefer, they’ll both give instant volume to thin, fine and flat styles and disguise the appearance of thinning hair.
Watermans Grow Me Shampoo and Conditioner set (£25) formulated for men and women to stimulate hair growth, strengthen follicles and improve scalp circulation to help with hair density problems. Formulated with biotin, caffeine, argan oil, rosemary extract, allantoin, lupin protein and vitamins and antioxidants such as H, B7, B3, B6, C, E. Hair will appear thicker and stronger.
Living Proof Weightless Mask (£33) reduces breakage in the hair by up to 70% after just one use and is ideal for those who are experiencing thinning hair as its super lightweight.
Regrowz Hairgrowth Scalp Stimulant & Serum Set (3 months for £49.95) Contains a scalp stimulant and restoration treatment. It contains only natural products to restore hair to its natural state and promote healthy hair growth. Cruelty- free and available for both men and women.
Why do women often experience hair loss after pregnancy?
It’s estimated at least 50% of women experience Post-Partum (PP) hair loss. It can seem rather random as to why and who PP hair fall strikes and can happen after one pregnancy and not another. Its severity can also vary with no concrete cause. For instance, you can have two very similar pregnancies, but after your first baby you may notice only a slight increase in hair fall, whereas after your second it could be much more extreme (or vice versa).
The widely-accepted reason for PP hair loss is hormonal shifts. During pregnancy, when oestrogen levels rise, it is common for more hairs to remain growing, and for less to be shed. Hair therefore often becomes thicker and more voluminous. After birth, when oestrogen levels drop, the extra hairs maintained during pregnancy shed in quite a short period of time. This shedding makes sense, otherwise your hair would get progressively thicker after each recurrent pregnancy. That said, often the scale tips a bit too much and you end up losing, initially, more hair than you gained.
There are definitely factors that can impact the severity of PP. For instance, having Iron deficiency, gestational diabetes, thyroid imbalances or hyperemesis gravitas during pregnancy can trigger hair fall 6-12 weeks later. Severe blood loss during birth, general anaesthesia, post-birth complications, high stress levels and severe psychological distress such as with post-partum depression may also contribute to hair loss – or even be the sole cause of it. And then you have hair loss triggers that are more within mother’s control, such as poor eating habits and unresolved Iron deficiency in the months after birth.
PP hair loss has to be left to run its course and often resolves on its own with no treatment. However, there are certainly things you can do to prevent it from going on for longer than it should. For instance, by eating well, looking after your scalp and tackling any vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
Viviscal Healthy Hair Supplements (from £29.99) help to encourage fuller and thicker looking hair postpartum. They contain essential minerals and vitamins, such as biotin, iron, vitamin C, silica and zinc, to promote healthy hair from within.
Philip Kingsley PK4 Soya Protein Boost (£22) a hair growth supplement to help with hair thickening. Fortified with amino acids, this protein hair supplement helps to accelerate hair growth and improve hair quality. Suitable for vegetarians, it is particularly helpful for those with a low-protein diet and thinning hair.
Watermans Grow Pro Hair vitamins (£24.99) help to grow nails and hair. With ingredients including biotin, rosemary and immune boosting vitamin D.
How important is nutrition for treating or preventing hair loss?
Diet is incredibly important to hair health. Being a non-essential tissue, hair is the last part of us to benefit from nutrients we ingest, and the first to be withheld from. It’s actually pretty common for poor nutrition to be the sole cause of hair loss. Protein is particularly essential as it is what your hair is made of. Animal proteins are not necessarily ‘better’ – they are just easier as being ‘complete proteins’ they contain all essential amino acids (proteins your body cannot make on its own). There are 8 essential amino acids in total and if you eat a piece of fish, chicken or an egg, your body is getting all of them. Plant proteins generally only contain some essential amino acids. The exception being quinoa and whey. This isn’t a bad thing – you simply have to food combine to ensure you are getting all of them. For instance, you can combine rice and beans, or tofu with pulses and nuts. If you plan correctly and are armed with the right information, a vegan diet can be great for your hair.
The most important nutrients in your diet to avoid hair loss are proteins, complex carbohydrates, omega 3 fatty acids, iron and ferratin, vitamins B, D12 and biotin.
Whether or not you need a supplement, and which one, depends on your diet, your activity levels, your stress levels (stress impedes nutrient absorption), and how well you naturally absorb nutrients. It also depends on how heavy your periods are. For instance, if you have heavy periods, chances are you will need to take a supplement containing Iron.
Personally, I see supplements as offering a buffer. No one eats perfectly the whole time, and those busy days when you’re in too much of a rush to eat a proper lunch, or you grab something easy, but of low nutritional value, can take their toll on your strands. Supplements help to give your hair an extra helping hand – which is usually needed! As hair is the last part of you to receive nutrients you ingest, a healthy diet alone often isn’t enough to keep it functioning at its best.
Philip Kingsley Tricho Complex Nutritional Supplement (£45) contains all hair essential vitamins and minerals at levels specifically geared towards hair health, including biotin and vitamin D.
As with any health-related concern, do speak to your GP or a specialist if you are worried about hair loss.
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