Hair today, gone tomorrow: How to prevent hair loss
We all want a gorgeous, thick mane of hair. The scary truth, though, is we lose plenty of hair every day — like 100 hairs! If you've discovered more strands than ever falling out in the shower or after brushing your hair, stop the cycle before it gets out of control.
What is normal, and when are things out of control?
"While shedding up to 100 hairs per day is normal, people who notice hair loss in large amounts after brushing or showering or whose hair becomes thinner overall should visit a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment," says Dr. Rebecca Tung, a Chicago-area dermatologist.
Dr. Tung stresses the importance of maintaining proper nutrition. Crash diets or avoiding important nutrients like protein or healthy fats can bring on or worsen hair loss. Also important: getting enough key vitamins which promote healthy hair growth. The B vitamins, especially Biotin, and vitamin D are essential for normal hair growth.
Nourishment for hair can be found in the most fascinating of places, too. "Molasses is a Chinese trick to growing hair. You can digest it or use it to rinse your hair. When ready to apply, add one spoon of molasses to a cup of warm water and massage it into your hair. Cover your roots, since that is where the hair follicle grows. Let this set for an hour, rinse off, then go on with your regular shower routine," shares Elline Surianello, founder/CEO of LeMetric Hair and Beauty Center, a midtown Manhattan-based, full-service salon that offers hair cutting, styling and custom hair systems and extensions.
"Also eat healthy fats and oils including omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) from cold-water fish (sardines, mackerel, wild salmon), nuts including walnuts, brazil nuts, and macadamias, and seeds such as hemp and chia, " says Paulina Nelega, registered clinical herbalist with Hair Essentials. Borage oil supplements provide GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), a healthy omega-6 fatty acid that, along with omega-3 EFAs, help to decrease inflammation in the body, as well as promote healthy sebum (scalp oil).
"We all know that a healthy diet is the foundation of overall health and vibrant well-being, and hair that is thick and lustrous is a reflection of that. A balanced diet featuring fresh, whole foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables that cover the entire color spectrum, along with a daily supplement that provides a wide array of natural, hair-healthy ingredients, will ensure your body and hair receive the nutrients they need for radiant health," says Nelega.
Have you had your thyroid checked?
A simple blood test in your doctor's office can give you the answer. The thyroid is the master gland of metabolism. When it is not functioning properly, changes in your hair can result. "If you are low (hypothyroidism), hair can be brittle and dry, as well as shedding more than normal on the scalp. Also, you can find abnormal loss of the outer edge of the eyebrows in low-thyroid conditions, as well. Having too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) can also result in hair changes — thin fragile hair that also falls out excessively," says Dr. Tung.
We've always known we should take our vitamins to stay healthy, but it can keep our hair strong, as well. Not only do minerals keep our hair hydrated and evenly textured, they can even help keep our hair from splitting, especially some of the most important minerals — calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. You can find lots of these in your favorite veggies — another reason to have a salad for lunch! You may want to consider taking a daily mineral supplement, as well.
Be kind to your hair
"Believe it or not, sleeping can tug on hair and lead to patch hair loss," says Scott-Vincent Borba, SVP of Marketing and Creative Director of Toppik, a leader in thinning hair solutions. To offset sleeping jitters which can lead to breakage, be sure to condition hair from root to tip.
"It's important to brush your hair correctly," says Borba. Hold up sections of the hair and brush down to eliminate tangles. Then gradually move all the way up until you can brush from root to tip without knots. Also, avoid teasing and back-combing as much as possible, as this leads to breakage.
To give the appearance of fuller hair, try a product like Toppik Hair Building Fibers. These keratin fibers are static charged and will cling to the tiniest, thinnest hairs, and they will not budge until you wash your hair.
"Low-level laser light therapy is a great modality offered in the clinic or as an at-home service for women who are starting to thin," says Dr. Ryan Welter, board-certified hair restoration surgeon in North Attleboro, MA. The laser therapy is a focused column of cool light which interacts with the hair follicles and causes them to start dividing. The result is a cessation of the progression of hair loss in more than 90 percent of women and up to 20 to 25 percent grow new hair. These therapeutic sessions should be done for at least six months before a maintenance program is considered.