What You Need To Know To Attack Hair Loss At The Roots (+ products)
What You Need To Know To Attack Hair Loss At The Roots (+ products)
What can be done when you notice your hair falling out or starting to thin? Here’s everything you need to know to attack hair loss at the roots.
Our hair can be a visual representation of our personality. We have fun changing cuts and colours according to the seasons or trends. Through the good and bad hair days, our coif is a part of who we are. So when hair loss threatens this part of our identity, it’s easy to feel helpless. However, with certain treatments and lifestyle tweaks, it’s possible to take back control of our ’dos.
Normal or abnormal fallout?
The 100,000 to 150,000 hairs that grow on the head have a life cycle of approximately five years, during which time they will go through four phases: the anagen phase, which is the period of hair growth (it grows about one centimetre per month on average); the catagen phase, a period of regression or involution, during which growth slows and follicles shrink; then the telogen phase, also known as a resting phase; and finally the exogen phase that leads to the hair being shed, so that a new strand can take its place. It’s normal to shed between 50 and 150 hairs each day.
If you’re losing more than that, you may be dealing with some form of hair loss. But how do you know if you’re shedding too much? No need to count the fallen hairs—there are other signs to look for. If you’re noticing a lot of hair on your pillow in the morning, or clumps of hair coming out in the shower, lots on your comb or every time you run a hand through the strands? This could be reactionary hair loss, says William Gauthier, regional trainer and pharmaceutical project specialist for the Pierre Fabre group. If you’re noticing your hair density decreasing, rather than increasing, as months go by, you may be experiencing gradual hair loss. In both cases, these changes indicate that it’s time to consult an expert and begin tackling the root of the problem.
Reactive hair loss
This type of loss is sudden, a reaction to some type of change. “It can cause 30 to 40 percent hair loss, all over the head,” says Elisabeth Gagnon, national trainer for Laboratoire Native Canada. It can often occur a few months after a difficult event or period, such as intense stress, illness, chronic fatigue, weight loss, depression, emotional shock, childbirth or a diet low in vitamins and minerals. The good news? While losing hair is not a pleasant experience, reactive hair loss is reversible. “We can slow down the process if we act quickly.
It’s possible to stimulate regrowth and return your hair to its normal state, except when this loss is caused by cancer treatment,” says Gauthier, who advises in this case to wait two months after the end of treatment to start stimulating regrowth (but always check with your doctor first). “On the other hand, if the cause of hair loss is still present or is recurrent, meaning, for example, certain periods of the year being more stressful or tiring than others, then you may be dealing with chronic hair loss.” In this case, preventive treatments, from incorporating dietary supplements to a particular shampoo into your routine, are key.
Gradual hair loss
Also called androgenetic alopecia, this type is the most common form of hair loss. It commonly affects men (think the ubiquitous male-pattern baldness), but can also be seen in women, especially after menopause. “For women, the scalp becomes more and more visible, but it will not lead to total baldness,” says Gauthier. “Gradual hair loss is said to be progressive because it starts slow, but over time it intensifies, meaning hair cycles shorten and hair becomes thinner and eventually falls out.” As its name suggests, androgenetic alopecia can be a genetic condition (although the phenomenon could skip generations). Hormones can also be a culprit. Dihydrotestosterone, a derivative of testosterone, triggers receptors that shrink hair follicles, making them much less capable of supporting a healthy mane.
The growth cycle of the hair is shortened, causing hair to grow in thinner and fall out faster. “Prevention is essential, but if the hair bulb is still alive, the proper treatment can slow down hair loss and strengthen the hair,” says Gauthier. “Treatment can begin at the onset of symptoms to slow the process. Because this hair loss is progressive, it’s important to be consistent and rigorous to see results, which generally appear after three months.” The expert advises doing one or two treatments a year, while focusing on targeted food supplements and a targeted shampoo at the same time. “Opt for gentle products and only wash hair two or three times a week in order to maintain and protect the hydrolipidic film. Washing your hair too often or too little can lead to issues: with the latter, dirt and pollution will accumulate, which will slow down hair growth,” says Gagnon.
He recommends exfoliating the scalp, which helps purify the skin and follicles, then adopting a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements, especially zinc, which offers a boost to hair growth. Whether you experience reactive or progressive hair loss, early intervention is key, say the experts, as is adopting a comprehensive approach that incorporates dietary considerations as well as hair and scalp care.
The limits of the treatments
Cicatricial alopecia, which is characterized by destruction of the hair follicle due to inflammation or trauma, can cause permanent hair loss and scarring. On the other hand, alopecia areata, the condition of actor Jada Pinkett Smith, is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the hair follicles and is responsible for hair loss that occurs in patches. For these conditions (and any other type of hair loss) there is no miracle cure. That said, some people who suffer from alopecia areata can see their hair grow back naturally. When it comes to cicatricial alopecia, hair will not grow back after the follicle has been destroyed, but early intervention with a professional can minimize the damage.
Our Product Picks
1.This daily serum helps strengthen locks and limit hair fallout, thanks to key ingredients arginine and gingerroot, which help stimulate hair growth. KÉRASTASE Genesis Anti-Breakage Fortifying Serum, $80, kerastase.ca.
2. This shampoo protects and thickens the hair fibre with its guarana and red algae extracts. Follow up with the brand’s scalp and hair treatment for even more densifying benefits. PHYTO PARIS Phytonovathrix Fortifying Energizing Shampoo, $30, phyto-canada.ca.
3. A notice to those who dream of a thicker-looking coif: This treatment leaves hair feeling fuller and more manageable while preventing breakage over time. NIOXIN Diamax Advanced Thickening Xtrafusion Treatment, $46, matandmax.com.
4. Specially designed for reactive hair loss following childbirth, fatigue and stress, this hair lotion helps you regain healthy hair after just two months of treatment. DUCRAY Creastim Hair Lotion, $72, shoppersdrugmart.ca.
5. Stock up on this supplement that keeps your mane healthy while fighting hair loss that stems from vitamin deficiencies. PLENTY NATURAL Hair Complex, $60, plentynatural.ca.
6. The targeted natural formula of this treatment tackles both hormonal and hereditary loss of density by stimulating growth and extending the hair cycle. RENÉ FURTERER Triphasic Progressive Anti-Hair Loss Ritual, $270, matandmax.com.