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Hair extensions 101 and Health > Thinning and balding hair

Try these tricks of the trade
21 Jan 2005

Hair is a woman’s crowning beauty – long hair, short hair, curly hair or straight hair. It is usually the first thing that other people notice about you, and it’s also the most versatile beauty tool you have to spice up your looks. Thinning hair and hair loss can put a stop to great hair, and can change how you feel about yourself. These topics are also rarely talked about, which is surprising because of the fact that it’s a real issue that affects millions of women. There are many different things that can cause you to lose extreme amounts of hair, including diet quality, hair styling, chemicals, medications, illness and stress – but there’s also something you can do about it.

Diet Right for Healthy Hair
Nutrition is the first thing that should be examined when addressing thinning and balding hair. The nutrients we get from the foods we eat affect how well our hair is nourished as it is formed in the hair follicle. For a complete overview of the nutrients your hair needs, check out this week’s Science of Beauty article, Full Silky Hair.

Refine Your Beauty Routine
After you’ve decided whether your diet could use some fine tuning in order to nourish healthier hair, the next step in determining the cause of thinning and balding hair is how you handle your hair. Something as small as how much you brush your hair or how tight the bristles are on your comb or brush can affect hair loss. Use wide-toothed combs in place of tight-toothed combs and brushes, which make it more difficult to comb out wet or tangled hair. Don’t wash your hair too many times in a day, which can strip hair of its natural oils. Use a leave-in conditioner daily or deep condition once a week. Reduce how often you blow-dry and use hot curling and flat irons on your hair, as they also dry out hair and can cause lasting damage. Don’t put hair in tight braids, ponytails and buns too often, and try to rotate with loose flowing hair styles.

Be Careful with Chemicals
Overdoing chemical treatments, such as dying, bleaching, perming and straightening hair can damage both the hair and scalp, resulting in overworked, brittle, dry hair and flaky, itchy scalp. If you must chemically treat your hair, don’t leave chemical solutions on for too long – check the manufacturers suggested timing for home hair dyes, bleaches, straightening or perming products, and make sure you set a timer. Don’t use chemicals on hair too frequently. Leave a few months in between treatments, or longer if possible. Also, be aware of chlorine in pools and spas that can cause damage to hair. Wear a swimming cap or keep your head out of the water for better protection.

Look Closer at Medications
If you’re taking prescription medications, you might want to check out the contraindications on the label. Birth control pills and certain medications, such as those taken for arthritis, depression, heart disease, hypertension, or blood thinning can all produce hair loss. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about your options if you are experiencing hair loss while taking any of these medications.

Avoid Stress & Illness
Stress and illness can both contribute to hair thinning and hair loss, especially depending on the level of trauma experienced. Certain conditions, such as radiation therapy for cancer treatment, can actually halt hair growth and cause extreme hair loss, although hair will re-grow within a few months after treatment is stopped. Hormonal conditions, such as thyroid disease (whether hyper- or hypo-) can also be the cause of hair loss. If you aren’t already diagnosed with an illness that may be causing your hair loss, be sure to set up an appointment with your doctor to run different tests and get diagnosed. Being aware of how illness can affect your entire body, learning to handle stress, and keeping up with a proper diet will help your hair will grow back healthy.

With all of this advice comes a lot of responsibility, but in the end, it is ultimately you who has total and complete control over your hair, and thus how you feel about yourself. Keep yourself in good shape, and keep your hair in good shape – for a more beautiful you!