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Worried about losing your crowning glory? If so you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 40% of men in their 20s suffer from early hair loss or thinning hair and this percentage accelerates with age. For many men losing their hair is no big deal but for many others it’s a process that they find traumatic. British men are especially hung up about handling hair loss. A recent Gallup poll showed that Brits are more worried about baldness than anyone else in Europe, with three quarters of men admitting hair loss affected their self-esteem and over half saying it makes them feel old.
In reality it’s quite normal to lose a little hair everyday. In fact, it’s not uncommon to lose up to 100 strands a day – but if this hair loss suddenly speeds up you may notice overall thinning and eventually loss of hair in one or several areas. Don’t panic yet though as much of this can be slowed down or prevented altogether.
Men tend to lose hair in a concentrated pattern from the front through to the crown. A number of factors influence this including poor health, dietary deficiencies and stress but by far the greatest influence on hair loss is the male hormone DHT.
DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) is an androgen (or male hormone) which, when it comes into contact with hair follicles, causes the hair to shrink and decay and eventually fall out. The membrane of the scalp becomes thick and inflexible slowing circulation and nutrition to the hair follicle. This slows down the re-growth of new hair until it stops altogether. Over time the hair loss becomes more noticeable as hairs are lost and not replaced.
Another contributing factor to hair loss is the receptors in the hair follicle that attract DHT. The number of these receptors is determined by your genes. This is why early hair loss tends to be hereditary. And contrary to common belief, the genes for hereditary hair loss are carried on both sides of the family so if you want to know whether you’ll go thin on top look at the heads of your mother’s and your father’s side of the family for clues. And don’t assume you’re safe just because your dad’s got a full head of hair – the gene responsible for hereditary hair loss can skip generations.
Prevention is always better than cure and there are many preparations on the market that claim to slow down hair loss or give a boost to thinning hair. Some of these work better than others. The use of copper is now thought to be very beneficial to both the hair and scalp. Copper peptides can be used to effectively deliver copper to the roots of the hair follicle. Regular use can improve the health of the scalp, hair and hair follicle helping to limit the conditions that cause hair loss.
Take a good look at your diet and focus on healthy food choices. Choose lean protein and soy products as well as beans, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables that can all improve the strength of the hair.
The importance of scalp health should not be overlooked either if you want to limit hair loss. When the scalp is not fit hair growth is reduced. Over time styling products build up and excess sebum (oil) can have a negative effect on the hair follicle. Keep it clean with a good quality shampoo and conditioner as often as you need them, daily if possible.
Hair loss might be an inevitable part of the ageing process in some of us but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things you can do to hang on to your hair.
1. Feed your head. Okay, so hair itself is dead but that doesn’t mean that the follicles that produce it are, so make sure yours are adequately fed. Stock up on foods rich in B vitamins, zinc and iron (like breakfast cereals, liver and apricots) and vitamin C-rich fruits like strawberries which help the body retain the nutrients essential for hair health. And up your intake of silicon – some studies have shown this to limit hair loss. Wheat, rice and onions are good sources.
2. Don’t smoke. According to a study by Harvard School of Public Health in America, smoking not only increases levels of the hormones that trigger hair loss, it also constricts the tiny blood vessels that supply the scalp, quite literally starving your hair of nutrients.
3. Don’t burn your bonce! Not only does sun exposure make hair brittle and fragile, sunburn causes the scalp to produce a compound called super-oxide that can cause hair follicles to switch from a growth phase to a shedding one.
4. Stock up on soya. New research shows that a molecule produced in the intestine when soya is digested could halt the hair loss process because it blocks the effect of the hormone that triggers hair loss.
5. Dry properly! Human hair is three times weaker when wet and over-combing or rough towel drying can damage it. Instead, let hair dry naturally, use a hair-dryer on a cool setting or gently pat dry and style with your fingers.
Hair loss a problem? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of things you can do now to quickly thicken your thatch!
Dirty hair tends to lie flat because of the weight of the oils secreted by the scalp so make sure your hair is always squeaky clean, especially if you suffer from greasy hair. For best results use a good daily-use shampoo like American Crew Daily Moisturising Shampoo and make sure you rinse hair thoroughly with plenty of warm running water.
Thickening shampoos, conditioners and sprays work by coating the hair shafts with special polymers which plump up thinning hair to make it look fuller, reducing the effects of progressive hair loss. The Nioxin range is perfect, there’s plenty of different products for every hair concern. They won’t thicken the hair permanently though so you need to use them regularly.
Repeatedly combing thin hair can make it look limp and flat so style with your fingers instead to add volume and texture.
If hair loss is a problem, blow-drying may be the solution. As long as you don’t overdo it (you don’t necessarily want to end up with a bouffant) it’s a good way to give thinning hair more volume. Keep the dryer on a cool setting though since overheating hair damages its natural proteins, making it brittle. If you’re not sure where to start with hair tools, the WAHL MaxPro Hairdryer is a great, simple option.
The worst thing you can do if you have thinning hair is to have product overload. Using too much styling product just weighs hair down making it look flat and ‘gappy’. Swap waxes for lighter matt pastes such as Lock Stock & Barrel Ruck Matte Putty or use mousses, creams and sprays on wet hair which can add tonnes of volume.
Don’t forget to check out our extra hints and tips for combating hair loss!
The phrase 'pulling your hair out' was always meant to be a figure of speech and with a little help it's possible to hold onto your glorious head of hair indefinitely.
• By Erik
Throughout my life I've been passionate about film, music and culture from around the globe. I’m here to bring you the latest lifestyle features, from film releases and music, to cocktails and recipe inspiration, keeping you in the loop of all the latest trends worth talking about.