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Thinning Hair in Women

Learn why you may be suffering from thinning hair, how to prevent female hair thinning, the best haircare and how to style thin hair.

Learn how to tell if your hair is thinning, what causes female hair loss, and how to manage it with haircare and styling advice.

What causes hair loss in women?

For some, it's seen as a great excuse to embrace new hairstyles. For others, it's an unwanted change that's out of their control. Women with thinning hair are found in all walks of life, and although more common in mature women, it does also affect younger women and even children. 

How to tell if your hair is thinning - females

There are a range of methods for determining whether hair is thinning in women. These range from non-invasive (such as looking directly at the hair follicles and scalp, usually with the assistance of a magnification device) to invasive (such as a skin biopsy) or hair pull test. These are examples of direct tests for investigating hair thinning in women. 

There may be additional tests for medical conditions that are commonly associated with hair loss, such as checking thyroid or androgen hormone levels via a blood test. These are examples of indirect tests.

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How hair thinning in women relates to the hair growth cycle

Reviewing how hair normally grows can help us to gain a better understanding of abnormal of hair loss. There are 4 stages (or 3 depending on whether the last 2 stages are considered as a single phase):  
Anagen: a growing phase that can last months to years, depending where on the body the hair is growing 
Catagen: a phase in which growth ends and the follicle shrinks, usually lasting a few weeks
Telogen: a resting phase where the hair is now fully formed and firmly attached at the root 
Exogen: a phase in which the hair follicle is shed or lost. A normal amount of hair loss is 50-100 follicles per day!

In a healthy person without hair loss issues, hair is usually in a mix of these phases. Disruption of the anagen phase (when most of the growing is occurring) results in shorter or thinner hair follicles. This can occur due to poor diet, stress, and many other factors discussed in this article. 

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Causes of thinning hair in women

Delve into learning what causes female hair loss below. Women may be affected by one or multiple of these causes, which may have a compounding effect.

Pulling and over-styling can cause thinning hair in women 

Excessive pulling of hair into tight hairstyles can lead to tension or traction alopecia, which is a fancy term that describes hair being put under tensile (pulling) stress to the point of weakening and falling out easily (either during more pulling or brushing). 

Tight braids, weaves, and pulled-back buns or ponytails fall into this category of tight hairstyles and may therefore contribute to hair thinning in women. Try letting hair rest once in a while with a loose, low bun or a head scarf. 

Pulling and over-styling can cause thinning hair in women 

Excessive pulling of hair into tight hairstyles can lead to tension or traction alopecia, which is a fancy term that describes hair being put under tensile (pulling) stress to the point of weakening and falling out easily (either during more pulling or brushing). 

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Diet and its role in female hair thinning

Hair needs building blocks to grow, and there are a long list of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients involved in this complex process. You may have heard about female hair thinning being related to deficiencies in iron, zinc, selenium, but what about vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin D, vitamin B3 (niacin), omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, and amino acids? 

A well balanced, colourful looking diet can be a way to reduce your risk of developing any of these deficiencies, but seek out a doctor or nutritionist for personalised advice. 

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Hormones and their relation to thinning hair in women 

Oestrogen and childbirth 

Have you ever heard a woman tell you that their hair fell out due to the stress of raising a baby? Stress could definitely be a contributing factor, but the culprit is usually a drop in oestrogen levels post-partum. During pregnancy, oestrogen levels are elevated and result in more hair going through the anagen phase (so you may actually get more luscious locks! Thanks, baby!). 

Once oestrogen levels drop, more hairs will enter the telogen phase (and subsequently exogen) which will lead to suddenly losing what feels like alarming amounts of hair. Thankfully, oestrogen levels stabilise and the hair loss stops, with new growth eventually taking place. 

Excessive cortisol

Elevated cortisol can directly affect the hair cycle by accelerating telogen, jumping sooner to exogen where the follicle is lost. Cortisol can also indirectly affect the hair cycle by increasing the body's response to androgens (a group of sex hormones), which are associated with hair thinning and baldness. 

Other hormones

Abnormalities with thyroid hormone production, taking oral contraceptives (which may belong to the hormone or hormone-like group of medications), PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) are just a few other frequently encountered hormone-related conditions that can cause hair thinning in women. 

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Tips for women with thinning hair 

 

Hair care for thinning hair in women

The right hair products are essential to ensure thicker looking hair. L’Oréal Professionnel has developed the Serioxyl line in our Serie Expert range to specially target the appearance of thin hair and stimulate follicular growth. In addition to this, an easy hair care habit to start is incorporating a scalp massage into your routine to stimulate blood circulation to your strands.

 

Styling tips for women with thinning hair 

If you are wondering how to style thin hair, there are some golden rules. Don’t scrape your hair back into tight styles and avoid the hair straightener where possible. These can draw attention to thinning hair. Use the diffuser attachment to your hairdryer to give the hair natural volume and blow dry it upside down for a little help from gravity. 

Waves and curls can give the impression of more thickness than dead straight hair, as can a side parting. A L’Oréal Professionnel salon stylist can help find ways to minimise the appearance of thinning hair in women, so find a salon near you today.

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If you enjoyed this article and you're ready for more, take a look at  'The best products for thinning hair', or for a quicker read, try 'Hair loss truths and myths' and 'Dos and don'ts of hair loss'.