Hair thinning is something that many of us suffer from on a daily basis, with over 40% of women experiencing hair loss or thinning at some point in their lives - and the same percentage of women feeling unhappy about the overall appearance of their hair.
Why is it that we have hair in places we don't want it, like our chin (causing internal beauty dilemas about which hairs we should and shouldn't pluck), but where we crave it in abundance, like our heads, it's often sadly lacking? Most of us will experience hair loss during our lives so we look at the common causes of hair thinning and what you can do about it from the inside and out.
What causes hair thinning?
Hair thinning can be down to a number of factors, including:
- your age
- gut health
- thyroid conditions
These are the most common reasons for hair loss in women. Many of them can be managed yourself, however, if your hair loss is signifigant or you have any concerns you should consult your GP.
Can hair treatments and tools cause hair loss?
It’s important not to over treat your hair in any circumstance but, as Dr. Martin Wade (a hair loss specialist) suggests, if your hair is thinning avoiding straighteners and excessive heat is a good idea. He strongly advises to avoid bleaches, perming agents and hair colourants, too.
Hair professional Christel Lundqvist adds that using styling tools incorrectly can also make your hair less flexible and cause damage to your hair in the long run. He advises washing your hair every other day to ensure you keep your scalp in healthy condition, unless you suffer from a very dry scalp (in which case it’s best to prolong between washes).
"I also recommend that clients stay away from hairstyles that can cause traction of the hair on the scalp including tight braiding of the hair or pulling the hair back tightly."
Interestingly, he warns against using oil on your scalp. "Whilst applying oil to the hair shaft can have a moisturising effect I do not recommend massaging oil directly onto the scalp. This can block the follicles and may even have a toxic effect on the hair follicle", he adds.
Treatments and tools to avoid if you have thinning hair
- Hair straightners
- Bleaching and hair colourants
- Perming agents
- Tight braids or plaits
- Tight ponytails or updos
Can menopause cause hair loss?
The short answer is yes. "Thinning hair can be caused by thyroid conditions," says Sally-Ann Tarver, a trichologist based in the Cotswolds, "particularly hypothyroidism which is seen in postmenopausal women. Left untreated, the condition can cause hair to thin and become dry. Other symptoms include weight gain, dry skin and tiredness." If any of these symptoms sound familiar, pay a visit to your doctor. "This condition is best monitored and treated by your GP," says Sally-Ann.
How do you stop your hair from thinning?
There are ways to significantly improve hair thinning and breakage, from introducing certain foods into your diet to trying a targeted haircare routine. Here, we talk to leading experts on the causes, treatments and products to enhance the health of your hair for good.
Can diet and supplements prevent hair loss?
A balanced diet including a range of proteins, fats and grains are key for the health of your hair, as well as your general wellbeing, explains Eva Kalinik, Nutritional Therapist and Gut Health Specialist.
"Omega-3 essential fatty acids are important for providing healthy fats that we need to in-take through our diet; they provide oils that keep hair shiny and hydrated", she says. Foods like oily fish - salmon, sardines and anchovies - are high in these fatty acids, as are organic eggs and organic grass fed meat.
If you lead a plant-based diet, look for axseed, chia seed and walnuts and grains such as quinoa and buckwheat. "Cheese and yogurt also provide protein as well as vitamin A. Mixing this with plant-based sources such as lentils and chickpeas can help, especially if you are on a budget," Eva Kalinik reveals.
What we should we eat to maintain healthy hair?
- Oily fish
- Organic eggs
- Organic grass fed meat
What vegan friendly things should we eat to maintain healthy hair?
- Axseed and chia seeds
Can supplements help and what is the best vitamin for hair loss?
There are lots of targeted vitamins and supplements for women on the market. But hair has one of the fastest cell turnovers in the body, meaning it needs a ton of nutrients. When you consider that so many factors can contribute to the loss of hair or hair thinning, taking a supplement can give you an extra boost of nutrients, from Omega 3s, Vitamin E, iron and zinc. "I would say that for most people a good probiotic would be a good idea as poor gut health can affect the quality of the hair," explains Eva. She also advises taking a vitamin D supplement in the winter months, as lack of sunlight can cause deficiency and lead to hair loss.
Vegans should ensure they are getting enough zinc and iron by taking a supplement, as well as eating foods such as broccoli, peppers and spinach and pulses and legumes which increase absorption of these minerals.
Beauty editor recommended supplements for thinning hair
Providing a month of supplements, these make hair look longer and stronger thanks to Vitamin E, biotin and Omega 3 and 6.
SHOP NOW:OUAI Thinning Hair Supplement, £26
Viviscal Hair Growth Programme, £29.99
A mix of iron, biotin and zinc helps grow your hair within six months.
A soy-protein formula, these supplements are fortified with amino acids that provide the nutrients for hair health and growth.
SHOP NOW:Philip Kingsley PK4 Dietary Supplements, £30
How to make thinning hair look thicker
Opt for volumizing shampoos and lift sprays but avoid products with harsh chemicals, advises Christel, who says thickening serums are also a great to add extra body and volume to the hair. "Dry shampoo is great to add body to thinning hair, as it gives the hair fullness," he explains, as it gently cleanses hair but adds thickness around the strands, giving hair a natural volume.
Key products for styling thinning hair
- Volumizing shampoos
- Lift sprays
- Thickening serums
- Dry shampoos
Beauty editor recommended products for hair loss
After conditioning your hair, apply this treatment to the lengths of your hair and comb through for more volume and thicker locks.
SHOP NOW: Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Elixir, £19.99
For fine hair, add texture via a volumising powder—this one contains Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein so will also keep your hair moisturised throughout the day.
SHOP NOW: Fudge Big Hair Elevate Styling Powder, £13.95
This dry shampoo will doesn’t just add volume in-between wash days, but it absorbs and removes oil, actually cleaning your hair a lot more thoroughly than your average dry shampoo.
SHOP NOW: Living Proof Perfect Hair Day (PHD) Dry Shampoo, £18
Using a root touch-up will help to create the illusion of fullness around the parting and hairline.
SHOP NOW: Josh Wood Colour Blending Brush in Darker Brown, £15
Incorporating a scrub in your haircare routine will improve your scalp health, kickstarting the follicles and encouraging hair growth.
SHOP NOW: Grow Gorgeous Detoxifying Scalp Scrub, £24
If your hair loss continues to be signifigant or you have any concerns about your thinning hair, you should consult your GP.