Though I turned grey prematurely, I have always had thick and curly hair like my mother. That worked well in camouflaging the grey when I had not done a touch up. Imagine my horror when, in recent days, my hair began to shed every time I washed or combed. Obviously, I hit panic mode and began to read up on why this happens and how to deal with it.
Apparently, my advancing years are to blame! Experts say that hair loss or hair damage is common around the 50-year mark. Pri- and peri-menopausal women are particularly vulnerable.
The reduction of oestrogen in our bodies leads to all kinds of changes that adversely affect skin and hair. My hair simply started breaking and falling, and would stay dry regardless of any treatment.
Since the hormone levels decline during menopause, you might find your hair falling, generally thinning out, or appearing dull. Losing hair can be a traumatic experience, causing you to think something is wrong with you.
What you can do to minimise damage
- Avoid curlers, straightening irons, overuse of hair dryers and tying your hair tightly with lots of pins. Leave your hair loose, or braided if long.
- Use natural ingredient based products to help reduce the fall. I am currently using a shampoo that has tea tree oil as one of its ingredients, and this has proved effective.
- Opt for a haircut that makes your hair appear fuller, with short bangs for instance.
- Another problem that could occur, though it does not happen to everyone, is the scalp getting scaly and dry, and the appearance of dandruff. This can make pre-existing dandruff, if you have had it, much worse. Use a medicated shampoo that has selenium, zinc or olive oil to stop the dandruff and to moisturise the scalp.
- The intake of supplements might also prove beneficial. If you feel your hair is not re-growing fast enough, you can aid the process by including specific foods to your diet. Vitamin C is known to boost collagen production which prevents our hair from breaking. Ensure you eat a lot of citrus fruits, bell peppers and strawberries so that the Vitamin C can keep the collagen intact. Essential fatty acids found in avocados, walnuts, flax seeds and fish, produce healthy fats that keep your scalp replete with the moisture it needs, preventing dryness of hair and facilitating hair growth. Biotin is also said to be effective: eggs, carrots, oats, nuts and brown rice contain this vitamin. It produces the protein we need for hair growth.
- You can also have a weekly head massage with warm oil (olive or coconut oil) to stimulate blood supply to the hair follicles. Do it yourself at home or go to a salon. This nourishes them, removes the dead cells from the scalp thereby cleansing it and promoting hair growth. Remember to use a hot towel to wrap your hair after the massage to open the pores so the oil can get in.
- Make lifestyle changes that include not smoking, lowering stress levels, regular exercise and adequate sleep.
Keep in mind that having healthy hair and skin needs a holistic approach and doing one without the other won’t give you fast results. Menopause is a passing phase, but it is up to you to ensure that it doesn’t permanently impact your appearance in the long term.