How to stop hair loss: it's not too late to save thinning hair | British GQ

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How to stop hair loss: it's not too late to save thinning hair | British GQ

By Adam Hurly and Murray Clark

Hair loss is a genuine concern for men. And plenty of women, too. Because, despite a push to embrace The Bald – it hasn't hurt Stanley Tucci, Jason Statham or John Travolta, after all – we're still not quite there on universally accepting this result in the genetic lottery. Going bald is normal. But it's also sometimes preventable.

There are plenty of resources to hand. Some of them are completely bogus (much evidence suggests that the famed ‘caffeine shampoo’ does not ‘wake your scalp up’ in the slightest). Others, though, are useful in the fight against hair loss. But honesty is the best policy here, though: know that the most effective tools are few, and nothing is 100 per cent successful.

That's why we chased up Dr Michele Green and Dr Joshua Van der Aa to give us a steer on not only how to strengthen your hair, but how to treat and prevent hair loss.

If you spot hair loss, move fast. Dr Green recommends a visit to your dermatologist or trichologist at the first signs of shedding or thinning. “Getting treatment for hair loss in its early stages can help minimise overall hair loss and increase the odds of a treatment’s efficacy,” she says. “Hair loss can seem overwhelming which is why it is necessary to consult with a dermatologist who will assess your condition and explain all of your treatment options.”

“We want to preserve and support the follicles that are still growing well and revive damaged or inactive ones before they weaken further,” says Dr Van der Aa. "Remember: hair growth is slow at the best of times.”

There are three hair-loss prevention options that you should consider, and they all work to stimulate re-growth on dormant follicles, too (the ones that have weakened but haven’t died out entirely). Talk to your dermatologist about the following three methods, and how you can use them in tandem for an even better defence.

Finasteride: Finasteride (commonly known as Propecia) blocks the formation of DHT (dihydrotestosterone). “DHT is a male androgen hormone which contributes to hair loss by making hair follicles thin and short,” says Green. “Hair grows in three phases, and DHT disrupts the hair growth cycle (anagen phase). As a result of this disruption the hair goes into a longer rest period, which makes the hair stop growing.” So, by blocking the absorption of DHT, finasteride helps promote hair growth.

Minoxidil: Minoxidil (which you might recognise by its patented name, Rogaine) is available over-the-counter. By dropping it onto your crown twice daily, it increases blood flow to the hair follicles, thus strengthening and thickening them. The hair grows fuller, and is in turn less susceptible to permanent fall. Minoxidil also boosts the hair follicle during its regrowth phase, after natural fall occurs. It’s particularly effective on the crown of the head, and will promote uniform thickness, but isn’t an effective defence against hair recession at the temples.

(Both finasteride and minoxidil are available online, through companies like hims, which connect you with a board-certified dermatologist and ship direct to your home.)

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP): This one might be new to you, and it’s certainly the most unique (and deluxe) option. PRP uses the platelets in your own blood to stimulate hair growth, says Dr Van der Aa. “After drawing your blood, it’s spun at high-speed in a centrifuge. This separates the red blood cells – which we don’t need – from the plasma and the platelets, which we do need. For hair, we can hyper-concentrate by removing the top part of the plasma, which is the platelet-poor plasma, to keep the platelet rich plasma from the bottom of the tube. We don’t need the plasma per se, but we need the platelets.

“Platelets are the cells which get recruited in the body when there’s tissue damage. They contain several different growth factors, they increase blood flow to the area, they increase cell rejuvenation” all the effects we’re trying to achieve." Typically, says Dr Van der Aa, the plasma is drawn into syringes and injected into the scalp by the doctor. "Some patients choose to have the plasma injected manually, but I also administer using the latest pneumatic-powered mesotherapy gun. We can still vary the depth, but it allows an injection speed of up to 300 per minute, the majority of my patients find it to be the most comfortable option.”

There are numerous vitamins you can take that help hair grow faster and stronger; biotin is always mentioned in this vein. In general, however, a nutrient-rich and health-conscious diet will cover many of those same bases. Instead, consider more targeted, specialised supplements: Dr Joshua says “There are some good supplements out there backed by clinical studies. But for me, it has to be Skinade. It’s more effective than pills because the low molecular weight of the liquid formula helps the body absorb the marine collagen more easily. It’s great for the skin and it contributes to healthier-looking hair.”

Dr. Green recommends Viviscal and Nutrafol in particular. “Viviscal promotes hair growth by providing nutrients your hair needs to grow such as b complex, and zinc among other nutrients which promotes thicker, stronger and longer hair. Nutrafol is an amazing vitamin formulated with marine collagen, saw palmetto, and ashwagandha,” she adds. “Marine collagen is enriched with B vitamins, which promote hair growth, saw palmetto prevents testosterone from being converted to DHT, and ashwagandha reduces inflammation.”

Stress is one of the biggest culprits behind hair loss, Dr Joshua says “Stress has such a negative impact on hair growth, but our lives are busy, jobs are demanding; it’s not easy. Try to keep cortisol levels in check: exercise, socialise, rest - and spend some time outdoors every day if you can.”

Dr Green adds that “Stress can cause the hair to stop growing and cause excessive shedding,” says Green. “It can also cause an autoimmune response where the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles resulting in hair loss. The hormones that our bodies release when its stressed is what disrupts the hair growth cycle. As a result of this disruption, the hair goes into a longer rest period which stops growth.” How you minimise your stress is up to you, since it differs from one person to the next. You can start by getting consistent rest, exercising frequently, eating healthy, staying hydrated, and avoiding smoking, drugs, and alcohol. Speak with your doctor about other methods, if necessary.

Stress can’t always be mitigated, but bad habits can be. Many of the things you do routinely might be contributing to your hair loss. Consider these big ones, according to Dr. Green: Not shampooing enough, but also shampooing too often. (Twice a week should suffice, with a specialised shampoo for thinning hair. Rinse and condition daily, though. “Try not to jump in and out of the shower too quickly when washing your hair," says Dr Van der Aa. "Spend a few moments gently massaging the scalp as you shampoo to stimulate blood flow to the area. It’s a stress reliever too.”

“Poor diet can also contribute to hair loss,” Dr Green adds. “You should consume a diet rich in oils, protein, and nutrients to nourish your body and scalp.” Lastly, as mentioned in the previous tip, smoking and alcohol both aggravate hair loss. While they might seem to calm stress, they in fact restrict the blood vessels, thus reducing circulation and blood flow to the follicles.

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How to stop hair loss: it's not too late to save thinning hair | British GQ

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