Fact: The average person loses about 50-100 hairs every day. Although we all occasionally check the size of our detangled hairball or the amount of hair in our comb, most visibly healthy people don’t suspect that their hair may be shedding excessively or even thinning. For most people, hair loss is not something we expect to confront until our later years, if ever.
Truthfully, hair loss is something that can happen to anyone, regardless of age or even sex— it’s possible for both men and women to experience hair thinning at any age. In fact, women make up about 40 percent of hair loss sufferers in the United States according to the American Hair Loss Association. George Constanza, eat your heart out. So once you’ve concluded that you might be losing more than the usual amount of strands, the most pressing question is what can be done to reverse it?
Certified IAT trichologist and stylist Sophia Emmanuel gave us the facts on different types of hair loss, what action to take when your hair is thinning, and why some of the most popular remedies may not be the best choice.
Types of Hair Loss: Telogen Effluvium, Androgenetic Alopecia, & Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia
Before we delve into the remedies, it’s important to get a better understanding of some common types of hair loss.
The hair growth process requires a consistent balance of vitamins and minerals and when there is an imbalance, diffuse hair loss in no particular pattern or telogen effluvium can occur.
“It causes more hairs from the anagen, hair growth stage, to enter the telogen, hair shedding stage, hence the reason there is excessive hair fall,” Sophia says. This can be triggered by hormonal imbalances, zinc deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, a high fever, childbirth, psychological stress, and other conditions.
Androgenetic Alopecia is the scientific name for what we know as female or male pattern baldness. This type of hair loss is affected by a hormone called dihydrotestosterone or DHT.
According to Sophia, “Dihydrotestosterone causes hair strands at the top and front of the head to miniaturize. This means that your thick hair strands, turn into thin peach fuzz strands and you may notice a wider part and see more scalp.”
Lastly, Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia is the type of hair loss that Sophia sees the most often. It’s is a permanent type of hair loss that damages the follicles and is common in women of African and Caribbean descent. It’s mostly triggered by relaxers, genetics, tension from hairstyles, and infrequent shampooing.
Hair Supplements and Vitamins
Popping hair growth vitamins may seem like a logical step to take when experiencing hair loss, but you should keep in mind that they are not clinically proven to treat any disease or condition—you have to address the underlying cause first.
“You can use supplements as part of your regimen to keep your hair growing healthy, not to increase hair growth,” Sophia says. “It is important to get the nutrients you need for healthy hair from the foods you eat. Because lifestyle may get in the way of eating healthy, hair supplements can be used as a back up to make sure you are getting the nutrients you need for your body and hair health.”
Biotin supplements, for example, do not regrow hair. According to Sophia, “The only time you need to take biotin supplements is if your body does not allow you to absorb it from the foods you eat. Taking high doses of biotin can also cause incorrect blood test results if you are experiencing hair loss or a health issue.”
While supplements may not be the miracle fix for hair regrowth, Sophia mentions that they can be used for thickening the hair strands of a person with Androgenetic Alopecia. Hair supplements containing ingredients such as saw palmetto, safflower, and green tea extract may aid in obstructing DHT.
Bottom line: Supplements can be beneficial to maintain healthy hair, but do not regrow lost hair. You should consult a professional (dermatologist, a trichologist, primary care doctor) before reaching for any supplements.
Similarly to when dealing with supplements, the first step is always to consult with a professional. Understanding your condition and its causes will save you a lot of time and money when considering treatment options—and you’ll avoid causing further damage to your scalp.
Sophia believes the safest natural remedies are the essential oils—as long as they’re being diluted with a carrier oil. She recommends seeing an aromatherapist to use them safely.
“I do not think essential oils by themselves will solve your hair loss problems, but depending on the type of hair loss you have and the individual, they can be used to stabilize hair loss in combination with other therapies. For example, low-level laser therapy, and supplements.”
Bottom line: Essential oils alone will most likely not treat hair loss, but they may be used in tandem with another treatment option. As always—consult a professional before using essential oils to treat hair loss.
Does Massaging the Scalp Stimulate Hair Regrowth?
There’s nothing like the feeling of a scalp massage after a long day. We know massaging can stimulate the scalp but does it aid in regrowing hair?
The answer is: not directly, but it can alleviate some symptoms associated with inflammation and dry scalp, and inflammation can cause hair loss.
“Inflammation can cause hair loss, so minimizing it is important. Essential oils can play a role in minimizing inflammation such as lavender oil.
If your scalp feels tight or itchy, a gentle massage can help soothe those symptoms.” Sophia recommends jojoba oil with 2 to 3 drops of lavender oil to help calm the scalp.
“Extra stress or anxiety can enhance hair loss, so finding a way to manage stress can help affect your mood in a positive way and help keep more hair on your head.”
Bottom line: Scalp massages do not directly regrow hair, but they can calm inflammation, which can cause hair loss. It’s also a great de-stressor.
For Naturals Experiencing Hair Loss For The First Time
For those who have never experienced hair loss before, Sophia gives 4 tips:
- “Stay away from heavy sticky oils like castor oil which can be very clogging on the scalp and cause bacteria and dirt to be trapped on the scalp causing itching, which can lead to hair loss. When your scalp is clogged your hair can not grow healthy.”
- “Stay away from styles that add tension on the scalp, and shampoo once a week to keep the scalp clean.”
- “If you are experiencing hair loss, reduce chemical use because they cause inflammation on the scalp, which encourages hair loss.”
- “Do not wait too long to address the problem if you know you are experiencing hair loss. The longer you wait, the less chance you have of saving your hair.”
For Overall Healthy Hair and Scalp
To keep your hair and scalp looking its best and encourage healthy hair growth, Sophia recommends that you:
- “Take breaks in between protective styles to let your scalp breathe and have access to your hair to shampoo and condition it properly.”
- “Keep your hair care regime simple, you do not need to use a lot of products to take care of your hair. Less is more.”
- “Treat your scalp like your face, and remember that it is skin, and needs to be cleansed with shampoo to properly remove buildup and dirt so your hair can grow healthy.”
If you’re experiencing hair loss of any kind, make sure you’re getting professional help so you can receive the treatment you deserve. And if you feel comfortable, share your experience with treatment in the comments below.