If you’ve stayed up watching late-night TV, you know how easy it is to get obsessed with hair loss. You’ll see countless commercials and infomercials pushing hair restoration treatments ranging from simple (Rogaine) to clinical (Propecia) to ultra-advanced (transplants). There’s even a new study testing the ability of grafts of discarded infant foreskins to stimulate hair growth. (We know, eww.)
While hair loss is common in men (about 60% of men will experience it in their lifetime), the conversation is finally starting to include women, too. Women are increasingly at risk due to factors like lifestyle and stress, which can lead to follicle fallout. But before you go on a self-diagnosing Google bender and freak yourself out, let’s all just take a deep breath and get the facts straight. Jenny Balding, styling and grooming expert for Cutler/Redken Salons, gave us the scoop on what we can do to prevent hair loss.
First, know that all humans lose, on average, 100 hairs per day. It’s called shedding, just like what happens with your family pet. So if you’re counting the number of strands in your hairbrush and those errant ones you find stuck to your shirt every day, stop. This isn’t a scene from The Craft. “If you don't or can't regularly brush your hair (for example, if you have tight, curly locks), you may feel like you’re losing more when you do brush, but that’s not the case. It’s just because the loose hairs have become trapped over the last couple of days,” assures Balding. Instead, she adds, there are clearer warning signs, such as the widening of your part or your ponytail getting thinner: “That’s the time you should make an appointment with your doctor to discuss the issue.”
And for everyone else, here are four top tips for preventing hair loss.
1: Manage stress. Hair loss isn’t just genetic. Stress, it turns out, is a huge factor, so changing your lifestyle habits can be a big step in the right direction. “Lifestyle changes are key,” explains Balding, who says that “poor diet, high stress, and bad sleeping habits are all things that we can change. Unfortunately, hormone changes are out of our control, so it really is best to stay as healthy as possible to prevent any undue hair loss.” Drink lots of water (dehydrated hair breaks faster), get eight hours of sleep every night, and exercise regularly.
2: Take your vitamins. A good multivitamin is essential to a healthy body, skin, and hair according to Balding, who recommends Redken Intra Force. “It’s an exclusive 3-step system for men and women developed to combat the key causes of thinning hair while reducing breakage,” she says. Biotin and prenatal vitamins have also been effective for some.
3: Choose tools wisely. “Avoid brushing too vigorously and detangle hair with a wide-tooth comb,” says Balding. Also, limit your use of heat styling tools as much as possible, and always use a heat-protectant product to seal the follicle before blow-drying or styling.
4: Treat locks with care. Other things to avoid: harsh chemical treatments and too-tight ponytails and braid. Another great tip: Give yourself a scalp massage each week—this will help to stimulate growth, says Balding.
Check out our guide to healthy hair for more tips on keeping strands intact and nurtured.