Q. What’s the best way to care for my (grey) hair? My hair feels fine and dry to the touch but my friends tell me that grey hair is ‘coarser’ so I’m using products for coarse hair. Any advice? — Mrs. D., 65
A. Dear Mrs. D.,
I am asked this question frequently, and I am glad you wrote to me to clarify. The belief that grey hair is coarser is a very common misconception, and one that often results in rather limp locks. You should always, regardless of hair colour, base your shampoo and conditioner on your hair texture. And the fact of the matter is that grey hair is usually finer. This is because hair naturally loses diameter as we age – and using products for coarse hair will simply make your roots greasy and your ends limp. As your hair is fine, I suggest you gift your recent product purchases to one of your friends and seek out a volumizing shampoo and conditioner.
These will add body, bounce and movement. Swap these out once weekly for a purple tinted duo if your greys tend to gain a yellowish hue. Styling products for fine, grey hair should be similarly light-weight and preferably be formulated with proteins and heat protective agents. These will add bulk to your strands and help to prevent them from becoming scorched, damaged and even more parched. To actively combat dryness, I would like you to treat your hair to a weekly pre-shampoo conditioning treatment. As these are applied before you shampoo, and residue is then washed away, you do not have to worry about them coating your hair or weighing it down. ‘Oil-in-water’ formulations (i.e. creams) work best. Leave this on for a minimum of twenty minutes to properly penetrate the hair. I recommend our Elasticizer.
Q. How can I stop my hair from falling out if I don’t know WHY it’s falling out?! What is the real reason for female hair loss? — Mrs. K., 45
A. Dear Mrs. K.,
The most important thing to understand when you are trying to wrap your head around hair loss, is that hair is a non-essential tissue. At least from a physiological standpoint. From a psychological perspective hair is everything. But health-wise, it is dispensable. This makes hair particularly sensitive to our internal environment. It is the first to suffer when something is askew.
As such, even the smallest blip can result in hair loss, and the potential causes are pretty endless. Triggers may include a genetic predisposition, endocrine imbalances, heavy periods, and hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Additionally, dietary deficiencies, stress, shock, surgery and illness can affect the hair growth cycle. Often the causes are a combination of more than one of these. The only way to really get to the root of what is causing hair loss is an in-depth assessment of your health, lifestyle, diet and family history.
Firstly, ask your doctor for a comprehensive blood test. This must include Iron, Ferritin (stored iron), Vitamin B12, Zinc, Vitamin D3 and a full Thyroid and Hormonal profile. From here, you will be able to see if there are any underlying factors that may be triggering extra hair fall. Keep in mind, the blood reference ranges for hair are much narrower than for general health. Low-normal or high normal readings can cause hair loss. Take you blood tests to a hair specialist (i.e. a trichologist) to decipher.
Next, take a look at your diet. Hair growth is strongly reliant on what we eat; because hair is non-essential tissue, it is the last part of us to receive nutrients we intake and the first to be withheld from. Perhaps you have been skipping breakfast or lunch, have cut out a food group, or embarked on a crash-diet? All of these can send the hair growth cycle off-kilter.
Stress and general health can also take their toll on our strands. If you have recently gone through a particularly stressful period, or have been unwell, your hair may well be suffering because of it. Hair does not fall out straight away, mind you. Due to the nature of the hair growth cycle hair fall occurs six to twelve weeks after the event that caused it. I suggest you look back for possible triggers. Have you had flu? Have you been through a difficult time or have you suffered a loss? Have you recently had a baby or stopped breast-feeding?
Lastly, check that your hair is not simply breaking off. I have had quite a few clients who have mistaken hair breakage for actual hair loss from the follicle. The two can look very similar. However, broken hairs will have two blunt ends, while one that has fallen out will have a little white blob at one end. Breakage is quite easy to rectify with conditioning treatments and a gentle hair care routine.