Posted by All-Nutrient Professional on Aug 14, 2017

You can’t prevent hereditary hair loss, but you can minimize hair loss and keep more hair on your head longer with these tips, created especially for
Hair Loss Awareness Month.

 

What is Normal Hair Loss?

The hair’s growth cycle really has three phases: Growth (anagen), Transition (catagen) and Resting (telogen). In the final phase, hair either falls out or stays in place, and at any given time, about 10 percent of hair is in this Resting phase, which lasts three to six months. The upshot of this is that normal hair loss has always been estimated at between 50 and 100 strands a day. Then came new imaging technology and trichoscopy counts that actually measured hair loss, and put the norm a little below 50 strands a day. 

If you are losing more than that and don’t think any of the top reasons (heredity, hormonal changes and medical conditions, medications) apply, try a little TLC. Turns out, much of what looks like hair loss is really breakage or damage, which can reduce density by a lot, depending on how bad it is. The main contributors fall into four main categories:

1. Mechanical Damage 

Tugging, pulling, turning and twisting hair all takes its toll. But combing and brushing the wrong way tops the list of suspects. For starters, use a good hairbrush, like a soft natural-bristle boar’s brush and avoid both brushes and combs with bristles or tines that are broken. Don’t brush wet hair, use a large-toothed comb. 

After adding a leave-in conditioner or detangler, gently comb from the ends up in increments. If hair is tangly, also start on the undersides at the bottom. If you come across snarls, massage with a leave-in conditioner or spray some on before gently untangling—one by one if necessary.

Another way mechanical hair loss happens in when hair is pulled too tight in updos or ponytails or when braids, plaits and hair extensions pull on your natural hair. This is called traction alopecia. Even if you have the gentler-on-hair adhesive kind of extensions, take great care when brushing near the attachment site, and keep the hair above and below it tangle free. When it’s time for an adjustment, be certain your stylist saturates the bases with the appropriate remover before gently taking them out. Don’t ever try it on your own. 

Even roughing up hair in the shower can lead to a little extra hair loss. Shampoo gently and use conditioner on the ends and lengths, not the scalp. 

2. Chemical Stress

It’s unclear if perms will really make the predicted comeback now that unicorn, rainbow and candy colored hair are all the rage, but combining chemical services requires a pro and super TLC. Even if you get your hair lightened to pale blonde before going for the forest green, you must be able to commit to a strict hair care regimen set out by your stylist. Ask about home care products (hard-hold ones aren’t for fragile hair), frequency of retouches and trims, and what happens if you want to change colors in three months. Ask your stylist do a tensile strength test, by seeing how much your hair stretches before it breaks. Also, ask if it is porous, which will make it dry and less able to hold color. Any good colorist will tell you if your hair won’t be able to handle what you want, and will offer alternatives. 

After lightening hair, one option is to add cool colors with direct or semi-permanent dyes that fade away but you’ll still have hair that’s been chemical lightened or had its structure changed, which requires daily and weekly treatments, and minimal heat styling. Only your stylist can address the correct balance between protein and moisture that your hair will need. And of course, only permanent color gives you the intense, long-lasting fashion shades you crave. 

Also, don’t try to go from dark brunette to icy blonde in a day. And always consider straightening or smoothing services to be chemical in nature—they also change your hair’s structure, and every structural change can weaken hair. That’s why overly “bleached” hair tangles so easily or turns to mush.

3. Environmental & Lifestyle Contributors

UV light lightens hair and over-exposure also weakens it, breaking down keratin proteins. New research shows that indoor and outdoor air pollution (toxins, soot, dust, grime, smoke) creates microscopic changes in hair follicles, which leads to low-grade inflammation and hair loss. In one study that understood skin and hair form the first barrier exposed to pollution, treatments that lead to a reduction in hair loss for all participants included antioxidants, a chelating shampoo used twice a week and a regular shampoo also used two days a week but left on for 3-5 minutes for good cleansing. (Low-dose Minoxidil was also used.) And if you travel or move to the Arabian Golf, shampooing with desalinated water also causes hair loss.

However, the biggest environmental contributor to hair loss is also 100% controllable because it’s more about lifestyle. Constant exposure to hot thermal tools can lead to brittleness, weakness and high porosity, as well as scalp damage. Air dry hair when you can, use thermal protectors, turn down the heat settings and minimize the amount of time any section of hair is exposed to heat. Keep blow-dryers moving. When flat ironing, making more lower-heat passes is much gentler on hair that holding a hotter flat iron on hair for a longer amount of time. Keep temperatures below 350-degrees Fahrenheit (180° C)

4. Scalp Care

Often overlooked until dandruff appears, good scalp care is a key part of having healthy hair. A healthy scalp should be flexible with no signs of inflammation. Many salons offer special scalp treatments with essential oils and more. You can also massage your scalp at home, while using a shampoo that contains nourishing oils. Doing so won’t regrow hair, but it creates a healthy environment that’s conducive to hair growth. 

Prevention First

Healthy hair and a supple scalp are naturally joined to a healthy diet and lifestyle when it comes to minimizing hair loss. Loss from breakage and damage comes down to simpler things. Use gentle sulfate- and paraben-free shampoos and conditioners that are right for your hair type and its needs. Blot hair dry with a soft towel—don’t rough it up with a nubby one. You should ask for and stylists should be suggesting cuts and styling techniques that avoid aggressive tactics. Also work together to keep an eye on suspected thinning areas. Then, if you agree that genetic or unexplainable hair loss is in play, don’t wait until it’s too late. Today, stylists, trichologists and dermatologists have a slew of solutions that slow hair loss, from products and hair pieces to laser treatments and prescriptive solutions. Get the right referral and get on it.

Topics: hair care