Is it normal for women to start to lose more hair than usual during perimenopause and menopause?
During the transition to menopause there is typically a hormonal shift as the ovaries decrease the levels of hormones they produce. The decrease of estrogen and progesterone can increase the relative percentage of testosterone creating a higher level of Androgens, even though testosterone also generally decreases. In women, this increases miniaturization of the hair follicle and potentially death to the hair follicle. Any hormonal shift can lead to an imbalance resulting in hair loss. Adversely, an increase in androgens can lead to an increase of facial and body hair.
When should a women be concerned about the amount of hair she’s losing? When should she seek medical treatment?
Be proactive, there are no adverse effects to acting to keep your hair. Medically you can approach hormonal supplementation, which can help reduce hair miniaturization and hair loss. There is not much more that can be done medically other than PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma injections. Dermatologists can perform a scalp biopsy to see active follicles compared to dormant or dead follicles, but often they have limited solutions to offer their patients. Seeking the advice of a hair loss expert can be a better route with more options, but be wary of those who are just interested in selling solutions with no scientific evidence. A hair loss consultant should always be your advocate and interested in helping educate you. Hair loss protocols that tend to be the most successful are lifetime treatments similar to brushing your teeth or going to the gym.
What can women do to avoid losing too much hair?
Hair loss can be reduced by healthy lifestyle choices. First, you must have a healthy base. This includes proper nutrition, hydration, exercise, hygiene and sleep. Some foods that have been shown to combat hair loss are kale, oatmeal, broccoli, beans, nuts, sweet potatoes, raspberries, oysters, eggs, avocados, spinach and salmon. You can find out more about why these foods are beneficial on our Instagram page: @christopherdevinhair.
Stress also impacts hair loss, so takings steps to limit your stress levels will benefit you overall and your hair. Exercise and meditation are excellent as stress reducers.
Unfortunately, women are not taught to care for the long-term health of their hair and scalp. There are supplements that can help. We recommend Hair Fact vitamins from Australia. They are a precision cyclical vitamin regimen. We also recommend trans-dermal patches by CR Labs from Italy. They can strengthen the hair follicle, increase the growing phase of the hair known as the Anagen stage and help neutralize DHT from miniaturizing the hair follicle. Light therapy is another option, but this only works when a very specific wavelength of light at a specific strength is used for a specific amount of time during the week. Currently CR Labs and Capillus are among the brands following the correct light therapy protocols. This therapy can only be effective under strict parameters so be very careful when considering your purchase.
Minoxidil at 5% can be used topically to increase blood circulation, which can remove toxins and increase nutrition to the hair follicle
Keep your scalp clean. Using a lot of dry shampoo or low-quality products can clog your hair follicles. When hair loss starts dry styling products and scalp cover ups or keratin fibers are often used to disguise the problem, but they can make things worse.
Are there things we should do less of or more of to protect our hair as we age?
As our bodies age, our cells replicate less perfect and not as often. Your metabolism slows down. Anything that can be used to increase your overall health and increase your metabolism is great for your hair. Anything that is generally unhealthy is also bad for your hair, such as poor diet, drinking too much alcohol, smoking and being lethargic. We should try to avoid these things as we age for our best health and our best hair.
Are there cuts or hairstyles that are more flattering for women with thinning hair?
Thin hair basically means less hair. As your hair gets longer it takes up more space. As your hair is distributed into more space it will seem there is less of it. Therefore, shorter cuts will give it the appearance of more hair. Also, shorter hair weighs less so it will not be as flat and it will have more volume, which will give the visual of more hair. If you don’t like short hair then you can explore enhancements such as hair extensions or hair additions.
Are there things we should be aware of regarding our scalps as we age?
Your hair grows from your scalp like trees from the forest floor. A healthy scalp is mandatory and necessary for healthy hair. Your scalp has an epidermal layer, a dermal layer and a hypodermal layer, which is the laboratory of the hair follicle and must be kept healthy to encourage healthy hair growth. When you are older, this area needs more help to function effectively. Everything mentioned earlier will help. Think about the analogy of an army attacking your hair. The more defenses you put up the better chance you have of slowing or stopping the impending attack.
Can hair extensions benefit women who have thinning hair?
Absolutely, they can give you an instant increase in thickness and length, which can be beautiful and make you feel really happy about your hair again. Be aware though, you need to be evaluated by an experienced extensionist who is versed in most hair extension methods and practices multiple extension techniques because not all extensions are appropriate for every person. Also, your hair and scalp needs to be evaluated to be sure extensions are an appropriate solution or whether hair extensions could make the problem worse.
Anything else you think it’s important for women to know about their hair during menopause?
Don’t let hair loss impact how you feel about yourself and your health. There are solutions! If menopause causes hair loss, the stress and anxiety that results can be extremely detrimental to your health and happiness. Every woman we have helped with her hair loss has said the same thing, “why didn’t I do this earlier?” Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor, your dermatologist or your hairstylist for help!
Christopher and Devin Rosenthal, owners and stylists specializing in hair loss at Sanctuary Hair Solutions and Hair Extensions by Christopher Devin
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