Hair loss and hair thinning can affect our self-esteem and confidence, and is sometimes a symptom of other health issues that need addressing.
The good news - hair loss is not always inevitable or irreversible. If the cause is identified it can mostly be treated. For example, addressing your diet if there’s a nutritional deficiency, receiving the right medication for a thyroid condition or avoiding exposure to particular chemicals.
Hair Loss Causes
The reasons for hair loss or thinning in the majority of women fall into 5 categories: genetic; stress-related; diet and lifestyle; medical; and hormonal.
Genetics are the most common cause of hair loss, but contrary to popular belief the hair loss gene can come from both sides of your family.
When we talk about genetic hair thinning, we refer to female pattern baldness, known medically as androgenic alopecia. Hair thinning happens naturally as you age, but possessing the gene increases chances of more substantial and earlier-onset thinning.
While you can’t cure genetic hair loss, boosting your body’s source of hair growth-inducing nutrients will slow the process and help keep hair looking healthy. Because genetic hair loss is the only form not naturally treatable, it is worth exploring the other options below before deciding on surgery.
Stress & Trauma
You’re probably already aware of the strong connection between stress and hair thinning, but did you know that hair loss may not happen immediately, and can even show 6-12 months after the high-stress period.
The science behind stress-induced hair loss is down to increased levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), interrupting hair's growth cycle. Stress also restricts blood supply and prevents key nutrients reaching hair follicles.
Reducing stress levels is an ongoing process. So whilst you are seeking help be sure to follow our tips below on boosting general hair health to give your hair loss all the help you can.
“Iron deficiency is a major problem in women...Dieting to excess can show up as hair loss, and I have seen situations where women have dieted so severely to get into their wedding dresses that it has resulted in them losing their hair.” Barry Stevens, Founder at Trichological Society.
Health and Diet
Hair grows from within, so to produce thick and healthy hair we must start with a well nourished body. Hair will appear noticeably duller, thinner and more brittle without the appropriate nutritional balance.
Vitamin deficiencies may not be obvious, however hair loss can be a sign. Vitamin level blood tests are the most efficient and accurate way to diagnose nutrient deficiency.
Hair loss is a common symptom of thyroid condition in women and should be considered if you experience other common symptoms. Thyroid blood test profiling is the only effective way to diagnose related health issues.
Hair loss and thinning can also be a side effect of some medications. If you believe this could be the case then consult your doctor immediately to discuss alternative options.
The elements around you will affect your hair thickness and condition. Air and water pollutants, chlorine, metals and minerals may be left on the scalp and hair, contributing to thinning. Sun exposure can also lead to hair loss, especially when the hair is thinner already and the scalp is exposed, so it’s important to apply SPF to your hair just as you would to the rest of your body.
Correct hair washing technique will help to rid you of harmful chemicals and minerals.
Excessive strain from hairstyles, continued use of high heat, residue from hair products and a clogged scalp can all result in hair thinning or loss. If you are a hair product fiend, why not try Elle’s pick of natural options?
Hormones and Contraception
Hormone changes during pregnancy and postnatal will affect your hair. Whilst during pregnancy you will enjoy luscious locks, after childbirth, or after you stop breastfeeding, 50% of women experience what feels like a cataclysmic loss of hair. In fact it's just the result of not shedding for so long and is perfectly normal.
Birth control pills, and other hormone treatment, can cause hair loss in women who are especially sensitive to the hormones in the treatment or who have a family history of hormone-related hair loss. Birth control pills cause the hair to move from the growing phase to the resting phase too soon and for too long. This form of hair loss is called telogen effluvium. Large amounts of hair can fall out during this process.
These hormone-induced changes are usually temporary and recovery can be encouraged through good hair health and a nutritious diet.
Enrich Your Body With Happy Hair Nutrients
The source of 20+ vitamins and minerals including vitamins B, C, E and K, omega-3, fibre, potassium, magnesium, and folic acid. Incorporating avocados into your diet will ensure hair shines and is well-nourished.
Without omega-3 your hair will turn dull and lose natural shine. Find omega-3 in fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna. A quick omega-3 level check will guarantee to equip you with knowledge that you are, or not, rich in this great fatty acid.
High in folic acid, vitamins A and C, beta carotene and iron - spinach is one of the best foods to stimulate hair growth. Iron encourages hair growth and prevents it from becoming brittle and weak. Other iron-rich foods include kale, broccoli and lentils.
A mineral that aids cell reproduction, hormone regulation, and nutrient absorption. Oysters are one of the richest food sources of zinc, however if you prefer something more modest then try beef or baked beans.
Check this chart to see the richest sources of vital hair-health nutrients.
Which Hair Growth Solution is Right For You
Regardless of all other factors, fueling your body with nutrient-rich food will improve your hair quality. The most effective and efficient way to understand your current nutrient levels for hair and general health is to take a vitamin profile or a well person profile.
If you have experienced hair loss and started new medication in the last 12 months, consult your doctor to seek alternative options.
Just because you have a family history of hair loss or thinning, does not mean you carry this gene, so explore all the options before giving in to this idea.
Good luck with exploring these options, and we hope you rediscover your great hair health. Be sure to share your results with us!