There is no escaping of traces of our hair everywhere we go: on our pillows, on the floor, in the sink. Most days there is a cluster of hair on our hairbrushes. What a nightmare! On one hand, hair loss is a natural part of their cycle. Irrespective of their length, colour or type, at least some of the hairs currently residing on your scalp are in their final stages of growth, ready to step aside for new ones to form.
However, sometimes hair loss can be a big cause for concern, and for a good reason. Trichologists would back this up, as baldness is no longer just a concern of middle-aged men but is also something faced by women. And age does not come into play here. So, what is it that causes hair loss? More importantly, what adjustments in your hair routine should you make to tackle this issue?
Reasons for hair loss in women
The severity of the problem can be easily self-diagnosed via a basic head count. As a norm, we shed 80-100 hairs a day. Anything more would warrant a visit to the doctor. An initial assessment from a GP would help determine the state of your health and redirect you to an endocrinologist, gynaecologist, neuropathologist or a trichologist, if necessary. Before you choose any particular treatment, it is vital to identify the root causes.
1/ Hormonal imbalance
The so-called bad genes are often the cause of hair loss in men, linked to their levels of dihydrotestosterone hormone. This can also be the cause of hair loss in women, known as androgenetic alopecia and usually a result of thyroid disfunction. A simple hormone test would help rule this cause out. However if heightened levels of dihydrotestosterone are found, it can result in bald patches around the forehead, temples and head crown.
“Meanwhile, the follicles on the sides of the head are completely unaffected by androgen levels, continuing to grow irrespective of the concentration of androgens in the blood,” writes Professor of Dermatology Kurt Stenn of Yale University’s School of Medicine in his book Hair: A Human History.
Chronic stress is a frequent cause of health concerns. When it comes to hair, even a one-off stressful event can become a trigger. For example, in cases of alopecia areata hair loss can occur in patches anywhere on the body as a result of extreme stress. In brief, for cases of alopecia areata the immune system identifies hair follicles as an outside invader and, essentially, something to get rid off by entirely blocking their activity.
3/ Rigid diet
By following a strict food regiment, you can prompt a deficit of minerals, vitamins and such vital microelements as iron. Dry and dull skin would be the first alarm bell, followed by the condition of your hair and nails, which will likely become weak and brittle.
4/ Poor ecology
Air pollution in big cities has a negative influence on the condition of our skin. And our scalp is no exception. According to lead researcher Hyuk Chul Kwon from the Future Science Research Centre in the Republic of Korea, one of the causes of hair loss is the so-called particulate matter (PM), which consists of microelements of dust, ash, tire wear, exhaust emissions and metal oxides in the air.
Some of them are even small enough to penetrate the skin’s barrier and cause inflammation. Although research has only been able to demonstrate the adverse effects of PM on hair bulbs cells in lab conditions, this factor is already worth considering.
How to stimulate hair growth?
Hormonal causes are best handled by a medical professional. Otherwise, the usual healthy lifestyle and stress avoidance advice aside, there is a whole set of practical recommendations to help prevent hair loss and encourage its growth.
A healthy diet
Make sure antioxidant-rich foods are part of your daily diet. This can include tomatoes (lycopene), grapes (polyphenols), green tea (catechins) and peanuts (resveratrol). Hair also thrives off foods which provide the body with the necessary supply of Omega oils and vitamin D like fish, vegetable oils and eggs. Last but not least, it is the importance of consuming probiotics like yogurt, kimchi and miso soup which are all known to promote healthy hair growth.
Adding vitamins and microelements such as iron, selenium and zinc to the mix can help in cases where hair loss is caused by a deficiency in these elements. This can result from a poor diet or chronic stress, which has a negative impact on the adrenal glands, further depleting the body’s reserves. An all-around holistic approach is always best, for even the best quality dietary supplements can be a complete waste of your pennies, if your mental health is overlooked.
Informed hair care
Individual hair type and scalp needs should always be considered when choosing a hair product. Build your routine around the idea of neutralising the impact of aggravating external factors such as PM.
- If possible, wash your hair every evening to eliminate build-up of grime. It is important to choose a gentle shampoo suitable for everyday use.
- Once a week, exfoliate dead skin cells from your scalp by using a special scrab or an acid peel.
- Include oil-based leave-in treatments in your day-to-day routine. They will help create a protective film around your hair, which can then be rinsed off in the evening.
Products stimulating hair growth
If the usual hair care products do not do the trick, consider products specifically labelled as targeting hair growth. Such products typically include ingredients which can resuscitate and activate hair follicles. Here is what you will need:
- Hair growth shampoos: improve microcirculation in your scalp by initiating local stimulation through cooling (menthol) or warming (capsaicin). An additional massage would further enhance these effects during the application. Pay attention to the active ingredients. These should typically contain amino acids, vitamins E and C, pea peptides or Irish moss.
- Hair serums and scalp lotions: both deliver stimulating ingredients directly to the hair follicles using RNA molecules. Suitable products should contain peptides, amino acids, yeast cultures, turmeric, ginseng, algae, tea tree oil, mint or rosemary.
- Ampoule concentrates: increase blood circulation, provide local stimulation, resuscitate dormant follicles and prevent the formation of hardened collagen over time. Suitable formulas usually contain vitamin B5, PP, capsaicin, caffeine, adenosine and niacinamide.
Our top picks
Founder’s Blend Scalp & Hair Treatment
This formula contains green tea extract, rosemary, raspberry, shea butter and jojoba oil to moisturise and calm the scalp, while restoring its natural microbiome. This product does everything it can to strengthen your roots. Whether you apply it for 15 minutes or leave it in overnight, make sure to thoroughly rinse it off afterwards.
John Masters Organics
Scalp Follicle Treatment & Volumizer
A spray treatment containing hyaluronic acid, barley proteins and amino-acid-containing wheat germ oil to stimulate hair follicles. Suitable for fine hair that has lost its volume and density.
Organic Seeds Scalp Tonic
This tonic is suitable for all hair types and contains unbeatable hair growth ingredients. Rice and oat ferments strengthen each strand, while onion bulb extract and menthol work as local irritants and hence stimulate growth. Rosewood and cedarwood essential oils help prevent dryness and dandruff.
Less is More
Phytonutrient Hairroot Serum
A hair root serum developed especially to prevent hair loss and stimulate follicle growth. Its anti-ageing formula contains industry leading ingredients. For instance, pea sprout extract is known to increase the number of actively growing follicles by 78% over three months of use and apple fruit cell culture extract is known to slow down hair bulb ageing. Meanwhile, basilicum hairy root culture extract increases the density of fine hair.
John Masters Organics
Deep Scalp Purifying Serum
This deeply cleansing serum is a perfect match for managing oily hair. Due to such ingredients as vitamin B and meadowsweet, this treatment can be massaged in to help soothe inflammation, remove dead skin cells and excess sebum. Spearmint and peppermint oils help activate hair growth and relieve itchy scalp.
Intensely Nourishing Hair Oil
Massaging this wonder oil into your mane will deliver nourishment and stimulation to every hair follicle. Ingredients include grape seed, jojoba and moringa oils, and essential oils of grapefruit, lemon and hibiscus. Five to six drops can be applied directly to the scalp as an overnight treatment or used just before washing.
Mighty Majesty Huile Extraordinaire
This lightweight oil serum can be used either as a massage treatment or a strengthening mask. For the latter, apply the product directly to the hair for 20 minutes or leave in overnight. Active ingredients include sunflower oil, rejuvenating jasmine oil and hair bulb protecting amla extract.
Tabitha James Kraan
Scented Hair Oil
Its stimulating, restoring and protective qualities aside, this serum has an additional bonus as an aromatherapy treatment. The scent brings up traces of rose geranium oil, rosehip, neroli, orange and lemon.
Scalp Revival Stimulating Therapy Massager
A brush with an ergonomic handle and rubber bristles can be a handy massage tool for use on dry and wet hair. It can also be used to help distribute your shampoo or treatment oils more evenly. Apply medium pressure to massage your scalp in circular motions.
Shampoo & Scalp Massage Brush
This ultra light and well-designed massager will come to your aid to deliver even distribution of shampoos and conditioners. As a tool, it helps promote hair shine, while massaging the scalp to improve microcirculation.
Another brush with pleasant flexible bristles made of soft rubber. Can be used both for a stimulating massage and as a tool for applying products, and - if you are into your hair gels, wax and texture products - styling.