My Thinning Hair Journey
I recall several middle school days when my dad would complain about all my hair around my bathroom floor. At first, I didn’t think anything of it (and neither did he), but I really started to notice my thinning hair during my sophomore year of high school. I had been on spring break with all of my friends, and noticed later in our pictures that my scalp was showing more significantly than I’d remembered before:
I was (and still am!) so embarrassed by photos just like this, not understanding why or how this was happening to my hair. We’re shown by the media that having this thick, luxurious hair is part of what makes us strong and attractive beings. As a teenager, I was particularly sensitive about my thinning hair and appearance. But at the time, I honestly had no idea what to do about it. I thought I was doomed to it, and frankly, I was too embarrassed to ask my parents for help.
My parents typically took the “discrete” route when it came to awkward conversations or issues in our family, which is probably why I’ve had to grow out of my discomfort with confrontation. I remember one day one of my parents bought me some “hair-growth shampoo”. I used it for a while, but the chemicals would burn and itch my scalp. Although this is typical when you first start these types of treatments, I was ashamed and frustrated about it. So much that I gave up on my thinning hair.
It Got Worse…
I noticed that over the following years of college up til now, my hair thinning only got worse. Added stressors like death and anxiety may have also contributed to my detrimental hair health. Every time I get a haircut, I try to get ahead of the comments my hairdressers might say by explaining “I have thin hair so there’s not much to work with but…”. While I’ve done a lot of work accepting all parts of myself for where I’m at, it’s still an area of self-consciousness for me. It wasn’t until last year that I took the initiative to seek out doctor about it.
What is Hair Miniaturization?
According to my doctor, hair miniaturization is when your original thick, terminal hairs finish their growth cycle and are replaced by thinner, finer versions of themselves (1). The newer, finer hairs grow for a shorter period of time. Thus, instead of growing for 5-7 years, they may only grow for 3-4 years or as short as 1-2 years. Women who are at the early stages of female pattern hair loss can actually have significant shedding/thinning hair because as the hair cycle progressively shortens, more and more hairs are lost in the shower, on the pillow, etc.
Why Does Miniaturization Happen?
While miniaturization isn’t full on female pattern hair loss (FPHL), FPHL is common in women and affects 40-50% of the female population. According to my doctor, it’s typically inherited, which makes sense because both my mom and brother have similarly thin hair. Thinning hair and hair loss is polygenic, meaning it can come from many different genes from many different ancestors.
What Can You Do About It?
My first step was going to see a doctor who is a specialist in hair loss. I visited her about a year ago, and honestly it took a lot of courage to schedule an appointment in the first place. She explained all of the different options for me, which all had to do with a combination of chemical/hormonal therapies. She prescribed me with minoxidil, known as the most effective treatment and only FDA approved medication for thinning hair and loss. You might better know this as Rogaine, a foam treatment that reduces hair shedding and maintains your thicker hair.
I was also taking birth control at the time, and was taking one that had norethindrone, which can potentially worsen hair loss. So, she prescribed me with a birth control similar to Yaz, which contains drospirenon. Drospirenone is an “off-treatment” for hair follicle health, meaning it wasn’t created to treat hair but it’s known to help. She also showed me some ways to mask my scalp, like getting a root color spray. I got creative and started using dark brown eye shadow in some spotty areas of my scalp.
Did it Work?
To be completely honest with y’all, I didn’t stick with the minoxidil therapy. These therapies typically take about 3-6 months to see a reduction in hair shedding, and another 6-12 months to see regrowth in thicker hair follicles. Basically, I wasn’t patient and consistent enough, and I was still feeling pretty ashamed to use the treatment prescribed for me. This past year has also been a huge one for me in transitioning to a more holistic and functional form of health/medicine, researching more natural ways of healing physical symptoms for my body.
I’ve been more focused on things like healing my relationships with food/my loved ones/myself, decreasing anxiety, and bettering my digestive issues. So honestly, I’m not sure if that minoxidil worked! I work every day to accept my body the way it is, from my thin hair to my stretch marks. With that being said, I’ve really taken charge of my health this year. Just because these were the cards I’ve been dealt doesn’t mean I don’t want to/can’t do something about it. I’m still determined to strive for optimum hair health.
So… What Are You Doing Now?
I’m focusing on the non-toxic/chemical related therapies I can do for my hair. Here are some steps anyone can take to improve hair health, no matter what hair type you have. I’ve gathered these tips from various doctors and studies:
- Collagen protein – Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body; it helps to build connective tissue and contributes to skin, hair, and nail health. Lately I’ve been using BulletProof Collagen Protein. I also love Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. People swear by this stuff, so I’m doing my best to make it every morning with my bulletproof matcha and/or coffee!
- Supplements – I take EastWest’s “Lush Locks”, a supplement with biotin, folate, vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, and other hair growth promoting ingredients. Dr. Taz sent me this in a giveaway, she’s an incredible holistic health doctor and author of Superwoman RX! You can find her product here.If you’re looking for a more affordable supplement, biotin is highly recommended by the doctors I’ve been to. Biotin helps your body synthesize proteins for skin, hair, and metabolic functions. This one by Sports Research (their products are backed up with science and are affordable!) is vegan-friendly.
- Eating nutrient dense/anti-inflammatory/organic foods – Chemicals in food can act as endocrine disrupters that interfere with hair growth. Further, inflammation can contribute to hair loss. Foods filled with nutrients like omega-3’s, zinc, fiber, and healthy fats are great for hair growth!
- Drinking green tea – Green tea helps promote detoxification and contains antioxidants that promote hair growth (FYI; matcha is a form of green tea).
- Cooking with bone broth – The collagen & amino acid profiles in bone broth also contribute hair growth, they also include some key vitamins and nutrients like. Bone broth can also aid with leaky gut/digestive issues, food intolerances/allergies, joint pain, and immune system issues (2).
- Avoiding processed foods/alcohol/sugar – Inflammatory and insulin resistance contributing foods, both no-no’s for hair health.
- Stress Relief – While stress itself isn’t known to cause permanent damage to your hair, it can temporarily stop the follicles from growing and cause your hair to shed and thin (3). This is a less obvious hair therapy treatment, but I include mindfulness and breathing exercises into my daily routine in efforts to keep my anxiety and stress levels to a minimum.
The Journey Continues
Some other therapies I haven’t experimented with yet are essential oils (like tea-tree oil) and hair masks (with coconut oil & apple cider vinegar).
My hair health is an on-going journey. I’m determined to get my hair to its fullest potential through a combination of natural therapies and non-harmful products! At the end of the day, what matters most is accepting all parts of ourselves, without anything changing at all. Every day I’m learning to increase my self-love, which is actually part of what Don Miguel Ruiz says is a key to your happiness in this incredible book I’m reading (4). Stay tuned, and stay blessed 🙂
If you liked this post, please share and shoot me a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts on hair health!
Simply Carly Marie
Disclaimer: I am not a certified medical doctor and this should not be considered legal health advice. Please consult a doctor for your own situation.
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(4) The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz https://amzn.to/2BAiR0Q