Hair Loss in Women Over 40: What You Can Do About It
Everyone’s hair thins to some degree as we age. We are getting old, just like our hair. The number one complaint of second-act women, after sagging skin, is hair loss.
More than 20 million women in the United States alone suffer from some form of “female pattern baldness.” Consequently, a big question on my chair is: “How can I make my hair appear fuller?” If you want volume (or height), you may have to raise your arms above your shoulders and spend some time creating it. Some time is not an hour. Some time is 15-20 minutes. When hair begins to thin, we often cannot rely on a good haircut alone. Hairdressers can’t just cut the “height” of your hair. For thinning hair to appear thicker, we both need to work together.
The most common cause of hair thinning in women is hereditary hair loss or androgenetic alopecia. In fact, 95 percent of all hair thinning in women can be attributed to inherited hair loss. Few women have heard of this condition and even fewer realize that it can be the cause of hair loss.
The word ‘alopecia’ is used to describe types of significant hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia describes hair loss caused by androgens, which are hormones present in everyone, men or women. Hormonal changes affect many things, including inherited hair loss. Specifically, it is your genetic sensitivity to the male hormone testosterone that is key. Testosterone turns into a more powerful hormone called dihydrotestosterone, which causes sensitive hairs and follicles to get smaller.
Why the hair thins
Typically, each of your hair grows for two to seven years, takes a three-month “break,” and then falls out to make room for new hair. But if you have a genetic predisposition to hair loss, your hair follicles may become more sensitive to the male hormone testosterone sometime between your twenties and thirties, or even in your teens. (It’s not that you make more testosterone than other women; the hormone just affects you differently.) Over time, your follicles shrink and may produce only finer, shorter, weaker hairs, or none at all. In some women, the process accelerates at menopause, when natural estrogen levels drop.
This is why you may notice short hairs that never seem to grow, particularly around the hairline and the center part. You know the “little fluff” you see on the top of your head. One reason adding layers and texture helps create the illusion that those fluff are supposed to be there, rather than being weirdly shorter than the rest of the hair.
What can be done for weakened hair?
The three common methods of treating hair loss are medical, surgical, and cosmetic. Medically, the topical medication minoxidil is used to prevent hair follicles from shrinking in about 60 percent of women who try to rub their scalp twice a day. About two-thirds of those women will also see new growth within eight months, although new hair is usually much finer than old.
Medical therapy is more effective in stopping the progression of hair loss than in regrowing already lost hair, but a lucky percentage of patients can see significant regrowth. Minoxidil is available without a prescription, but you must use it continuously for the rest of your life to maintain new hair growth. Hair loss will start again within a few months after minoxidil treatment is stopped. Some women find that the solution causes itching or headaches.
Minoxidil is the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for female pattern hair loss. Finasteride, a prescription pill that works by moderating testosterone levels, appears to work only in men. It is not safe for women.
Hair restoration surgery is another option for women, although it works best if you are primarily thinning on the top, as men do. A surgeon removes hair from a denser area of the head and transplants the follicles individually to where you need them most. Surgical treatment has progressed dramatically in the last 10 years, and now the most advanced surgical technique is follicular unit transplantation, which consists of replacing lost hair with tiny, natural-looking units obtained microscopically of only one to three hairs each. It is so natural that, when done correctly, even delicate areas like the eyebrows and eyelashes can be recreated. You can expect to pay between $ 4,000 and $ 30,000 over time.
Finally, cosmetic enhancement is the use of products like thickeners, concealers, and techniques that create the illusion that your hair is thicker than it actually is. As you read on, you will discover the most effective cosmetic treatments available today.
Do you need volume? This is what works.
o Combing backwards: No, it does not damage your hair. No, it won’t look like a beehive if you do it right. Learn how. It will always give you control over that division in the crown.
o Styling products such as foam are often best applied only to the scalp and root area.
o Blow dry the hair in all directions with tension (pulling the hair tightly from the scalp with a brush or with your fingers) with heat on the scalp, and voila, Volume! Folding “backwards” will help, but only if you also apply tension with a brush or your fingers to allow the hair to dry and part 90 degrees from the scalp.
o Volumizing products temporarily plump up the hair shaft. You get more volume. More tangles, but more volume. They can also weigh down certain types of fine hair.
o Velcro rollers: On dry hair: set, spray with hairspray, heat with the dryer, let cool. Fagot! Volume. Comb back for more.
o Rollers: rollers, magnetic rollers, rags, folds, anything that you wrap wet hair with and allow it to form that way will add volume through waves or curls.
o Hot rollers: always make sure the ends are tightly wrapped to avoid “hooks”.
o Curler: start at the base of the hair, more direct up and away from the direction you are rolling to lift the scalp, roll up and then up and close the clamp slightly to click hair, heat, release , let cool before combing.
o Round Brush uses the same concept as velcro rollers. The hotter and lift the hair on the scalp and allow to cool before removing the brush, the more volume is created.
Creating illusion through the shadow
One of the simplest but least used techniques to create the illusion that you have thicker hair is to fill in the hairline or scalp area with a scalp shader. Like brow tinted brows and liner lashes, your hair will appear thicker when you hide your scalp with a color that matches your hair.
There are several scalp shaders on the market. My favorite is a product called Dermatch. Just dab the shadow-like powder on thinned areas and voila, the illusion of thicker hair. This is particularly effective on the hairline, temples, hairline, and that nasty split at the crown. It is also ideal for men.