British women "are in the grip of a hair loss pandemic", with three quarters admitting they are really worried about suffering from it in the future, a new survey reveals.
More than 40% – and 77% specifically in London – are currently already experiencing hair loss and thinning.
Those battling it feel self-conscious (52%), less confident (42%), embarrassed (35%) and less feminine (31%), the study of 2,000 UK women by hair and scalp specialists Philip Kingsley finds.
And this is having an impact on women's day-to-day lives, with as many as 90% thinking about hair loss at least a few times a day, 40% feeling hesitant to go out to social events with friends, and over half (55%) saying they would avoid having their photo taken.
In particular, 30% of respondents feel hair thinning impacts them the most. This is followed by a visible scalp (20%), and seeing excess hair shedding, such as on the floor, pillow or in the shower (19%).
Almost three quarters (73%) believe stress is the reason they're having problems with their hair. Meanwhile, 33% feel dye is the biggest contributor, and 23% say the ingredients in the shampoo they use aren't helping their hair's full potential.
But British women are doing what they can to try and combat it. Some 32% have used certain specialist shampoos, 25% have taken supplements daily and 22% have tried scalp massage – but only 44% have seen results.
Aside from products, while more than half (51%) note that nutrition plays a part in their hair care routine too, 23% still have no idea that what they put in their body is intrinsic to hair health.
"Hair loss in women has always been a common problem," says Anabel Kingsley, Philip Kingsley Brand President and Trichologist. "But the problems have been exasperated over the past few years because of immense psychological and physical stressors including Covid-19, the modern-day pressures experienced by women, women not having time to prioritise self-care, and women not having their health prioritised by others."
All of these factors have had a negative impact on hair growth and daily hair fall," added Kingsley.
With hair "non-essential to physical survival", Kingsley explains this means it is "the ultimate and unfiltered reflection of our nutritional status and overall wellbeing".
"I see so many women experiencing hair loss resulting from dietary inadequacies that have stemmed from self-deprivation, not nurturing themselves with balanced, fresh and wholesome meals, as well as from misinformation on what healthy eating looks like," she adds.
"I also consult to women each week with undiagnosed and untreated Iron, Ferritin, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D deficiency and/or hormonal imbalances which are worsening both shedding and density changes."
On top of this, she says, "women feel pressure to have-it-all and do-it-all, sending cortisol levels rocketing – which affects their strand’s growth and health" and that "ultimately, there has been the perfect storm for hair loss".
And, despite density changes to hair taking place throughout a woman's lifetime, such as postpartum and menopause, this type of change has only been considered by 42% of British women, despite 73% noting they had seen differences in the density of their hair.
Alopecia is a the general medical term for hair loss. While it is not usually anything to be worried about, it can occasionally be a sign of a medical condition. Some types can be permanent, like male and female pattern baldness, which usually runs in the family.
As well as stress, hair loss can be caused by an illness, cancer treatment, weight loss and iron deficiency, according to the NHS.
While it's useful to know how to help preserve the hair you have, some also choose to embrace their hair loss, like Jada Pinkett Smith, with her shaven style.
To be safe, if you have sudden hair loss, develop bald patches, lose hair in clumps, your head itches and burns or you're worried about hair loss, see a GP.
How to stop hair loss
Kingsley shares her expert tips on how to take control of our hair and preserve what we have:
Self-advocate, speak up and seek help.
There is always a reason for hair loss and always something that can be done to help. Women apologise for being ‘vain’ when they voice concerns about losing their hair.
Actually, hair loss is never trivial. Our hair forms a major part of our identity and is incredibly important to our mood, self-perception and day-to-day confidence.
Eat a balanced, colourful, varied and seasonal diet rich in energy, proteins, healthy fats, Vitamin B12, Zinc and iron.
To help ensure your hair is getting all of the nutrients it needs to grow to its best ability, take hair-specific nutritional supplements. Hair cells are the second fastest growing cells the body makes so they are very needy.
Couple this with the fact that although hair isn’t physically essential, it is a tissue with incredibly high and unique nutritional requirements. Strands therefore benefit from extra helpings of certain vitamins, minerals and proteins.
The health of your scalp plays a vital role in hair growth.
Everything from scalp inflammation and microbial imbalances to genetics and hormonal sensitivities can impact the health of your hair follicles, and the hairs that emerge from them.
Use daily topical products to help stimulate and protect your scalp from both internal and external aggressors.
Know what your hair loss products are doing and what you can realistically expect from them.
Leave-on topical products can make a lasting difference to your hair growth cycle, the rate of hair shedding, and the health of your hair follicles.
Wash-off formulas, such as shampoos, conditioners and sprays, will help with instant aesthetics and breakage.
Watch: Ranvir Singh opens up about alopecia on Lorraine