Many women spend hundreds – if not thousands – each year to keep their mane looking, smelling and feeling amazing. So it seems especially unfair that, as we get to a certain age, the thing we’ve invested so much in doesn’t pay us back.
Once luscious locks now feel wiry and thin, and by the looks of your hairbrush, anyone would be forgiven for thinking you’d been grooming a long-haired cat.
It’s lower levels of oestrogen that can lead to your hair feeling brittle and your scalp dry. While decreasing levels of progesterone affect hair growth.
As we move through the perimenopause and menopause, not only can the rate of growth slow down, but your hair may also grow thinner.
Most people lose around 100 hairs a day – this is a perfectly normal part of the hair lifecycle. However, these hormonal changes can also lead to some women finding they shed a lot more.
A change in the balance of hormones during the menopause transition can mean that the androgens become more important. For some women this triggers hair loss - hair thinning. Genetic factors can also be important for some women, meaning you may be 'programmed' to lose hair.
If you’re wondering what to do for hair loss in the menopause or perimenopause, we have some helping snippets of advice that can help you restore your crown back to its former glory.
SPEAK TO YOUR HAIRDRESSER
If you’ve had the same hairdresser for a while they’ll know your hair really well. They should be able to tell you what condition your hair and scalp is in and give you ideas on how to improve them.
They may recommend an in-salon treatment, a different type of dye if you have your hair coloured, or a home thickening system.
More importantly, a good hairdresser should be able to give you ideas on how to style your barnet so you still feel great.
TAKE CARE OF WHAT YOU’VE GOT
Taking care of the hair you do have is really important, and actually finding the right shampoo and conditioner may help improve the look of your hair and the health of your scalp.
If you’re black and have your hair braided, it may be worth having a break or asking for them to be looser. A holiday from relaxers can help too.
EAT HAIR-FRIENDLY FOODS
Eight five percent of your hair is made from a protein called keratin. To top up your stores, eat plenty of foods high in protein, like fish, meat and dairy, and if you’re veggie or vegan tofu is a good option.
And what vitamins are good for hair loss during menopause? Vitamins A, B and C are all key to a healthy mane, plus minerals like iron and zinc. Make sure you’re also eating lots of dark, leafy greens like broccoli, spinach and kale.
GET WIGGY WITH IT
Wigs are massively in. They’re up and down the catwalk like nobody's business. And why wouldn’t they be? There’s no easier way of changing your hairstyle to suit your outfit.
And if your hair’s thinning then all the more reason to give one a go. You can pick up plenty of good quality faux and real hair versions online.
Hair extensions and weaves are an option but these can make the situation worse as they pull on your existing hair. Always speak to a professional practitioner before making a decision.
TRY A SUPPLEMENT
Worried you’re not getting enough nutrients through diet alone? You might want to try a skin, hair and nails supplement. These can be bought at most pharmacies and major supermarkets and may help if you’re also struggling with brittle nails.
There are also tailored supplements for women in the perimenopause and menopause which can target certain symptoms.
Vitamin D deficiency can sometimes lead to hair loss too, so if you think you may be low on this sunshine nutrient, you may want to request a blood test from your GP.
KEEP IT COOL
Excessive heat can damage your hair and scalp, worsening thinning hair issues.
Keep your shower to a just-warm-enough heat and consider blasting yourself with cold at the end of it, as this boosts blood circulation to your scalp and flattens hair cuticles, locking in moisture.
When drying your hair use the coolest setting possible and minimise how often you use straighteners and curling irons.
TAKE SOME ‘ME TIME’
Stress can also be a trigger for hair loss, so before you go around solely blaming your hormones, it may be worth taking a step back to consider how much you’ve got on your plate.
Reducing your obligations might mean some difficult decisions, but ones that ultimately benefit you, your wellbeing and your hairline in the long run.
Make time in your schedule to relax – whether that’s taking a bath, being pampered or something as simple as lazing on the sofa with a good book.
See your doctor
You should visit your doctor if you have sudden hair loss, develop bald patches, are losing hair in clumps, your head also itches and burns, or you’re worried about your hair loss. Blood tests can be helpful to rule out thyroid disease and to make sure that you’re not low on iron.
You could also consider a referral to a dermatologist as they may be able to give more specialist advice on treatment options.
HINTS AND TIPS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE THEY THINK MAY BE ENTERING OR IN MENOPAUSE
Hair thinning and hair loss is enough to give anyone’s confidence a kicking. Build them back up with these top tips.
OUR ADVICE TO THEM
There’s loads of things they could consider, including investing in a specially-designed shampoo and conditioner for thin hair, as well as thickening treatments and wigs.
Minimising use of heated hair tongs and straighteners as well as avoiding scorching showers and stress may help too.
SUGGEST A SUPPLEMENT
Some people find skin, hair and nails supplements particularly useful for managing thinning hair.
GO WITH THE FLOW
You might notice they are seriously unhappy when you’ve got plans. The truth is going to social events may be more stressful if their self-confidence has taken a hit because of thinning hair. Keeping up appearances (quite literally in this case) when you’re not feeling like yourself is hard work.
Be prepared for plans to change at short notice and try not to put them under any pressure, even if it means you are missing out as well.
The last thing someone needs when they’re dealing with hair loss is for someone to draw attention to it or try to lighten the mood by making a joke about it. They might put on a brave face, but nine times out of 10 it’s not funny for them.
LET HER KNOW YOU CARE
Knowing we’re loved, appreciated and supported is a powerful thing when we’re feeling emotionally and physically a bit wobbly. However, telling a friend or partner without sounding patronising is easier said than done.
Let them know through your actions. If you live with them, that might be making time to eat dinner together, asking how their day has been and really listening, or gestures like prepping them lunch for work and sorting chores without being asked. If you’re a friend, why not send a care package, arrange a coffee or even just drop them a text to let them know you’re thinking of them?
If you’re worried about thinning hair, you should see your GP who can discuss your symptoms in the context of the menopause.
If you'd like more information, we have put some further references below for you.