Female hair loss and hair thinning are way more common than you think; according to the NHS, more than 50% of women over 65 have experienced hair loss, affecting 8 million women in the UK alone! As someone who started seeing thinning in her mid-twenties, today I’m sharing six tips to not only fight female pattern hair loss but also make your hair actually look, feel and BE fuller.
1. Get bloodwork done.
If you’re experiencing hair thinning, the first and foremost thing you should do is see a doctor and rule out any hormonal deficiency that can be easily fixed with medication. There are many different kinds of hormonal imbalances that can cause hair thinning — we’re talking hormonal fluctuations due to improper thyroid function (hyper- and hypo-), diabetes, an increase in epinephrine released into the bloodstream as a result of physical stress, menopause and more — so your best bet is to see a dermatologist or, even better, a trichologist.
The doctor or expert can then assess your levels and develop an action plan custom to you. One sneaky cause of hair loss and thinning is actually a vitamin D deficiency and, according to a certified trichologist and inventive colorist Bridgette Hill, WTC, “blood work is one essential tool used to identify root causes for a certain type of hair loss and problematic scalp conditions.” That said, Hill also recommends that you get a full thyroid screening, ANA (anti-nuclear antibodies) test, and general blood profile as well (including blood count, iron, ferritin, transferrin, total iron-binding capacity, vitamin B12, and vitamin D) to rule out any other issues, including autoimmune disease. “For men, a testosterone profile may be considered, and for women, a female hormone panel test that includes prolactin, LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicular stimulating hormone)” is ideal.
2. Take hair supplements.
If a hormonal imbalance isn’t the issue, I’ve seen excellent results from supplements specifically formulated for hair thinning or loss; personally, I’ve used Viviscal, but other brands like Nutrafol, OUAI’s Thin Hair Supplement also have a great reputation and proven results. Unfortunately (much like all hair regrowth), it’s a slow process, but stay patient and use the supplements for at least six months before quitting!
“Hair loss supplements work by essentially blocking disruptive hormones that lead to the deterioration of the hair follicle,” explains Hill. “Hair supplements extend the anagen, growing phase of the hair cycle. This allows the cells to remain actively engaged in building a hair fiber, as well as nurtures the hair follicles with required vitamins, minerals and nutrients that maintain optimal cellular turn over, blood flow and reduces inflammation.”
According to Hill, you want to look out for supplements that contain good-for-you ingredients like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, biotin, zinc, selenium (which assists with thyroid function), and Ashwagandha (decreases cortisol levels).
3. Eat the required amount of protein.
When I saw a trichologist back in 2009, he told me that I couldn’t eat enough protein throughout the day. Hill recommends at least 5.5 ounces of meat or beans to be consumed daily and notes that protein is essential because hair is, in fact, a protein called keratin. “Protein deficiencies lead to the finer and weaker hair shaft and lack of collagen production,” explains Hill. I wasn’t a vegetarian or vegan by any means, but when I started evaluating my daily meals, I realized he was right. Once I added in an egg or two and a small piece of chicken, I saw a change in the strength and shininess of my hair within about two months. If you’re vegan, there are plenty of protein options, so make sure you’re paying attention and not just eating all veggies. “Plant-based proteins are sufficient if the diet is balanced with other plant-based foods that supply all essential amino acids,” tells Hill.
4. Use a pH balancing shampoo.
Many people don’t think about when it comes to thinning hair that your scalp (i.e., the skin your hair is growing out of) needs to be in tip-top shape. I almost always use a pH-balancing shampoo, which basically ensures that your scalp doesn’t produce too much oil after you shampoo. “When using a pH-balancing shampoo, you’re preserving the scalp’s natural microbiome, allowing the hair growth cycle and function of the scalp to thrive,” tells Hill. “A thriving scalp is one essential requirement to combat hair loss and thinning, but a pH-balanced shampoo alone is not a deterrent to experiencing hair loss or thinning.”
5. Give yourself a “scalp facial” of sorts.
Speaking of a balanced scalp, the new Sunday Riley Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Serum is a total game-changer when it comes to ensuring that your scalp is ready and prepped to let your hair grow in at its thickest and fullest.
This AHA/BHA-infused, rinse-off serum clarifies the scalp of product buildup, excess oil, dead skin, and pollution for a cleaner, healthier-looking scalp and refreshed hair. It also nurtures your scalp with vitamins, minerals and free fatty acids to ensure that there’s still just the right amount of hydration for a healthy head of hair even to exist. I use it every other week or so and my scalp has never been better.
6. Skip the layers (and bangs, for that matter).
Finally, another lesson learned along the way is to avoid layered cuts (in the back of your head) at all costs. The blunt cut is your friend, as you want the weight and fullness of your thin hair to congregate; it sounds made up but, trust me, I’ve tried every cut you can imagine and blunt is best. Bangs are also something you likely want to avoid since they pull hair away from the top of your head and will decrease your natural volume. I also tried bangs (several times) and always regretted them.