Managing loss of density and thinning hair is a reality for a vast number of New Zealand women as they age. Lucy Slight looks at the causes, treatments and quick fixes for female-pattern hair loss.
Quick fixes and long-term strategies for tackling thinning locks
It’s a condition we commonly associate with men; however, the lifetime incidence of androgenic alopecia (hair thinning with age) in white women is estimated to be around 50%, according to Dr Catherine Stone. Her appearance medicine clinic, The Face Place, regularly treats men and women living with hair loss and she explains that while it’s a condition that affects people of all ethnicities and has been a concern for centuries (as detailed in an Egyptian papyrus dating from as early as 4000 BC), the exact prevalence is still unknown.
Androgenic alopecia is the condition where genetically susceptible hair follicles start to get smaller – a process called miniaturisation – in response to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). While men tend to start showing signs of hair thinning at the temples first, then the crown and eventually the top of the head, in women thinning is more generalised, starting at the crown and often including the back and sides of the head as it progresses.
“Miniaturisation occurs due to the shortening of the growth phase of the hair in response to DHT. The hairs don’t have as much time to grow in each growth cycle, and so get progressively smaller and finer, resulting in thinning hair,” explains Dr Stone. “Each follicle has between one and four hairs and as more hairs become miniaturised, the hair progressively thins until the scalp appears bald.”
While genetics plays a key role in hair loss, there are a number of other factors that can contribute to the condition. “Stress, diet, medication, general health and pregnancy can all impact the density and diameter of hair strands and the overall hair and scalp health for both men and women,” says Gina Thomas, educational director for Coty Professional Beauty Australia and New Zealand.
There are three places to look for signs of hair thinning – the derma (there may be
‘Stress, diet, medication, general health and pregnancy can all impact the density and diameter of hair strands”
a lack of new growth due to an unhealthy scalp environment), density (seeing fewer hair strands), and diameter (noticeably finer hair strands – one of the first signs of thinning hair). So what can we do about it?
Long-term treatment solutions
There are a number of long-term solutions for thinning hair available now thanks to significant advancements in technology, producing great results for those suffering from different degrees of hair loss.
According to Dr Stone, research has shown that Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment, which uses the healing parts of your own blood, can be effective in tackling alopecia. During the treatment, tiny injections of the PRP are seeded through the area of hair thinning. The PRP increases blood flow to the area and reverses the miniaturisation process, resulting in thicker, fuller hair. “It takes several months to see results, which also last for months to years,” says Dr Stone.
“Different protocols ranging from weekly to annual treatments have been used, but the most common protocol – and the one we use at The Face Place – seems to be a course of three treatments each spaced a month apart, and then every four to 12 months depending on the individual and the severity of the hair loss.”
PRP is best for early-stage hair loss when the hair is just starting to thin; once the area is bald, there is low expectation of success.
Global research conducted by salon haircare brand Nioxin showed 61% of respondents were concerned about thinning hair. The brand offers an easy online consultation tool (visit nioxin. com) which can help diagnose the right treatment regime, depending on the level of thinning you are experiencing.
“The tool combines the existing state of the hair (for example, coloured, dry or brittle) with your individual hair priorities (thickness, colour vibrancy) to determine your personal tailored prescription. This will come in the form of a
Nioxin System Kit (levels
1-6) and the additional treatment products to support,” explains Gina Thomas. The Nioxin System Kit offers twotimes thicker, fuller hair in 30 days by way of an easy-to-use, three-step cleanse, optimise and treat programme which costs $69.
Fifty Kérastase salons around New Zealand now offer the option of an expert hair and scalp diagnosis with the Kérastase Diagnostic Camera, which you can add on to your hair appointment. The device zooms into the scalp and hair up to 600 times to enable the consultant to create an ultra-precise diagnosis and identify the condition of the hair and scalp, including concerns such as excessive oiliness, dandruff, dry scalp and sensitive hair.
Based on the diagnosis, a personalised Fusio-Dose treatment is prescribed with recommended take-home products. The camera can save and compare your results, allowing your consultant to track improvements over time. Use the Kérastase salon finder at hairsalons.kerastase.com and ring your local salon to ask about the Diagnostic Camera.
Quick-fixes for disguising thinning hair
If short-term solutions are more appealing to you, there are a number of ways to instantly make your hair appear fuller.
Highlights: “Having multiple colours in the hair, such as a darker base colour with lighter foils, is great for creating a perception of fuller, more lively hair,” says Kristal Sargent, owner of La Villa Hairdressing and Extensions.
Extensions: Opt for a damage-free method such as the microweave. Sargent explains: “It’s fantastic for instantly thickening the hair while being completely inconspicuous.”
Thickening lotion: Try using a hair densifying spray or serum after washing and before styling to add thickness and create visually fuller hair, such as Oribe Maximista Thickening Spray, $46.
Reduce stress on your hair with these techniques 1
Towel-dry hair gently after showering – too much force can cause tangles and breakage. Blow-dry on a medium heat setting and use a scrunching technique with your other hand to add extra lift and volume.
Sleeping on a silk pillowcase allows the hair to move more freely while you sleep, reducing the likelihood of breakages. Wearing your hair in a loose plait at night will help with this, too.
Wear your ponytail loose and low, rather than high and tight on the head to minimise stress on the hairline.
Give yourself a daily three-minute head massage to help increase blood circulation to the scalp and encourage hair growth. Enhance the benefits by using a hair growth serum as part of your massage, such as Éprouvage Reviving Scalp Serum, $64, which soothes and protects the scalp to provide the best conditions for your hair to thrive. ■