Losing hair is a frustrating experience that can dramatically alter your appearance and rattle your self-confidence. It’s also an experience that about 80% of men and nearly half of all women will go through in their lifetime. It can happen for a variety of reasons and at almost any age. But we are not helpless to defend ourselves against this pesky problem.
Why do we lose our hair?
Hair loss isn’t just a sign of aging. Most people will notice their hair losing its thickness in their 30s or 40s, but it can start much earlier or later. Unfortunately, not all reasons for hair loss are within our control.
Men and women can experience pattern baldness, which is hereditary. Hair follicles will start to shrink and then stop growing hair altogether eventually. Men are more likely to lose hair via a receding hairline or a bald spot on top. Women tend to lose hair more evenly all over the head or where the hair parts. Hair growth also naturally slows down as we age.
Other reasons for hair loss or thinning could be medically related. Men and women can have an autoimmune condition called alopecia areata, which causes the body’s immune system to attack hair follicles. Other types of alopecia can happen as well. And women can have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which causes an imbalance in hormones and can lead to hair loss. Thyroid disorders also affect hormones and can cause hair to fall out.
Some of the causes that aren’t medical are easier to manage. First, the health of your scalp can affect hair growth. If you have a condition like psoriasis or dandruff, it can cause you to scratch your scalp and possibly damage the follicles. Stressful events, like divorce or childbirth, can cause excess hair loss too. And the way you care for your hair can influence its thickness too. Using chemical treatments like hair color, perms, or relaxers can cause follicle damage and eventual hair loss. Even wearing your hair in a tight ponytail or other pulled-back styles can encourage hair to thin or fall out.
Whatever the cause, it’s a problem most of us will have to face sometime in life. As I mentioned, some reasons for hair loss are not in our immediate control, but we do have options. There are many treatments available for medically related hair loss. And there are some simple actions you can take for hair loss that’s affected by your lifestyle.
Follow the list below for a few tricks to help slow down hair loss.
Plants come to the rescue to help with hair loss through their powerful essential oils. Certain oils contain chemical compounds that make them anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and able to boost circulation and cell growth. The most potent essential oils that help with hair loss include rosemary, peppermint, lavender, cedarwood, thyme, and tea tree. Try 3-5 drops of a combination of three of these oils, mix them in a carrier oil like jojoba or grapeseed, and work into the scalp for a few minutes. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes before washing your hair. (Be sure to always test your skin for a reaction before using essential oils!)
Eat more protein
To keep hair follicles healthy, you need to provide them with enough amino acids to build a protein called keratin. Keratin is the main protein in your follicles, and hair will grow more easily with adequate amounts. One study found that certain amino acids are commonly deficient in people with hair loss from various causes. To add more protein to your diet, you can eat more meat, eggs, and dairy or choose plant-based options like tofu, nuts, beans, or peas.
Taking supplements is another way to encourage hair to grow healthily. A multivitamin can help to fill in the gaps in vitamins and minerals you might be missing. Some important nutrients that specifically relate to hair growth are vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, and iron, selenium, and zinc, according to studies. A common go-to supplement for hair loss is biotin, and there is evidence that biotin can help if you have a deficiency. Otherwise, the jury is out.
Be gentle with your hair
Using harsh ingredients, treating it with chemicals, and tugging and pulling on hair can all contribute to hair loss. If you regularly treat or style your hair a certain way, it might take some time to change those habits. Especially if it involves coloring or perming your hair because there will be a drastic difference in how your hair looks. However, you can make the changes gradually to give you time to adjust to a new look. A quick way to see improvement is to start treating your hair better by using more gentle products, using less heat during styling, and taking extra care while hair is wet and fragile. And you can try using a loose clip or bun to put your hair up instead of a tight ponytail or braid. Even these little things will help!
Apply coconut or castor oil
These two popular oils have been used for many reasons related to skin and hair health. While many claim they both help hair grow faster or thicker, the evidence is purely anecdotal. Coconut oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, suggesting it will improve hair growth by keeping your scalp healthy. And castor oil has been used to treat alopecia because it can also improve the condition of your scalp. They might be worth trying out since they’re relatively safe methods of encouraging your hair to grow.
While working out regularly is a fundamental part of a healthy lifestyle, it can also be beneficial if you’re experiencing hair loss. Exercise of all kinds increases circulation throughout your whole body, which boosts the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to every cell. Healthy cells translate to healthy hair follicles and growth. Another benefit of exercise is stress relief, and reducing stress will also help to prevent hair loss. So get out there and keep moving!
Massage your scalp
It might sound like a myth, but massaging your scalp is a legitimate way to stimulate the follicles and improve hair growth. This study from 2016 found that four minutes a day of massage for 24 weeks resulted in thicker hair in men. That might sound like a lot of time to spend massaging your head, but it still shows it can work. If you don’t have a live-in masseuse, you can always purchase one of the many scalp-massaging devices available on the market and do it yourself!
Yoga or meditation
Melting away stress is a surefire way to prevent stress-related hair loss. Yoga and meditation are two of the best methods for relaxing a worried mind. And both of these are easy to do at home. You can find many resources online to guide you through your practice and get the most out of it, or you can join a class. Yoga has the added benefit of increasing blood flow to your head since it involves movement between poses and inverted positions. Part of why yoga and meditation work well to fight hair loss is because they encourage deep breathing, which also increases circulation to the scalp. You can even try deep breathing exercises for a calming effect if that’s more your style.
Yes, that’s right, onion juice has been touted as a treatment for hair loss. Who knew?! If you can tolerate the smell, applying onion juice to your head has been shown in studies to help with numerous hair issues, and hair loss is one of them. This is possibly due to onions having high amounts of sulfur, which is a component of keratin. You can make an onion extract yourself by cutting up about 3.5 ounces of onion bulbs, tossing them in the food processor, then filtering out the onion bits through a cloth. Then you can add the liquid to your all-natural shampoo (that you got from us!) and leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing. Don’t try this if you are allergic to onions, though.
Hair loss or thinning is, at the very least, an annoyance, but it can also be quite devastating. Going from long luscious locks to short, sparse strands over time changes our appearance and makes us feel less confident. If hair loss isn’t tied to a medical condition, we can take the actions above to try to remedy the situation. While none of the tips are guaranteed to work, it’s nice to know we have options that can help. Giving our hair the best chance to thrive lets us thrive as well!