As much as 30 percent of women will experience some sort of hair thinning, usually first noticed with age as a skinnier ponytail or a little more visible scalp peeking out. Thick hair screams “youth,” which makes thinning a tough pill to swallow. But there are many ways you can help slow down thinning and hair loss, from eating the right foods to cutting back on stress, even strategically styling your locks. Here, seven ways to stave off hair loss and keep your ‘do looking young and healthy for longer.
Hair Loss Solutions
Load up on beauty nutrients
Though we think our hair is super important, our bodies consider it nonessential (read: we don’t need it to stay conscious). Other bodily functions, like breathing, are more pressing and get first access to the nutrients in our diet. Our hair gets the leftovers. Protein is your hair's best friend, so reach for healthy protein such as eggs and fish and avoid fasting or yoyo dieting. These can deprive your body of these essential building blocks for a healthy scalp and hair. Wild salmon, tuna and trout are packed with omega-3 fatty acids that help provide moisture and prevent dry and brittle hair. Foods rich in B vitamins also help keep hair follicles healthy, decreasing the risk for hair loss. Fruits and vegetables, and beans and lean meat sources, such as chicken or turkey breast, are all great sources for vitamin B.
Too much stress is bad for health and beauty, but did you know there’s a known connection between stress and hair loss, too? Constant stress can cause cortisol levels to spike, which can contribute to increased hair shedding. To relieve stress and its damaging effects on your hair, try meditation, regular exercise, keeping a regular sleep schedule, or any other activity that helps you decompress.
Take care of your scalp
The scalp is where each hair follicle receives its blood supply, allowing it to grow strong. If you show your scalp a little TLC and make sure it's nourished, hydrated and healthy, then your hair will be stronger and more resistant to breakage, promoting healthy growth. Foods packed with vitamin E, like almonds, walnuts and raspberries or strawberries, are great for promoting scalp circulation, as are vitamin C-rich foods like kiwis and broccoli. Walnuts also are a great source of zinc—zinc deficiency can cause shedding—so they’re extra powerful.
Try biotin supplements
Results from several small studies suggest that biotin supplements may improve thinning hair and brittle nails. Less commonly known as vitamin H, biotin is part of the B complex vitamins, which help your body metabolize fats and protein. Some experts even recommend a daily supplement for everyone since it’s generally safe and pretty hard to get too much of it.
Get your hormone levels checked
Age-onset thinning, or “miniaturization,” refers to a progressive decrease of the hair shaft’s diameter and length. This happens at least in part because of androgens like dihydrotestosterone (or DHT), a derivative of the male hormone testosterone that causes hair follicles to literally shrink in diameter. This type of hair thinning is referred to as androgenic alopecia, and it occurs in an equal pattern all over the scalp. However, pregnancy, ovarian cysts, medications, emotional or physical shock, and birth control pills can all affect hormone levels, making it complicated to pinpoint the reason for hair loss. For example, polycystic ovarian disease can exacerbate androgens and manifest as thinning, in which case you could treat the condition and fix hair loss. Get your hormone levels checked to see if an underlying health issue is the root cause.
Try a new style
Playing around with your haircut can sometimes mask the issue, so talk to your stylist about a style that will add volume and bounce, making hair appear thicker. Simply shifting your part can work wonders, and changing up your color can help, too. Light reflects more off lighter hair, so the color provides less contrast between the hair and the scalp, concealing any empty patches. Additionally, a light perm or wave will give hair more body and make it look thicker, and frequent trims will help prevent breakage.
Cut back on hot tool use
Speaking of a new style: Don’t choose one that’s so high maintenance that it needs to be heat styled daily—the damage you’ll do with too much hot tool usage can leave strands damaged and fried, and breaking before it can grow to a certain length. Plus, thinner hair tends to break easier, so you want to avoid any extra damage-inducing practices at all costs. Make a conscious effort, too, to brush more gently, and use a moisturizing and reparative hair mask to hydrate hair and nourish the scalp—where hair gets most of its strength.