Are you noticing more hair than usual in your brush or shower drain? Even if you just want to pump up the volume, Shape consults NYC dermatologist, Dr. Doris Day, to give you the best ways to stop thinning hair. Plus, get tips from fashion week lead hairstylist Ted Gibson on how to style thin and fine hair. This gives a whole new meaning to body-builders.
Why You’re Most Likely Losing Hair
Half of all women will experience hair loss or shedding in our lifetime. While high stress levels don’t help, even a healthy lifestyle can be an indirect cause (i.e. that tight daily gym ponytail). “Almost one-third of my practice consists of women who have thinning concerns,” Dr. Day says. Among the top causes she sees? Telogen effluvium, which can happen a few months after any shock to your system, from the good (childbirth) to the bad (layoff, divorce) to the ugly (an epic breakup). She also sees alopecia areata (an autoimmune disorder that causes hair to fall out in round patches), a genetic predisposition toward hair loss (i.e. female pattern baldness), nutritional deficiencies (vitamins, minerals, proteins), traction alopecia (the result of regular extensions, tight braids or daily ponytails), hormonal changes and aging, and even over-styling your hair (chemical straightening, bleaching and heat styling). Once you know your woe, it’s just a matter of finding the right fix.
Feed Your Follicles
Could your hair be lifeless or shedding because you’re starving it of nutrition? Hair, and nails for that matter, are considered non-essential by your body. So if you are deficient in any vitamin or mineral, your hair will be one of the first places that will be deprived of it so you’re body can divert its limited supplies elsewhere. In fact, Dr. Day explains that if you’re seeing thinning hair, “vitamins B and D and iron are the first deficiencies to test for and correct.” Eating vitamin- and iron-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, whole grains and lentils is the best way to get these nutrients — which are building blocks of hair growth — but you can also supplement with Viviscal Professional hair growth programme, which is a complete hair growth supplement formulated with essential nutrients including Biotin (Vitamin B7), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Zinc, Iron and marine extracts. It’s proven to nourish thicker, healthier looking hair growth.
Change Your Style
Start with a simple shift to your hair styling routine to rule this out. Priority number-one: Limit braids, too-tight workout ponytails and extensions, which can cause major damage to your hair. Believe it or not, Dr. Day recommends the ’90s go-to, the humble scrunchie, as your best bet to keep hair off your face without causing undue damage. The scrunchie, or its cooler 2016 update, the Invisibobble Power, puts less stress on your follicles than even coated hair bands. (Read Shape‘s cautionary tale of a ballerina who lost her hair because of her tight updos.) Celebrity stylist Ted Gibson of the eponymous NYC salon offers other tips: Cut bangs for fullness up front (if you already have them, make them start closer to the crown); to add height, blow-dry against the direction your hair falls; and comb a messy part to disguise a widening part.
Pump Up the Volume
Nearly half of all women with thinning hair say they would give their life’s savings for full locks. Luckily, we don’t have to. There are many options, from over-the-counter styling remedies to custom add-ons, that are now available to get you on a path to fullness.
Change Up Your Products
For some thinning, spray a volumizer at the roots, but don’t overdo it. “Even a volumizing product can cause your hair to fall flat,” says Gibson, who recommends his Ted Gibson Runway Ready Volume Mist. Or try Philip Kingsley Plumping Cream. Work the product through towel-dried hair, then blow-dry as usual. And use thickening and strengthening shampoos and conditioners. Take these extra steps as a precaution to protect against sweat damage. (Yes, that is a thing!)
Consider an Over-the-Counter Medication
Minoxidil, the active ingredient in many at-home hair loss medications, is a treatment for genetic hair loss (often indicated in women whose thinning is primarily at their crown and their part). Try the long-time leader in minoxidil, Rogaine, which makes a 5% strength topical foam for women.
See a Professional
You’ve tried everything on this list and nothing has worked. It may be time to get some medical intervention. There are a number of in-office hair loss treatments available, ranging from the experimental to the proven. One is platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, in which your own plasma is injected into your scalp to stimulate growth. Dr. Day offers this treatment in her NYC practice. The FDA also has cleared low-level lasers as a hair loss treatment: a hat-shaped laser cap that you wear for 20 minutes every other day. There are also semi-permanent hair extensions. A piece of human hair (sized to cover the affected area) is permanently attached by weaving each strand of your own hair into the hidden net. No glue needed. The extensions stand up to everyday styling, swimming and workouts for up to two years, says Lucinda Ellery, manufacturer of the Intralace Systems.