Created in collaboration with Hairburst

In the media we see hair loss as primarily being a male issue, but it affects almost as many women. With a myriad of causes of hair loss and alopecia, as many as 33% of us will be affected by hair loss at some point in our lives, as estimated by Harvard Health. It’s time we take a closer look at a condition that not only affects our physical, but mental health too. 

  • Female pattern hair loss affects approx. 40% of women by 50
  • More than 50% of women experience hair loss post-menopause
  • Among healthy women 6-38% experience some degree of frontal or frontal-parietal hair loss
  • 21 million women suffer from alopecia or hair loss worldwide
  • Woman who lead stressful lives are 11 times more likely to experience hair loss. 

What causes hair loss in women?

It’s quite normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs per day as part of the natural cycle of hair. However, if you notice a significant increase in hair loss, bald patches, or you’re beginning to lose hair in clumps, this could be a sign of a medical condition. 

There are varying degrees of hair loss, all of which can be distressing.  Hair loss may  be temporary or permanent. depending on the nature and causes of the condition. However, there are many treatment plans available, so if you experience sudden hair loss, it is best to seek medical advice as soon as possible to help improve the condition and prevent the condition becoming permanent. Here we take a look at some of the factors that can lead to hair loss. 

Health and lifestyle changes

Illnesses, medication, a traumatic life event, stress, significant blood loss, a change in diet and deficiencies can all cause sudden and temporary hair loss. 

In some instances, like with medications, operations and certain illnesses, this can compromise hair growth and lead to some or significant hair loss, like with cancer treatment and chemotherapy. However, once the course of treatment is complete and you’re no longer taking the medication, your hair is able to re-grow. 

In others, a traumatic or significant and prolonged stressful life event, could be a cause of hair loss and alopecia. This is because the emotional stress causes a significant proportion of the hair to enter a rest phase without any regrowth. Hair loss from such an event often isn’t immediate either and can occur anywhere from  6-16 weeks following a significant event. 

Additional hair loss from lifestyle changes can occur when you have a change in hair routine, like an increase in bleaching, or a change in diet that lacks sufficient protein, Zinc or Biotin. 

Postpartum 

Hair loss following childbirth is a relatively common condition, affecting as many as 40-50% of women. It’s caused by an increase in hormones during pregnancy that prolongs the hair growth phase; many women have noticeably thicker and longer locks during pregnancy. However, following childbirth, your hair enters a rapid shedding phase which can last between 6 and 12 months. 

Hormone disorders

Like with childbirth, other changes in your reproductive health can affect your hair’s growth and loss, including menopause. As many as 50% of us will experience hair loss post-menopause when levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, which causes hair to thin. Plus an increase of androgens – a male hormone – shrinks the hair follicle which can lead to hair loss

Women can also experience hair loss because of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and other hormone-related conditions that affect the thyroid, adrenal, and ovarian glands. 

Alopecia 

Alopecia is an autoimmune condition where the immune system mistakes healthy cells for unhealthy ones, attacking healthy hair follicles, leading to hair loss or baldness. It could be temporary, depending on the nature of it, or it can be permanent, such as a hereditary condition.  Although incurable, there may be periods where the hair can regrow, the prognosis varies from person to person. 

How to keep hair loss at bay

Not all hair loss is treatable, but, in some instances there are some ways we can help encourage hair regrowth

Improved diet

Hair is primarily made up of keratin, so ensuring you have sufficient levels of protein can help support your body’s function and encourage stronger and healthier hair. Supplementation that will help strengthen levels of Zinc, Biotin and Selenium can also help bolster hair health and thickness. 

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Alter your styling habits

Whilst in the recovery and strengthening phase of your hair loss journey, avoid tight hairstyles, reduce your heat reliance, and avoid chemical-based treatments and colouring which can all cause premature hair damage

Using a nourishing shampoo and conditioning treatment, alongside hydrating serums and masks can help protect the hair from environmental and styling damage as well as promote and encourage healthy growth. Additionally, a treatment that targets that scalp to encourage a healthy base for hair follicles can also improve the quality and quantity of hairs. 

Practise wellbeing

Buying a yoga mat

Stress can not only cause but exacerbate hair loss. Ensuring you take time for yourself, to get sufficient exercise, sleep and have wellbeing practices in place to help de-stress can all help reduce and aid recovery. Everyone manages stress differently but you could consider and try the following to help alleviate stress: 

  • A relaxing bath
  • Aromatherapy massage 
  • Reading a book before bed
  • Tackling a puzzle
  • Knitting
  • Journaling
  • Yoga 
  • Mindfulness
  • Listening to music 

You’re not alone

Hair loss can be extremely stressful and greatly impact your self-confidence and self-esteem. It affects a huge proportion of women at different stages in their lives and there is support available. August is National Hair Loss Awareness Month and Hairburst have partnered with Hair Reborn to support the amazing work they do in supporting individuals, raising awareness, and conducting research to garner more support for hair loss. Hair Reborn’s website has a wealth of resources and information, including personal stories that can help support you

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