Your hair is your crown that you wear everyday. When you start noticing clumps in the shower drain, more hair on the floor, light shining on your scalp: it is TERRIFYING! While this may be common in older women, when you lose hair prematurely it becomes a big worry.

You are left feeling helpless, you have low self esteem, low confidence which then has a direct impact on other areas of your life. It leads to social anxiety, social avoidance, depression and isolation.

Lots of people that we see on TV and media have unbelievably thick hair. In most cases it is NOT REAL. They use extensions and have the help of many stylists to look their best. We are not exposed to female balding and other normal things like acne and wrinkles.

After periods of extreme stress, illness or trauma, you may feel that there is a difference in distribution and texture of your hair. You also start to feel that you have less hair on your scalp. It is a grave concern.

It is very important to get it checked medically to rule out underlying causes. It could also be a symptom of a bigger problem. Thyroid or parathyroid, Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), nutrional deficiencies, genetics, meds, chemotherapy could be some of the causes.

TWO TYPES OF HAIR LOSS

THINNING: Androgenic Alopecia
It is a slow and progressive reduction in the number of hairs. It is genetic. You inherit a follicular sensitivity. It is aggravated by stress, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and menopause. It manifests as a lot of thinning on the scalp, top of head, temples (male pattern baldness). You also grow hair in the male pattern areas (chin, centre of the chest, around the nipple) hirsutism. It is one of the only visible signs of PCOS.

SHEDDING
Hair falls for a limited period of time (during washing and combing). An internal imbalance triggers more hairs than usual to move from the growth phase to the shedding phase. It happens after pregnancy, menopause, or thyroid problems, change in contraception, medication, restrictive diets, rapid weight loss and tight ponytails/braids. It is almost always related to deficiencies in vitamin and minerals (stored iron –ferrin, Vitamin B12, Folic acid, Zinc and vitamin D. Stress aggravates nutrients from being absorbed.
Both types CAN happen together.

TIPS

• Have a balanced diet rich in proteins, complex carbs and iron
• Decrease stress by practising yoga, meditation, naps and rest, be in nature, do things that bring you joy. Try a supplement called ashwaghanda.
• Massage your scalp to stimulate healthy blood flow.
• Have your self checked medically
Castor oil pack – see below for more info
• Use hair extensions, lace wigs
• Use makeup in the form of eyeshadow on scalp
• More expensive treatments include Minoxidil, low level laser therapy and platelet rich plasma
• Fake a fuller head of hair with the right haircut eg. Pixie styles, blunt bob, angled bob. Speak to your stylist.
• Accupunture¬ – can also help with supporting adrenals with stress. It concentrates on using needles on different energy points on the body, face and scalp to increase flow of that energy. It also promotes blood flow to stimulate hair growth. It is a good adjunct to your treatment.

WHAT NOT TO DO

• Don’t use shampoos that contain sulphates, it will dry your hair out. I love Aunt JackiesOh So Clean Moisturising Shampoo R68 at clicks• Don’t use your nails when washing your scalp. Rather use your fingertips.
• Don’t wrap your hair with a towel after washing. Be gentle with your fragile hair. use an old cotton t-shirt.
• Don’t brush wet hair. Use a wide tooth comb or your fingers.
• Don’t use dry shampoo often.
• Don’t use hairspray, gels, mousse on your scalp unless absolutely necessary. Only use on special occasions.
• Don’t use harsh chemical treatments like a brazillian blowdry or permanent straightening treatments often.
• Don’t use ammonia containing hair dyes. Look for a natural alternative eg.Bigen• Don’t over use heat styling aids such as strengtheners and curling wands. Try to minimise heat damage by only using them on special occasions.Heat draws out the moisture from your hair making it more brittle and prone to breakage.
• Avoid hairstyles that pull on the hairline like tight ponytails and braids.

CASTOR OIL PACK

Castor oil is rich in vitamin E, and a fatty acid called Ricinoleic acid. It has antifungal and scalp soothing properties. It is also used to grow lashes and brows.
Mix 1 part castor oil : 3 parts argan oil. Almond oil or coconut oil may be used if you do not have argan oil available.          Apply to the scalp. Massage into the scalp. Cover with a plastic shower cap. Add a blast of heat using your hairdryer and leave on for a minimum of 30 minutes. Wash your hair with a sulphate free shampoo. This mask will boost scalp health and also improve the condition of your hair.

TO ADD VOLUME TO THINNING HAIR

• A heatless way to add natural volume. This tip is from stylist Riawna Capri: use a pair of sunglasses to pull the front section of your hair back, then push it forward to loosen it a bit. Keep it like this until it dries. Then remove the sunglasses for instant volume.
• Tilt your head upside down while drying it with a hairdryer.

OTHER HAIR PROBLEMS AND VITAMIN DEFICIENCIES

• Vitamin C Deficiency causes tangled and brittle hair
• Vitamin E deficiency causes dry and hair that lacks lustre
• Iron deficiency causes brittle hair and patchy hair loss’
• Vitamin B12, Zinc, and Vitamin D deficiency causes patchy hair loss’
• Thyroid problems cause thinning of the eyebrows and eyelashes
• Vitamin B5, B12 and copper deficiency causes premature greying
• Menopause causes hair loss. Can supplement with flaxseeds, phytoestrogens and use a caffeinated shampoo

Note there are hair supplements that comprise of a mixture of these vitamins. I did not mention Biotin here, because new research shows that it doesn’t really help.
It is important to consult a doctor who will do blood tests to ascertain if they are any imbalances.

CONCLUSION

Take a mind body approach to hair loss. It is better to try to incorporate proven lifestyle changes. A nutrient filled diet, minimising stress. The sooner you embrace the natural texture of your hair, the better for the condition of your hair. Acceptance is the first step towards happiness.

Remember that your looks do not define you. Everyone has hangups about their bodies. Instead of focusing on something that is beyond your control – focus on one of your feautures that you like. Wear a bold lipstick. Smile. Your smile is the best accessory that you can wear. Everyone is walking around with their own insecurities and problems in their head. People do not notice what we think that they do. Life is too short. SMILE.

**this article is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. Please consult with a doctor .

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