Many women find that their hair changes in volume, length and texture around menopause. According to the Cleveland Clinic, roughly 50 percent of women experience hair loss during their life. A leading cause of hair loss in your middle age is menopause. Your hair’s growth cycle is deeply affected by hormones, so your fluctuating hormone levels around menopause often accelerates changes in your hair. It would be impossible to stop the natural changes in your hormones; however, by with proper haircare you can improve the condition of your hair during menopause.
What Happens to Your Hair during Menopause?
Estrogen, the hormone that aids hair growth by extending your hair’s growing phase, decreases during menopause. Conversely, testosterone, a male hormone that negatively affects our hair follicles, increases. Furthermore, when testosterone comes into contact with enzymes in your scalp and skin, it turns into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT shrinks hair follicles, which causes your hair to grow in thinner than before.
Symptoms of Menopausal Hair Change
Women can experience menopausal hair changes in different ways. You may begin to notice the following:
- Your scalp is more visible around the crown of your head
- Your hair is not growing as long as it used to
- A recession at your temples
- A lot of density at your frontal hairline
- A reduction in thickness and length of each strand
- A thinner ponytail
- Seeing more hair fall out daily
What You Should Know About Haircare
Hair changes are an inevitable aspect of aging; however, this doesn’t have to be a dreadful process. Here is what you need to know about menopausal haircare.
Your Hair is Fragile
Your hair becomes fragile during menopause, so it is important to treat it gently.
Firstly, your hair is more susceptible to damage when its wet. When your hair is wet, the proteins that make up each strand form weaker hydrogen bonds leading to more damage-prone strands when pulled or stretched. To show your wet hair some T.L.C. work through your tangles before the shower and allow your hair to partially dry before brushing and blow drying.
Secondly, choose gentle hair accessories to minimize breakage. Instead of using plastic elastics, opt for fabric-wrapped hair ties. Additionally, a soft-bristle brush, made from natural materials, stimulates hair strength and growth. A boar-bristle brush triggers natural oil production in the scalp and reduces frizz.
Lastly, use hot tools sparingly. The temperature of your hot tool will vary based on your hair type and texture; however, the safest range is 200-350 degrees. Remember to always use heat protectant.
Products to Care for Gentle Hair
As mentioned above, your hair is fragile, so gentle hair products will be beneficial to your strands. Consider using a sulfate-free shampoo and moisturizing conditioner. Sulfates are inexpensive detergents that strip your hair of natural oils. Sulfates can cause skin irritations, scalp dryness and dandruff, hair loss and will quickly fade color treated hair. A sulfate-free shampoo will provide nourishment to the hair follicles and the scalp to strengthen your hair. Instead, look for a hydrating shampoo with ingredients like argan oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, biotin, and keratin.
Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause and will have an impact on your hair. Your body releases sweat to cool you down. The sweat will dry and possibly clog your follicles and contribute to hair shedding. A deep scalp cleanser will draw out impurities and wash away excess residue. Look for ingredients like charcoal, lactic acid, birch extract, and menthyl lactate to exfoliate, cleanse, and soothe your scalp.
Boost your Haircare Regimen with Good Nutrition
Hormones are made from fats, so it’s important to consume enough healthy fats in your diet. Great sources of omega-3 include salmon, herring, chia seeds and walnuts. Additionally, extra- virgin olive oil and avocados for omega-9s. A diet low in simple carbohydrates may be beneficial because age-related changes in insulin sensitivity affect how we process sugars, which can negatively affect your hair.
Whole foods with mild, plant-based estrogens, like flaxseed or miso, can also help some women. Also, high-collagen foods, like bone broth, because the collagen depletion that occurs with age affects the quality of your skin and hair. Additionally, keratin is the protein that is the building block of your hair strands. Keratin is made up from amino acids, which your body gets from protein-rich foods like red meat, beans, eggs, milk, and kale.
Supplements that benefit hair health include vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, iodine, iron and zinc. Read more about these essential vitamins in this Better Not Younger article.
Stress is Not Doing You Any Favors
The hormonal shifts of menopause affect your brain chemistry, which can trigger a heightened response to anxiety and depression. Your follicles can react to anxiety by stunting hair growth and then shredding the strands a few months later. Additionally, stress can trigger compulsive hair pulling or an auto-immune response in which your blood cells attack your hair follicles.
Stress-related hair loss is often temporary and will regrow with the proper care. It is nearly impossible to completely avoid stress; however, here are a few ideas to keep stress at bay:
- Exercise regularly
- Ease your mind through yoga and meditation
- Spend time in nature
- Reduce your workload if possible
- Read your favorite book