Sudden and unexpected hair thinning or loss of hair can be shocking and… heartbreaking. But there are many lifestyle factors – factors that we do have control over – that can help reduce or even prevent hair loss. These lifestyle changes can have a significant impact, but we don’t often see them related.
Here are six lifestyle habits to adapt in order to reduce hair loss:
1. Use the right shampoo and conditioner
You should choose a shampoo that’s suitable for your own skin and type of hair. Did you know inflamed, itchy scalp that’s prone to dandruff does not promote healthy hair re-growth? Everyone’s skin is different, so what works for the rest of the family may not be the best shampoo for you. If you tend to have a very dry scalp then avoid washing your hair too often. Likewise, if you have an oily scalp, wash your scalp more regularly to remove the excess oils. You should avoid shampoo that contains sulfates, silicone and parabens. These are strong cleaners and strip the hair and scalp of natural oils that are needed for healthy hair growth
Using conditioner is just as important, even if you have very short hair. Conditioner works to lubricate the hair cuticle after it’s been cleaned, much like moisturizing your hands after you’ve been using dish soap.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet & Exercise Regularly
Eating right is the key to a healthy bodies, skin and hair. Healthy hair requires a certain amount of nutrients. If you are eliminating certain foods as part of a fad diet, you might experience hair loss. Nutritional deficiency can impact both hair structure and hair re-growth and diets low in protein, iron and niacin are particularly at risk. Likewise, sudden weight loss can trigger loss of hair. On the other hand, a well-balanced diet can help you to lose weight and supply your body with the vitamins and nutrients that it needs for healthy hair growth.
Have you ever noticed how people who work out a lot seem to glow from every pore? Their hair and skin seems luminescent. Working out keeps your body and mind in the best shape possible and decreases stress, also responsible for hair loss. Cardio is a great way to rid the body of toxins and when you sweat, your pores dilate, helping to get rid of trapped sebum around the hair follicle. Excessive sebum can block hair follicles and lead to the growth of bacteria or fungi. The healthier you are, the healthier your hair will be.
3. Eat Iron-Rich Foods
Anemia is an incredibly common blood condition often caused by a lack of iron. If you don’t have enough iron, your body can’t make enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells. This can result in lethargy, dizziness and weakness. Hair loss is a common symptom of anemia. Though there is no hard evidence to prove a direct link between iron deficiency and hair loss, many studies have shown otherwise. So boosting your iron levels and avoiding anemia is key. Women require more iron than men because of their menstrual cycle. This frequent loss of blood means they need to work harder to make up for the amount of iron they lose each month.
Try to include plenty of iron-rich foods in your diet such as red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, dark green leafy vegetable and dried fruits. Your doctor may also recommend a supplement.
4. Manage Stress
The mind has a profound effect on the body but many of us don’t give our minds the self-care that it needs. Many psychological issues ultimately manifest themselves physically and studies have shown that stress may be one of the biggest causes of disease, including hair loss.
Stress-induced hair loss is known as telogen effluvium and it is thought that stress forces the hair follicles to go into their resting phase. This is a normal phase that doesn’t usually last long before it cycles into a new growth phase. But in those suffering from alopecia (hair loss) it seems to get stuck here. Prolonged anxiety can likewise have an effect on both the physical body and the hair regrowth cycle.
Try to get plenty of regular exercise, learn to meditate, try out some yoga, limit stressful situations and seek out a medical professional where needed. These are all key tools to combating stress and anxiety and their power should not be underestimated.
5. Understand your medications
Many positive medications can result in some equally negative effects. The chemicals that make up these medications can upset the body’s natural balance and cause unexpected side effects in some people—such as hair loss.
The most commonly recognized of these are chemotherapy drugs. But there are other medications that can catch people off guard, because they only react in some people. These may include, but aren’t limited to: birth control pills, epilepsy drugs, high blood pressure medications, mood stabilizers, immunosuppressant drugs, and steroids.
Though emotionally distressing, the good news is that drug-induced hair loss is usually temporary and is directly related to the medication. You should see your doctor about switching medications where possible.
6. Avoid Over-styling
Hair loss due to cosmetic over-processing is an exceedingly common type of hair loss seen by dermatologists Seen almost exclusively in women, who are encouraged by societal pressures to look a certain way, the excessive use of styling tools are having serious effects on hair follicles.
Over use of blow-drying and hot straightening irons causes hair breakage; tight ponytails, cornrows and hair extensions can result in traction alopecia (hair loss caused by pulling forces); and chemical treatments including excessive bleaching, dying and straightening can see hair grow back weaker and thinner.
Try blow drying your hair on the lowest heat setting. Use heat protectant sprays. Talk to your hair stylist about gentler alternatives to the treatments that you currently use, and try not to do them more often than necessary. Let your hair breathe without being pulled into a style regularly. If you have acquired thin hair don’t resort to more hair extensions which only make things worse.
Most of the damage caused by over-styling can be reversed but you can still cause permanent damage if you continue to overstyle.
Make a Change Today
A U.S. study conducted in 2012 looked at 98 sets of identical twins to monitor the effects of environmental factors on hair loss. These included: psychological stress, multiple marriages, lack of sun protection, quality of life and physical activity and it concluded that some environmental risk factors do seem to relate directly to alopecia.
If you’re suffering from hair loss in any form, perhaps it’s a good time to look at the kind of lifestyle you’ve been leading and slowly try to make some changes. A doctor can prescribe endless medications but they can’t change your lifestyle. That starts with you. It could make all the difference to the health and longevity of your hair.
1.Emily L. Guo, Rajani Katta. “Diet And Hair Loss: Effects Of Nutrient Deficiency And Supplement Use”. PubMed Central (PMC). N.p., 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.
2. Katsarou-Katsari A, et al. “Alopecia Areata And Affected Skin CRH Receptor Upregulation Induced By Acute Emotional Stress. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.
3. Santos, Zenildo, Pinar Avci, and Michael R Hamblin. “Drug Discovery For Alopecia: Gone Today, Hair Tomorrow”. N.p., 2017. Print.
4. Gatherwright J, et al. “The Contribution Of Endogenous And Exogenous Factors To Female Alopecia: A Study Of Identical Twins. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.