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.

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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.

At-home care

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.

In-sa­lon di­ag­no­sis

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.keras­ 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. ■

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