OH NO! Your hair is thinning out! You've started to notice that you can see your scalp more, there's more hair falling out (sometimes in clumps) and your hair just does not look as full as it used to be. That SUCKS, and you're probably starting to freak out!!!
What's going on, and what can you do about it to fix that thinning head of hair?
Well, there are good news and some advice here that will help guide you, because not all hair thinning is fixable, depending on what's going on and what the root cause is for your hair-thinning dilemma.
BUT – many reasons for hair thinning are fixable, yay! And here we'll talk about some of those and what you can do.
First, AN IMPORTANT disclaimer:
Although I have extensively studied the science of hair and am an ongoing Trichology student, please remember this is just some advice and you may still need to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Some hair fall issues and hair loss or hair thinning are due to a medical condition, so if you feel you're seeing a drastic change in hair loss or hair growth, visit your healthcare practitioner to have them check it out.
FIRST OF ALL – What are you seeing?
Hair thinning can be different for everyone and without seeing your hair thinning personally, it's difficult to assess. So let's begin with this question:
Which hair-thinning most relates to you?
I'm losing tons of hair all over. Like LOTS. In clumps at times!
I'm noticing hair thinning around the frame of my face – ie: forehead, side areas
I'm seeing round bald spots on my scalp and/or beard
The ends of my hair are thinning out like my hair doesn't grow anymore!
I'm noticing thinning all over, but over time rather than suddenly.
ARE YOU SURE? HOW DO YOU REALLY KNOW?
Some hair thinning can be more visual because hair does change over time. I realize that nobody knows your hair better than YOU, but you still need to see some proof over time in order to have confirmation.
For this reason, I highly recommend that you take some photos of your scalp over time – over 2-3 months – and see if you really have cause for concern. Sometimes stressful life events (like a loss of a family member or even moving to another city) can cause hair thinning or hair fall that can self-repair with the proper treatment.
Just zoom right in there with your best camera (cell phone cameras are amazing nowadays!), take photos at the same time of day, with the same lighting, same angle, and same hair cleanliness, and keep a hair diary. That's right, a hair diary, don't look at me that way! :)
1. LOSING TONS OF HAIR ALL OVER. LIKE LOTS!
If you can relate to this, then you need to pick up the phone and make an appointment with your doctor. Rapid hair loss and losing hair in clumps like this can be related to stress and/or a scalp imbalance so don't panic – but it can also be due to something easily fixable like a lack of iron, food sensitivity or thyroid imbalance, or something that requires professional care, like an illness or an infection. When the body is unwell, it will focus on repairing itself rather than on making hair.
2. hair thinning around the frame of my face.
First thing that I would ask is, do you pull your hair back a lot, like in a bun, ponytail, or dreadlocks? This is such a common form of hair loss that it has even been designated its own name: Traction Alopecia. It can be corrected, but don't let this go too long or you can damage the scalp follicle quite severely, resulting in permanent hair loss. Yikes!
This is not considered hair thinning but hair loss, so look after your hair and fix this RIGHT NOW by being kinder to your scalp. Here are some quick tips:
Scalp massage daily. This doesn't take much more than 3-4 minutes per day and it can stimulate the hair follicle, offering much-needed circulation to boost hair growth (haven't you noticed how your hair "hurts" after you loosen the hair? Can't you just hear the "ouch"? Your body is smart, listen to it!)
Loosen the hair buns and protective styles so the hair isn't being pulled away from its root for so many hours. There are lots of hairstyles that can be gentle and still pull the hair off your face effectively, like loose buns and ponytails, hair bands and hair clips.
If you're getting the hair off your face for work reasons – like if you're in the food industry, change the style often by pulling your hair away from your face in more gentle ways. Traction Alopecia is very common in ballerinas who spend hours daily with their hair tightly pulled back. We know may need to do it, but again, a nice scalp massage daily can ease some of the stress on the scalp and boost circulation.
3. round bald spots on my scalp and/or beard.
Again, another form of hair loss that has been given the medical term "Alopecia Areata" and in many cases it's temporary – but not always unless looked after and treated.
Note: There are many forms of Alopecia Areata and they need to be diagnosed by a medical professional who can ensure this is truly what is happening to you if you're seeing these curious round bald spots on your scalp and on your beard.
This type of hair loss has been extensively researched and has been shown to often be stress-related, as the body reacts to stress by attacking the immune system and causing hair loss.
Healthcare professionals can often solve this issue. I've seen two cases in which men had perfectly rounded circles about the size of a quarter coin, and with the right treatment by a Naturopathic Doctor they were resolved in a few months' time, with the hair growing back white, then turning its natural colour again. Don't go at this alone! Seek professional help.
4. The ends of my hair are thinning out like my hair doesn't grow anymore!
If you can relate to this one, chances are your hair is in rough condition and you're over-processing it or over-styling it with curling irons, flat irons or blow dryers. Hair is not meant to be heated at such high temperatures or to be bleached/highlighted, and these processes
can damage the bonds in the hair, causing breakage and protein loss: The building blocks of hair.
Remember that your hair doesn't grow from the ends, rather it grows from the scalp, so yes, your hair is actually growing, but as it breaks, it falls off making it seem like it's not growing in length. This constant "length thinning" can give the appearance of hair thinning out, but it's easily remedied.
Trim it! Sometimes it's best to have shorter hair that is fuller and healthy, than longer and unhealthy looking. As you begin to look after your hair and scalp better, it will grow long and thicker so don't worry... it's temporary!
What can you do to fix this common hair-thinning issue?
Do less to your hair: Less chemical treatments, less over-processing, less heat styling.
Avoid silicones: Over time, products that contain silicones can build up on your hair, weighing it down and causing breakage. [This blog post] has more information on the types of silicones that you'll see often in hair products, and becoming familiar with their names of them will help you avoid them.
Use a hair mask on your hair every two weeks. If this hair mask contains a light protein treatment then it will help build strength on the hair, protecting against breakage. Common names you will see will contain the term "hydrolyzed xxx protein" and it can be either from wheat, soya, baobab, among others.
Don't play with your hair so much! Touching, flipping, pulling, and twirling of the hair can also disrupt the natural hydrogen bonds on the hair, weakening it. It's not as common, but it can happen so leave it be.
Go nice and gentle on your hair when brushing it. I actually don't like brushing hair at all as I think it can be quite damaging to the hair, but many people still do. I usually recommend combing with a wide-tooth comb rather than brushing it. If anything, try not to brush it when it's wet, and try instead to brush it when it's dry or before a shower rather than after when it's at its weakest.
This one is a must: Use a hair leave-in conditioner to protect the ends of your hair. Always, and regardless of your hair type. Leave-in conditioners can protect your hair length against heat, friction, even from the damaging rays of the sun. I recommend using a leave-in conditioner after every hair wash and even after the 2nd day after a shower. Leave-in conditioners are your best friends!
5. Hair thinning all over, and over time.
If you've noticed that your hair is just not as thick and luscious as it used to be, and you can see more of your scalp as time progresses – over months, over a year or two – then you're not alone.
There are many reasons why your hair may be thinning, let's talk about those individually, shall we?
COMMON REASONS FOR HAIR THINNING:
This is actually a very small fraction of the reasons why your hair may be thinning over time. Your parent may have had thinner hair as they got older, but this type of genetic hair thinning will most often be seen in older adults and has often been correlated to changes in activity and nutrition levels. It has been suggested that if an individual has genetic variants linked to hair thinning or hair loss, they can often be remedied with a change in lifestyle. It has been suggested that less than 5% of reasons for hair thinning and even hair loss are related to genetics.
Stress is a bitch on hair! This is a BIG one and may just be the most important reason why you're seeing some hair thinning all over. Stress is a big factor when it comes to hair thinning because stress hormones can impair stem cell regeneration in order to grow healthy hair. As your body suffers stress and the physiological reactions stemming from it, it will halt the production of new hair and continuous hair growth, and focus on the nervous system's immediate needs instead.
Stress-related hair thinning, much like stress-related hair loss, can be seen even 3 - 6 months after a traumatic event in one's life. So if you have suffered the loss of a family member you may not see the effects of this stress on your body possibly months after the event. Stress can not only cause hair loss but also hair thinning, and hair weakness or you may see your hair straighter followed by curlier! Stress has a powerful effect on the body and can affect the digestive system, make skin flake or even paler in colour, cause nail breakage, and lack of sleep, to name a few effects.
If stress is the cause of your hair thinning, a visit to a doctor or a Naturopathic Doctor can be a step in the positive direction, as they work to help you rebalance your body's stress hormone levels. Finding ways of easing stress is naturally recommended – have you tried Mindfulness Meditation yet?
Or how about Yoga, painting or gardening?
The cosmetic industry may have developed some gorgeous ingredients that make your shampoos bubble and your hair shine, but it has sure messed up the physiology of hair over time!
The ingredients we find in common hair products like shampoo and conditioner can be incredibly harsh on the hair, and especially on the scalp. Thankfully, we have been able to learn from these harsh ingredients and the effect they've had on scalp issues, and now we are at arm's reach of much milder, more naturally-sourced ingredients.
Ingredients such as silicones may make your hair shine and give it that 'slip' to untangle, but it also acts like a plastic coating over the hair, forming a film that is difficult to wash off. Over time, this plastic coating clogs hair follicles preventing hair from properly growing. This is one of the reasons why our OBLOOM hair products do not contain any silicones whatsoever, only plant-based alternatives. You can read more about our plant-based alternatives to silicone in hair care products [HERE].
Making the switch to more natural hair products will have a big effect on your hair restoration.
This is one of the reasons why we created our gorgeous and gentle shampoo bars, such as our Bi-Phase Shampoo Bar using Bamboo Activated Charcoal – it's gentle, and effective to exfoliate the scalp without causing harm to it, and the conditioner side will leave your hair perfectly soft and protected. Check it out! [HERE]
Washing too often and a weakened scalp microbiome
The skin is covered in a healthy bacteria that is referred to as the microbiome. These living microorganisms protect your scalp and help feed it nutrients to grow healthy hair. Basically, the same effect that the gut flora has on the digestive system and its ability to protect your body from illness, boosting the immune system.
By washing your scalp daily or by using harsh synthetic ingredients you are affecting the health of this microbiome, causing an imbalance that can directly have an impact on your hair growth. An unhealthy scalp microbiome is one of the big reasons for thinning hair, as your hair follicles struggle to make new, thick, healthy hair and push it out into the world as long-term gorgeous locks!
Remember that the more you wash, the more your scalp will create sebum, those natural hair oils that protect the hair and scalp. This constant reaction weakens the scalp, what you want to avoid if you want thicker, fuller hair.
There is a lot more on the topic of the scalp microbiome in this blog post [HERE], and worthwhile reading if you're struggling with hair thinning and hair loss.
Other causes for hair thinning and hair loss
There are many other reasons you may be seeing changes in your hair growth pattern, including medications, hormone imbalances, lack of sleep, lack of exercise (or too much exercise = stress on the body!), using the wrong products, and even weather changes can impact hair growth. Most of these are tied to the stress your body (and scalp) goes through as it protects itself in order to heal.
But if you begin to look after your body and mind, seeing it as ONE and taking care of it in a healthy way, you can be proactive about hair thinking and begin to see results typically within 30 days.
Most importantly, don't forget that if all else fails, you can visit your healthcare practitioner to ensure there is not something more serious that can be causing these hair growth issues. Being proactive about your health is a must!
Do you have any questions? Please comment or post below and we would be happy to guide you.
Wishing you many happy and healthy hair days aHEAD!
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