Understanding Hair Loss
Hair loss is a SCARY thing for all of us. Our hair is an essential part of our self image. Hair loss in women is even more troubling because it isn't considered normal. I hear a lot of fears and misconceptions from my clients. Hair loss can be permanent or temporary. Discovering the reason for your hair loss can be the beginning of a solution or a strategy for dealing with the loss if it can not be corrected.
Understanding How Hair Grows
Before we dive into hair loss it is important to understand how hair grows. Hair follicles have three distinct stages. Knowing these phases will help you determine if you are experiencing hair loss.
- Anagen Phase - This is when your hair is growing. The follicles are producing hair. A normal hair growth rates is 1/4" a month. Some people experience more or less.
- Catagen Phase - This is the resting phase of the hair follicle. Hair isn't growing anymore.
- Telogen Phase - This is the shedding phase. This is when your hair follicle releases the hair and it falls out. Normal hair loss is 100-200 strands a day. The higher your density the more daily loss you will see.
Types of Hair Loss in Women
Alopecia is the term used for hair loss. There are different types of alopecia with different causes.
Androgenetic Alopecia is normally characterized by thinning throughout the hair in women. In Men there are distinct patterns. This form of hair loss can be caused by DHT, one of the precursors to testosterone. Too much DHT in the system will cause hair follicles to shrink and then stop producing hair. If caught early and corrected the hair follicle can recover. Other causes of androgenetic alopecia include ovarian cysts, birth control pills, pregnancy, menopause and heredity. A dermatologist who specializes in hair loss is a great place to start if you are experiencing this form of hair loss.
This type of hair loss is normally temporary and follows a trauma to the body. This can include childbirth, surgery, anesthesia, and extreme stress. There is a sudden shift of hair follicles to the telogen phase. Remember this is the shedding phase. Your follicles will normally recover over the course of a few months.
This form of hair loss is when 90% of more of the hair follicles enter the telogen phase and suddenly stop growing. The most common cause of anagen effluvium is chemotherapy. Follicles normally recover after chemotherapy although you may experience changes in hair texture and curl pattern.
This form of hair loss occurs from the overuse of tight hair styling. This can include braids, cornrows, and other styles that rely on the hair being pulled tightly. If caught early this can be corrected by wearing a more relaxed style. Prolonged tension will cause the follicles to die. This is normally seen around the perimeter of the hair first.
Occlusion of the Hair Follicle
This is the most common form of hair loss that a cosmetologist can help you with. Occlusion of the hair follicle is caused by the buildup of skin cells, sebum (the mixture of oil and sweat on the skin), cosmetics, and product buildup. This occlusion causes the hair to grow from the follicle with a damaged structure which results in breakage. Eventually the follicle will stop producing hair. If the cause of the occlusion is rectified within a few months the follicle will resume normal hair production.
Excess skin buildup can be corrected with the use of a clarifying shampoo and exfoliation of the scalp. At Parvati's Mirror we recommend Davines NaturalTech Detoxifying Scrub Shampoo and the use of a scalp scrubber.
Excess Sebum is caused by an imbalance in the scalp. The body will struggle to maintain the acid mantel on the scalp. This is the mixture of sebum and sweat that forms the protective layer over our skin. The most common cause of this problem is the use of over the counter shampoo that contains too much alcohol or with too many cleansing agents which dry out the scalp or overly cleanses off the acid mantel. The body will react by producing more sebum which can build up around the hair follicles. We recommend using Davines Minu or DeDe shampoo to rebalance the scalp. This process can take several months before natural balance is restored.
Cosmetics are a relatively new cause of follicle occlusion. Advances in materials in makeup has resulted in ever finer particles being used. This is great for providing full coverage and a flawless finish in powders, foundation and moisturizers but can wreak havoc on the follicles around the hairline. If you are experiencing hair loss around your face we recommend a skin care regime that includes a strong cleansing agent, paying special attention to the hair line.
Hair Breakage or Hair Loss
It is important to determine if you are having hair loss or hair breakage. The best person to help you determine this is your cosmetologist. They know your hair and can recognize common changes. If you are experiencing breakage this can be caused by styling methods, chemical treatments such as highling, scalp occlusion or lifestyle. Your cosmetologist can help you identify the cause and provide solutions.
We're here to help!
If you are wondering if you are having hair loss, hair breakage or scalp occlusion we are happy to provide you a consultation and help you determine what the trouble is. We'll provide you with a customized hair diagnosis and let you know your hair type, density and condition.