The desire to prevent and reverse hair loss is held by most people at some point in their lives, and it can be a point of huge stress for some. Thinning of the hair is usually associated mostly with men, but millions of women every day are also dealing with this issue.
We've all seen the awful infomercials promising miracle pills that provide long luscious locks or guaranteeing that hair transplants are your best option. If both safety and affordability are concerns, read on to learn what treatments actually do work to prevent and reverse hair loss.
The Diet and Hair Loss Connection
A major factor in preventing hair loss starts with your diet. Our hair is mostly made up of protein. To properly feed these structures, a healthy, well-rounded diet is important.
Staying away from unhealthy and processed foods is a great foundation, but adding extra nutrients to encourage healthy hair growth will give you the best results. Below is a list of hair healthy foods and nutrients.
- Protein: Our hair is primarily made up of protein, so it is essential that we incorporate it into our diet. When we think protein, you don't always have to go for the animal variety. Leafy, green spinach has plenty of plant protein that will also do the trick.
- Add Iron and Zinc: Iron helps with transmitting oxygen to your hair follicles. It may also help your body use protein to grow and build strong hair. Zinc aids the body in repairing and growing hair, and it may keep the oil glands of the hair working properly. You can take a zinc supplement, but natural sources such as peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, and chickpeas may be even better.
- Don't Cut Out Healthy Fats: Adding healthy fats to your diet is extremely important for hair growth. Fat helps the body absorb vitamins that are essential for healthy hair. Focus on eating unsaturated fats like Omega 3s.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is used by the body to build collagen, which may help build healthy hair.
- Biotin and B Vitamins: There is not enough scientific evidence yet, but certain B vitamin supplements, like biotin, have been claimed to increase hair growth. For proponents, the magic number seems to be around 5000 mcg and should be taken daily to see the best results.
- Silica: Silica is one of the most essential nutrients for the hair and skin. Silica helps the hair and skin to retain their elasticity. One way to introduce silica into your diet is to take a tablespoon of diatomaceous earth, every day.
Ironically, the feeling of stress from hair loss is also about the worst thing for preventing it. Prolonged periods of stress trigger the body to go into survival mode and can lead to excessive hair shedding.
The good news is, it seems that after the body heals from stress, stress-related hair loss tends to reverse itself after a few months, though this is not always the case.
Limit Excessive Styling and Damaging Treatments
Excessive bleaching, chemical straightening, and perms can lead to damaged hair and breakage. Constantly using flat-irons, curling irons, and tightly pulling your hair back can lead to the same fate.
It's very important to educate yourself about protecting your hair if you are doing any of these things. If the hair is starting to become brittle from chemical treatments or excessive styling, try a protein treatment or product, like Olaplex ($28) (you can read more about what Olaplex is and what it does here). If you must use a straightener, we recommend GHD's Platinum + Professional Performance Styler ($249), which adds shine with 70% less damage and is kept at the optimum 375 degrees, according to the brand.
Use Clinical Hair Growth Treatments
There are numerous products on the market that can help with hair growth and loss. These products are serious stuff and should always be used as directed. If you do, some of them really work.
- Propecia: Propecia gives results in 3-12 months after continuous use. The bad news is, it's only for men. Propecia and its side effects should be reviewed carefully before beginning this hair loss regimen.
- Rogaine: Rogaine is a great option for both men and women. The active ingredient is called Minoxidil, and it has been shown to stimulate hair growth and slow balding. Minoxidil may work best in people whose hair loss is recent. Rogaine is simple and easy to apply and comes in a foam that is rubbed into the scalp daily.
Cleveland Clinic. Hair loss in women. Updated February 10, 2021.
Kil MS, Kim CW, Kim SS. Analysis of serum zinc and copper concentrations in hair loss. Ann Dermatol. 2013;25(4):405-409. doi:10.5021/ad.2013.25.4.405
Suchonwanit P, Thammarucha S, Leerunyakul K. Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2019;13:2777-2786. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S214907