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Skin

The Clinic: How to treat thinning hair

Few talk about it, but hair loss in women is a growing, global issue. NEWBY HANDS shares her advice – and experiences

Beauty

That moment when you notice your hair suddenly feels ‘different’ is traumatic. Whether your ponytail feels thinner or there’s more hair left in the shower tray, there’s always a feeling of panic because women shouldn’t lose their hair. But we are – and increasingly so. “Thirty years ago, 10% of our patients were women, with hair damage from color or perming. Today, 90% of our clients are women, of which 85% have some type of hair loss,” says Glenn Lyons, consultant at the Philip Kingsley Trichology Clinic and the man who transformed my own thinning hair.

Why do women lose their hair?

There are two types of hair thinning, the first being all-over shedding, which is traumatic and almost always temporary but it shouldn’t be ignored. “Hair is a good barometer of health,” says Lyons. “If there’s a more serious underlying problem, often the body sheds it.” The second is genetic, which makes some – myself included – sensitive to testosterone, and, as with men, you notice it around the hairline and parting. “A blood test may show that you have low levels of testosterone, but if you are genetically sensitive, this can still be enough to impact on your hair,” says Lyons. Anything that affects our hormones – including stress and insomnia – can trigger this, as do some birth control pills and HRT. You can ask your doctor for an alternative that has no or low-level androgenic (male hormone) action.

Don’t ignore it

The sooner you get help, the faster it can be stopped and, to some degree, reversed. Many dermatologists specialize in hair issues, or see a trichologist, as they specifically treat hair problems.

Don’t cut carbs

The body needs carbs for energy, while protein helps create new hair cells. But if you don’t eat carbs, then your body hijacks the protein for its energy source, and your hair suffers. Taking protein supplements can help improve hair health.

Look after your scalp

This is where the hair starts growing, so keeping the skin in good condition makes sense. Scalp oils, serums and gentle scrubs keep it functioning normally, and stop products blocking hair follicles.

The treatments to try

PLATELET RICH PLASMA: PRP, or the vampire facial, treated hair loss before becoming the A-listers face-boosting favorite. A few vials of your blood are extracted from your arm, then the internal growth factors in the plasma are removed and re-injected into your scalp. It’s painful (have local anesthetic first) and you usually need three sessions, but I saw a real and lasting difference.

TREATMENT DROPS: Everyone I send to Glenn Lyons raves about his ‘miracle’ scalp drops that block sensitivity to testosterone. Use them nightly, and within one to two months you will see and feel the difference.

MINOXIDIL: FDA-approved, this is the gold standard of home treatment – known as Rogaine or Regaine. Now woman can use the same 5% strength as men (previously it was just 2%), and studies show it helps regrow hair up to 48% thicker.

IMPROVE YOUR HAIR HEALTH

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The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown.