Nothing rattles the old confidence levels quite like hair loss.
A full head of hair is something we often take for granted. It’s not until excess hair appears in the brush that we realise just how tightly hair is interlocked with our confidence and self-esteem.
Healthy, voluminous hair is bound to our perceptions of youth, beauty and vitality, so it’s no shocker that thinning strands can rock us to our core.
In addition to agonising over the ‘why?’, there are the mounting minutes spent teasing and fussing, prayers to the hair gods that no one notices, and feigning a sudden addiction to outsized hair accessories, to rival Blair Waldorf’s.
If you’re experiencing hair loss, you’re not alone. Around half of all men and women will encounter significant hair shedding throughout their lives.
We naturally lose up to 100 hairs every day, but a variety of factors can cause excess hair to shed and new growth to slow down.
Getting to the root
Pinpointing the cause of your hair loss is essential in determining an effective fix.
Hair loss can be temporary or permanent, and occur due to ageing, weight loss, illness, hormonal changes (as in the case of postpartum hair loss), heredity, certain medications, and stress.
Pandemic panic caused a global uptick in hair loss, thanks to the chronic stress and upheaval we all endured.
Getting those roots cracking could be as simple as upping your nutritional intake or lavishing your scalp with extra TLC.
If hair loss is profuse, or due to illness or genetic factors, more specialised treatment may be needed.
Whatever the cause, there are a range of effective therapies to tackle hair loss, so there’s no need to resign yourself to a Homer combover.
Healthy body, healthy hair
Could I be taking better care of my body?
This should be the first question you ask if you’re struggling with hair loss. Hair health reflects inner health, so if you’re not getting enough essential nutrients through your diet, hair can pay the price.
Thriving hair depends on a whole host of nutrients, best found in wholefoods – most notably zinc, B-group vitamins, collagen, amino acids, selenium, vitamin C and iron.
Take care to eat the recommended number of daily kilojoules or calories, feast on a wide variety of healthy foods and drink plenty of water.
Restrictive diets and overexercising place the body under stress, which can accelerate hair loss.
And going too hard on the weights can result in testosterone dominance, causing hair follicles to shrink and interfering with new growth.
It’s important to note that stress comes in many forms and it’s tough for the body (and hair follicles) to function optimally in the face of ongoing tension.
DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, forms inside the body when testosterone bonds with the enzyme, 5-alpha reductase. Excess DHT is a by-product of chronic elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. DHT is often a factor in excess hair shedding, as it binds to hair follicles and impedes the hair growth cycle.
If you find yourself endlessly edgy, think about ways that you can limit the stressors in your life, like distancing yourself from toxic people, saying ‘no’ more often and asking for help when you need it.
You can also take steps to improve your body’s stress tolerance, for instance, getting more sleep, limiting blue light exposure and taking up a relaxation practice. This might look like a daily walk to clear your head, morning meditation, journaling or yoga.
Your doctor’s office should be your first stop if you notice prolonged shedding of excess hair. Your doc can rule out nutrient deficiencies, genetic factors, hormonal imbalance or immune dysfunction, which might be contributing to your hair loss.
A good integrative GP or naturopath can recommend an effective practitioner brand multi, to help fill any holes in your nutrition. Most chemist and supermarket vitamin brands aren’t worth a damn, so be sure to seek out the good stuff that your body can easily absorb and use.
Keep it simple
Are you guilty of overbleaching, over-styling, or using harsh chemical hair products?
Just as mental and internal stressors can press pause on hair growth, so too can external damage. It’s possible that your hair and scalp have been too strong for too long and they’ve finally gone off the deep end.
Conventional colourants and hair products are loaded with damaging, drying and pore-clogging junk that can stress your scalp, accelerating hair loss and slowing down new growth.
And if you’ve ever had ‘dancer’s hairline’, it will come as no surprise that years of extensions or tight hairstyles can cause scalp freak-outs, leading to a gradual thinning of the affected areas. If not addressed, this can progress into traction alopecia, a more permanent form of friction-related hair loss.
If you suspect your hair loss is due to overprocessing, try stripping back your hair regime.
Seek out a hairstylist who uses low-impact dyes and toxin-free haircare, swap bleach baths for a gentler balayage or tint, ditch extensions and braids for the au natural look and nourish your hair and scalp with clean, nutrient-rich basics.
Start with a good quality, moisture-rich shampoo and conditioner. Getting these stalwarts right can go a long way towards hair and scalp health. Be sure to massage your chosen conditioner into the scalp and let it sit for a bit, before rinsing thoroughly.
We recommend using our Better Hair Days Restore & Repair Hair Mask in place of regular conditioner. Bursting with non-greaseball hydration and vital nutrition that your hair and scalp will lap up, Better Hair Days is gentle yet powerful, with its hair-saving benefits intensified, the longer it’s left in.
If you’re a serial heat styler, be sure to invest in a good heat protectant, which will help to shield the hair and scalp from your hairdryer’s wrath.
When it comes to styling shedding strands, less is more. Exfoliate your scalp by brushing well each day but relax on the hot tools and tight hairstyles as often as you can, and put down that teasing comb, amigo!
Finding your hair fix
Boosting your nutrition and being kinder to your hair are worthy strategies in combating many types of temporary hair shedding.
You might also like to try a shampoo or serum containing DHT-blockers, like biotin, caffeine and vitamin C.
Antioxidants and DHT are natural enemies, so look for ingredients like green tea, saw palmetto, walnut oil and pumpkin seed oil, and add high antioxidant foods to your diet, too. Think berries, banana, eggs, avocado, tomato and carrots.
(Psst, Better Hair Days is loaded with antioxidants galore, in the form of jojoba, coconut and flaxseed oils, shea butter and Kakadu Plum).
If your hair loss is pronounced and not improving with lifestyle changes, you may want to pursue advanced treatment options.
Your GP can refer you to a dermatologist for more specialised advice and treatment. There are a range of topical products and medications that may be prescribed to address the unique cause of your hair loss.
If the loss is due to an underlying hair condition, treating the condition itself may be enough to improve your hair growth.
Hair loss clinics are another option, offering a range of nonsurgical treatments, including laser therapy, topical treatment and medications.
Many also offer advanced cosmetic options to disguise thinning areas of the scalp, such as sophisticated hair extensions and hair-toned keratin powders.
At George, we’re huge advocates in rocking what you’ve got.
There are men and women who embrace their thinning strands and that’s fantastic, but at the other end of the spectrum, hair loss can really knock a person’s confidence and affect their quality of life.
It may be a red flag that your health needs some attention, too, which adds another layer of worry.
Many, many people experience excess hair loss throughout their lives, so there’s no need to be embarrassed.
Try to focus on living healthily and reach out to a trusted healthcare provider to establish the root cause.