Dealing with thinning hair can be frustrating and challenging. We genuinely understand how overwhelming this can be especially if you’ve been trying things to no avail. In many cases, you can slow down thinning or even completely stop and reverse hair loss with the right approach. Hair loss is much more complicated than a one-size-fits-all approach. It takes knowing exactly what type of hair loss you’re dealing with and then creating a targeted approach to stopping it. To get you started on your personal path to ending your hair fall, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide of the different types of hair loss and their available treatments– behind and over the counter. (And although most of our hair care advice caters to curly-haired women, both men and women with any hair texture can use the tips below)
Before you dive into the information below, make sure you read How Can I Thicken Up My Hair? to fully understand how “re-thickening” up hair does and does not work.
FIRST: PINPOINT WITH YOUR DOCTOR WHAT’S CAUSING YOUR HAIR TO THIN
It’s normal and healthy for everyone to lose up to an estimated 100-250 hairs a day on average. However, If you are loosing a disturbing amount of hair, think clogged showers and sinks, full brushes and combs and hair balls around your house that could be mistaken for tumbleweed, you should immediately see your doctor. You could be loosing hair due to a variety of reasons, some of which that could need urgent care, including:
Your Hormones and Health – Things like excess estrogen, autoimmune diseases, hormonal imbalances and fluctuations due to pregnancy, the onset of menopause or medical conditions, insulin resistance, too much testosterone and low thyroid function can all cause hair thinning, so it’s vital to know what is causing your hair loss. Too much estrogen can be caused by weight gain, pregnancy (see more on this below), perimenopause and things like exposure to endocrine disruptors. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss like bald patches or total hair loss on some or all areas of your body including your face and head. Having too much testosterone caused by things like polycystic ovary syndrome can cause you to grow chin hair and face hair but create hair loss on your head at the same time. Low thyroid function caused by hormone imbalances can cause thinning hair as well. Insulin resistance can also increase or cause hair loss in some women. These are all things you should see your doctor about so that you can be properly diagnosed as androgen resistance, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and ovarian cancer due to testosterone levels and other medical conditions not listed here can also cause hair loss. Once your health concern has been settled, your doctor may want to treat your hair loss with options ranging from laser therapy or steroid injections to platelet rich plasma treatments or even a hair transplant. Additionally, there is now an FDA approved drug for treating and restoring hair in those who suffer from alopecia areata and your doctor can let you know if you are a candidate for the treatment. Read Full Hair Regrowth With Alopecia Areata Is Now Possible Thanks To This New Drug to learn more about this breakthrough.
If your hair loss and thinning issue has been ruled out to be a medical issue, then it could be caused by one of these things:
Genetic Predisposition – Thinning hair and aging sometimes go hand in hand depending on your genetic background. Female pattern hair loss (FPHL), also known as androgenetic alopecia (AGA), is hereditary hair loss and the most common type of hair loss in women. If your mom and her mom had thinning hair as they matured, then it’s highly likely you’re dealing with a genetic cause (you can also inherit this from your father’s side of the family as well). Mom has a full head of hair? It could also be that it skipped generations and is just now showing up on your head, but often when it’s genetic, there is a relative close to us where we can find a connection. Basically, and unfortunately, your hair follicle functionality starts to diminish with age due to genetic predisposition. It’s like the guy who goes bald in the same spot just like his dad, granddad and great granddads before him.
Your Age – This is connected in may ways to your genetic predispositions. Additionally, as we age, predisposition or not, we all go through hair changes which for many women are set off by the onset of menopause. As we get older, our hair follicles get smaller so that the hair they do produce is thinner and weaker up until the point in many cases they produce hairs so thin and tiny you can’t even see them or they look like fuzz. This is something most of us just can’t avoid especially since 50% of us will develop female pattern hair loss at some point in our lives.
Stress and Lifestyle – Stress can wreak havoc on your hair but luckily it’s more often than not completely reversible. Hair loss from traumas (things suddenly introduced into your body or life) like life and work stress, anemia, vitamin deficiencies, extreme diets, general anesthesia or even giving birth is called Telogen Effluvium (TE). Telogen effluvium hair loss usually appears three to four months after the trauma or drastic change in your body has occurred–taking certain medications included. Read What Is The Connection Between Stress And Hair Loss In Women? if you think your problem could be caused by stress.
Self Imposed Hair Loss With or Without Stressors – Trichotillomania (a hair-pulling disorder), according to the Mayo Clinic is “repeatedly pulling your hair out, typically from your scalp, eyebrows or eyelashes, but can be from other body areas, and sites may vary over time.” If you suffer from trichotillomania, it’s important to see your doctor or a therapist who specializes in trichotillomania to begin therapies that could possibly help you stop or reduce your trichotillomania.
Your Birth Control or Emergency Contraception – If you are on birth control or recently took emergency contraception and have noticed that you are experiencing noticeable hair loss (TE), it could be that the type of birth control you’re on is causing your hair loss. If you think this is your case, read: How Taking Birth Control Or Plan B Can Cause Your Hair To Fall Out to figure out what steps to take next.
Postpartum Shedding – The awesome ability to create babies is amazing, but the hair loss afterwards (telogen effluvium) is not. If you recently had a baby, you could be experiencing postpartum shedding and if you think this is your case, read Postpartum Shedding 101: What It Is And How To Deal
Too Tight/Stressful Hairstyles – You can cause alopecia (called traction alopecia) by styling and handling your hair so rough that you basically kill your hair follicles over time. Things like too tight braids, bobby pins that stab your scalp and repeatedly pulling your hair into styles like very tight buns, improper wig and extension use, super tight ponytails and other hairstyles can do a number on your hair follicules. Many case of traction alopecia are reversible. Treatment is usually done with your doctor and may involve steroid shots or other treatments. At home, you can implement some of our suggestions below.
SECOND: MAKE SURE YOU’RE USING THE RIGHT STYLING PRODUCTS FOR THINNING HAIR
With thinning hair, you need a healthy diet and products that are helping to treat your problem. We’ll assume you’re already eating well, but don’t underestimate how much your diet impacts the health of your hair. Also drinks lots of water, preferably at least 91 ounces a day for women (about 2.7 liters) and 125 ounces a day for men (3.7 liters). If you?re dehydrated, your scalp will be as well and we all know how many plants can thrive in a dessert.
As far as products go, you need products with ingredients that will leave your scalp free of buildup and encourage healthy follicles which could lead to hair regeneration. Look for ingredients like minerals, castor oil, jojoba oil, omega fatty acids and even minoxidi. You want ingredients that will help to keep the hair you have strong all while encouraging regrowth.
We test and have experience with tons of products, and there are only a handful that we recommend for stimulating growth and maintaining healthy hair so we’ve done all the work for you. These are just our recommendations (in no particular order) so be sure to work with your doctor when using hair restoration products to find what you feel works best for your hair and lifestyle.
Phylia De M. 3 Step Kit is at the top of our hair restoration list because it’s so freaking amazing and we consider this kit a necessary “base” for those struggling with thinning hair. There is also this little known shampoo called Vitamins Hair Loss Shampoo that we feel delivers great results (we recommend this for those suffering from hereditary hair loss) as well as RegenePure Dr Hair Loss Shampoo for those suffering from hereditary hair loss as well as scalp conditions like dandruff or psoriasis.
Other styling products we recommend are: Pantene AgeDefy Advanced Thickening Treatment, diCesare Thicken Copper Peptide Leave-in Conditioner, Biosilk Thickening Conditioner, L?Oreal Paris EverStrong Thickening Tonic and Calista Tools Embellish Texturizing Definer. You can read more about how to thicken up your hair with products here. Henna treatments and massaging pure Jamaican Black Castor Oil (click the link for the specific brand we recommend) on your scalp are also “all natural” options for thickening up your hair as well. Castor Oil massages have been said to thicken up hair in many people who’ve tried it though there is no in-dept scientific research back said claims up and it’s not guaranteed to work for everyone. If you want to go the castor oil route try it as it can’t hurt (less any allergies) since it’s a natural oil. We like the entire Shea Moisture Strengthen, Grow And Restore Jamaican Black Castor Oil line because it not only has black castor oil, but it leaves your hair defined, shiny and feeling stronger.
Used in conjunction with your styling products, minoxidil (the main ingredient in Rogaine) is the most popular FDA-approved over-the-counter topical treatment for female pattern hair loss. It’s available in both a 2% and 5% formulation for women. It can take about three to six months to start seeing results from minoxidil. You’ll have to use it forever, or as long as you want to keep your hair from thinning, because there is no cure for female pattern hair loss and FPHL progressively gets worse over time. Be sure to read Minoxidil 101: Using Rogaine For Hereditary Hair Loss And Regrowth if you’re dealing with FPHL.
THIRD: USE QUALITY SUPPLEMENTS TO HELP RESTORE AND MAINTAIN YOUR HAIR
Once you know what’s causing your hair loss, and you have a healthy hair and scalp cleaning and care regimen and products, then you can treat your thinning with specific over-the-counter supplements. Supplements are great because they work from the inside out (like the healthy food and water you drink). In some cases, hair loss will be irreversible (such is the case with some forms of alopecia which is why it’s important to see your doctor) but in many cases, all it takes is due diligence and not falling for every single product you see that claims hair growth.
To give yourself the best shot of restoring healthy hair follicles from the inside out, you need products that at least deliver these main ingredients: Vitamins A, B (complex), C, D, niacin, folic acid, zinc, omega 3 and omega 6 and biotin (which is B8 and B12; be sure to read What You Need To Know About Biotin) which are all present in our bodies and essential for healthy, strong and vibrant hair. It’s often hard to find one supplement with all of these ingredients (except for Maximum Vibrance which comes close; nor do you need them all if say, you eat a lot of vegetables already and get your vitamins but not much food that delivers omegas) so you may need to take two different vitamins or take a vitamin and drink a supplement. After these main ingredients, “bonus” ingredients are things like msm, probiotics (for balancing your gut and stress related hair loss), castor oil, fulvic acid, horsetail extract, ALA, GLA, silica and hydrolyzed collagen. (You can take the time to research each ingredient and how it affects hair growth since including that information would make this article unbearably long–and it’s already quite lengthy)
Phyto Phytophan?re Hair and Nails Dietary Supplement (recommended for hair growth and strength)
Key Ingredients: Omegas 3 and 6 and B-complex vitamins
Aviva Hair Revitalizer (recommended for those looking to stop or slow hair loss and to stimulate new hair growth)
Key Ingredients: Pentaplex HGF and Tetra-HHL which is formulated with ashwagandha, your key ingredient. Ashwagandha is an herb from North Africa that helps to control hair loss by preventing your follicles from dying prematurely and by helping to reduce high cortisol levels which can be due to stress which can then cause hair loss. It also contains Fo Ti which is an Asian herb used to slow down the process of graying and thinning hair.
Phylia Fulphyl Fulvic Acid Supplement (This supplement is worth every penny. You can take this with any of the vitamins we recommend. It’s also 100-percent organic)
Key Ingredients: Pure Biomimetic Fulvic Acid. Fulvic acid works to maintain keratin supply and encourage a healthy and stable nerve-to-follicle connection, allowing vital keratin to be carried through follicles and out into optimum hair fibers.
Sibu Beauty Seabuckthorn Cellular Support or Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Liquid Supplement for Skin, Hair And Nails (We really, really like these. You can take either in addition to any of the vitamins we recommend)
Key Ingredients: Sea Buckthorn fruit oil, Sea Buckthorn seed oil. Sea buckthorn has a rare combination of powerful antioxidants and is the only plant in the world known to contain essential fatty acids 3, 6, 7 and 9.
Vibrant Health Maximum Vibrance Digestive Supplement (This is actually a gluten-free vitamin and meal supplement but is amazing for hair and skin. Most of the ingredients are organic and it’s great for those who need to eat cleaner and get more green foods in their diet. You would only need to take an omega-3 supplement to add to this. Angel uses this product and personally recommends it)
Key Ingredients: It contains 120 ingredients which include 80 plants, Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B-complex Vitamins, Biotin, Zinc, Magnesium, probiotics, 26 antioxidants, 6g of fiber, 7 servings of fruits and vegetables, 7 vegetable based digestive enzymes and 23g of protein
Nioxin Intensive Therapy Recharging Complex
Key Ingredients: Vitamins A, C, D, B6 and B12, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and biotin
Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Nutrient Tablets
Key Ingredients: Amino Mar Marine Complex, Horsetail (stern) Extract Silica, Millet Seed Extract, Vitamin C, Niacin, Biotin, Iron, Zinc
Hum Nutrition Red Carpet
Key Ingredients: Black Currant Seed Oil containing GLA and ALA, Vitamin E. Vitamin E can help to increase the growth of capillaries which in turn increases blood circulation and encourages healthy hair growth from healthy hair follicles.
Hum Nutrition OMG! Omega The Great (recommended for those looking to also boost hair shine and luster)
Key Ingredients: Omega 3 fish oil including EPA and DHA, Vitamin E
Lastly, when you take supplements, you could possibly experience acne which is often caused by too much biotin or MSM in your system (though it could also be something else as well). Play around with your supplement amounts to find out what works best for your hair and skin and be sure to talk to your doctor before starting a supplement regimen.