Menopause definitely does see changes to our hair, some of which can be genetic and often related simply to the ageing process, but there are steps you can take to help improve its condition and appearance.
Turn down the heat
Heat styling can break and damage hair. If you often blow-dry or use a curling or straightening iron or hot comb, your hair may not grow as quickly as you’d like. If you must use heat do these:
- Spritz on a heat protectant first.
- Use the coolest setting.
- Work quickly so heat touches your hair as little as possible.
- Don’t use it every day.
Wet hair needs gentle handling
Wet hair is super-stretchy so if you brush it when it’s dripping, you could break strands or damage the cuticle, the shingle-like cells that protect each hair, and using heat tools on very wet hair can create bubbles in the hair shaft, making it extra fragile.
If your hair’s straight, let it air-dry, then comb gently with a wide-tooth comb. For textured or curly hair, gently detangle with a wide-tooth comb while it’s damp.
Take care with colour
Bleach and other chemical hair treatments like permanents weaken your hair, so it’s more likely to break before it grows to your longed-for length. If you choose a hue not too far from your natural colour — say, three shades — you’ll need less damaging peroxide.
Always spot-test off the shelf hair dye before applying it to your whole head.
Medication may be a factor
Hair loss may be a side effect of some medicines, including beta-blockers and amphetamines so speak to your doctor about alternatives if this happens to you.
Prescription meds to treat hair loss include spironolactone (Aldactone) and finasteride (Propecia) and Minoxidil is an over-the-counter medication that you must continue using to keep up the results and containing either a 5 percent or 2 percent concentration.
However, there can be potential side effects to taking minoxidil. While not everyone will experience them, there is a risk of headaches, unwanted hair growth on body or face and itching.
Keep trimming it
How could a haircut help your hair grow? When you get a trim, what comes off is the ends, the weakest parts of the strands. If left as is, those ends could break or split. Split ends can travel up your hair shafts and make your locks even shorter.
Just don’t cut too much, if growth is your goal. Your hair grows about 1/2 inch a month, so you might aim for a 1/4-inch trim every 3 months or so.
The stress factor
Serious stress can send hair into a resting phase, skipping the stage that coaxes it to grow. It may put you at higher risk for a condition called alopecia areata, where your own immune system attacks your hair follicles. It could also lead to trichotillomania, a strong urge to pull out your hair.
Stress affects every part of you from your hormones to your hair so definitely try reducing the stress in your life or find ways to manage it.
If your hair breaks easily, it needs extra pampering, so don’t over-wash but just do it enough to remove product buildup. That might be weekly or every other week.
If you relax your hair, go to a pro. Be sparing with colour touch-ups and get them only about every 2-3 months, and only to new hair growth.
It can help to treat your hair to a hot oil treatment every couple of weeks.
Extensions and braids
Wearing extensions or a weave might seem like a handy shortcut to the long locks you crave. But don’t wear them for more than 2-3 months at a time. And never pull them out yourself as it can harm your hair and scalp.
If it hurts when your hair is styled into extensions, braids, weaves, or cornrows, they’re too tight and will damage your hair so speak to your hairdresser and get them more relaxed.
Conditioner is a must
Use conditioner every time you shampoo as it not only helps your hair behave and look better, it strengthens it and shields it from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
If you have fine hair, apply it to just the bottom of your hair to avoid weighing it down. For everyone else coat the tips well to nourish those fragile ends.
Don’t Lose Weight Too Fast
When you want to shed pounds, make sure your hair doesn’t go with them. Just as stress can trigger hair loss, so can sudden weight loss.
For example, if you don’t get enough protein, your body will use what it can get — and hair growth is low priority.
When your nutrition returns to normal, it’ll grow back. But it’s much better for you, and your hair, to follow a healthy, slower-paced diet plan.
Nutrition can be key
There’s no supplement that is proved to make hair grow faster, but if you’re short on certain nutrients, it can affect your hair.
Low iron causes anemia, which can trigger hair loss. Vitamins B and D factor big in healthy hair as do zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and the B vitamin biotin.
Hair tests are available if you are not sure and you can then see what you might need to supplement and how much.
Nights on white satin?
Crisp cotton linens feel good against your skin, but they might not be the best choice if you have fragile hair
Some people swear by sleeping on satin pillowcases, but although it won’t make hair grow faster, it may reduce friction, frizz, and breakage. It feels luxurious, too.
Head massage can help
A few small studies have indicated that regular head massages might help hair grow thicker and massages are known to help ease stress, and stress can contribute to hair loss.
Try a scalp massaging tool, or gently press, stretch, and pinch your own scalp for several minutes each day.
There are certainly a few factors that affect hair condition and growth: stress, crash or low calorie diets, low levels of nutrients that are essential for healthy hair growth including omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamin A.
Of course, our hormones also play a major part as hormonal fluctuations can also affect the condition of your hair. This is more likely if you have low levels of progesterone – for instance if you have a thyroid imbalance.
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