Hair loss doesn’t get talked about enough – but it’s real and it’s something many women face. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 40% of women have visible hair loss before hitting 40 years old.
In communities of color specifically, hair is imbued with importance and ideas of beauty, so it’s understandable that for many women who suffer from hair loss, it can cause feelings of shame and lead to lack of confidence. Know that you are beautiful irrespective of your hair – but we do understand that dealing with hair loss is a complicated, difficult issue for those who face it.
There are definitely ways to combat hair loss, and a few things you can do to prevent it, or at least slow it down. Note that Belle Bar is not authorized to give medical advice, so always consult with a healthcare professional to ensure you’re going about things the best way possible.
Genetics: this is when a hair condition is hereditary. Examples of this kind of hair loss are female pattern baldness and alopecia.
Stress: Excessive feelings of stress and anxiety can lead to hair shedding.
Poor diet: The saying you are what you eat couldn’t be truer! A poor diet can in fact be a cause of hair loss and shedding.
Hormonal changes: Changes in hormones due to pregnancy, childbirth, thyroid problems and menopause can lead to temporary or permanent hair loss as well.
These are a few of the common types of hair loss and recommendations on how to combat them. Always seek medical advice from a doctor.
This is the most common form of hair loss and is currently experienced by 6.8 million Americans. Also known as spot baldness, alopecia is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair to fall out leaving bald spots and patches. It can range from mild (a few patches on the scalp) to extreme cases such as alopecia universalis which affects the entire body.
Symptoms of alopecia usually develop before the person turns 30 years old, and can take place within a matter of days. There is currently no cure for alopecia, although doctors can recommend treatments that aid in re-growth such as corticosteroids which can be administered in tablets, topical ointments, or injections. In some milder cases of alopecia, it is possible for people to experience a sudden recovery of hair growth without the need for treatment. If you are suffering from alopecia, remember to wear sunscreen on the bald spots if you will be exposed to the sun, as hair serves to protect our scalps.
During pregnancy, your body completely changes. It produces more hormones such as oxytocin (a hormone which controls aspects of your reproductive system) and estrogen (the female sex hormone which maintains the reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics), and there is almost a 50% increase of blood in your body by the time the baby is set to be born.
The rise in hormones and the sudden drop after the baby is born definitely affect your hair. For the few days and months after childbirth, many women are confused as to why their hair is falling out in clumps – although this is something not to worry about at all. Our hair grows in cycles, which is why a strand of hair will naturally terminate at the end of its growth cycle. During pregnancy, the rise in estrogen stops hair from falling out at the end of its cycle. Therefore as your hormone levels neutralize after the baby is born (which can take anything from a few days up to a year), all the hair that was meant to have been shed during your nine months pregnancy will come out. This is nothing to worry about and a very normal part of childbirth.
As women, we go through so many changes in our bodies throughout our lifetimes. From puberty and PMS to pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, it can seem like our bodies are in constant fluctuation, always doing their best to keep up and adapt to whatever situations we put them in. The news is such changes can have both positive and negative impacts on our bodies.
Earlier we talked about the effects pregnancy can have on your hair, but there are different types of hormonal changes that can do this too such as menopause. During menopause, a woman’s levels of estrogen and progesterone are reduced (the hormones that are responsible for a woman’s sexual and reproductive developments). These hormones also both help hair grow so when they decrease, it makes our hair grow slower. The decrease in estrogen and progesterone leads to increasing levels of another hormone called androgens, which is a male hormone that causes hair follicles to shrink. All of this leads to hair loss during menopause.
There are treatments such as stimulants and hair transplants that can help, and there are also things you can do to improve the quality of your hair.
Treatments such as chemotherapy lead to hair loss not only on a patient’s scalp but their entire body. This can include brows, facial hair, eyelashes, public hair, and more.
Hair loss is experienced by 65% of people who undergo chemotherapy. For people undergoing this treatment, it’s recommended to ask your doctor for a cooling cap – this can help to prevent hair loss by slowing down the flow of blood to the scalp, which can, in turn, decrease the effects of the procedure on hair follicles. It’s important to remember that hair loss from chemo is temporary, and a patient’s hair will likely grow back three to six months after treatment is stopped.
There are also a few medications that have been considered to lead to hair loss in some people who take them. These medications include gout medication, steroids, psoriasis treatment, and cholesterol-lowering medications. Please always consult with your doctor for professional medical advice.
Although there is no way to completely stop hair loss caused by genetics or changes in your hormones from happening if they were bound to, there are things you can do to ensure your hair is the healthiest possible to minimize the effects and prevent it. Again, always consult with your doctor to ensure you are doing what works best for you.
Do not over-manipulate your hair: Using heat excessively such as straighteners, hot combs and blowdryers to constantly manipulate your hair can lead to unnecessary shedding, which can, in turn, make the hair weaker. If someone with weak, damaged hair was to suffer from hair loss, the effects will be more visible than someone who has maintained healthy, natural hair. Also, try to avoid hairstyles that are tight and create unnecessary tension on your scalp.
Be gentle: Handle your hair with care. Tugging and pulling your hair can lead to losing more hair than you otherwise would have. Use wide-tooth combs and detangle your hair gently. Your hair is your crown, so treat it that way!
Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating well and having a diet that is rich in essential fatty acids and good proteins will boost your immune system which can have a positive impact on your hair. Supplements such as folic acid and Vitamin B6 can also help. Avoid smoking as studies have shown that in some cases it can lead to accelerated hair loss. Also, hydrate WELL and make sure to drink lots of water.
Do not chemically process your hair: Using relaxers, texturizers, and products designed to manipulate your hair texture can compromise the health of your hair, and although it cannot cause hair loss in itself, if you were to face hereditary or hormonal hair loss, the effects could be more prominent.
Reduce stress: Stress can often accelerate hair loss, so doing things like exercising, meditating, and seeing a therapist are all factors that can reduce stress and contribute to your having the healthiest hair possible. Read our post all about building a 360 wellness practise – this can help reduce stress.
Follow a hair care regimen that suits your hair type: Maintaining healthy hair is a forever thing – it can’t just be achieved overnight. Make sure you’re following a regime that suits your hair porosity, and doesn’t make use of harmful chemicals. Take our hair porosity quiz to find out what products work exactly for your hair type.
Here are a few ingredients that have been found to promote hair growth. Please consult a medical professional before using the following ingredients if you are suffering from hair loss.
Truly a miracle plant, aloe vera is loved for its versatility. Dubbed the “plant of immortality” by ancient Egyptians, aloe vera has been used medicinally for centuries. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals that work just as well on our insides as they do on our outsides. It’s packed with over 20 minerals and vitamins such as A, C, and E – which are all essential for healthy hair growth. Aloe vera is also able to reduce your scalp producing excess sebum, which can clog pores and slow down hair growth. You can use it as a moisturizer, in your hair to nourish your scalp and clear up dandruff, and it’s also able to prevent signs of ageing because it’s full of antioxidants!
Porosity: Aloe vera is fine for all porosities, but if you’re low porosity, don’t be too heavy handed with it as it can potentially be a little drying if you don’t counterbalance it with enough moisturizing ingredients.
Top tip: For your LCO or LOC method, use also vera juice as your ‘liquid’. It’s nourishing,moisturising and provides great slip.
BBO products that contain Aloe Vera: Rice Water Health & Strength Hair Mask, Hibiscus & Black Soap Moisturizing Hair Cleanser, Onion & Garlic Thickening Ayurvedic Herb Hair Oil, Intense Fenugreek Regeneration Hair Mask.
Onions are excellent for you because they’re full of vitamins C, B6, A, E, plus minerals like folate, iron, potassium, sulfur, and manganese — a mineral that’s known to protect the body from the cold and flu viruses hen it comes to onion juice, though, all those vitamins and minerals work together to work some serious magic on our hair. Research has shown that onion juice has been shown to successfully treat patchy alopecia areata by stimulating hair growth. This is because of its sulfur content which is excellent for your scalp and improves circulation, therefore promoting hair growth.
Porosity: Onion juice works great for all porosities.
Top tip: You can use it as a pre-poo, or by adding a quarter cup into your favourite hair mask.
Rosemary is excellent for reducing hair loss. Research has shown that it has been used to treat androgenetic alopecia. Rosemary works by stimulating blood supply to the hair follicles, in turn leading to hair loss. Do not use essential oils directly on the skin – mix a few drops into a carrier oil such as jojoba, or olive oil and massage your scalp. Not only do they feel amazing (especially when someone else does them), but they’re excellent for increasing blood flow to the scalp, which promotes hair growth.
Porosity: Rosemary works great for all porosities.
Top tip: Do not use rosemary essential oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, because it has uterine and menstrual flow stimulant effects.