As women get older and experience hormonal fluctuations, exposure to prescription medications, and damaging hairstyles, their hair may begin to thin to the point where they develop what is known as ‘female pattern hair loss’ (FPHL). About 40% of all hair loss sufferers are women, and by the age of 50, up to half of all women will experience some degree of hair loss, often due to hormones or environmental factors such as stress. Yet, the information online & products available are largely targeted at men, putting women in the dark when it comes to finding solutions.
In this article I’d like to briefly go through what normal hair cycles look like, types of FPHL that women may experience, and lastly share some information and reviews on a hair regrowth product that women specifically have had success with.
Let’s begin with educating ourselves on the hair growth cycle. A hair growth cycle consists of 3 phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen.
Anagen – During this phase the hair grows actively, sometimes lasting for years.
Catagen – During this phase the hair stops growing and separates from its follicle, this process lasts around 10 days.
Telogen – During this phase the hair follicle rests for two or three months before the hair actually falls out.
The next anagen phase begins when a new hair grows within the same follicle.
Your scalp has around 100,000 hairs that cycle through periods of growing, resting, falling out, and regenerating at any given time, and most people experience losing 50 to 100 strands of hair per day as part of this natural cycle. A problem may be arising if you start to notice an increase in hair shedding, loosing between 150 to as many as 500 strands a day definitely signals a problem.
So, What Causes Hair Loss?
According to doctors and dermatologists, there are many things that may cause hair loss, sometimes the culprit is your genetics, and sometimes it’s temporary stress. Thankfully these professionals have identified some of the most common causes of hair loss, and they are as follows:
The large majority of women suffering from this condition experience diffused thinning all over the scalp. Androgenic alopecia can be hereditary or caused by hormones, specifically DHT, which may be elevated due to factors such as ovarian cysts, birth control pills, pregnancy, or menopause.
This type of hair loss is caused by localized trauma to the hair follicles from tight hairstyles, if the condition is caught early, the hair will regrow. Tight ponytails or updos, sewn or clip-in hair extensions or braids are the most common causes.
The experience of hair loss is devastating, and even more frustrating for women who inevitably go through at least some of the triggers listed above in their lifetime. The good news is that there is an ingredient that’s been proven to help women regrow their hair! The ingredient is called minoxidil (the main active ingredient in Rogaine) and it comes in concentrations between 1-5% which can be applied topically to the scalp.
How does Minoxidil Work?
Minoxidil works by stimulating blood flow to the hair follicles, encouraging the hair growth cycle to restart. It is the only FDA approved ingredient proven to regrow hair, I want to put emphasis on the regrow. There are many products on the market claiming to give you ‘fuller’ or ‘thicker’ hair – these are only claims on the effect of your existing hair and are not clinically proven to encourage the hair growth cycle to restart again.
It is recommended that women use a 2% concentration, however, your dermatologist may suggest a 5% concentration depending on the severity of your hair loss. The 5% topical product is available without a prescription, however, it is always best to consult with a medical professional before using a new product.
You need not look any further than the glowing reviews online! Success stories appear on the brand name product Rogaine, as well as on less expensive products with the same active ingredients in both 2% and 5% concentrations.
Amazon review of Success with Rogaine 5% Minoxidil
Amazon review of Success with Equate 2% Minoxidil
There are many case studies done on the effectiveness of Minoxidil, such as this one from Hair Restoration of the South which shows amazing improvements to hair density with the use of Minoxidil. Some important notes about the use of this product are that it only works with indefinite continued use & only if you actually have FPHL.
You should always consult with your health care professional before trying any new products. It would be best to be examined for hormonal imbalances since DHT often causes hair loss as well and requires different treatment.
Do you have any success stories of your own? Let us know in the comments!