Correct ferritin levels maximize your hair’s “anagen” or “growing” phase and encourage your hairs to grow to their full length. When you aren’t getting enough iron through your diet, your body takes ferritin stored in non-essential tissue, like your hair bulb, and gives it to essential tissue, such as your heart. Because your hair bulb is where all your hair cells are produced, this leeching of ferritin can cause your hair to shed before it reaches its maximum length.
The only nonchemical option offered up by the dermatologists I spoke with — short of a surgical hair transplant or platelet-rich plasma therapy, which is like Kim Kardashian’s vampire facial but for your scalp — was the laser comb. First cleared by the FDA in 2009, the HairMax LaserComb is a handheld laser device that is designed to promote hair growth. As the manufacturer explains in a letter to the FDA, “The device provides distributed laser light to the scalp while the comb teeth simultaneously part the user’s hair to ensure the laser light reaches the user’s scalp,” which, in turn, stimulates the hair follicles.
1. Collagen powder. Preliminary studies suggest that marine-sourced collagen may stimulate hair growth, says New York City dermatologist Yoon-Soo Cindy Bae. Though more research is needed, participants in studies reported thicker hair after three to six months of daily use. Crushed Tonic Original Powder ($105) easily mixes into coffee, tea, and water.
A key aspect of hair loss with age is the aging of the hair follicle. Ordinarily, hair follicle renewal is maintained by the stem cells associated with each follicle. Aging of the hair follicle appears to be primed by a sustained cellular response to the DNA damage that accumulates in renewing stem cells during aging. This damage response involves the proteolysis of type XVII collagen by neutrophil elastase in response to the DNA damage in the hair follicle stem cells. Proteolysis of collagen leads to elimination of the damaged cells and then to terminal hair follicle miniaturization.
What to do: Like anemia, simple supplementation should help the problem. So can dietary changes. Find natural vitamin B in fish, meat, starchy vegetables, and non-citrus fruits. As always, eating a balanced diet plentiful in fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein and “good” fats such as avocado and nuts will be good for your hair and your overall health.
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.)
Finasteride inhibits an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, the hormone that causes hair loss in men, and unlike minoxidil, this drug can actually help hair grow back, as well as prevent further loss. All you have to do is take one pill a day, and according to Dr. Evan Rieder, dermatologist in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Health, two-thirds of men taking this treatment will see improvements in hair density over time.
There can be several factors behind hair loss such as environmental effects, aging, too much stress, excessive smoking, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, genetic factors, scalp infections, use of wrong or chemically enriched hair products, certain medicines and medical conditions like thyroid disorder, autoimmune diseases, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), iron-deficiency anemia, and chronic illnesses.
The HairMax Ultima 12 LaserComb ($395) makes for a great addition to any hair loss regimen — provided you can afford it. Dr. Wolfeld notes that it’s a popular option in his practice. “Some people like the action of combing something through their hair,” he says. “They find that to be a little bit easier to do as part of their routine in the morning.” Dr. Khadavi also recommends using a laser treatment of some kind in conjunction with other treatments. “Lasers do help in stimulating the hair into the growth phase. We don’t know the exact mechanism of how it works, but it definitely helps.”
Again, you’ll want to visit your doctor to get a blood test to check your levels in these vitamins. For example, women who have iron levels lower than 70 nanograms per milliliter are considered deficient. From there, work with your doctor to find an appropriate dose according to your deficiency level. Excessive or unnecessary supplementation can be dangerous.
When it comes to hair health, what you put in your body is just as important as what you put on your hair. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet becomes crucial as soon as you notice hair fall. Foods that are rich in Zinc, Iron, Vitamins A, B complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and proteins should be consumed. These foods by themselves may go a long way in curbing hair fall as more often than not, hair fall is directly related to a vitamin/mineral deficiency. A healthy diet will also help keep your hair moisturized and nourished, leading to lesser hair fall, fewer split ends, and curbed breakage.