What makes hair get thinner and what (if anything) can help?
One of the more unfun birthday presents that I got around my 50th was the loss of several handfuls of hair every time I washed it.
Luckily I was able to do something about it, but it’s never gone back to how it was before. Not that I’m complaining too much. Hairdressers used to approach my hair as if they were hacking through great tufts of hedge. Anytime I got highlights, it took hours and hours and assistants were constantly being sent out for extra foils. So on the plus side, at least I’m in and out of the hairdressers’ more quickly.
I’m currently testing out a thickening shampoo and conditioner (more on that next time), but I thought the subject was interesting enough to take a deep dive into what’s actually going on.
Just why does women’s hair get thinner as we age? And can we do anything about it?
Reasons why hair gets thinner as we get older
- Hormonal changes
This is the most common culprit. Oestrogen promotes thick hair, so as its levels decline, the hair appears thinner.
- Shrinking hair follicles
You might actually have the same amount of hair, but it feels like less because the strands are finer. Individual hairs become finer as the follicles shrink, and some follicles may stop producing new hairs, leading to a lack of volume over all. If this is your issue, stying products can help a lot.
- Lack of iron
This turned out to be my issue, though I only found out when I was turned away from giving blood due to low iron levels. The doctor put me on thrice daily iron tablets and my hair stopped falling out almost immediately. Turns out that ferritin (stored iron) is used to produce hair cell protein, so if you don’t have enough of it then it can lead to hair loss.
The solution to thinning hair
- Treat your hair kindly
Be cautious about the products you use, don’t over wash and deep condition regularly. Use a heat protectant spray if you are using heated hair tools. I’m still a big fan of the heated hair brush I reviewed a few months ago as it seems so much gentler than straighteners.
- Eat a healthy diet
Is there anything that ‘eat more greens’ is not a solution to? In particular, eggs, nuts, beans and peas (proteins, basically) will help your hair. I also eat dried apricots and spirulina daily for the iron, plus enough nuts to identify as a squirrel.
- Take supplements
Lots of people report improved, thicker hair from taking Biotin, though I must admit that I have been taking it for about 18 months and haven’t noticed any difference. I also take a multi vitamin with extra iron.
- Have a health check
Talk to your doctor if you notice hair loss that’s in excess of what’s usual for you (bearing in mind that we all lose up to 100 hairs a day). There are many reasons why hair might be thinning and it can be difficult to treat so do talk to a medical professional if you’re concerned.
Some hair thickening product recommendations
Just a few things I’ve used and thought were good (affiliate links)
- Aveda Thickening Hair Tonic
- Bumble and Bumble Thickening Dryspun Texture Spray
- Plantur 39 Phyto-Caffeine Shampoo
- Cristophe Robin Cleansing Volumising Paste (it’s pricey but you only need a tiny bit and it smells delicious)
- Hask Biotin Boost Shampoo & Conditioner (just started on this so check back next week for a full review)
Need more info? Here’s the official NHS advice on hair loss