What to do when your hair falls out.

As more Canadian women ex­pe­ri­ence hair loss, the in­dus­try is re­spond­ing with new prod­ucts and a new per­spec­tive on what was once per­ceived as a man’s prob­lem.

ELLE (Canada) - - #Storyboard - By Mar­il­isa Racco

From an early age, we are taught that long, lus­trous hair—like PMS or an affin­ity for the colour pink—de­fines our wom­an­hood. Fairy­tale hero­ines and Dis­ney princesses boast thick waist-length locks or hair gath­ered atop their heads in pil­lowy mounds. From these Ra­pun­zels and Cin­derel­las, we learn that whether we are be­ing saved or do­ing the saving, our hair re­mains an un­threat­ened source of fem­i­nin­ity.

This nar­ra­tive is fur­ther es­poused by Hol­ly­wood. Here, ex­ten­sions and hair­pieces are a sta­ple for nearly all celebri­ties seen on the red car­pet, at photo shoots or even just on a trip to Star­bucks. The ex­tra-hair help is an open secret among stylists but rarely dis­cussed pub­licly, set­ting us up for in­se­cu­ri­ties about our own less­lus­trous strands. (Props to Kylie Jen­ner for show­ing her tracks on Snapchat and Chrissy Teigen for ad­mit­ting on In­sta­gram “All this hair!? Nottttttt all mine!”) This “my hair woke up like this” false re­al­ity con­ceals a com­mon is­sue: thin hair. “You’d be sur­prised if you saw my celebrity clients in my chair and then on the red car­pet,” says David Adams, co-owner of the Four­teenJay sa­lon in New York. “Lots of celebri­ties like hav­ing ex­ten­sions, but not for long, glam hair; it’s about adding vol­ume and thick­ness.”

There’s thin hair and then there’s thin­ning hair. Ac­cord­ing to the Canadian Hair Re­search Foun­da­tion, 40 to 50 per­cent of women will ex­pe­ri­ence hair loss by the time they reach menopause—beyond the usual 125 strands that we pull out of our hair­brushes on the daily. Health Canada doesn’t track sta­tis­tics on the sub­ject, but Ken Rob­son, pres­i­dent of the Canadian In­sti­tute of Hair and Scalp Spe­cial­ists in Mis­sis­sauga, Ont., says that hair trans­plants for women at his clinic have in­creased by 20 per­cent over the past five years. A 2014 L’Oréal Canada hair-care study of 1,075 Canadian women aged 14 to 69 found that 27 per­cent claimed to be suf­fer­ing from thin or thin­ning hair. Women’s hair loss isn’t quite a Hair Club for Men sit­u­a­tion—it’s rare that a woman will ex­pe­ri­ence com­plete bald­ness. Rather, they com­plain of thin­ner and fewer strands of hair, a smaller pony­tail, more break­age and a vis­i­ble scalp.

All hair goes through a nat­u­ral cy­cle of growth and shed­ding. Dur­ing the an­a­gen, or growth, phase, hair cells di­vide to pro­duce new fi­bres and

the fol­li­cle buries it­self in the scalp. Hair then grows around one cen­time­tre per month and sheds after three to six years. In un­healthy hair, the time­line drops to just a few months. In the process, ex­plains Dr. Char­lene Lin­zon, direc­tor of For­est Hill Der­ma­tol­ogy in Toronto, “it’s re­placed by a new hair that’s smaller and thin­ner. And since ev­ery fol­li­cle does this cy­cle roughly 10 times in our life­time, when it cy­cles fre­quently, you’ll go through those 10 cy­cles much quicker.”

Who’s at risk? Some peo­ple are ge­net­i­cally pre­dis­posed to hair loss (thanks, mom!) or ex­pe­ri­ence it be­cause of re­duced es­tro­gen lev­els fol­low­ing child­birth. (Thanks, kids!) Low iron in the blood means that the body can’t pro­duce enough hair­cell pro­tein, while a hor­monal im­bal­ance from a thy­roid con­di­tion may also be to blame.

Then there are per­sonal choices. Your lifestyle—not your lack of blow-dry­ing skills—may contribute to a per­pet­ual lack of vol­ume. “Hair is fed di­rectly from the blood­stream and is made up of amino acids from the foods we eat, so diet and lifestyle are re­ally im­pact­ful to hair growth,” says Adams. Stress also has an im­pact—although sci­en­tists don’t know why. “Some­times the ge­netic form of hair loss is trig­gered ear­lier if some­one de­vel­ops stress hair loss first,” says Lin­zon. “In gen­eral, I tell my pa­tients to man­age stress by mak­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tions to their lifestyle—like bet­ter diet, ex­er­cise, sleep, med­i­ta­tion and yoga.”

For the proac­tive set, Ro­gaine re­cently launched “Women’s Ro­gaine,” an over-the-counter treat­ment that prom­ises to re­grow hair in 12 weeks. It con­tains 5 per­cent mi­nox­i­dil, which is the only Health Canada-ap­proved hair-loss treat­ment for women. Its dis­cov­ery came about quite serendip­i­tously some 30 years ago: It was be­ing used as blood-pres­sure med­i­ca­tion when doc­tors no­ticed it made pa­tients’ hair thicker. When the foam is ap­plied to the scalp, it keeps hair in the an­a­gen growth phase longer, thus pre­vent­ing shed­ding and keep­ing hair from go­ing into cy­cle over­drive.

Hair-care com­pa­nies have also got­ten in the game. In March, Nioxin, a hair-growth sham­poo and treat­ment brand, in­tro­duced Night Den­sity Res­cue, which con­tains an­tiox­i­dants to neu­tral­ize hair-thin­ning free rad­i­cals on the scalp. Aveda’s three-step In­vati line in­cludes con­di­tioner made with soy pro­tein and those es­sen­tial-to-glossy­hair amino acids and a scalp re­vi­tal­izer with an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory turmeric and scalp-stim­u­lat­ing ginseng. The OGX Fight Fall­out+ Niacin3 & Caf­feine col­lec­tion re­port­edly ex­fo­li­ates the scalp to re­duce break­age, mak­ing hair look thicker.

On the in­gestible front, sup­ple­ments that pro­mote hair growth in­clude bi­otin (vi­ta­min H) and vi­ta­min D (although Lin­zon be­lieves that the stud­ies on both are weak). There is also er­goth­ioneine, an an­tiox­i­dant found in cer­tain mush­rooms and used in GROH, a hair-growth system now in sa­lons in Ed­mon­ton and Toronto. A model musthave—other than a wind ma­chine—is Vivis­cal Max­i­mum Strength, a sup­ple­ment that uses in­gredi­ents like ex­tract from the horse­tail plant and farmed shark-fin car­ti­lage to feed hair fol­li­cles. (It’s Goop-ap­proved.) And celebrity hair­styl­ist Jen Atkin is bringing her Ouai Sup­ple­ment for Thin­ning Hair to Canada next year.

Frank Rizzieri, co-owner of Four­teenJay and an Aveda guest artist, says that a shoul­der-length cut will help re­dis­tribute the weight of your hair and give the il­lu­sion of full­ness. At home, treat your hair as you would your best friend after a breakup: gen­tly. “Be­fore you go to bed, care­fully brush out tan­gles and knots. If you let those build up, you’ll pull too much and lose more hair,” says Rizzieri. And don’t ig­nore proper scalp care, such as mas­sag­ing it dur­ing wash­ing to un­clog pores. Styling prod­ucts can build up on the scalp and trigger ex­cess se­bum, block­ing the fol­li­cles.

Rizzieri also rec­om­mends skip­ping prod­ucts with al­co­hol, which dry out and even break fine colour-treated hair. Poly­mers and sil­i­cones, mean­while, will weigh down fine hair. “You want to work with a pro­fes­sional stylist who will con­sult with you on what’s best,” says Rizzieri. “If you’re go­ing to budget for any­thing to com­bat thin­ning hair, start there.” Take that, fairy god­mother. n

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