It's unfortunate that hair loss in women is such a common issue, because it has a way of affecting our self esteem, doesn't it? Every day is a bad hair day if your hair is thinning — yet by age 50, nearly half of us have some degree of hair loss. Luckily, there are steps proven to help put the brakes on age-related hair loss in women.
1. Rev follicles with massage.
When the level of female hormones drops after menopause, the level of hair follicle-damaging DHT (a derivative of testosterone) can build up on the scalp, harming follicles. An easy preventative step: a daily five-minute scalp massage. Not only can it help keep DHT from building up in follicles, “it may also help enhance blood flow to hair follicles in the scalp, supporting healthy hair growth,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital.
2. Avoid inflammation with dandruff shampoo.
Washing your hair weekly with a dandruff shampoo that contains ketoconazole, such as in Nizoral A-D ($14.84, Amazon), reduces hair loss as much as 16 percent. How? By reining in DHT and fighting infections on the scalp. “Reducing yeast on the scalp may help decrease inflammation and promote healthy hair growth,” says Dr. Zeichner.
3. Promote new hair growth with supplements.
Our bodies don’t always absorb key nutrients properly as we get older — which can lead to a deficiency in zinc, B vitamins, selenium and/or iron, all of which are needed to keep follicles healthy and promote hair growth, Zeichner says. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a supplement for hair health. One option: Hum Nutrition Red Carpet, ($25, Amazon).
4. Try the FDA-approved remedy.
The hair-loss treatment most often recommended by experts? Daily applications of 5-percent strength minoxidil directly on the scalp. “Minoxidil works by enhancing blood flow to the scalp and by helping to lengthen the active growth phase of hair,” says Zeichner, who recommends Women’s Rogaine Foam ($42.72 for a four-month supply, Amazon).
5. Nourish hair with enough daily calories.
Going below 1,200 calories daily can put your body in starvation mode, triggering hair loss. “Crash diets are a shock to the body, which can shock hairs into a degenerative phase known as telogen effluvium where clumps may fall out at once,” Zeichner explains. Every woman has slightly different caloric needs, notes naturopath Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, author of Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking ($14.36, Amazon), adding that the optimal amount for most of us is approximately 1,800 calories a day.
6. Avoid thyroid problems.
Up to 15-percent of thinning hair is due to an easily treated thyroid hormone deficiency. Your doctor can check your levels with a simple blood test. In the meantime, Cook advises balancing your thyroid function naturally by supplementing with the mineral selenium and two herbs, ashwagandha and tulsi. (Check labels for dosage.)