How to prevent hair loss in 15 ways
Losing hair can be an anxious time but there are lots of ways to help stop, slow down and prevent hair loss in its tracks. Over the last few decades, scientific understanding behind hair loss and progressive therapies have significantly developed. We’ve put together our top 15 ways you can take to address hair loss and see improvements in the health of your hair.
When looking for ways to prevent hair loss, keep in mind the cause of your hair loss too. The average person typically loses 50 to 150 strands of hair per day from natural shedding. If you are losing more than this, then there may be an underlying cause for your hair loss such as stress, genetic factors, or hormones etc. The cause of your hair loss will determine what route you should take to see the best results.
Some of the tips below will only apply to you if it is linked to your cause. We encourage you to do further reading in the types of losses via our causes for hair loss page, and reach out to a medical professional to help find your diagnosis.
Finally, be patient. It will take several weeks or months to see changes in your hair when adopting some of these changes below.
Which shampoos can stop hair loss? This is the most commonly searched question on Google and if you’re experiencing hair loss, reviewing your current shampoo and how well it works for you is definitely worth looking into.
Some shampoos can be too harsh on your hair and may leave the scalp overly dry, inflamed, or coated in chemical residue which can damage your hair strands over time. You should aim for a gentle detergent which is the right balance for your scalp, without taking or leaving too many natural oils in your hair. If you need more than a pea size worth of shampoo to wash your head (nickel size for short hair, quarter size for medium-long hair), it can be a sign of a poorly made shampoo.
The key is to read the ingredients listed on the bottle. Stay clear of shampoos which include sulfates, parabens, and silicones. These chemicals are widely used in cheaper products but can overly dry and cause breakage in the long-run.
Silicon creates a ‘fake’ glossy or moisturized look to hair, when in fact this is a waxy coat which prevents moisture from entering the hair. Sulfates create lather in shampoos, just like in soaps, but strips away natural oils leaving the skin sensitive, dry, and itchy. Parabens are preservatives which are used for anti-mold; which again is too harsh for your hair. All these are unfortunately found in a number of big brands sold in popular drug stores.
If you have scalp conditions such as psoriasis, you can find a medicated shampoo which will help to cleanse your hair at the best pH level for you.
Do shop around and try our recommended shampoos for hair loss list here.
2. Medication for hair loss
Minoxidil is the only recognised drug treatment available for androgenetic hair loss, also known as female pattern baldness. This is a genetic type of hair loss which affects many women and is characterised by diffused hair loss more noticeably around the crown of head. This drug can be taken orally and via hair tonics. The strength of the drug can range from 2% to 5%. Minoxidil can be used to support the regrowth of new hair follicles and lengthen parts of the hair’s life cycle to prevent premature hair loss. However, it can take two to four months to see results and you will need to continually take minoxidil to maintain the results.
There are pros and cons to using this method which you should read before taking. It’s important to emphasise it is not a miracle drug but one to consider to stop or prevent hair loss. Click here to read more about the benefits of minoxidil.
There are other types of medication which can be taken in relation to other types of hair loss. For example, corticosteroid injections is a steroid solution used to treat alopecia areata. This is hair loss which appears as patches on the scalp due to an immune response. The contraception pill may be given to help address hormone imbalance, if your hair loss is hormone related. For any solutions relating to medication, you must seek advice from a doctor first.
What you eat has a big effect on the health of your hair. Research has shown that a poor diet and nutritional deficiency can lead to excessive hair loss.
There are a number of key nutrients which your hair needs. The first is protein; this is the building blocks for your hair. Following this is a number of nutrients needed to support healthy blood supply and cell growth. These include iron, biotin, zinc, vitamin A, C, D and E and omega-3, just to name a few. If your body is not getting enough of these nutrients from your diet, you may experience hair loss. The body will begin to save its low reserves of nutrients to run its vital organs. Hair is not a vital organ so you need to keep these nutrients at a good level to prevent hair loss.
A Mediterranean diet is the best type of diet for your hair. This is a diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and low in dairy. Avoid processed foods and takeaways and try to make fresh food from scratch. Try to incorporate high protein foods such as eggs, salmon, chicken, pulses, or leafy greens too. Green vegetables are a great source of vitamins and iron, particularly spinach, kale, and broccoli. Read more about foods for hair growth here.
4. Vitamin supplements
Vitamin deficiency is linked to hair loss; therefore, vitamin supplements can help to boost your vitamins and mineral intake with a well-balanced diet. You should ask your doctor for a blood test to help determine which areas you may be deficient in. For a more detailed look at supplements for hair loss, read our vitamin deficiency and hair loss page.
Iron deficiency is one of the common causes of excessive hair loss in women. According to one study, on average, 59% of women with hair loss also lack good iron levels.
Iron is responsible for supporting healthy blood cells (production of haemoglobin). These cells are needed to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your hair.
If you are deficient, you may notice other symptoms including brittle nails, lack of energy, and dizziness. Eating foods such as spinach, salmon, kale, and kidney beans can help boost your iron levels naturally.
Do not self-medicate iron pills as high iron levels can be toxic for your body. A simple blood test can help determine if this is the case.
Biotin is a buzzword used on many hair loss products. Biotin is a mineral which works with enzymes to break down protein and carbohydrates from your diet, which is linked to hair growth. Whilst the research in this area is limited, some studies have found it to be beneficial to the overall hair quality and growth.
Vitamins E, C and A
Of the vitamin group, vitamin E has effective antioxidant properties and is important to stopping hair loss. It protects hair cells from damage, skin from aging, as well as sun damage and stresses put on hair cells. As well as getting additional vitamins through supplements (or multivitamins), hair oils with vitamin E may help to lock in moisture and aid in preventing further hair loss.
Good levels of vitamin C helps the body to better absorb iron into the blood stream, which is linked to healthy hair. Vitamin A also helps to create sebum in the scalp – these are the natural oils and wax which protect our hair from breaking.
Vitamin D (sunlight)
Part of the vitamin solution but produced naturally, sunlight and the production of vitamin D is critical for healthy skin, hair, and bones.
Many women experience hair loss seasonally during winter, particularly those who live in North America or northern Europe. Less sunlight in the winter months means less opportunity for your body to produce vitamin D. Deficiency in vitamin D can stunt hair growth, for both new and old hair follicles.
You can use vitamin D lamps to help your body get sunlight indoors, use oral spray, or pills to help boost your levels.
Zinc is a great regulator for hormones, particularly if hormone imbalances are the cause of hair loss. Although not a sole treatment for hair loss, it is an effective mineral to prevent and treat hair loss.
A cause of temporary hair loss can be stress. If you are going through a period of high stress (such as the death of a family member) or experience constantly high levels of stress (such as from work), hair loss can follow after. Try to evaluate what is triggering your stress and see if you can make changes to your lifestyle which can avoid these triggers. You can also look at coping mechanisms to better deal with daily stressors; whether that’s speaking to someone or taking time off work.
Mental health should be treated just as importantly as physical health. If your stress, anxiety, or depression is long term, you can benefit from seeking help from a medical professional, psychologist, or counselling group.
Others may benefit from making time for themselves. Ensure you are having enough sleep every night. There are useful apps such as Calm which offer sleeping techniques and meditation to clear the mind.
Finally, if your hair is falling out try not to stress further – this is easier said than done. Try to break the cycle and give time for your hair to regrow. It can take three to four months after your initial stress episode to see improvements in your hair growth. Read more about stress and hair loss here.
6. Washing and drying your hair
The roots of your hair are most vulnerable to falling out when washing. Here are some simple tips to minimise damage when washing and drying your hair.
Try to wash your hair every few days (depending on your hair type) allowing the natural oils (sebum) to soak into the hair. If your hair is very fine and gets too greasy quickly, try washing it with just water on some of the days. Washing too often with harsh chemicals can dry out the scalp and damage hair cells.
Some people believe by avoiding washing their hair for long periods of time it can stop hair loss - this is not true. Spaced out hair washes in the week will prevent the build-up of bacteria and oils on your scalp.
Wash your hair with lukewarm water – neither too hot or cold. This is the best temperature to wash hair strands.
When washing your hair, stroke the hair in a gentle up and down motion with the finger tips from either side of the central parting.
Avoid scrubbing the scalp with fingernails, vigorously rubbing the ends together, or moving the hair round in a circular motion which knots the hair. You will find a gentle motion with shampoo is effective enough to clean the hair.
Avoid putting conditioner at the root as this can create build-up. You should only place this towards the end of your hair strands.
When drying your hair, allow it to naturally air-dry and avoid letting your hair sit in a traditional towel. Wrapping your hair in a microfiber towel keeps in warmth and loosens the hair follicles.
Do not brush immediately after washing, wait a few moments until the crown of your hair is semi-dry to prevent breakage.
Brush your hair as though they were made from golden threads. Be gentle and avoid tugging at knots.
Use a wide tooth comb for brushing and to prevent damage at the roots.
7. Hair oils
Oils are a fantastic way to nourish your hair with properties from plant extracts, which can benefit hair growth and adds shine. Massage them into your scalp and leave the oils in for at least an hour.
There are two groups of oils – carriers and essentials. Carrier oils are thicker in texture, such as coconut or olive oil, and you can add a few drops of essential oils to help boost some of the properties.
Our favourite carrier oils are castor oil, known to provide good results to thicken scalp hair and eyelashes, and argan oil, often used in many Moroccan oil brands, which is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E. Grapeseed oil is great for finer hair, is lighter in texture, helps to fight against dandruff, and treats hair loss.
You can mix essential oils, such as peppermint, with carriers to take your hair routine further. Cedarwood is also well known for its hair growth properties and rosemary oil helps to stimulate hair follicles for growth.
8. Head massages
Research shows that regular head massages can help to stimulate blood flow to your roots, helping to reduce fall out. The increase in blood flow brings nutrients and oxygen to the scalp to boost new hair growth.
A study in 2016 showed 69% of alopecia sufferers saw an improvement in hair loss when head massaging with their hands twice a day.
When massaging, tip your head forward and use your fingers to massage around the scalp. You can also do this using hair oils to boost absorption, and you may want to use head massaging tools to help with this.
9. Damage-free styling
Physical damage to the hair from hair colour, excessive use of styling products, heat, and pulling on the hair strands to create ponytails, can cause stress on the hair. This can be a cause of hair loss for those who tend to style using tight braids or chemicals to relax the hair strands.
Try to avoid hair straightening and blow-drying during the week to give your hair a break. If you are to use them, use heat protection spray and straighten or dry on a cooler temperature setting.
Avoid tight hairstyles such as ponytails and buns. Choose looser styles which allow some movement at the roots.
Excessive use of products and colouring can also damage hair over time. Try to give your hair a break from styling to give your hair the best chance to grow back.
Read more about styling and products here.
One of the latest methods on the market is microneedling. Microneedles are used to cause minor trauma to the surface of the skin, causing the body to produce collagen and increase blood flow to the scalp. Collagen helps the regeneration of new hair cells and is often used in anti-ageing treatment.
You can use a small skin roller with a hair tonic to help boost absorption of nutrients to treat hair loss. We do advise going to a professional dermatologist for this.
The smallest needle size of the range, 1 millimetre, is the most suitable size for the scalp. There may be some side effects such as temporary soreness, scarring, and pain. Most should fade, however, if you have eczema, acne, or on blood thinning medication, you should seek advice first. This method should be avoided if you are pregnant. Read more about microneedling here.
11. Hair mask
Hair masks are deep conditioning treatments you can use to create shine, smoothness, and nourish the scalp, which can support the maintenance and growth of healthy hair. These are great remedies to bring back bounce and softness to the hair strands.
There are lots of options available on the market as well as DIY homemade recipes you can try out. Look out for ingredients which carry antioxidants to help soothe the scalp, or amino-acid complex to add strength to the keratin fibres in your hair. The following ingredients can make the hair feel and look good:
Egg whites – high in protein, they can give you a soft sheen as well as provide nutrients to the scalp;
Banana – known to add softness to dry hair strands;
Coconut oil – hydrating and helps to protect the scalp from the environment;
Honey – packed with vitamins and minerals for your scalp, adds moisture, and promotes growth by activating the epithelial cells in your skin;
Aloe vera – natural antioxidant properties and creates a cooling sensation on the scalp;
Avocado – adds moisture to damaged hair.
12. Stop bad habits
It goes without saying that toxins such as smoking, drinking, or use of recreational drugs can have an impact on your body and overall health. Hair loss can be a sign that your body is under stress from one or many of these factors.
Smoking damages the immune system which leads to complex illnesses. Over time you may see damage to hair follicles due to restricted blood flow to your scalp. You may also experience stunted growth or the hair growth cycle out of sync. It can also cause changes in hair colour, causing earlier greys to come through if you are young. Remember, second-hand smoke can also affect your health too.
To give your hair the best chance, quit smoking and reduce your overall exposure to toxins.
13. Low-level laser therapy
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a modern, non-invasive technique to help increase hair growth. There are no known side effects and it is found to be effective when used as part of a combination of treatments. The treatment can be offered in hair loss clinics, but it is important to note that there is not yet a substantial body of evidence to support it from a medical perspective.
The therapy works by emitting waves which penetrate the cells, energizing and activating them inside the hair follicles, kick starting them to the growth stage of your hair life cycle. The light from the device stimulates blood flow in the scalp, bringing nutrients and oxygen to boost the hair follicles to life.
It is painless and there are a number of American FDA and European approved home therapy devices. These can come in the shape of combs, helmets, or hand-held devices. You only need to use them every fortnight over a period of a few months to see some results.
You can also access treatment via an accredited clinic for a reasonable price which can on average range from $60 to $270 depending on the type of clinic you attend.
This option is not suitable for those who have extreme balding who have not seen any growth of hair for a long time.
14. PRP therapy
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is a non-surgical option which takes a sample of blood from yourself, and uses cutting edge technology to separate the platelet rich plasma from the red blood cells.
PRP contains healing properties, which the body will use when it is injured. By re-injecting high concentrations of this back into the scalp, it helps to boost collagen production and kick start growth for dormant hair cells. A number of early studies have shown it is an effective treatment for those with alopecia, patches of balding, or postpartum hair loss.
The amount of blood taken is the same amount as a regular blood sample size you may give in a clinic. It is relatively quick and painless too.
Again, like LLLT, there is still some way to go with evidence but a number of small studies have shown some benefits to hair loss sufferers. Read more about PRP treatment here.
15. Hormone therapy
Hormone imbalance in women can be an underlying issue for hair loss, particularly with those suffering from genetic androgenetic alopecia. High levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a bi-product of having too higher levels of testosterone, can cause miniaturisation of hair follicles. Antiandrogen drugs can help, particularly with those with polycystic ovary syndrome, where androgen levels are typically higher, or DHT blocking tonic and shampoos.
Hair loss is often apparent in women going through menopause too. Hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills can help to regulate either oestrogen or progesterone in your body.
If your hair loss is hormone related, you should seek professional medical advice before proceeding to take any drugs or tonics which may manipulate your current hormone levels. Read more about hormonal hair loss here.
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