We've all seen the adverts. The ones where the woman swishes her full-bodied glossy tresses at the camera, hailing the magic that a particular shampoo has bestowed upon her once lacklustre hair as we twiddle our flailing strands around our fingers. But, the reality is that regardless of your hair type, grey and thinning hair is as much a part of ageing as fine lines and wrinkles. And while there is nothing wrong with this natural process, for those who find themselves yearning for fuller hair after 40, there are ways to bring your hair back to life.
From puberty and pregnancy to menopause and medication, our hair goes through many transitional periods within its lifetime and part of the solution is understanding the problem.
There are 3 stages of hair growth in a cycle – the Anagen phase, Catagen phase and Telogen phase. The former is the growth stage, where our bloody supply nourishes the hair follicle to enable new growth. This then moves into the resting phase where the hair stays put (unless it is malnourished in which case it falls out), leading to the latter stage of the cycle. This is when the hair follicle detaches from the blood supply and falls out. Each hair follicle goes through the growth cycle at different times and if you're worried you're losing too many strands, know that it is very normal to lose between 80-100 hairs a day.
But when we disrupt our hair cycle through illness, poor nutrition, medication or hormone imbalance, hair loss or thinning is likely to take place. While thinning hair is often genetic, there are particular lifestyle factors that certainly can contribute. For example, as we move through every decade, our hair experiences the same changes as our body. During peri-menopause and menopause, oestrogen (the hormone that stimulates hair growth) falls dramatically and hair follicles shrink, meaning they stop producing new hairs. In addition to this, as we age, the body processes nutrients such as iron (which is needed for healthy hair as it promotes healthy red blood cells which carry oxygenated blood to the scalp) less efficiently.
But, there are remedies to boost your hair health:
Make your scalp a priority
Stimulating your scalp is paramount to promote new hair growth. Avoiding harsh chemicals, giving yourself scalp massages before each hair wash and lathering up less can all help. Taking care of your scalp from the inside has also proven effective, such as balancing sex and stress hormones and maintaining a healthy gut, as research has shown that a compromised gut barrier may contribute to the multifactorial etiology of hair loss.
Although hair dyes are increasingly doing without this harsh chemical, make sure you ask your hairdresser before you take to the foils, as the higher pH in ammonia can damage your scalp, the hair follicles and compromise the structural integrity of hair. While natural and organic hair dyes have historically had a bad rep results-wise, technology has come on a long way and they can now often produce the same results as traditional formulas, with the added benefit of soft and shiny hair as opposed to dry and stressed-out strands that bleach can produce.
Say goodbye to stress
We know, it's easier said than done, but acute stress can wreak havoc with your hair and stop new growth in its tracks. The shift in hormone and neurochemical balance caused by stress can put a large percentage of hair follicles into the resting phase for a longer period of time, and an increase in shedding will occur up to six months after the stressful event has passed.
Treat thinning hair from the inside
As tempting as it is to buy up every hair care product promising to give you the hair of Rapunzel, treating the problem from the inside in a holistic manner is always your best bet for healthy tresses. Suggested supplements include saw palmetto to counteract DHT (the hormone responsible for thinning hair), agnus cactus (for hormone balancing) and astaxanthin (a powerful antioxidant to fight oxidative stress), to support your body and your hair during the natural ageing process.
Article by Jessica Harris
Willowberry is 'Nutritious Natural' skincare for grown-ups for your best skin. Launched in 2017, Willowberry is an award-winning independent British brand that has gained a cult following. Loved by top make-up artists, the streamlined, highly effective range protects skin’s natural barrier function to nourish and transform grown-up skin, with indulgent formulas that feed the skin and soul.