It is one of the inevitable facts of life that as women get older, their hair can lose some of the zest that it had during their younger years. Hair can look and feel less glossy, with less body and generally lack that ‘wow’ factor that may have come so naturally in earlier years. The reason for this is most likely to be linked to the menopause.
When women enter the menopause their bodies begin to produce less oestrogen. This results in an overall thinning of the hair and an increased rate of hair fall. There is also an increase of ‘androgens’ in the body, which is actually a male hormone found in both sexes. If you have heard of the condition ‘androgentic alopecia’, it is the androgens that are responsible for this. Androgenetic alopecia is caused by the body’s response to the hormone “dihydrotestosterone” (DHT), which is a by-product of testosterone, and is the most common cause of male and female hair loss. The condition causes miniaturisation (shrinking) of hair follicles, which leads to loss of the hair strands. It has been estimated that up to 70% of men and up to 40% of women may suffer from this type of hair loss during their life time, indicating just how troublesome the body’s response to androgens can be.
How can this be addressed?
This process is a natural change within the body and there is no cure, per se, for these symptoms. There are, however, some helpful hints and tips that will help maintain hair and give it the best possible change of remaining healthy and strong.
Don’t underestimate the benefit of vitamins and minerals
Eating a well-balanced diet containing foods that are linked to hair health is a great place to start. Foods that contain proteins are recommended, proteins help strengthen hair and can fight against it becoming brittle and prone to breakage. Chicken and eggs are full of high quality proteins, plus eggs come with the added benefit that they contain the b-vitamin ‘biotin’. Lack of biotin in the body has a proven connection to hair loss, so ensuring that you are getting enough of this important vitamin is likely to help.
Other food such as carrots, milk, berries and fruits, and nuts such as almonds and walnuts all contain biotin, so it is easy to consume as part of a varied and balanced diet. Another deficit that is linked to hair loss is iron, which is found in a varied mix of foods like leafy greens such as spinach and curly kale, brown rice and also red meats and dark chocolate. Iron supplements are also available from the chemist.
Styling tips and techniques
In addition to some simple lifestyle changes such as adjusting your diet, choosing a styling routine that is sympathetic to the changes in your hair is also a good idea. Keeping your hair trimmed regularly will help reduce thin, flyaway strands and will give a somewhat thicker look you’re your hair, particularly around your face.
With age, your hair produces less of the natural oils that are used to keep it hydrated. There are oil treatments available that can help replenish lost natural oils, although use these in moderation and don’t apply directly to the scalp or roots unless the product specifically advises. Most oil-based products can make hair heavy and appear greasy if not used correctly.
Finally, colouring (ideally in moderation) will help mask greys and regular use of conditioner, and the occasional protein-rich treatment mask, on the tips will help keep hair nourished.