Style & ShowbizBeauty

Hair thinning explained

Hair thinning explained

Obviously beauty problems are subjective, but there is one most women would agree is among the worst: hair loss or thinning. And that's not just our opinion; researchers in America found that 30 per cent of people would give up sex for a full head of hair again, while 47 per cent would swap their life savings for full locks. In fact, 60 per cent of people said they would happily swap their savings and their friends if it meant returning to a full head of hair.

So what can be done about thinning or loss of locks? Well for starters leading trichologist and thinning hair specialist Mark Blake explains it's vital to know why you are experiencing problems.

Thinning hair can be the result of low levels of iron, vitamin B12 or D, or too little or too much zinc. It's often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and Mark explains that's particularly the case when it comes to hair. It's made of protein which means you need a diet rich in it to ensure it grows properly - in fact, hair should grow 13km in a year - and if you skip breakfast you're robbing your locks of nutrients.

So diet can be one problem, but the issue may also be hormonal. Women who have heavy periods may find they are susceptible as it means they are losing a lot of iron, while the onset of the menopause can wreck havoc with locks too. Some types of contraception cause thinning hair in some people, while young girls who have varying testosterone levels may experience the problem.

All of this shows how important it is to find out the cause of your hair thinning or loss - is it hormonal or nutritional? If it's hormonal there is no point in taking supplements as they won't do anything.

The psychological effect of hair loss can be massive. 40 per cent of those searching for it on Google are women, and it's the body issue females think makes them the least attractive to men.

Taking steps to help yourself is important, which could mean visiting your doctor for advice, but Mark recommends seeing a trichologist too.

"A trichologist will do blood tests to check levels," he explained to Cover Media. "It's the best way of seeing what's happening with the body."

Doctors and trichologists look at test results completely differently, as doctors are concerned with any major health concerns while the scalp professionals look for small nuances which could be causing problems. There are 50 different reasons why someone might be losing hair and it may not be any one thing.

For example, hair follicles can be sensitive to the male sex hormone DHT, which makes them shrink and so have a shorter lifespan.

"At the moment of conception is when it's decided if you are sensitive to DHT," Mark explained. "You might need to use something on your scalp to stop testosterone, or DHT, which is affecting the follicles."

Dr Bessam Farjo is the founder of the Farjo Hair Institute and Medical Director of the Institute of Trichologists and pointed out that illnesses like alopecia, psoriasis or thyroid disease can cause problems with hair too. In fact, excessive treatments like tinting or plucking might also cause hair loss.

"My first advice for women who notice their hair thinning is to stop using styling tools such as straighteners, heated rollers and hair dryers, allowing their hair to dry naturally instead wherever possible. It may be that a styling ‘holiday’ is enough to replenish the hair," he explained.

He echoed Mark's advise about diet, suggesting that as hair needs nutrients like protein, iron and vitamin C it's important to consume enough of them.

"Hair growth can be encouraged in a number of different ways. Firstly, investing in a brush with soft bristles will stimulate the circulation in the tissue of the scalp, boosting the hair’s strength and shine," he added.

"To keep hair healthy I also recommend that people wash their hair with good quality products every day – and never shampoo without conditioning."

Cover Media