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 pattern hair loss (FPHL) 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 FPHL by the age of 50, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. And there's a good chance those stats are off, said Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, because female hair loss is often an embarrassing thing to talk about.

A common hair loss myth is that female hair loss happens for the same reasons as male hair loss. "But FPHL does not have the same pattern as male pattern hair loss," said Francesca J. Fusco, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "It tends to be diffuse or frontal or temporal, and it can be inherited through female relatives." While male pattern hair loss has been much more researched than FPHL, we do know that FPHL is at least in part genetic and related to the androgen hormones, mainly dihydrotestosterone (DHT), according to an article published in Indian Dermatology Online Journal in 2020. In other words, there are several causes of hair loss besides genes, including stress, diet, and other lifestyle factors.

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," explained Dr. Zeichner. In a phenomenon called telogen effluvium, 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," said Dr. Zeichner. "These patients typically develop rapid thinning of the hair along the temples." Finding stress management techniques is key, whether it's meditation, yoga, hitting the gym, or adopting a mantra.

Watch What You Eat

"Protein is critical to healthy hair," said Dr. Fusco. "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, as per a 2019 study published in Dermatology and Therapy. 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, said Dr. Zeichner. The two most popular hair supplements on the market that have been evaluated and shown to help promote healthy hair are Nutrafol and Viviscal, said Dr. Zeichner.

Use a Topical Treatment

The only topical treatment that has been approved by the FDA for female hair loss is minoxidil, better known by the brand name Women's Rogaine. "Topical minoxidil is the gold standard of treatment," said Dr. Zeichner. "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, according to a systematic review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2019. 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 and never brushing hair when it's wet and weak. Skip styles that pull, such as tight ponytails and updos. Never vigorously towel dry, which leads to breakage. Take a break from daily blowouts and over-styling, which irritate the scalp.

Ditch Your Dandruff

Another surprising culprit? Dandruff. "As flaking builds up or if the scalp itches and scratching ensues, inflammation can lead to excessive shedding," said Dr. Fusco. "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," said Dr. Fusco. "Change your part frequently to give hair a lift, and use volumizers and dry shampoos for a boost."

Batiste Dry Shampoos ($6; amazon.com) 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, said Dr. Fusco. Brush on Madison Reed Root Touch Up ($30; amazon.com) for a quick, easy fix. There are a number of hair mascaras to disguise growing out roots, which also bulk up the appearance.

Still, losing strands even after you've made these lifestyle tweaks? If excessive shedding continues for more than a month, see your healthcare provider.

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