Under normal conditions, scalp hairs live for about three years (the anagen, or growing, phase); they then enter the telogen, or resting, phase. During the three-month telogen period, the hair root shrivels up into a small "club," then the hair falls out. It is therefore normal to lose about 100 hairs every day, more of them on days when shampooing loosens the hairs that are ready to fall out. The body then replaces the hairs.
With those pinned down, it wasn’t hard to determine which don’t actually work. Pretty much all the “active” ingredients listed in ineffective treatments — from biotin and zinc to emu oil and saw palmetto — have never been proven, and are instead marketed based on logical-seeming correlations. It would make sense that biotin, a B vitamin readily found in hair, skin, and nails, could help hair grow more quickly. And caffeine is a stimulant that works in coffee, so rubbing some on your scalp might wake some of those sleepy follicles… right?
Another method is to wear a hat or a hairpiece—a wig or toupee. The wig is a layer of artificial or natural hair made to resemble a typical hair style. In most cases the hair is artificial. Wigs vary widely in quality and cost. In the United States, the best wigs—those that look like real hair—cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. Organizations also collect individuals' donations of their own natural hair to be made into wigs for young cancer patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy or other cancer treatment in addition to any type of hair loss.
Once male-pattern baldness starts, it’s not going to stop until every last hair on your head has shrunk or shed, though the rate at which this happens differs from person to person and depends on genetics. And since the grind of hair loss is unending, it’s important to start treatment as soon as your hairline starts bothering you. If you’re looking for a more quantitative metric, Dr. Paul McAndrews, clinical professor of dermatology at the USC School of Medicine and member of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, assures me that “you have to lose half your hair before the human eye can tell.” (Of course, if you don’t care about losing your hair and are fine with going full Prince William and shaving your head, go for it. We’ve got some recommendations for razors and hair trimmers to help you out on that front.)
Instead, you may want to add vitamin D (about $15) to your shopping cart. A vitamin D deficiency can exacerbate hair thinning and make it almost impossible for any over-the-counter product to reverse hair loss, says Dhaval Bhanusali, a dermatologist in New York City, who recommends taking 5,000 international units of D3 a day (and it’s generally beneficial for bone health in women over 40). “There’s also a link between low iron and zinc levels and temporary hair shedding, called [telogen] effluvium,” says Rogers.
Alopecia areata. This condition, called patchy hair loss, is the opposite of pattern baldness. Whereas in the former, thinning hair follows a pattern, alopecia areata is marked by smooth and bald patches anywhere on the scalp. The bald patches are circular, and can be as small as a pencil eraser or as big as a quarter. It begins with one or two spots that multiply on other parts of the head. The condition is caused by an autoimmune disease where the antibodies mistake the hair as the "enemy" and start attacking it, resulting into hair loss.
Some people come to serum as a way to find the shiny hair back but don’t know that it can attract more dust and dirt, making the hair worse. Once again, the best answer for all these common hair problems is using conditioner. This product can flatten the cuticle and make the hair shiner. Moreover, you can apply a clarifying shampoo once per week to get rid of the buildup and turn back the shiny healthy hair.
There are several different types of medication you can buy to help treat hair loss. Procepia and Finasteride are currently the only approved drugs you can take that will effectively treat hair loss. The active ingredient in both treatments (finasteride) works by blocking DHT (the male hormone dihydrotestosterone) that causes hair loss by shrinking hair follicles on your scalp. It has been proven to lead to hair regrowth or to stop hair loss in around 9 out of 10 men in clinical trials.
Vigorous styling and hair treatments over the years can cause your hair to fall out. Examples of extreme styling include tight braids, hair weaves or corn rows as well as chemical relaxers to straighten your hair, hot-oil treatments or any kind of harsh chemical or high heat. Because these practices can actually affect the hair root, your hair might not grow back.
Surgery or hair transplants: Surgical hair restoration approaches include various versions of hair transplantation (taking hair from the back and putting it near the front) or scalp reduction (cutting away bald areas and stitching the rest together). Transplant procedures have improved greatly in recent years. They can produce much more attractive and natural-looking results than older methods that sometimes leave a "checkerboard" or hair plug look. Many transplant patients now take Propecia to maintain or keep what they've transplanted. When considering a hair transplant, check the surgeon's credentials and experience carefully. Micrografts are some of the newest techniques whereby surgeons transplant single one to two hair follicles. Hair transplants may be very expensive and time-consuming procedures ranging widely anywhere from $1,000-$20,000, depending on the number of hair grafts transplanted. Typically, 500 or more hairs may be transplanted in a session.
Hair transplants will likely lead to better results in the long run (you are introducing new hairs to the balding areas), but you’ll still need to use minoxidil or finasteride after surgery to maintain the results. Like all hair loss treatments, hair transplants are best when combined with other methods, and you’ll want to speak with your doctor to see what combination is best for you.
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. Its applications are many, and some researchers believe that it may help with hair loss from alopecia areata. How? The needles inserted into the scalp may help stimulate hair follicles and promote regrowth. More research needs to be done in this area, but consider asking your doctor for a referral to a licensed acupuncturist if this treatment sounds appealing to you. (Learn more about acupuncture for hair loss.)
3. Nutriceuticals. Rogers recommends that her patients try Viviscal Dietary Supplements ($50 for a one-month supply) or Nutrafol ($88 for a one-month supply), both of which can often be picked up in a salon. The former contains marine-based proteins meant to beef up thinning hair. The latter is packed with antioxidants, like ashwagandha and curcumin, and boasts impressive clinical results.
Illness or surgery: The stress from sickness or surgery may prompt the body to temporarily cease nonessential tasks such as hair production. Specific conditions can also trigger it, including thyroid disorders, syphilis, iron deficiency, lupus or severe infection. An autoimmune condition called alopecia areata, which has no cure, causes rapid body-wide hair loss.
Egg mask. Eggs are one of the riches sources of protein, which is the building block of keratin, as well as other minerals like zinc, iron, selenium, phosphorous and iodine. Mix an egg white with a tablespoon of olive oil and honey to make a paste. Apply it on your hair and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse and shampoo using cold water. You can apply this egg mask on your hair once a week.
I tried various iron supplements and many of them gave me digestive issues including gas, stomach cramps, and constipation. With a life-long history of constipation, that was the last thing I needed. I have personally found this brand Perfect Desiccated Liver Capsules from grass-fed cattle works well for my body. My doctor regularly checks my iron levels including ferritin to be sure I am taking the right dosage of iron supplements for my body and that I’m not taking too much because over-dosing on iron can be dangerous.
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