One of the most common beauty questions experts get is how does one get healthier-looking hair—especially if their hair wont stop thinning or straight-up falling out. “I feel like so many women are experiencing hair loss,” says Harper’s BAZAAR beauty director Jenna Rosenstein. “It’s what I’m hearing from women on social media all the time.”
From constant styling to everyday stresses, there are so many factors that could be keeping you from having fuller hair. To understand why we are shedding more than normal and what to do about it, Rosenstein talked to dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand and celebrity hairstylist Mara Roszak.
Stress is the most common cause of hair loss.
Hair goes through phases of healthy growing and shedding, and when your body suffers an emotional or physical stressor, you may experience more fall-out. Dr. Houshmand told Rosenstein that stress is the most common cause of hair loss and that many of her patients who are experiencing more hair loss lately may also be undergoing more prolonged stress due to the recent pandemic.
She also says that hair loss can be attributed to a number of causes other than stress. She named the following as common factors:
- Genetics: You will likely experience the same type of hair loss that your parents experience, she says.
- Age: Women as young as age 30 can experience hair loss of 10 to 15 percent. By age 50, it goes up to 25 percent and by age 70 it’s at 50 percent. “It’s a big gradual drop,” Dr. Houshmand says. “So with age there is a progression.”
- Diets and Fasts: Nutritional deficiencies take a toll on your skin and hair. (More on this later.)
- Birth Control: Hormonal changes induce shedding and any time you go off birth control or change to a different type, the hormonal shift that occurs may lead to hair loss. (In most cases, it will eventually resolve itself once your body gets used to the change.)
- Poor Scalp Quality: Dandruff or skin psoriasis can cause buildup that blocks hair from healthy hair growth.
- Autoimmune Diseases: Those with lupus, Hashimoto thyroiditis (hypothyroidism), and Grave’s disease (hyperthyroidism) will often experience hair loss.
Use supplements to fill nutritional deficiencies.
Dr. Houshmand expressed to Rosenstein that diet is a major factor in how healthy hair is. To keep strands from thinning or falling out, she recommends eating lots of green leafy vegetables that are rich in antioxidants (to ward off oxidative stress, which has been found to contribute to hair loss), upping protein intake (lack of protein has been linked to thinning), and avoiding anything overly processed or high in sodium. If you aren’t a fan of greens, she recommends vitamin supplements. “The main [supplements to take] are omegas, zinc, D, C, E,” she says.
She also recommends taking a supplement like Viviscal, which has been clinically proven to decrease hair shedding by 40 percent in three months. “The ingredients are good but they’ve done evidence-based research to prove what they’re saying that they do,” she says. Viviscal is formulated with an AminoMar collagen complex and hair-healthy vitamins and minerals like biotin, zinc, vitamin C, horsetail extract and iron for thicker strands and increased hair growth.
Roszak agrees and says she often recommends supplements such as Viviscal to her clients. “I’ve used them for many years,” she says. “If you have a few months, committing to take the supplements is so great and I always get such awesome feedback.” As a brand that has been researched for over 25 years, with 10 published clinical studies, Viviscal has helped millions of women, including Roszak, reclaim their hair.
Your hot tools and products might be causing your hair to thin.
The harsh truth is that there are a lot of things you might be doing to your own hair that can be keeping you from getting longer and thicker-looking strands. When Rosenstein asked about the different ways you might be contributing to your hair loss, Roszak brought up heat tools: “Too much heat can actually completely flatten hair and cause it to thin or fall-out,” Roszak says. She explains that you rarely need to set your styling tool to 400 degrees, and suggests staying anywhere between the 375 to 350 degree range to be safe. (She would even go lower for clients with finer hair.)
Roszak also suggests that your hair product choices might also be keeping you from your fuller-hair goals. She recommends making sure that you are using a shampoo that locks in moisture—as lack of moisture can ultimately lead to breakage—and styling products that aren’t too heavy for your hair’s texture. “If your products are weighing your hair down, then your hair can look flatter and showcase more of the thinning,” she says.
You can style your way to fuller-looking hair.
Once you’ve edited your product lineup, try one of the methods of “faking” thicker hair that Roszak shared with Rosenstein. She suggests working a lightweight hairspray or mousse through your hair to add body, or styling it gently with just your hands or curling rollers. “You’re not putting a lot of stress or damage on the hair, but these styling techniques do give a little bit of volume and movement, especially at the root which is really what you want,” she says.
She also says extensions can create the illusion of thicker hair, and recommends going for ones that you can easily apply and remove. She explains that while more permanent extensions (ones that are glued-in) might be more popular, they “almost always” damage your hair. “I see that it’s a lot of stress on the hair,” she says. “It’s just typically a lot of weight on the individual hairs that they’re attached to.”
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