Hair loss: Why it happens and what you can do about it

It’s not as uncommon in women as you think [Photo: Pexels]
It’s not as uncommon in women as you think [Photo: Pexels]

It’s a couple of months since Nadia Sawahla confessed on Facebook that she’d lost a third of her hair.

Recalling that her once “amazing”, “thick” natural hair was once her “pride and glory”, she explained that after having kids, its thickness and texture began to change.

Hair loss in peri-menopausal and menopausal women is common, but hormone changes and getting older are far from the only reasons your locks might begin to thin or fall out.

“Anything that negatively impacts the body’s internal environment – stress, an improper diet, hormonal changes, illness – will often cause hair to fall out, and long before it affects anything else,” says Anabel Kingsley, Trichologist at Philip Kingsley.

Nadia Sawalha's Hair Confession

I've got a confession to make about my hair… one that is actually a lot tougher for me to talk about than even I'd imagined.I know so many of you deal with similar issues and I hope by speaking out it helps make you not feel alone in this and please share if you think it might help someone you know xx

Posted by Nadia and Kaye on Tuesday, May 30, 2017

“One of the most common causes of hair loss is the result of iron and ferritin (stored iron) deficiency.

“A healthy diet, eating adequate iron and proteins and taking care of your general health will help prevent both hair loss and hair thinning – and will often improve the general appearance of the hair.”

Preventing it from happening at all, however, is tricky as Kingsley points out that by the time you’ve actually spotted it happening, you’ve probably lost at least 15% of the volume of your hair.

“Don’t despair, however,” she says.

“A lot can be done to prevent further deterioration – and depending on the cause, to improve existing hair volume.”

First, you should have some blood tests done to rule out any worrying underlying possible causes, then have a professional look at your diet and lifestyle to see what can be changed.

Those pesky hormones [Photo: Pexels]
Those pesky hormones [Photo: Pexels]

To encourage new growth, Kingsley recommends eating a diet rich in protein and iron, and to leave longer than four hours between meals to snack on a complex carbohydrate (such as brown rice and sweet potatoes) as energy to form hair cells drops after this amount of time.

Next, it’s all well and good taking the right steps to prevent and treat hair loss, but isn’t hair loss meant to be a man’s problem?

Not so. According to Kingsley, the underlying factor behind gradual reduced hair volume is actually the same in women and men – it just depends on how sensitive we are to androgens, which despite being considered ‘male hormones’, also exist in women.

“It occurs when hair follicles on the scalp are genetically predisposed to be sensitive to normal levels of circulating androgens, Kingsley explains.

Women don’t all get the last laugh after all [Photo: Pexels]
Women don’t all get the last laugh after all [Photo: Pexels]

“When your hair follicles have this sensitivity, they gradually get smaller with each passing hair growth cycle – and so they produce hairs of a thinner diameter and a shorter length.

“There is not necessarily extra hair fall, so it can be hard to notice until quite a substantial amount of overall volume is lost.”

So the reason that men seem to suffer much more obvious hair loss than women is that they have more androgens and that their loss follows a different pattern to women’s.

“Men often first notice recession at their temples and crown, with hair follicles sometimes eventually becoming so small, and hairs so fine, the scalp appears ‘bald’,” says Kingsley.

There’s never any harm in eating well [Photo: Pexels]
There’s never any harm in eating well [Photo: Pexels]

“For women, a reduction in volume is normally subtler and ‘spread out’, presenting as an overall thinning over the top of the scalp.”

If you’re suffering from hair loss, there are ways to treat it – though Kingsley warns that one product alone won’t solve your woes.

“It must be addressed holistically,” she explains.

“You should give your hair internal support through diet and relevant nutritional supplements, add immediate body and moisture with a thickening, protective protein spray, and optimise the condition of your scalp with stimulating, anti-androgenic scalp drops.”

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for non-stop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day. For Twitter updates, follow @YahooStyleUK.

Read more from Yahoo Style UK:

The ultimate celebrity hair transformations of 2017

7 plus size models of colour you should know about

Former Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, 59, posts honest bikini selfie