Female hair loss is more common than you’d think [Photo: Adrianna Calvo via Pexels]
Seeing tufts of your hair washing down the plughole or clogging up the hoover is a pretty regular experience for most women, and certainly no cause to be panic buying wigs. But stats do suggest that female hair loss is on the rise. Recent research by Philip Kingsley reveals that more than one in five women in the UK (21%) said they are suffering from hair loss or hair thinning. 9% of women had previously suffered and a further quarter who did not have the problem themselves, had friends or family that do. So how do you know how much shedding is normal? And what do you do if you really are losing it? We consulted the experts on how to regain your crowning glory…How much hair is it normal for most women to lose?“Hair loss is extremely common, more so than is generally thought,” explains Harley Street Trichologist Sara G Allison author of How to Keep your Hair on – the Ultimate Guide for Women. “At any one time between 1 and 100 scalp hairs are at the end of their life and ready to fall out. If more hairs are shed than regrown hair thinning occurs.”Gah! I think I’m losing more than that?First things first, don’t panic. “Both men and women tend to lose hair thickness and volume as they age,” explains Sara. “If you are worried about the amount of hair you are losing speak to a specialist doctor about what may be causing it and, if there are any changes that could be made to remedy it. The sooner you seek the advice of an expert the better, as hair loss can be reversed easier in initial stages,” advises Dr Thomy Kouremada-Zioga, Hair Transplant Surgeon at The Private Clinic of Harley Street.
How much shedding is normal anyway? [Photo: Rex Features]What could be causing it? Experts believe it could be a combination of things. “One of the main causes is stress,” advises Trichologist Sara G Allison. “When the body is stressed it produces toxins which result in an imbalance which can lower the progesterone levels. This can causes hair loss.” But there are many other potential causes. “Hair loss or hair thinning can be a symptom of a thyroid disorder (which can affect the hair growth cycle), Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (as the body is producing more male hormones-androgen), some medications (such as anticoagulants, pills for arthritis/high blood pressure/antidepressants etc.), crash diets (which can result in a lack of essential minerals and vitamins in the diet), cancer treatments, anaemia, extreme stress, some autoimmune diseases such as Lupus (Lupus is a skin and connective tissue disorder which causes the body’s own immunity to fight against hair growth) and pregnancy,” explains Dr Thomy Kouremada-Zioga.When should you be concerned?“If you notice excessive hair shedding that has no obvious cause or if hair fall continues for longer than 3 months or is a recurrent problem, there is likely an on-going underlying factor that needs to be addressed. For instance, nutritional deficiencies or hormonal factors,” says Anabel Kingsley, trichologist at Philip Kingsley.Are there any factors that can cause temporary hair loss?“Most definitely,” says Anabel Kingsley from Philip Kingsley. “Hair is non-essential tissue, so when you are unwell and your system is stressed your body is very quick to ignore its needs. Instead, resources and energy are directed towards fighting off the illness and keeping essential organs and systems running.” Pregnancy and birth can also have an impact on hair loss. “6-12 weeks after giving birth or stopping to breast feed, approximately 50% of women experience a type of hair loss known as post-partum hair fall. This, too, should be temporary and self-limiting,” she adds.
One in five women will experience hair loss in their lifetime [Photo: www.lifeofpix.com via Pexels]What are the main treatments for female hair loss?“The most important thing for women to do is to seek the advice of an expert and discover whether the hair loss is a symptom of an underlying medical condition or is due to genetics,” advises Dr Thomy Kouremada-Zioga. “If there is a deeper underlying health condition, then often this can be treated and the hair loss can be reversed. There are certain products which can increase hair density, such as the application of topical minoxidil or the use of a laser comb. In case of alopecia areata, corticosteroids are being prescribed, too.” And surgical restoration may also be an option for some women. “The 3G FUE hair transplant system involves taking individual hairs from somewhere on the head and replanting them in the thinning area, to restore the natural looking, fuller head of hair. For cases where the hair has been permanently then a transplant is the only solution that will result in the successful re-growth of the hair,” he adds. Could over-styling my hair be causing it?Possibly, but there’s no need to stop copying Insta-hair trends just yet. “Excessive styling of any kind can always damage the hair follicles,” explain Sara. “The chemicals used during a colour treatment can result in hair breakage. They cause a break down in the protein structure of the hair, which in turn weakens it. Try to give your hair a rest from treatment and use a protein rich shampoo and conditioner.”Are certain hair types more prone to suffering hair loss?“The type of hair you have plays no role in whether or not you will suffer from hair loss,” advises Dr Thomy Kouremada-Zioga. “The only difference you may find is that hair loss may be more noticeable on women who have straight or fine hair in comparison with women who have thick and wavy hair.”
Female hair loss: The last beauty taboo? [Photo: unsplash.com via Pexels]Is there anything we can do at home? Thankfully, yes. “There are some preventative measures which can be followed at home to prevent or minimise hair loss,” says Dr Thomy Kouremada-Zioga. “These include, following a balanced diet, using a neutral organic shampoo, brushing or combing the hair on a daily basis and washing and massaging the hair in lukewarm water.” And there are some over the counter products you can purchase too. “Minoxidil, which is available without a prescription as Regaine for Women, (£24 for 60ml) has been clinically proven to prompt hair regrowth in 50 per cent of women whose condition is hereditary, by improving blood flow to the hair follicles,” advises Stuart Gale, chief pharmacist and owner of Oxford Online Pharmacy. Use it twice daily. If you suspect your hair loss may be stress related Sara G Allison recommends meditation, relaxation techniques or yoga and ensuring your diet is nutrient and protein rich. “Take regular exercise and use a nourishing shampoo and conditioner. Try the Hair Today More Tomorrow range which includes shampoos, conditioners and a multi supplement,” she adds.Changing your diet could also help. “Give your hair the internal support it needs by eating a healthy and varied diet rich in protein and iron,” suggests Anabel Kingsley. “Try to include at least 120g in weight of a ‘complete protein’ at breakfast and lunch. The best examples are eggs, fish, poultry, lean meat and low-fat cottage cheese. For vegetarians, quinoa and tofu are good options. Energy to form hair cells drops 4 hours after eating, so if longer than this is left between meals snack on a nutrient dense carbohydrate to keep levels sustained. (i.e. fresh fruit or whole wheat crackers).”