From stress to overstyling: Reasons behind hair loss and how to tackle it
It is a problem that affects one in five women. Here trichologist Dr Raghu Reddy gives advice on maintaining and looking after your locks
Hair loss specialist Dr Raghu Reddy says thinning locks are still one of beauty’s biggest taboos. “For many women their hair is their crowning glory and the thought of losing it is embarrassing,” he says. Thankfully there is plenty you can do to promote hair growth and boost vitality.
“It is best to take action to help protect your hair now and there are many steps you can take to do this,” says Dr Reddy. Here he shares his top tips for keeping you locks in good condition.
IT’S IN THE GENES Genetics play an important role when it comes to hair loss so look to your parents to see if they have been affected. Unfortunately, women can inherit genes from their paternal and maternal side, making them more susceptible to thinning. However while there is nothing you can do to change your genetic make-up, you can still take steps to protect your tresses.
HORMONAL CHANGES Changes in hormone levels are a common factor when it comes to hair loss. When you are menopausal, levels of oestrogen and progesterone drop, causing hair to grow more slowly and become much thinner. Women with higher levels of testosterone are also more likely to suffer from hair loss.
CHECK THE SIGNS Hair loss in women is often caused by an underlying condition. If the problem can be successfully diagnosed it is likely that the hair loss will reduce or even stop altogether. An underactive thyroid, anaemia, hormonal disorders, polycystic ovaries and lupus can all cause hair loss. Make an appointment with your GP and ask for advice.
KEEP IT CLEAN It is often said that regular washing is damaging but the truth is that hair should be washed often to keep it clean and healthy. Research suggests that using products that don’t contain sodium lauryl sulphate (a common chemical found in shampoos) can help prevent hair loss. Using conditioner can also be effective but make sure you apply it to the hair strands rather than the scalp. Try Aveda Invati Exfoliating Shampoo, £23.50 (aveda.co.uk) which contains a blend of turmeric, salicylic acid and milk thistle to nourish the scalp and promote healthy hair growth.
DON’T OVERSTYLE Dyeing regularly can cause the hair to become brittle and to fall out. Extensions can also weaken the hair and contribute towards what is known as “traction alopecia”, which is when hair falls out because it is being weighed down.
If you do wear extensions, give your hair a break from time to time so it has a chance to move and grow. When using heat tools such as hairdryers and curling tongs, be careful not to burn the scalp and always use a heat-protective mist. Try VO5 Heat Protect Spray, £3 (boots.com), which locks in moisture to ensure locks aren’t damaged during styling.
STRESS LESS Prolonged periods of stress can lead to changes in hormonal levels, which in turn can cause thinning. If you are worried that stress is behind your hair loss, take time to relax. Having a five-minute mindfulness break twice a day can help. Turn off your phone, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Breathe in steadily, then out again and repeat, bringing your mind back to your breath if it wanders away to other thoughts or worries.
BOOST PROTEIN INTAKE Your hair is made up of keratin, which is a natural protein, so ensuring your diet is high in protein will help to keep your hair strong and healthy. Make a special effort to include eggs, fish and lean meat in your diet and over time you may see an improvement.
OVER THE COUNTER There are a number of supplements and topical treatments available on the high street that can help to prevent or reduce hair loss. Regaine For Women Once a Day Scalp Foam, £34.95 for two month’s supply (lloydspharmacy. com) has been clinically proven to safely and effectively reduce hair loss.
When applied to the scalp, it penetrates the skin and revitalises inactive hair follicles. Viviscal Maximum Strength Woman, £49.95 for one month’s supply (viviscal.co.uk) contains a mix of ingredients that promote hair growth including zinc, vitamin C, iron and millet seed. It is best to seek the advice of your GP before you try any supplements.
TRY A TRANSPLANT If you have ruled out any underlying medical conditions and you continue to experience hair loss, you may be suitable for a hair transplant procedure. A 3G FUE (follicular unit extraction), which is performed under local anaesthetic, is a walk-in, walk-out procedure that can offer a solution to hair loss for women from around £2.50 per hair. The process involves removing hairs individually from the back of the head and placing them in the area most affected by hair loss.
DON’T FORGET YOUR SCALP Keeping your scalp in good condition can help promote hair growth. Before washing, massage in Grow Gorgeous Scalp Detox, £28 (growgorgeous.co.uk) which contains a blend of pomegranate enzymes and natural castor oil beads to exfoliate and buff away dead skin. Oils found in your kitchen cupboard are great for a DIY scalp massage. Pour a generous amount of olive or coconut oil on to the scalp and massage in firmly with your fingers in circular motions. For a high-tech solution to hair loss, try
Theradome LH80 Pro Laser Helmet, £749 (theradomeforhairloss.co.uk). Worn for 20 minutes, two to four times a week, the at-home device uses laser energy to boost scalp health, stimulate dormant hair follicles and strengthen existing locks.
Dr Raghu Reddy is a hair loss and transplant specialist at The Private Clinic of Harley Street. For more information visit theprivateclinic.co.uk