7 Ways To Regrow Thinning Hair

These expert-backed lifestyle solutions and hair growth treatments will help your locks thrive.

Maybe at first, you notice extra hair going down the drain in the shower or more strands than usual left behind on your hairbrush. While you might feel like the only person facing this, the surprising truth is female hair loss is a lot more common than you think. In fact, more than half of all females will have hair loss at some point in their lives, and 40% will experience female pattern hair loss (FPHL) by the age of 50 years.

And there's a good chance those stats are off, Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said because female hair loss is often an embarrassing thing to talk about.

What Is Female Pattern Hair Loss?

FPHL affects millions of females and is the most common cause of hair loss in females. Typically, FPHL occurs around the age of 40–60 years old (sometimes earlier). FPHL is different than male hair loss in the way that the hair thins and is not all lost. Usually, FPHL presents as a receding hair line or you may notice your hair part getting wider.

FPHL happens for the same reasons as male hair loss. Hormones called androgens are involved, namely dihydrotestosterone (DHT). How sensitive the hair follicle is to androgens like DHT is determined by genetics.

"But FPHL does not have the same pattern as male pattern hair loss," Francesca J. Fusco, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said. "It tends to be diffuse or frontal or temporal, and it can be inherited through female relatives."

Aside from FPHL, people can also experience a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium. This type of hair loss can occur as a result of "drugs, trauma, and emotional or psychological stress."

While we can't control our genes, we can control our lifestyle. Making these expert-recommended changes may help your thinning hair regrow.

Stress Less

"Significant psychosocial stresses can result in hair loss," Dr. Zeichner explained. He is talking about telogen effluvium. When this happens, stress shocks hairs to move into the "resting" phase, in which they all fall out at once.

"This is the same type of condition that women typically experience after they give birth or after a major surgical procedure," Dr. Zeichner said. "These patients typically develop rapid thinning of the hair along the temples."

If you think stress may be causing you to lose hair, finding stress management techniques is key. There are several ways to manage and reduce stress, including meditation, yoga, hitting the gym, or adopting a mantra.

Watch What You Eat

"Protein is critical to healthy hair," Dr. Fusco said. "Lean meat, fish, poultry, and beans are all great sources. Iron is also important; low iron can lead to anemia, which can lead to increased hair shedding. The great news is that with proper diet and supplementation, this type of hair loss is reversible."

For iron deficiency and hair loss, getting enough iron and vitamin C is important. In addition, the study mentioned that deficiencies in zinc, biotin, and selenium are also associated with hair loss, but the evidence on supplementing these nutrients in your diet is somewhat mixed.

As always, it's important to consult a nutritionist or your healthcare provider if you're thinking about making changes to your diet.

Try a Supplement

Taking a natural vitamin supplement that is designed to boost hair growth can help, and even multivitamins can give your hair a boost, Dr. Zeichner said. The two most popular hair supplements on the market that have been evaluated and shown to help promote healthy hair are Nutrafol and Viviscal, Dr. Zeichner said.

Use a Topical Treatment

The only topical treatment that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for female hair loss is minoxidil, better known by the brand name Women's Rogaine. "Topical minoxidil is the gold standard of treatment," Dr. Zeichner said. "It helps lengthen the active growing stage of hairs and promotes healthy delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicle."

Try Essential Oils

As a natural alternative to Rogaine, essential oils may be worth a try. Among complementary and alternative medicine therapies, essential oils have some of the best evidence and seem to be effective for hair growth, alongside two other therapies. But there hasn't been a final conclusion on how safe or effective these natural therapies are.

Talk to your dermatologist before you try either minoxidil or essential oils on your scalp.

Treat Your Hair With Care

Another way to save your strands is to always treat them gently. That means no rough combing. Here are some thing you should avoid doing to your hair:

  • Don't brush your hair when it's wet and weak.
  • Try to avoid using heat on your hair (blow dryer, curling iron, etc.).
  • Skip hairstyles that pull, such as tight ponytails and updos.
  • Never vigorously towel dry (leads to breakage).
  • Take a break from daily blowouts and over-styling, which irritate the scalp.

Ditch Your Dandruff

Another surprising culprit? Dandruff. Dandruff is a common condition affecting the scalp and causing small pieces of dry skin to flake off.

"As flaking builds up or if the scalp itches and scratching ensues, inflammation can lead to excessive shedding," Dr. Fusco said. "I see this a lot because women don't use their dandruff shampoo regularly because the ones they have used are medicinal and not beautifying. Easily solved with a product like the new Dove DermaCare Scalp Pure Daily Care, which combines dandruff fighting zinc pyrithione in a nourishing, pleasantly scented formulation made for everyday use."

How To Disguise Your Thinning Hair

It may take months for you to regrow your hair (and truthfully, it may not grow back at all). In the meantime, you can reduce the appearance of hair loss by paying a visit to your hairdresser. A good haircut and a few easy styling tricks can easily fake fullness.

"Long or short layers can make a world of difference," Dr. Fusco said. "Change your part frequently to give hair a lift, and use volumizers and dry shampoos for a boost."

Batiste Dry Shampoos are fantastic for volume; apply them to roots. Also, trimming off even a couple of inches will instantly add volume, get rid of the excess weight of longer hair, and help hide any thinning areas. But if you don't want to go shorter, get layers that frame the face to mask fine hairlines.

You could also camouflage thinning areas with spray-on root touchup products or even eyeshadow, Dr. Fusco said. Brush on Madison Reed Root Touch Up for a quick, easy fix. There are a number of hair mascaras to disguise growing out roots, which also bulk up the appearance.

A Quick Review

Female hair loss can be caused by a number of things including hormones, genetics, drugs, and psychological stress. Any treatment for hair loss will depend on the underlying cause. However, some remedies may help you regrow thinning hair or at least disguise patches of thin hair.

If stress is causing your hair loss, consider looking into ways to relieve your stress. Changing your diet may also help, but talk to a nutritionist or your healthcare provider before making any major changes. Treating dandruff if that's your culprit or being gentler with your hair in general are two other remedies you could try.

Otherwise, there are a variety of products for hair loss, such as supplements, essential oils, and topical treatments. However, you may want to talk to your healthcare provider before starting some of these treatments. And a new hairstyle, volumizing shampoos, or hair mascara may also give thin hair a fuller look.

Still, losing strands even after you've made these lifestyle tweaks? If excessive shedding continues for more than a month, see your healthcare provider to find out what will be best for your situation.

Dietary supplements are minimally regulated by the FDA and may or may not be suitable for you. The effects of supplements vary from person to person and depend on many variables, including type, dosage, frequency of use, and interactions with current medications. Please speak with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before starting any supplements.

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Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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