If your hair has seemed a little lackluster lately, your hormones may be to blame. Hair loss in women — whether simple thinning or full-on bald spots — is not uncommon during perimenopause or after menopause.
For women, hair loss can be incredibly frustrating for a number of reasons. First, it’s embarrassing, especially if you once had a full, lustrous head of hair. It’s no secret that women over 40 often suffer from anxiety, depression, and/or mood swings. Hair loss can contribute to those negative feelings.
Second, women aren’t talking about it, and so you feel alone. Though there’s no shortage of bald actors — and bald waiters, for that matter — who are celebrated for their domes, women are expected to adhere to beauty standards that can make us feel like we need to disguise any sign of hair loss.
Fortunately, you aren’t powerless against thinning tresses. Here are a few ways you can maintain a healthy head of hair — as well as eyebrows and eyelashes — in midlife and beyond.
Check In With Your Doctor
Androgenic alopecia is female (or male) pattern baldness. Though you may not develop the receding hairline or total baldness that some men do, it’s common for women to experience a gradual thinning of hair along their hair’s part. The treatment is also the same for women as men: Minoxidil, a popular hair loss treatment that has resulted in hair regrowth for 60 percent of women who have used it.
Other potential causes of hair loss include medical conditions and emotional or physical stress. Other potential treatments are oral medications, laser therapy, and hair transplants. Though before you try any extreme measure, you should make lifestyle changes. Optimal nutrition and de-stressing practices like yoga and meditation can improve hair.
Your doctor can help you navigate your way to the best options for you.
Focus on Nutrition
B vitamins (including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, bioton, and folate) are essential for overall health — including hair health. B vitamins are found in a variety of foods, including whole grains; vegetables like cauliflower, kale, and carrots; meat, eggs, soybeans, and nuts. A well-balanced diet should provide you with all the B vitamins you need, but when in doubt, you can consider taking a supplement.
Take Good Care
Women over 40 may have to pay more attention to hair care than they did when they were younger. As hair gets finer and thinner and grows more slowly (all natural parts of aging), treating hair gently is important in ways that it wasn’t before.
- Avoid hairstyles that pull hair tight against the head. In other words, no more severe ponytails and buns.
- Using heat sparingly. Curling irons, flat irons, and blow dryers are hard on hair and can cause it to break.
- Consider weekly deep conditioning to keep hair moisturized.
- Give up hair dye and chemical straighteners. They cause drying and breakage, but far worse, according to December 2019 press release from the National Institutes of Health, scientists “found that women who use permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who don’t use these products.”
- Get a good cut. Whether you like to wear your hair long or keep it short, a modern cut that suits your features will go a long way toward helping you look and feel your best.
For more on hair care, plus skin and nail care, read Your Best Hair, Skin, and Nails Starts Right Here.
Photo: Michael Jung