March 11, 2014

Female Balding: Immediate Fixes for Alopecia, or Fine/Thinning Hair

As women, there are just some things we don't go around shouting from the roof tops. Things like stretch marks, adult acne, boobs that have had the meat sucked out of them from nursing hungry babies...*frantically searches room for shoulder to cry on*. One of the biggest areas of embarrassment for women is losing their hair. Now, I'm not talking about hair breakage or damage that has caused the hair to thin or break off around the mid-shaft or ends, but rather the actual loss of hair at the root due to alopecia or female pattern baldness. This is a hot-button issue for women because so many of us associate our hair with our identity as females. As shallow as that sounds, it is true for so many women even if they don't want to admit it. When you think of "balding" you immediately think of an older man, a grandpa, a creepy uncle, a dad...not a seemingly healthy woman. But the truth is, this is a very real thing and if you or someone you know is experiencing thinning hair, you (or they) are not alone!

There are many factors that may be causing your thinning hair. I will attempt to break them down as simply as I can and then I'm going to focus on providing immediate solutions as opposed to permanent or "medical" solutions. However, if you are interested in reading about some of the medical options (most often prescribed is Minoxidil or "Rogaine") Harvard Health Publication has one of the best breakdowns of info I've found (scroll down to "treatment with medications") Before I get into the temporary fixes, there ARE some things you can do to help long-term. For starters, take a good look at your diet. Are you eating a bunch of processed junk with no nutrients and a ton of preservatives? Are you deficient in any key nutrients like iron or Vitamin B? There are some foods that you can incorporate into your daily diet that can really affect the health of your hair and skin. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, iron, biotin and vitamin A to name a few. Here are the top 10! If you add a biotin supplement to your diet, make sure you are getting plenty of water to flush out any extra that is not needed by your system. This doesn't happen to everyone, but some people experience painful cystic pimples if they start taking a biotin supplement and aren't getting at LEAST 8 full glasses of water to go with it.

Alrighty then. Let's get down to brass tacks...

Female pattern baldness is not as well understood as male pattern baldness, but may be related to:
  • family history of female or male pattern baldness
  • aging 
  • changes in our hormone levels (androgens)
Now, there ARE some causes of female baldness that can be explained, and those are things like:
  • certain autoimmune diseases (such as thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis)
  • alopecia areata or "patchy hair loss". Alopecia is NOT contagious and it is NOT due to nerves. What happens is that the immune system attacks the hair follicles causing hair loss.
  • breaking of hair (from treatments such as weaves, pulling or twisting of hair (braids), or abnormalities of the hair shaft
  • vitamin deficiencies (such as iron, Vitamin B, etc)
  • hormone problems
  • skin diseases that can cause blockage or scarring of the hair follicle
  • temporary shedding after a major illness, surgery or pregnancy
  • medications such as chemotherapy
Now that we have some of the "nuts and bolts" out of the way, you may be wondering what can be done to fix this?

Temporary fixes: these are some great options for immediate satisfaction. These solutions will give you the illusion of thicker, fuller hair at the root and will camouflage the scalp. One option is applied directly to the scalp with what looks like an over-sized eyeshadow applicator and colors the scalp so that it matches the hair, therefore giving the illusion of thicker, fuller hair at the root. The other option is either sprinkled or sprayed on at the root and deposits very light fibers that attach to the existing hair. Both options should be washed out when you shower as to avoid blocking or covering the hair follicles for an extended time period. Check them out!

DermMatch | This is the option that is applied directly to the scalp. See how to apply here. DermMatch comes in 8 colors and each "disc" lasts an average of 8 months. This is also a great way to cover up gray roots in between trips to your colorist! You can order it here and it comes with a 100% money back guarantee! Here are some before and after photos from women who have used DermMatch:

Toppik | This next option is my favorite. It instantly gives the appearance of a thick, full head of hair. This is a great option for someone struggling with pattern baldness, but also people that just want to "beef up" thin or extremely fine hair. Directly from the Toppik website: "Toppik Hair Building Fibers are actually natural Keratin of the highest grade, the same type of protein found in real hair. The Fibers have a strong natural static charge that creates a magnetic effect, tightly binding Toppik Hair Building Fibers to even the finest strand of human hair. The results have changed the lives of millions of women and men in various situations, ranging from fine or thinning hair to alopecia." Pretty cool, right? Toppik can be purchased directly from their website, or you can get it at Sephora (available online only at Sephora). If you're still struggling to understand how Toppik works, I pulled this neat-o illustration from their website to give you a better understanding (see below).

Before Toppik

After Toppik 
(illustration showing how the fibers attach to existing hair)

Check out this little video as an example of how easy it is to apply

COUVRe | made by Toppik is a similar concept to DermMatch. It is a scalp concealing lotion that eliminates the contrast between the scalp and the color of the hair. It is waterproof and is applied with a sponge.

Fullmore | also made by Toppik. This is a similar concept to Toppik, but it is a colored spray (aerosol) that instantly makes hair look thick and full. It does not have the tiny fibers that Toppik has. This would be a great option if you only have a few seconds to address the problem. Also a great option for "in between colors" to cover gray roots.

If you are looking for more topical options, Folica has one of the widest range of hair loss products I have seen online in one place. They have treatments, shampoos, conditioners, vitamins, and styling products.

And there you have it! Hopefully this offered you at least one option to try and assures you no more suffering in silence! If you end up giving any of these a try and are brave enough to talk about it, let me know if any of them worked for you!

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