Hair loss can occur at any age, however, thinning hair and baldness are more likely as women age. Not all women will experience aggressive hair loss, in some mild hair thinning or bald spots may occur. No matter the cause of hair loss, the effect on our psyche is devastating.
If you’re losing hair in the back, your hairdresser may notice since they are likely performing routine hair care. You could talk to your stylist about female hair loss and ask them to help you keep an eye out for thinning hair. They may even have some suggestions on how to encourage new hair growth.
Around age 50 women are near the menopause years. The good news is that if your hair loss is related to menopause, it can be reversed.
Signs and causes hair loss
The hairline may begin to recede or become sparse in the crown area. What causes thinning hair? Here are a few other causes of hair loss:
- Family history of female-pattern baldness
- Genes for balding
- Too much styling can cause breakage
- Tight braids and ponytails may cause traction alopecia
- An autoimmune condition can cause Alopecia Areata
- Result of thyroid or other medical conditions
- Deficiency in certain nutrients (iron, vitamin D, selenium, zinc)
- Cancer treatment such as chemotherapy
- Side effects of some medications
- Extreme dieting and weight loss
- Pregnancy, childbirth, and other hormone changes can cause telogen effluvium which is a fancy way of saying your hair follicles went dormant.
- Harsh hair products and methods (for example hair extensions can cause breakage and loss of more than average amount of hair)
- Stress, poor dietary choices, smoking
Identifying the Type of Hair Loss
When you first notice hair loss, you may want to ask your doctor to do certain tests. If you have known thyroid problems, you are probably already having your thyroid levels checked on a regular basis. In addition, you may want to have your nutrient levels checked to see if you may be deficient, as well as a hormone panel.
Although these are not always the underlying causes, it’s good to rule them out. Just in case you can stop hair loss just by balancing your diet.
Here’s the thing, people can often lose about half of their hair before it even becomes noticeable. Shocking, right?
The first sign you might notice is a changing hairline. You will recognize this if your hairline has gone from straight to more of a v-shape. This is a receding hairline. Women also experience hair loss, so it’s not just a problem for men.
Hair loss can be passed down genetically from either of your parents. Would you be surprised to know that around 40% of all women will experience hair loss or thinning by the age of 40?
The Genetics of Hair Loss
There are many genetic variants that impact the hair growth cycle and hair follicle health. COPB2 is a gene that regulates the hair growth cycle. It maintains the balance between the growth and death of a cell, which is what causes normal hair growth. As long as it is operating properly there’s no problem.
Certain gene variants can reduce the activity of COPB2 which may lead to an unbalanced hair growth cycle, and eventually hair loss. Like with other bad genes, just because you have one doesn’t mean you are doomed. You can counteract the negative effects with a few well-chosen techniques.
For example, in the case of the COPB2 gene, studies show that applying Saw Palmetto products topically may improve the production of this protein to thicken hair. There are about 38 genes attributed to hair loss. You can check your genes using this test from SelfDecode.
Natural Remedies to Stop Hair Loss for Women
The best time to prevent hair loss and baldness is before the problem starts, so if you have hair loss genes, follow the recommendations from your Wellness Reports. Otherwise, there are a few things you can do.
Talk to your dermatologist. They help with skin conditions, and your scalp is skin. You could also ask about Low Level Light Therapy which has shown promising results for regrowth.
Studies have shown that LLLT stimulated hair growth in mice subjected to chemotherapy-induced alopecia and also in alopecia areata. Controlled clinical trials demonstrated that LLLT stimulated hair growth in both men and women. Among various mechanisms, the main mechanism is hypothesized to be stimulation of epidermal stem cells in the hair follicle bulge and shifting the follicles into anagen phase.
Conventional Treatments for Balding
The American Academy of Dermatology has identified Female pattern hair loss as a common cause of balding in women. Although, really, does that tell you anything? What causes the FPHL in the first place?
FPHL is associated with shrinking hair follicles. The American Academy of Dermatology indicates that the non-prescription, FDA-approved drug, minoxidil must be used for one year consistently to determine if it will be effective. This is a topical treatment; the possible side effects include scalp irritation, dryness, scaling and itching. It is even possible that it could cause hair to grow in other (unwanted) places.
Besides topical medications, there are also pills for hair loss, such as spironolactone. Although, many over-the-counter treatments, as well as prescription medications, may not be the first choice for women who experience hair loss.
Some natural remedies to improve hair follicles would be scalp massage, eating the proper amount of protein for your body weight, and making sure your nutrient levels are optimal.
If you choose to take supplements for your hair, consult with a functional medicine doctor. They should be able to guide you in the right direction by taking into consideration your unique health issues, lifestyle, and genes.
How to prevent thinning hair as you age
If your hairline is sparse, consider camouflaging it with bangs while you work on regrowth. In many cases hair loss can be reversed, so don’t panic. Stress can contribute to hair loss, so reduce stress, including stressing over your hair.
- Choose hairstyles that don’t pull on hair; if you wear braids, buns, and ponytails make sure they are not too tight.
- Focus on hair growth by following the lunar calendar when you plan your haircuts.
- Have your hormone levels checked (thyroid, cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, etc.)
- Consider Low-Level Light Therapy for alopecia
- Encourage regrowth of hair by supplementing your diet with
- Maintain healthy hair by keeping the split ends trimmed on a regular basis, avoid over-styling and harsh chemicals.
It’s advisable to trim your hair once a month for ultimate hair health, but this doesn’t mean you need to cut much–an 1/8th of an inch will do the trick! Morrocco Method
My Personal Routine and Tips
Back in my early forties, I had some hair loss related to thyroid. Then in my late forties, the loss was related to iron deficiency. Through all of those challenges, I used a Castor Oil treatment on my scalp and hair. Sometimes once per week, but usually once per month.
Castor oil is sticky and tricky to wash and rinse out of hair, so I mixed mine with a bit of olive oil. In addition, I added a drop of rosemary essential oil and a drop of peppermint. Just one drop mixed with the oil I applied to my scalp.
In addition, since 2015 I’ve been using a wooden comb and a boar bristle hair brush. Later, I switched to a wooden bristle brush. Another thing I try to avoid is applying heat to my hair by taking cold showers (it’s also good for longevity.) My hair has a little natural wave, so I try to let it air dry, although when I see my stylist she does blow my hair dry. On a rare occasion, maybe 2-3 times per year I use a straightening iron.
This year (2021) I invested in a Mito Red Light box. My purpose for starting LLLT was not for my hair, rather for inflammation and skin issues. However, I do use it on my head and scalp several times per week. (Since I already have one available.)
Dry scalp has been a problem for me in the past, but using this dry scalp routine has alleviated that problem completely. My hairdresser says I still have plenty of hair and she even sees new growth.
In spite of the fact that I have some of the baldness genes according to my genetic testing; neither of my parents or their parents ever went bald.
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Kim, Jung E et al. “Wnt/β-catenin and ERK pathway activation: A possible mechanism of photobiomodulation therapy with light-emitting diodes that regulate the proliferation of human outer root sheath cells.” Lasers in surgery and medicine vol. 49,10 (2017): 940-947. doi:10.1002/lsm.22736
Avci, Pinar et al. “Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) for treatment of hair loss.” Lasers in surgery and medicine vol. 46,2 (2014): 144-51. doi:10.1002/lsm.22170