beauty

Thinning hair? Here's why it's happening and what you can do to stop it.

We typically tend to think hair loss is a guy thing - which is total BS. While male pattern baldness may get most of the attention, the truth is that women lose hair the same way men do - there's just less of a conversation around it. Classic!

And like many other things we just don't talk about (hey, vaginal discharge...'sup?), it turns out hair loss in women (whether it be short term or long term) is actually a super common issue. A whopping 49 per cent of women will be affected by hair loss throughout their lives and it can start as early as your 20s.

The fact is that many of us are getting around with hair that is far from thick and luscious (read: the literal texture of angel hair spaghetti) and that's totally normal. But when should we be worried about that clump of hair in our shower drain? Or should we just be cool with it?

Watch: Check out how to use the Mermade Hair Waver to up your volume. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia

Since we are very much not experts in hair loss (fooled ya!), we've brought in the juicy brains of a hair expert - Trichologist Carolyn Evans-Frost from Absolique Hair Clinic in Brisbane.

But before we get right into it, we've pulled together a little run-down on some of the most common causes of hair loss (we've also written a more in-depth piece on the different reasons here).

Let's go!

Why am I losing my hair?

Fact: Hair loss is a complicated game, and it's different for everyone. It's an incredibly individualised experience and not a one-size-fits-all kinda case when it comes to causes or treatments. 

Evans-Frost said there are many factors that can contribute to hair loss in women of all ages. For starters, your genetics and hormones play a massive role in the health of your hair and scalp, and can influence changes in hair fall. 

But that's not all. She adds that reasons for hair loss in women can also be attributed to things like diet, medications, illness, and even stress. "There are a few [different reasons] for women, which can be independent but also commonly overlap." 

"Low iron stores (meaning low ferritin) is one of the biggest causes of hair loss in women. Add to this, stopping/starting/changing medication, including birth control, can cause telogen effluvium or diffuse hair loss," said Evans-Frost.

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And we ain't finished yet. Thyroid imbalance is another big thing that can contribute to hair loss, along with low vitamin D and low vitamin B12 levels. It's also a super common (and completely normal) effect of pregnancy and can occur during the postpartum period

Basically, when you're pregnant, your body makes more oestrogen which keeps you from losing hair (your hairs go into a resting phase). However, after you have your baby your hormones return to normal levels, meaning your hair goes back into its normal cycle and you experience hair fallout. This usually happens between eight to 10 weeks after childbirth. The joy!

Listen to Mamamia's podcast for your face, You Beauty, where Leigh Campbell reveals how to deal with post-partum hair loss. Post continues below. 

How do I know if I'm experiencing hair loss?

So, what’s an *acceptable* amount of hair fallout? Well, generally people lose between 50 to 100 hairs a day, which is considered 'normal'. However, if you're consistently shedding 150 or more hairs a day, this is pretty significant. 

If you have no idea what 150 or more hairs a day looks like (same), it's basically when you're shedding more hair than you would normally. If you start to notice clumps falling out all at once, bald spots or signs of patchiness this might be a red flag. 

"Some women notice the physical hair loss first - as in more hair in the shower recess, on the floor, in the brush and on the hands when they wash," said Evans-Frost. This will obviously depend on the length of your hair - the longer your hair the more obvious it is when more hair is falling out.

"Generally women notice hair changes at the front, top and recessions of the scalp before anywhere else, because it is at the front of the hairline where hair is the thinnest and the eye and light can easily make judgement." 

Yep - hair loss is a b*tch.

But don't freak, you're not going to be rocking a George Costanza-esque look any time soon. Unlike men, women won’t experience complete baldness. Instead, your hair will get thinner and your part gets wider. Your scalp may also become more visible than before.

What should I do first?

Before jumping online and buying a whole heap of treatments because a friend's cousin has an auntie in New Zealand who knew someone who said it would work, you need to figure out what's going on first. "So many women become reactive when experiencing hair loss," said Evans-Frost. 

Make a trip to your doctor or a dermatologist to pinpoint the exact cause behind your hair loss. And no, you guys, a fraught Google search does not count.

"The best thing is to think back three months earlier, was there a significant change in life, illness, medication or deficiency? If you cannot figure it out yourself, or with your doctor, that is when you should reach out to a trichologist who can find the cause and help you identify with it for a resolution."

What are the best treatment options?

Okay, if you've been to a dermatologist or trichologist (go you!) and it's not too serious but still something you'd like to fix, Evans-Frost said there are a couple of things that'll help get you/that damn hair on track.

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First up, she said to focus on your scalp health - which kinda makes a lot of sense, as your hair is only really healthy when the rest of the body is healthy, too. 

"I am a big supporter of scalp health for hair health, along with the best possible way of eating (this can include pH testing to know your own body levels, practising clean eating, eating food with ferritin and food combining)."

When something isn't right, your hair is the first to show problems. Poor nutrition, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and prolonged high levels of stress all contribute to poor scalp and hair health.

"There are so many treatment remedies available and most of these work when the underlying causes have been addressed. Scalp health plays a big role," said Evans-Frost.

Along with healthy eating, we recommend looking into some scalp-friendly products like Klorane Scalp Detox Shampoo with Aquatic Mint ($12.49), Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub With Sea Salt ($69) or Kerastase Initialiste Advanced Scalp and Hair Concentrate ($69).

"My most favoured product is Activance Clinician, because it is simple to use and incorporate into any hair washing routine. It is only available by prescription from selected trichologists."

Activance Clinician Total Hair Health Original Leave-In Treatment 

What's the go with minoxidil treatments?

If you've done some research, you've probably come across some hair thinning products that contain an active ingredient called minoxidil - traditionally a high blood pressure medication (sounds 10/10 scary, we know).

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"Minoxidil acts as a vasodilator, which can assist the restriction caused by DHT (dihydrotestosterone) in the presence of female pattern hair thinning (note: this is not physical hair loss)," explained Evans-Frost.

Huh? 

Okay, let's break this down a little. While minoxidil can assist in female pattern hair thinning (a specific type of hair thinning caused by the overproduction of a hormone called DHT), it may not work for all types of hair loss. 

"As many would have read and seen online, minoxidil is touted as a cure-all for all types of hair loss. However, this is not true." When the hair loss is diffuse (meaning the hair density decreases all over the scalp), it is more to do with the hair cycle - so the use of minoxidil may not work.

Again, we reckon it's best to chat with a specialist before going gung-ho with the minoxidil treatments. 

What treatments work best for post-pregnancy hair loss?

While it can still be pretty freakin' traumatic, the good news for those struggling with postpartum hair loss is that it's usually a temporary phase (the medical term for it is acute telogen effluvium) and your hair should eventually go back to how it was pre-pregnancy.

The not-so-good news is that it can take a while for your hair to fully recover (we're talking up to two years). Unfortunately, there's no quick-fix or treatment that can reverse or prevent the occurrence of postpartum hair loss. However, listening to your body and looking after yourself will help speed things up.

We know we mentioned it earlier, but hair requires a helluva lot of energy to grow, so if you're not eating enough protein, iron, vitamins, and fatty acids, it's going to take longer for your hair to get back to its normal self.

You'll also need to make sure you're clocking in enough sleep (we hear you laugh) and minimising your levels of stress. In the meantime, pull a J.Lo and embrace that feathery halo of baby hairs! Suits you.

Should I try a hair supplement?

There are TONS of different supplements on the market promising thicker and fuller locks, but do they actually work when it comes to treating hair loss? "The simple answer is no," said Evans-Frost. 

We can almost feel a million hearts breaking right now.

"Hair supplements contain ingredients that provide the body with everything hair takes from it - that is it," she said. "Consider this - hair grows out of the human (and a healthy human at that), so simply fertilising the hair will not work long term, especially if there is a deficiency in place."

Our advice? We hate sounding like a broken record, but hit up your doctor or dermatologist before you start taking hair supplements willy-nilly. There's no point wasting your hard-earned dosh on something that might not work for you.

Are you suffering from hair loss? What treatments have worked for you? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Feature image: Getty

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