Take it from someone who’s been through it—hair loss is quite a touchy subject. Finding clumps in the shower drain, strands on your pillow, and a new sparse spot every week is not necessarily my idea of fun. When the constant shedding started affecting my confidence, I knew it was time to get to the bottom of it. So, I reached out to the professionals, who taught me that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for hair shedding, but there are multiple methods to help grow it back, strand by strand.
“Hair thinning refers to reduced hair density,” says Anabel Kingsley, brand president and consultant trichologist at Philip Kingsley. “It happens very slowly, and is not always accompanied by increased hair shedding, which means it can be hard to spot in the early stages.” Kingsley also mentions that it’s estimated that at least 15% of the volume is lost before reduced volume becomes apparent.
Unfortunately for us hair shedders, there are many different types and causes of hair loss, and an even more crowded product market. So, we set out to determine the best in hair growth methods and power products, and our strands have never been fuller.
What causes hair loss?
“Our scalp is a complex ecosystem, always adapting to factors that affect the health and growth of our hair,” says Danville, CA dermatologist Sam Ellis, MD, who adds that the five main culprits of hair loss are metabolism, nutrition, stress, environment and scalp health.
According to Kingsley, hair thinning and hair shedding are two different beasts. “Hair thinning is caused by androgenic thinning, which is related, as the name implies, to androgens (male hormones) and is genetically predetermined. With this kind of thinning, the growth (anagen) phase of your hair cycle becomes shorter and shorter, and the hair also grows back progressively finer (thinner in diameter) over time.”
Kingsley notes that hair shedding (also known as telogen effluvium) is usually triggered by an internal disturbance to the body—this is where stress, environment, nutrition and metabolism come in. “The shedding usually occurs six to 6 to 12 weeks after the event that triggered it, so it’s always important to look back and pinpoint the reason. Although it can be extremely distressing, rest assured the hair will almost certainly grow back once the underlying issue has been resolved.” And, I can attest to this statement. I was diagnosed with telogen effluvium last year when I noticed increased hair shedding in the shower. Fast forward to today, my hair is thick and strong sans signs of fallout, and that’s because I listened to the pros.
What are ingredients you need to re-grow your hair?
There are handfuls of ingredients that give your strands the boost they need. For Philip Berkovitz, founder of hair care brand Philip B, it’s all about clinically proven actives like Redensyl. “I’ve designed the brand’s Scalp Booster around this,” he says, adding that 71 percent of participants saw their hair take on a thicker look and feel after just three months of use.”
Lindsay Perez, education leader for NIOXIN, prefers the ever popular and quite effective minoxidil, saying it’s “the only ingredient proven to regrow hair.” More specifically, she prefers Nioxin Minoxidil Hair Regrowth Treatment ($62), which comes in two different percentages for men and women. However, Dr. Ellis warns to stay away from anything too irritating, so if you’re experiencing redness, pain, or itching from any product or ingredient, you’re best suited to stray away.
While topical ingredients are easy to use and are prone to less side effects, Kingsley notes that vitamin and mineral deficiencies are a very common cause of hair loss in women. “Even a small deficiency, or levels that fall towards the lower end of the normal blood reference range, can cause hair loss long before they impact your general health.” So, she likes to target fallout from the inside-out.
What should you take to boost growth?
“Our hair’s growth and strength are largely reliant on diet,” Kingsley continues. “Being a non-essential tissue, hair is the last part of us to receive nutrients we intake, and the first to be withheld from when our diet is lacking.” That being said, there are a handful of key nutrients your strands need to grow strong.
Included in Kingsley’s list: Ferritin, which is needed to produce the protein your hair is made of, zinc—you can find this in oysters, dark meat, eggs and fortified cereals—and biotin, which improves the overall strength of your hair (and nails!). Additionally, complex carbohydrates are essential in your diet. “Shedding commonly occurs when you are not eating foods that contain easily accessible energy (like complex carbohydrates),” says Kingsley. “Alongside protein, have a portion of a complex carb at breakfast and lunch. Great options are whole grains, brown rice and pasta, potato with skin on, sweet potato, farrow, oats and couscous.”
If you’re finding it hard to incorporate your daily hair-boosting nutrients via food, try taking a daily multivitamin that includes ferritin, zinc, and biotin or other one-off vitamins like vitamin D and vitamin B12. “Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in both women and men—especially during the winter when we’re exposed to less sun,” Kingsley explains. “You can only obtain 10 percent of vitamin D through foods, so taking a vitamin D supplement is often worthwhile. Vitamin B12 deficiency is another common deficiency that can cause hair loss. It is naturally only found in animal products, so if you are a vegan or vegetarian look for foods fortified with vitamin B12 and take a supplement.”
How can I stop hair shedding and stimulate growth?
“If you’re a little bit nervous about using minoxidil, you can always start with the Virtue Flourish Density Booster,” says Dr. Ellis. “The key to stimulating growth is a delivery system that can get through the natural waxy barrier coating on the scalp and to the follicles,” adds Berkovitz. “No matter what you do, just make sure to do something if it bothers you. Female and pattern hair loss does not get better on its own,” Dr. Ellis finishes.
What are the best hair loss products?
According to Berkovitz, hair loss products are treatments designed to improve the look of density, coverage, volume, and fullness, so you see less shedding in your hairbrush. His brand, along with others, understood the assignment, and have created products we can confidently say have transformed our sparse hair into thick, full strands.
See below for the five products that have changed our hair for the better: