13 Dermatologist-Backed Treatments for Thinning Hair
These simple hair loss cures can help keep your mane looking voluminous and healthy.
A bathroom covered with loose strands or an ever-scrawnier ponytail can be startling but doesn’t necessarily mean anything’s wrong. By age 50, half of women will complain of hair loss. “As we age, overall hair density changes and individual strands become finer,” says dermatologist Doris J. Day, MD. But just because thinning is natural doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Here are 13 solutions to help you keep the hair out of your brush and on your head.
OTC treatments for hair loss
As the only FDA-approved proven ingredient to improve hair loss, Minoxidil has years of research to back it up—and about 50 percent of women using it see improvement. “Minoxidil can enhance the size of the follicle so that it produces a bigger strand of hair,” explains Wilma Bergfeld, MD, a Cleveland Clinic dermatologist.
Lifestyle changes that may stop hair loss
Eating the right nutrients
Hair thrives on protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. Get them from lean meats, leafy greens, nuts, beans, fish, and these 13 other delicious iron-rich foods.
Massaging your scalp
You’re halfway there every time you shampoo: Massaging your head in the shower improves blood flow to the scalp. This means a better environment for hair growth, but it also aids the penetration of any treatment shampoos you use.
Letting your hair air-dry
It’s the easiest fix you never considered. Hair dryers and irons, especially if you already color, can cause breakage and thinning, so reduce your use however you can.
Just breathe—seriously, it could help! Both sudden and chronic stress can halt hair growth. If you’ve been through a challenging experience (divorce, job change), hair should grow back. If you’re under constant pressure, master meditation—easier said than done, but your hair will thank you.
According to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, hair health is tied to two things: kidney energy and the blood, which nourish the hair. The solution: acupunctureand Chinese herbs. While there isn’t a lot of hard science to back this up, Maureen Conant, a TCM practitioner at Full Bloom Acupuncture in Seattle, says that she’s seen women’s hair stop falling out and then gradually regenerate after a few months of weekly treatments.
How your doctor can help with hair loss
If it’s serious, consider an Rx. Some women are genetically predisposed to female-pattern hair loss, and birth control pills can suppress overproduction of male hormones. At menopause, thinning increases; if you’re on hormone therapy, it may minimize hair loss.
Routine blood work can test your ferritin (iron stored in the blood) and vitamin D. Low levels can lead to hair loss, and the fix may be as simple as adding an iron or vitamin supplement. And hey, you’re probably overdue for a checkup anyway!
They hurt, but they work. lnjecting cortisone directly into the scalp blocks the hormonal activity that induces hair thinning. This works especially well in patients with inflammatory scalp disease, Dr. Bergfeld says.