It can be unsettling to see all the hair at the bottom of the drain after a shower, collected in your hairbrush or on the floor after blow-drying. Thankfully, from over-the-counter products to natural remedies, there are hair loss solutions that can help your thinning woes. But before you make lifestyle changes, head to the store or make an online purchase, let’s take a closer look at the problem. We sought out expert advice to determine your next steps before you lather with a new hair loss shampoo or add a new vitamin to your daily routine.
Why Am I Losing My Hair?
For men, the most common form of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia (also known as male pattern baldness). “Its causes are multifactorial,” says Dr. Bryan Tan, an osteopathic physician whose research includes but is not limited to immunology and dermatology. “Hormonally, it is caused by DHT or dihydrotestosterone, a form of testosterone which only affects the vertex and the front of the scalp. It is also caused by poor blood circulation to the scalp.” Medical treatments for androgenetic alopecia involve finasteride (which blocks the production of DHT) and topical minoxidil (which dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow to the scalp).
For women, the most common form of hair loss is female pattern hair loss. Also multifactorial, hormones are a part of the problem typically with women who are post-menopausal. Other causes include stress, thyroid issues, fungal infections on the scalp and poor nutrition and diet, Dr. Tan says.
In addition to the above reasons, tight hairstyles—on women or men—can also cause hair loss, says Dr. Tan. “Formally known as traction alopecia, constant tension on the hair follicle, whether from a tight bun, ponytail, braid, weave or cornrow, can lead to premature balding. Any style that is always pulling on the roots will eventually cause problems.”
Hair Loss Prevention 101
When you first realize you’re suffering from hair loss or thinning, you may be inclined to go into immediate action to fix the problem. Stop for a moment and find out the type of hair loss you’re experiencing first. Visit a hair loss specialist, advises Dr. Tan, and get a conclusive diagnosis to lead you to the proper remedies, like hair growth supplements, topical minoxidil and vitamins. Your doctor will recommend the proper course of action, which may also include prescription medications, tailored to your specific needs. “These, along with diet and lifestyle changes, are often enough to reverse hair loss,” Dr. Tan points out.
Healthy Hair Tips
Other small changes can make a big difference in terms of strengthening your hair. For starters, you can shampoo less to maximize hair growth (2-4 times per week is ideal). And when you do wash your hair, don’t use shampoo containing sodium lauryl sulfate, a lathering agent that’s been known to dry skin by dissolving vital skin oils. “[Shampoo] ingredients that have been clinically proven [to help hair grow] include ketoconazole alongside minoxidil,” explains Dr. Tan. “A shampoo containing caffeine may help as well, as it helps stop DHT from causing hair loss.”
Whenever you do wash your hair, massage your scalp away from the shower water and definitely condition it every time. “Using a conditioner with naturally moisturizing [elements] such as argan oil, avocado oil or jojoba oil after you shampoo can help restore oils in your hair,” says Dr. Tan. Doing so will restore the natural balance of oils and moisture. It also smoothes down the cuticle of each hair so that the cortex is protected and the hair shaft is strengthened. Not conditioning enough can leave your hair dry, brittle and irritated, which can cause more breakage than typical.
6 Best Shampoos for Hair Loss
Once you’ve consulted an expert about your hair loss, you’re ready for the next step: shopping for a good shampoo. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites here:
Art Naturals Hair Growth Treatment Argan Oil Shampoo
Art Naturals Hair Growth Treatment Argan Oil Shampoo blends DHT blockers with proteins, botanical oils and extracts to prevent hair damage and further hair loss. It also stimulates the scalp and hair follicles for renewed hair growth. Simply apply a small amount to wet hair and wash gently while massaging the scalp. Rinse your hair with lukewarm water and dry as usual.
Avalon Organics Thickening Shampoo
Avalon Organics Thickening Shampoo restores thinning hair with biotin. A top seller at LuckyVitamin.com, it contains a carefully balanced blend of the “beauty vitamin,” in addition to saw palmetto, quinoa protein and vitamin E, which are all great for stimulating the scalp to encourage hair growth.
Organix Thick & Full Biotin and Collagen Shampoo
It’s right in the name. Organix Thick & Full Biotin and Collagen Shampoo contains properties that help give your hair volume and thickness. Its ProVitamin B7 biotin infuses nutrients into every strand of your hair. The collagen adds dimension. Hydrolyzed wheat proteins in this shampoo also work to strengthen your hair to prevent breakage and to keep it looking healthy. Apply it generously to wet hair, massage and lather from top to ends, and rinse thoroughly. Don’t forget to condition!
Andalou Naturals Argan Stem Cell Age Defying Shampoo
Andalou Naturals Argan Stem Cell Age Defying Shampoo promises fuller looking hair with amplified body, volume and shine after use. It makes those attributes possible with key ingredients like apple stem cells and grape stem cells. So science-y you can’t understand? The former is rich in phytonutrients, proteins and long-living cells. The latter is extremely high in anthocyanin content, which is almost like a “superfood” for hair!
Nature’s Gate Vegan Shampoo Enriching Biotin + Bamboo
As this shampoo gently cleanses your hair with a unique blend of biotin, bamboo and pro-vitamin B5, damaged hair will “eat” the nutrients in the process. Nature’s Gate Vegan Shampoo Enriching Biotin + Bamboo is also vegan, non-GMO, paraben-free, gluten-free, soy-free and cruelty-free—in case you care about those things. There’s nothing artificial about this hair loss fighter.
Giovanni 2Chic Avocado & Olive Oil Ultra-Moist Shampoo
As one of the more pricier options on our list, the Giovanni 2Chic Avocado & Olive Oil Ultra-Moist Shampoo was deemed a favorite because it conquers dry, damaged hair with a botanical blend of buttery avocado and golden olive oil, as well as vitamins and omega fatty acids. It is also lauryl- and laureth sulfate-free. The result will be a silky and shiny mane.
How to Style Thinning Hair
After you shampoo and condition, how should you style your hair if it’s thinning? Gregg Giannillo, celebrity stylist to Vanessa Williams and Lara Spencer (just to name a couple) and owner of Giannillo Salon, weighs in.
He says women who are suffering from hair loss should wear a mid-length bob with light layering for some volume.
For men (depending on the amount of hair you’re working with, that is), a choppy texture on top will diffuse the light and cover more of your scalp, Giannillo says.
Vitamins for Hair Health
Since a poor diet robust with highly-processed and sugary foods can sometimes be to blame for hair loss, it’s a good idea to start eliminating those culprits now. A more natural diet is beneficial to your mane. Dr. Tan says to keep these vitamins in mind for optimal hair health:
Lindsey Bristol, a registered dietician and nutritionist for Swanson Health, echoes the “eat healthy” sentiment. She recommends biotin-rich foods to help increase hair growth. “Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin and a member of the B-complex family of vitamins that is often called the ‘beauty vitamin,’” she says. “Researchers believe it may do so by improving your body’s keratin structures. Keratin forms the framework of epithelial cells, which line the surfaces and cavities of the body.”
Bristol suggests eating biotin food sources like beef liver, egg, salmon, sunflower seeds, almonds, tuna, spinach and broccoli.