What To Do About Hair Thinning During Menopause
Many women experience hair thinning or loss during menopause, and while this is a natural occurrence, losing or thinning hair is a distressing side effect that, on top of the slew of hormonal changes the body goes through, is the last thing anyone needs. Because changes to hair during menopause can be a scary thing, weve created a helpful guide about what it is, why it happens and offer up some ways to help alleviate its side effects.
This article was created in partnership with Nutrafol, a company in which Unilever is an investor.
Solution: Change Your Style
If you are struggling with very fine hair or areas of sparseness, how you wear your hair can help minimise its appearance. In general, if you have finer hair, don’t grow it too long,” suggests Moodie. “The longer it gets, the weaker the hair gets and so it can tend to look lank, straggly and not healthy. Instead, focus on creating layers within shorter styles, to get a bit more height. I wouldn’t recommend really short layers though because they can highlight the fineness of the hair.”
Less is also more on fine hair. You might assume that using lots of volumising products will help but it can actually show how fine your hair is by lifting it up. Instead, keep styling to a minimum and focus on adding moisture to your regime to maintain the elasticity of each hair. Plus, if you feel you’ve lost hair, try changing your parting, or use a tinted product, such as Color Wow’s Root Cover Up, to fill in any gaps.
How Thinning Hair Occurs In Women Vs Men
A healthy scalp has around 80 percent of its hair follicles in the growing stage while the other 20 percent is in the resting stage. Hair thinning and loss occur when that vital growing state either slows down considerably or stops.
What causes hair to thin out for women? Just like our bodies change with age, most women notice some hair thinning as they get older. This is quite natural. Its said that by the age of 50, half of women will complain of hair loss. If a womans thinning hair is related to female-patterned hair loss, then the thinning is believed to be 90 percent genetic and 10 percent hormonal. Youll probably be surprised to learn that female-pattern baldness affects about 30 million American women. You cant change your genetics, but thankfully, you can work on the hormonal aspect .
Thinning hair in women typically occurs slowly all over the entire scalp without a recession of the hair line . If a woman has female-pattern hair loss, it can lead to extreme hair thinning but rarely leads to baldness.
What about thinning hair in men? For men, hair thinning can start as early as puberty and progress for many years to come after that. The thinning usually begins above the temples and travels around the perimeter and top of the head. Ultimately, this can result in a ring of hair often referred to as a horseshoe remaining along the bottom of the scalp. For a lot of men, hair thinning continues until there is no hair left resulting in a completely bald scalp.
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A Change In Your Hairline
The most obvious first sign of balding is a noticeable change in your hairline that you can clearly see.
Baldness often begins in the hairline, with the flat or mildly receded hairline you previously had turned into a more obvious M-shaped hairline.
For most people, this begins around the temples and the crown and often starts with thinning hair rather than total hair loss.
If you can compare two photos taken years apart and see that your hairline has receded, its an obvious sign that youre suffering from hair loss.
One important thing to be aware of is that lighting conditions can affect the appearance of your hairline.
Hair may appear thinner in bright downlighting .
This makes it important to compare photos with similar lighting conditions, not one photo taken in natural light and another taken in bright artificial light.
If youre really concerned about hair loss, you can photograph your hairline or the top of your head every few months in the same lighting conditions to see if your hairline is receding.
Over the course of a year or two, you should be able to determine whether or not youre losing hair around your hairline.
If you notice hair loss, its important that you take action as soon as possible to prevent it from getting worse.
Learn more about a receding hairline.
Childbirth May Be A Trigger
Moms-to-be are often very happy that their hair seems much fuller during pregnancy, but they are then disappointed when they experience hair loss after giving birth. Losing hair after pregnancy is not true hair loss and is normal. That’s because hormones and hair loss in women are linked. Hair falls out after women give birth due to decreasing estrogen levels. Some women notice that they lose a lot of hair in a short period of time after giving birth. The good news is that after this shedding period, hair fullness often returns to normal within 1 to 2 years. Many people wonder what’s the best treatment for hair loss in women? For postpartum moms waiting for their full head of hair to return, using over-the-counter volumizing shampoo and conditioner formulated for fine hair can make hair appear fuller.
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Midlife Hormonal Changes May Contribute To Thinning Hair
Hair loss might also be related to a shift in hormones, says Faubion. Androgens, a group of hormones that include testosterone and androstenedione, dont increase during the menopause transition, but the ratio between estrogen and androgen changes, so you have less estrogen and relatively more androgen, she explains.
DHT, a metabolite of testosterone, has been linked to male baldness in research. Theres a theory that changing ratios may be related to hair loss in women, says Faubion.
Take Your Sides Shorter
When you have thinning hair as a man the worst thing you can do, if you don’t want it to notice, is to go for an even length cut all over. When you do this, it makes it a lot more obvious that the hair on top is receding or thinning. So take your sides down shorter and leave a bit of length on top, this will distract from the fact that the hair on top is finer and draw our eyes to the sides.
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Consider Using A Caffeinated Shampoo
If you dont already use a caffeinated shampoo, consider switching to one. Caffeine applied directly to the scalp has two beneficial effects. It relaxes smooth muscle fibres surrounding the hair to improve blood flow. More importantly, it also inhibits the enzyme, 5–reductase, which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone within scalp hair follicles and which is associated with male and female pattern hair loss.
A growing body of evidence supports the effects of caffeinated shampoos in stimulating hair follicles, and Ive certainly noticed a dramatic improvement in hair thickness since starting to use one. Just two minutes contact with the scalp during shampooing allows the caffeine to penetrate into hair follicles, where it remains for up to 48 hours after washing.
Leave-on caffeine solutions are also available and have been shown to increase the cross-sectional area of scalp hairs by 10%.
Drinking caffeinated beverages such as tea or coffee does not have the same effect, as the caffeine must penetrate into the hair follicles itself to inhibit 5- -reductase.
Texture Is Your Best Friend
Slicked, smarter haircuts are never the best idea for men with thinning hair. The more precise and perfect the hair is meant to look, the more the fact that the hair is thinning will notice. Get your barber to add texture through your hair, and wear messier and less directional styles. Be careful though not to get your hair “thinned out”, this is not a good idea for thinning hair – you want to keep as much thickness in it as you possibly can.
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You Have Female Or Malepattern Baldness
You might already know about malepattern baldness, a type of hair loss caused by a combo of genes and male sex hormones that usually makes the hair on a man’s head recede at the temples, leaving an Mshaped hairline.
But hormone-related hairloss for femalesor femalepattern baldnessis also a thing, according to the US National Institute of Health. This type of hair loss occurs when the hair follicle shrinks so much over time that it doesn’t grow new hair. In women, the symptoms of femalepattern baldness includes a widening of the center hair part, and, sometimes, coarser hair on the face.
The only FDAapproved treatment for female and malepattern hair is minoxidil , but if that doesn’t work, your doctor may prescribe oral medications such as finasteride that can halt hair loss or even cause some to grow surgery to transplant or graft hair is also an option.
Other Factors Of Hair Thinning
There are a host of factors that cause hair thinning. Consider if you have recently experienced any of these triggers:
- Hormonal or Chemical Imbalance — hair thinning can occur when your hormones are being produced in different quantities. Think: new medicine, cessation of prescription, etc.
- Thyroid Problems — if you have also noticed memory loss, depression, sudden weight gain, dry skin, or fatigue and frequent muscle aches, your hair thinning might be due to a thyroid problem.
- Vitamin B or Iron Deficiency — hair thinning can happen when you’re not getting enough of certain vitamins.
- Dramatic Weight Loss — hair thinning is normal when you have dramatically lost a lot of weight.
- New Hair Product — if you are using a new hair product, it might be too harsh for your hair.
Remember, hair grows in cycles, so if you are only noticing heavy hair loss now, the catalyst might have happened up to three months prior.
If you can attribute one or more of these factors to your hair loss, your hair is probably just thinning, and you’re likely not going bald.
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What Causes Hair Loss
There are many different types of hair loss with a variety of potential underlying causes. Several medical conditions are associated with hair loss in women. Common causes include thyroid problems and hormone imbalances. Wondering how to stop hair loss in women? When the underlying cause of hair loss is diagnosed and treated, hair loss may stop, and hair may grow back. Stress, nutritional factors, and genetics may also play a role in hair loss. Severe physical stress such as going through childbirth, surgery, or suffering a serious illness may precipitate a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium. This is a condition in which stress forces large numbers of follicles to enter the resting phase, and after a few months, hair will fall out.
Sometimes doctors are not able to determine what is causing hair loss. Other potential causes of hair loss include radiation therapy, cancer, kidney failure, liver failure, medication side effects, and autoimmune disease. If you are experiencing new or increasing hair loss, see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.
Could Your Hair Loss Be Stress
Excessive levels of stress can cause hair loss in men and women. Many people do not realize that stress can have a physical impact on your body. Severe stress over the course of a few months can lead to extreme fatigue during the day and hair loss.
If you start to notice your hair thinning, eliminating stress is a great first step. You can start engaging in more activities you enjoy and try to decrease the number of extreme stressors in your life. If stress was the cause of your hair loss, then when your stress level decreases, it’s likely that your hair will grow back.
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Spray Products Into Your Hands First To Add Extra Texture
If want some piecey-ness and your hair is very fine, put product in your hand first, says Townsend. Try a texturizing spray like Sally Hershberger 24K Supreme Stylist Voluminous dry shampoo, $32. Spray it into the palm of your hand, dab fingers in it, and work it into your strands to add distinct texture. For added moisture, Atkin recommends the Ouai finishing cream, $24, which is like lotion for your hair, so applying a dime size amount all over helps tame any fly-aways.
Top 10 Natural Treatments For Thinning Hair
Men and women of all ages yearn for thicker, fuller hair, especially when thinning hair becomes a visibly noticeable problem. Thankfully, there are natural treatments for thinning hair like balancing hormones, reducing stress, eating a proper diet and more.
The average adult head has about 100,000 to 150,000 hairs and loses around 50 to 100 hairs each day. That may sound like a lot, but its actually completely normal. You might think that losing so many hairs would make your hair look thinner, but thats only if the normal process of new hair growth isnt up to speed. As long as hair regrowth and hair loss are in proper balance, hair thinning isnt a problem, but for a lot of people hair loss is a daily concern. Aside from the less than ideal appearance of thinning hair, there is the greater fear that the thinning will turn into permanent hair loss and baldness.
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High Stress Can Cause Hair Loss
Extreme stress can be a problem and cause hair loss, says Faubion. The condition is called telogen effluvium, and fortunately, the hair loss it causes is temporary, she says.
All hair follicles are on a cycle, and significant physical or emotional stress can push more follicles than usual into a resting phase, which can lead to a significant amount of hair loss at one time, says Faubion. It can take a while after that stress for the cycle to go back to normal, she says.
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The pandemic seems to have increased stress levels and subsequent hair loss for a lot of women, says Ablon. I saw a lot of patients about hair loss pre-pandemic, and I probably see about three times that many compared to a year ago, she says.