By Misty Bott
Hair loss, especially for women, can be devastating. The reasons behind it are complex, often multi-varied, and frustrating. August is National Hair Loss Awareness Month, so we are breaking down a few of the main contributors to hair loss, as well as some tips for what you can do if you’re experiencing it.
Understanding Hair Growth
Believe it or not, the average scalp has around 100,000 hair follicles. These follicles follow a pattern called the hair growth cycle, which consists of 3 distinct phases:
- Anagen: This is the growth phase. Most scalp follicles spend between 3-5 years in this phase.
- Catagen: During this brief phase, which usually lasts 2-3 weeks, hair follicles tighten and hair growth slows significantly.
- Telogen: Think of this as a dormant or resting phase where hair is not being produced by the follicle at all. It lasts about 3 months.
Once the telogen phase ends, the follicle begins developing a replacement hair, and the cycle starts all over.
The Biology of Hair Loss
Hair thinning and loss can happen whenever the hair growth cycle is disrupted. Follicles may begin spending longer periods of time in the telogen phase, or the anagen to telogen ratio can become unbalanced so less hair is actively produced. Follicles can also shrink, which affects the thickness and pigment of hair. And, of course, follicles can die and be unable to produce hair.
It’s no secret that heredity and medical treatments like chemo can cause hair loss, but they are not the only contributors.
- Age: Age-related hair loss is complex, but can be caused by changes to the hair growth cycle. More follicles may end up in the resting phase than the growth phase, or there may be a longer time between the end of the telogen phase and the start of new hair growth. Follicles are also more likely to shrink with age.
- Stress: Considering the state of the world, it’s not great news to learn the profound effect stress can have on our hair, but there it is. It can disrupt the hair growth cycle and lead to bouts of shedding. Plus, the stress hormone cortisol has been shown in studies to significantly inhibit hair growth.
- Proteoglycans: Groups of tiny molecules known as proteoglycans can also contribute to hair loss. Normally these structures help to maintain and regulate the hair growth cycle, but research shows that when they become dysregulated, follicles can begin to shrink or spend less time in the growth cycle.
What Can You Do About It?
While we have little control over many of the culprits that contribute to hair loss, there are a few things you can do to improve scalp health and take better care of your hair.
- Eat a healthy diet: Nutrition affects every part of our bodies, including our hair. Nutrient deficiencies can affect scalp health, which in turn affects hair health, radiance, and growth.
- Minimize stress: This is easier said than done. However, finding even simple ways to reduce stress can have an impact on your overall wellness AND your hair. Take 5 minutes to meditate in the morning before work, go for a walk, play with your pet, or unwind with a bubble bath and a good book before bed.
- Talk to your doctor: If you’re experiencing sudden hair loss, it’s worth a visit with your doctor to discuss your overall health and to see what might be triggering the issue.
- Talk to a counselor: Hair loss can be frustrating and heartbreaking. For most of us, our hair is a huge part of how we define ourselves, and having it begin to thin and fall out can lead to depression and anxiety. If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone and that you deserve to get help. Please reach out to a trusted friend, doctor, or counselor.
- Try a supplement: Of course, supplements can’t help with all hair-loss issues. But if you’re dealing with age-related hair loss, consider Hair Regeneres. It contains bioavailable keratin technology along with other crucial nutrients that work together to strengthen hair, regrow fuller lashes and brows, and even reduce age-related hair loss.*‡ Pair it with our Advanced Hair Thickening Serum and tackle your hair goals from the inside-out and outside-in.
‡Due to hair loss associated with aging.