What Causes Hair Thinning And How To Hide It

By Concern

What Causes Hair Thinning In Women And The Best Ways To Hide It

31 October 2017
thinning hair
Jelani Addams Rosa

Jelani Addams Rosa

Junior Editor, Hair.com

As an employee of L'Oréal, Jelani brings her knowledge and passion for hair care to Hair.com. Before joining the Hair.com team, she spent time at Celebuzz, Seventeen, and Cosmo for Latinas.

Despite the fact that half of women will deal with female pattern hair loss by the age of 50, it’s a topic that’s rarely talked about. While the silence around hair thinning is understandable—it’s hard to admit you’re losing your hair—the silence ultimately does nothing to help educate women about what can cause hair loss, how to reduce your chances of experiencing it, and what you can do if you notice it.

In an effort to learn more about hair thinning, we reached out to Mizani artist and certified trichologist Evie Johnson. Johnson, who’s been educating hairstylists about hair and scalp health since 2014, answered all of our burning questions including what can cause hair thinning, how to reduce your odds of experiencing it, and what are the best styling tips to mask any thinning you may experience.

What are the primary causes of hair thinning in women?

Johnson wants to make it clear that it is almost never one thing that causes hair thinning. It’s usually a combination of several factors including genetics, overall health and how you treat your hair. When it comes to genetics, some women are predisposed to hair loss that runs in their family. If you are unsure whether or not hair loss is something any of the women in your family have dealt with—as it’s not a condition many women like to speak about—gently reach out. As with any health concern, the more information you’ll be better equipped to deal with it if you have more information about it. If you have additional questions about these health topics, your doctor is sure to be a great source of information.

Mental health is another factor to be mindful of when trying to figure out what might be causing hair thinning. Johnson says mental health issues as common as plain old stress can sometimes lead to hair loss. Again, if you have more questions, your doctor can provide the best information for you.

Johnson continues, noting that certain hairstyles and hair treatments that can be the culprit where hair thinning is concerned.

Taut braids and incredibly tight ponytails create tension and pulling that can really be damaging...Just as well, color services and relaxers can lead to thinning if there is an unnecessary amount of contact with the scalp, rather than the intended hair itself.

Evie Johnson

To help avoid the latter, always follow the directions on your product packaging or see a professional hair stylist for your coloring and chemical hair processing needs. When trying to figure out the potential cause of your hair thinning, be sure to pay attention to all three sections of your life.

Can you reduce your chances of experiencing hair thinning before it happens?

You can minimize your chances of dealing with hair thinning caused by over styling and botched hair treatments.

“Be considerate with your hair styling choices. Again, repeated tight styles that create too much tension and pulling can be harmful,” Johnson explains. “It is important to consult with a professional who can provide you with the necessary education.”

Stress is another possible hair loss trigger. While it may be impossible to remain stress-free all of the time, do your best to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Your hair will thank you. If you’re concerned your regular stylist doesn’t have enough knowledge about hair thinning, seek out a dermatologist or a trichologist like Johnson who specializes in the structure, function, and diseases associated with human hair and the scalp. 

Is there any way to address hair thinning once you've identified it?

Hair and scalp education have come a long way, making it much easier to deal with hair woes like thinning. While Johnson insists she’s never seen a case of hair thinning she has not been able to improve, that doesn’t always mean your hair will return to 100 percent of its former glory. Luckily, Johnson believes the most important thing you can do to minimize your chances of potentially suffering from hair loss is very easy.

“The number one thing I make sure of is that the scalp is clean...Any buildup is only going to deter any new growth further,” she explains.

If you’re not convinced your regular shampoo is doing the job, there are plenty of products on the market that are formulated to help cleanse the hair, roots, and scalp.

“Mizani has a professional scalp care range that includes an exfoliating product. I use this on my clients,” Johnson says, citing its ability to help lift and remove excess buildup from the scalp.

One thing you don’t want to do is opt for expensive extensions—they have the potential to cause even more damage.

“Extensions are definitely not a good solution for women with thinning hair. There’s a tendency to find a quick fix, like extensions or wigs to conceal thinning hair, but these options can actually make things worse,” she explains. “When extensions are removed, they can take the hair follicle with [them], which would result in additional hair loss or thinning. With wigs, putting more things on top of the scalp does not allow the hair room to breathe and grow.”

If you’ve dealt with hair loss for more than 15 years and are just seeking treatment, the chances of minimizing the thinning are much slimmer. Don’t wait to find help when dealing with hair loss. Time is of the essence when it comes to addressing problems with your precious locks.

What are the best ways to mask thinning hair on a day-to-day basis?

Hair loss is such a taboo topic mostly because no one wants to admit they have it. Even though we advocate for open and honest dialogue about hair, we don't think that means you can’t wish your hair looked fuller. By now, we all know you should try to avoid tight styles and long term installation styles—even ones that most people consider protective—but what can you do with your hair?

When styling your hair, you want to choose styles that are going to mask any bald spots and give the appearance of fuller locks. To begin, note where you are experiencing the most hair thinning. Female pattern hair loss tends to start in the middle of the scalp and work its way outward, so many stylists recommend opting for a side part in lieu of a middle part. Parting your hair down the middle will put your scalp on display, but a side part can cover any thinning areas as well while creating a little volume.

If you like to keep your hair up and away from your face during the day, ponytails and buns aren’t entirely off limits. Loosely tied ponytails and buns are a better way to pull off your favorite looks. If your bun isn’t as full as you’d like it to be, consider picking up a foam donut for your hair. It will make your bun appear fuller and make sure your style stays put all day long.

If you’re looking for a more voluminous style for a special occasion, backcombing your hair is a great way to achieve your sky-high goals. While backcombing your hair every day can lead to unnecessary breakage and stress on your locks, using the technique in moderation is totally fine for most manes. Once your style is complete, set your look with a firm hold hairspray to make sure your hair doesn’t lose volume throughout the night.

Wigs and hairpieces are also great options for special occasions. Like backcombing, you don’t want to rely on hair pieces too often. When used correctly and in moderation, however, hairpieces can give you the hair of your dreams (if only for one night).

If you’re still unsure what is okay to do with your hair, embracing your natural texture is a good option. Finding products that work well with your natural texture is a great way to make sure your hair looks and feels beautiful.

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