How to Prevent Thinning Hair

HairAvoid Taking Hot Showers

Hot water dehydrates strands (just like skin), leading to dry, brittle hair that’s more prone to snap and fall out, explains Ryan Welter, MD, a Boston-based hair transplant surgeon. “Not only are you washing your hair’s protective oils down the drain, but the heat throws your scalp’s pores into overdrive to keep up with oil production, which can damage the root and lead to additional shedding.”

Save your strands: Take the temp down a few degrees. “Opt for a warm shower, and try to rinse hair with the coolest temperature possible.”

Do Not Use Hot Styling Tools

Scorching temps damage the proteins that make up your hair and its protective cuticle. “Once the cuticle is damaged, the moisture balance is disrupted and your hair is more prone to breakage,” says Dr. Bauman.

Save your strands: Limit your hot tool usage—even your blow-dryer — to two or three times a week, and start with the coolest setting possible. Always apply a heat-protection spray, which creates a thermal barrier to reduce friction.

4 tips for less damaging heat styling

Choose the right conditioner

All conditioners leave behind ingredients that make hair smooth, but some also deposit a beneficial protective oil. John Frieda Hydrate + Rescue Deep Conditioner ($10; drugstores) encases hair in an undetectable coat of omega-3-rich Inca inchi oil, a plant derivative that doesn’t weigh hair down.

Prep hair with a heat-protective spray

Consider this step a second layer of defense. Use a spray that contains dimethicone or amodimethicone; both ingredients lock in moisture so it isn’t lost during styling. We suggest Got2b Guardian Angel Flat Iron Balm ($6; drugstores).

Are you drying your hair wrong? Check out The Healthiest Way To Dry Your Hair (hint: it’s not air-drying!).

Find a better brush

Use a ventilated version, like the Ion Titanium Vented Ionic Brush ($7; sallybeauty.com), as you dry; the openings allow air to flow, so strands don’t rest against a scalding surface. Even better: Keep the dryer 6 inches away and always in motion, so you don’t focus the heat on one area.

Go ceramic

If you use a curling iron or flatiron, choose an instrument with ceramic plates that conduct heat evenly (no scorching spots) and let hair glide past them smoothly. Try one from the Remington T-Studio Silk Ceramic line ($40 and under).

Avoid Crash Diet

Starving yourself forces the body to direct its energy (the little it has) towards essential functions—like helping your heart and brain work—rather than making hair. In fact, when diagnosing anorexics, one of the top symptoms is severe hair loss, says Paradi Mirmirani, a Vallejo, California dermatologist specializing in hair disorders.

Save your strands: Eat a healthy diet with plenty of lean protein like fish, chicken, lentils and beans. “Hair is primarily made of protein,” she explains. “It’s the one thing that can make or break your hair if you’re not getting enough.” Aim for 46 grams per day (or about 25 to 30% of your total calories).

Handle Wet Hair with Care

Our strands are never more fragile—and prone to breakage—than when they’re saturated with water, since the protective cuticle is slightly raised. Brushing or combing locks in the shower, then following with aggressive towel-drying, create the perfect storm for snapping it off.

Save your strands: Minimize post-shower brushing by combing before hair gets wet. Then, blot (don’t rub!) hair with a soft towel after your shower.

Avoid Tight Hairstyles

If a tight ponytail or braid is your go-to, beware: Sporting these styles puts excessive tension on the hair follicles, damaging them and creating scars that destroy them permanently, says Doris Day, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist specializing in hair health. This can lead to traction alopecia, a condition that permanently weakens the follicle and makes it impossible for hair to grow.

Save your strands: Loosen up! Try wearing your hair down whenever possible (especially while sleeping; rolling around on a pillow can create even more friction). When you do tie your strands back, keep it soft—if it’s pulling on your skin, it’s way too tight.

Avoid Long-lasting Hold Styling Products

If your hairspray or gel claim All-day Mega-hold, they’re actually making your locks harder to hold on to. “These are usually high in alcohol, which makes hair dry and brittle,” says Dr. Mirmirani. “Once you comb or brush your hair, that residue causes the hair to break and fall out.”

Save your strands: Skip any products that make hair stiff or sticky. Instead, opt for softer-hold solutions like styling creams that keep hair’s moisture intact and don’t create friction when brushing. We like Living Proof Nourishing Styling Cream ($30).

Stop Taking Oral Birth Control Pills

If you’re one of the many women who are sensitive to hair shedding or thinning due to hormonal changes, the wrong oral birth control can weaken your hair. “A pill that contains androgens can cause hair loss for someone who’s ‘androgen sensitive’ and doesn’t know it,” says Dr. Bauman.

Save your strands: Switch to low-androgen index birth control pills like norgestimate (in Ortho-Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen), norethindrone (in Ovcon 35), desogestrel (in Mircette), or ethynodiol diacetate (in Demulen, Zovia). If you want to know whether you have an androgen sensitivity, a hair restoration physician can perform a quick cheek-swab genetic test.

Stop Scratching your Head

Itchy scalp (like that caused by seborrheic dermatitis) may result in hair loss due to scratching-induced hair damage, says Dr. Bauman. Once the cuticle is damaged, the hair fiber is prone to breakage.

Save your strands: Relieve the itch with a shampoo that contains selenium, zinc pyrithione, or tea tree oil, like Head & Shoulders Extra Strength Dandruff Shampoo ($7; amazon.com). If over-the-counter products don’t help, your doctor can prescribe prescription anti-fungal shampoo or cortisone foam.

Avoid the Sun

Even if you’ve (wisely) given up tanning, chances are your hair is still exposed to UV rays, which eat away at the strength and elasticity of your hair. “Prolonged UV exposure causes the layers of the cuticle to weaken and break, resulting in brittle hair that can lead to hair loss,” says Dr. Bauman.

Save your strands: Wear a hat—preferably one with built-in UV protection—whenever possible (and don’t forget to tuck your ponytail underneath). Worried about hat hair? Try using a leave-in conditioner with built-in sunscreen like Kerastase Soleil Micro-Voile Protecteur ($50; amazon.com). (Protect yourself from damaging rays with this ultimate guide to sun safety.)

Washing Hair Often

Now that dry shampoo is a staple in most of our beauty arsenals, it’s easier than ever to skip a few days between washing. Convenient? Yes. But not so great for your hair: “A buildup of product or excessive dandruff on the scalp has been shown to clog hair follicles, and if it’s bad enough, it can be difficult for hair to grow,” says Dr. Day.

Save your strands: There’s nothing wrong with skipping shampoo for a day. But if it becomes a habit, product residue, dirt, and oil can clog pores in the scalp. Be sure to wash your hair every two days, especially if you’re sweating or using lots of products. To prevent excessive dryness, switch to a sulfate-free shampoo like L’Oreal Paris Ever Strong Thickening Shampoo ($6; amazon.com).

Careful with Medications

Certain medications (like statins, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety agents, anti-hypertensive medications) or hormones (like thyroid replacement drugs) can cause hair loss. “These can disrupt or interfere with the normal cycle of hair growth, causing hair to go into a resting phase and fall out prematurely,” says Dr. Bauman.

Save your strands: Ask your doctor about alternative medications that don’t have the same hair-loss repercussions.

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Published in: on July 25, 2015 at 2:16 am  Leave a Comment  

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