How to stop thinning hair
Hair thinning or hair loss can be caused by many different factors, including both controllable and uncontrollable circumstances.¹
According to NHS statistics, around 50% of women over the age of 65 experience hair loss or hair thinning,² and two-thirds of all men are affected.³
Although it’s a common issue – and usually nothing to worry about – thinning hair can be a difficult and an upsetting process emotionally, impacting both our confidence and identity.
Causes of hair loss
Thinning hair can occur for many different reasons but usually when the follicle is constricted, making it more difficult for hair strands to grow.⁴
Age and stage of life can affect our health hugely and cause a change in the condition of our scalp. These include:
During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, the number of hairs in the active growth phase, known as anagen, increases.
After the birth, hormonal changes can lead to follicles moving to the catagen or telogen states, resulting in post-pregnancy hair shedding.⁵
A sustained level of emotional stress after a serious life event, such as bereavement, can cause hair follicles to shift from the growing phase to the resting phase.⁶
After two to three months, this can often become more noticeable, even if it is temporary, with more hair thinning and fall out.
Many people experience hair thinning during the ageing process. The rate of hair growth slows as your body ages, and each hair strand becomes smaller with less pigmentation – which is why people begin to develop grey hair.⁵
The four phases of the hair growth cycle:
Anagen – which lasts two to eight years. This first phase of the cycle is where hair is actively growing. The cells in the root of the hair add to the hair shaft. At any time, 80-90% of the hairs on a head are in the anagen phase.⁷
Catagen – usually four to six weeks long, the catagen phase is a short phase which occurs at the end of the anagen phase. The hair strand detaches from its blood supply.⁷
Telogen – lasts two to three months where the hair is neither growing or falling out.
Exogen – happens where the hair sheds and falls out, which can last two to five months. On average, people lose between 50 to 150 hairs each day.⁸
Thinning hair and hair loss can happen during illness. This is called Alopecia areata, a disease that develops when the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles as part of its defence system, causing hair loss. This can happen anywhere on the body.
Thinning hair and hair loss can occur during treatment for illness too. The main example includes cancer treatment, specifically during chemotherapy.⁹
Hereditary hair loss
One established reason for hair loss is genetics, where hair loss isn’t the result of a disease, but a natural combination of hereditary genes, hormone levels, and the ageing process.¹⁰
The hair cycle and hair follicle structure are highly affected by various hormones.¹¹ These include androgens, growth hormone, estradiol, thyroxin, prolactin, and melatonin.
How to reduce or treat thinning hair
Losing hair can be a difficult experience. Hair loss and thinning can stem from many different reasons, often exacerbated by lifestyle factors including high stress levels, an unbalanced diet, iron deficiency and sudden weight loss.
But there are some things you can do. To maintain healthy, steady and effective hair growth, it’s important to prevent hair thinning from an early age.
Things you can do to promote hair growth include:
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet.
- Staying active to reduce stress and stimulate endorphins.
- Embracing relaxation techniques such as meditation.
- Improving the balance of your work and personal life.
- Enjoying scalp massages to promote blood circulation and stretch the cells of hair follicles.
- Using supplements such as Vitamins A, C, D and E with the minerals iron, zinc and biotin.¹²
If you’re interested in which shampoo or hair thinning treatment to use, the first step is trying to identify the source of the problem, to establish why your hair is shedding or falling out.
There are many shampoos that claim to reduce hair thinning and promote hair thickness, as well as improve the shine and the general appearance of your hair. It’s important to research the formulas and check reviews for proven results.
If you continue to use these products and follow the routine and advice they suggest, you may see long-term results or a reduction in hair loss.
Can hair grow back after thinning or baldness?
In many cases, hair thinning can be resolved or improved by a variety of techniques already mentioned above.
However, if the hair follicle has closed, disappeared or has not produced any new hair strands over a long period of time, new hair is unlikely to grow there. This can be a result of several permanent causes, including age, genetics and illness.
How to make hair look thicker
If your hair continues to thin, there are a range of options to consider that can help hair appear thicker and fuller. These include:
- Blow drying hair in an upwards motion
- Wigs and artificial hairpieces
- Hair transplants
- Scalp reduction surgery
- Light therapy¹³
- Tattooing your hairline¹³
How to hide thinning hair at the front
Creating an illusion of thicker hair and fuller volume can also be an effective way of approaching the loss, especially if you’re trying to preserve your self-confidence.
Hair care products such as a styling mousses can help add volume and body to your hair, supporting you to feel more confident.
Creating a middle parting to drape hair over both sides of your face will help to create the illusion of fuller hair. A similar technique, used by salon professionals, is to add layers to your hair to add volume and provide definition.
The Dyson hair care range can help you create different styles, without using extreme heat.
Hair thinning is normal
Hair thinning can be a difficult process to go through, but it is a natural part of life. Depending on the reason for your hair loss and thinning, there are many ways to slow the process and preserve your hair. From vitamin supplements, a change in nutrition and staying active, to medical support and specialist advice from your GP.
¹Jennifer Mary Marsh; John Gray; Antonella Tosti (18 August 2015), Healthy Hair, Springer, pp.97-99.
⁵Andrea M. Park (Nov 2018), Hair Biology: Growth and Pigmentation
⁶IM Hadshiew, K Foitzik, PC Arck, R Paus (2004) Burden of Hair Loss: Stress and the Underestimated Psychosocial Impact of Telogen Effluvium and Androgenetic Alopecia, Journal of investigative Dermatology, 123 (3), pp. 455-457
⁸2Paus, R., & Cotsarelis, G. (2004). The Biology of Hair Follicles, The New England Journal of Medicine, 341, 7
⁹Vladimir A.Botchkarev (2003), Molecular Mechanisms of Chemotherapy-Induced Hair Loss, 8 (1), pp. 72-75
¹⁰S. Basit (2014), Genetics of human isolated heredity hair loss disorders
¹¹Grymowicz et al (2020) Hormonal Effects on Hair Follicles, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21 (15), pp.1
¹²Kayla McDonell, RD (August 2021), The 5 Best Vitamins for Hair Growth