Hair Loss in Women | The Ultimate Guide

Hair Growth Cycles

Hair growth goes through three natural stages in both men and women. 

These are the Anagen Phase, the Catagen Phase, and the Telogen Phase.

hair growth cycle

The Anagen Phase is the phase where your hair is actively growing. This is where the cells in the roots of your hair are dividing rapidly, with the hair follicle receiving the most nourishment from your blood supply to promote growth.

The Anagen Phase can last anywhere from two to seven years, and makes up about 90% of the hairs on your head at one time.

The length of the Anagen Phase, as well as the length of the hair produced during it, is based primarily on genetics, while age, diet, and general health come into play as well.

Once the Anagen Phase ends, the hair moves into a shorter period called the Catagen Phase.

This phase only lasts for a maximum of three weeks, and is when the hair follicle detaches from the blood supply, stopping growth.

After this period, your hair moves into the third and final phase: the Telogen Phase.

This Telogen Phase lasts for around three months, and is when hairs start to grow underneath the hair that has detached itself from the blood supply in the Catagen Phase.

Once the Telogen Phase ends, those Catagen Phase hairs will fall out, making way for new hairs that will go right back into the Anagen Phase.

Every hair follicle on your scalp is completely different, so you shouldn’t be alarmed with what you might think is constant shedding. Every hair goes through their cycle at different times, and it’s not uncommon to shed 100+ hairs a day, but if you start to see clumps falling out in your hairbrush or hands, it might be time to consider whether you are experiencing some form of hair loss.

Signs of Hair Loss in Women

Hair loss can present itself in various different ways depending on the cause, so if you are experiencing some kind of hair loss, it can be helpful to keep track of it as it progresses so you can get the right advice moving forward.

Thinning is the most common form of hair loss in women and starts at the parting of your hair. 

Female hair loss is measured on the Ludwig Scale in three phases.

Phase one is light thinning at the parting of your hair.

Phase two is where the thinning broadens and you start to see a wider gap.

Phase three is the final phase of the Ludwig Scale where the part is effectively non-existent and hair loss has spread across the scalp.

ludwig scale

This scale is used generally for categorizing hair loss in women, and many women’s hair loss may not actually fit into any of the phases of the Ludwig Scale.

This is especially true for women who are seeing bald spots in areas of their head that could be categorized as Alopecia Areata, or women who are noticing overall thinning due to certain types of trauma.

Causes of Hair Loss in Women

There are many (many!!) causes of hair loss in women, and consulting a trichologist is likely the best way to determine your specific cause, but there are products and solutions available to you that work for most of them.

Genetics is one of the main factors that leads to hair loss and is known scientifically as Androgenetic Alopecia. In women, complete baldness is rare with this type of alopecia, and it starts in most cases after menopause. 

More than 30 million women in the United States alone can cite Androgenetic alopecia as their cause of hair loss.[1]

As previously mentioned, another very common type of hair loss is Alopecia Areata.

alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is considered by scientists to be caused by a mixture of genetics and external factors.

This is because both parents have to contribute a specific number of genes for a child to develop it. [2] 

It is an auto-immune disease where your immune system mistakes the healthy cells in your hair follicles for something that shouldn’t be there, and attacks them.

Unfortunately, it is not yet known why these healthy hair follicles are attacked, but it does occur more often in people who have auto-immune disease history in their family.

Keeping a balanced diet, exercising and staying mentally healthy are all things one can do to minimize the risks, but with no true knowledge of why alopecia areata occurs, it can be hard to fight against.

Many people who experience alopecia areata invest in wigs. Wig technology has come a LONG way in the last decade or so, and it has given women with many different types of hair loss an avenue to go down where they’re much more confident and comfortable with their appearance.

Wigs can be used in various different scenarios now, too. Many active teens and adults don’t have to remove their wigs while they work out, play sports or even swim.

To find the closest provider of wigs to you, please use our Salon Finder. You can sort by services offered at each salon to make sure you find the right place!

Hair loss doesn’t necessarily have to be genetic, and can be caused simply by lifestyle and how you wear your hair.

If you tend to pull your hair back tightly into a ponytail, you might start to see your hairline recede. This is because when you pull your hair too tightly, it damages the hair follicles and limits growth.

This shouldn’t stop you from wearing hair styles like corn rows or ponytails, but make sure you’re giving your hair enough wiggle room so it stays healthy.

If you’re trying a new hair style at the salon like corn rows or something similar, make sure you know the stylist has had success in the past administering these styles. 

The right stylist will make sure that your hair isn’t pulled too tight at the root so your hair will continue to stay healthy as well as looking great!

If you find yourself losing hair due to a tight hairstyle, make sure to stop wearing that style right away.

The damage may not be permanent if you catch it early, so wear your hair down for a few weeks or months and allow your hair to start growing unimpeded again.

Hair loss is also a big indicator of trauma. Some people notice hair loss after a surgery or having a baby (more on that later). 

This is generally temporary, and while you wait for your hair to start growing back, you can use products like Strand Builder to make your hair look thicker. These are natural keratin fibers that cling to the existing hair on your head and give your hair a fuller look.

Sudden Hair Loss in Women

Also known as Anagen Effluvium, sudden hair loss is what occurs in the anagen phase of your hair’s growth.

It is most common with chemotherapy patients, but can also happen if you have an auto-immune condition similar to alopecia areata.

The reason you lose hair during chemotherapy is the treatment impairs mitosis of the hair follicles. This means that the hair breaks at the root and inhibits growth.

Regrowth of hair can potentially come back in patches or not at all, which is why a lot of patients undergoing chemotherapy invest in wigs.

In most cases, however, hair comes back in full after around six months of stopping treatment.

Some people have noticed their hair become curly in regrowth, and some people even grow hair of a different color. [3]

Postpartum Hair Loss

Hair loss after giving birth is completely normal and very common. Many women believe that it is a side effect of breastfeeding, but it is unrelated.

The reasoning behind postpartum hair loss is that more hair enters the telogen (resting) phase. Since this phase happens before the Catagen (shedding) phase, more hair falls out of the scale than usual.

Similarly, during pregnancy, many women enjoy thicker and fuller hair because more hair enters the anagen phase.

You will start to notice hair loss around 2-3 months after giving birth. When hair loss starts, this period will usually last around 6-9 months, and you can expect to see your hair growth cycle return to normal around 12 months after your baby is born.

Many products can be used during this time to “bulk up” the remaining hair on your head. As previously mentioned, Strand Builder will attach natural keratin fibers to your existing hair to give you a thicker, fuller looking style.

You can also use our Salon Finder to find businesses that stock International Hairgoods’ Hair Support Cleansing & Revitalizing Shampoo and Hair Support Restructuring Conditioner.

Other simpler options are to continue to take your prenatal vitamins to make sure you’re getting all the necessary nutrition to your scalp.

You’ll also want to make sure you keep a healthy and balanced diet that includes a lot of protein. Hair follicles consist mostly of protein, so getting enough in your diet will aid in regrowth.

How to Stop Hair Loss in Women

Minoxidil is currently the only FDA approved medication for hair loss in women. 

Minoxidil started as a treatment for ulcers (and didn’t actually treat ulcers) but worked remarkably as a vasodilator, so was sold as blood pressure medication.

In one test it showed hair growth in many of the patients tested, and has been used as a hair growth treatment for more than 30 years.

You probably know Minoxidil best as Rogaine, but many different companies have branded Minoxidil differently.

Our Salon Finder is the best place to find a location near you that stocks EXT® Hair Regrowth Treatment with 2% Minoxidil for Women. This is a topical solution that is to be used once a day.

Minoxidil takes a while to take effect, so you’ll need to use it continuously for two to four months to start seeing growth.

If you stop using Minoxidil, your hair regrowth will stagnate, and likely go back to how it was before you started treatment, so keep it up!

Hair Loss Treatment for Women

A semi-permanent solution for hair loss in women would be a hair replacement procedure.

Salons across the United States (and most of the world) offer hair replacement services such as Micro Point Solutions and Cyberhair.

International Hairgoods has provided Hair Replacement training to stylists across the country for decades. 

Hair replacement securely bonds new hair (using medical grade adhesives) to the scalp in a skin to skin manner.

Stylists match the new style to your existing hair color, wave pattern, and density. 

These stylists are taught to blend new hair into existing hair, for a virtually undetectable new look.

Micro Point Solutions

Micro Point Solutions® by Cyberhair® was developed as an option for those with thinning hair or hair that lacks fullness and volume.

Micro Point is for those who have found standard extensions too heavy, damaging, or too visible; and for the top of the head where extensions cannot go.

Cyberhair® has style memory which makes it easy to maintain the style. Micro Point Solutions® utilizes Cyberhair® to instantly add more volume to existing hair – transforming hair in just one salon visit.  

Micro Point is a painless, non-surgical procedure for both women and men designed to boost hair volume up to 400% -- without the use of glue or solvents. 

Its method is simple, and depends on what your preferred outcome is.

micro point solutions links

As you can see, there are many different causes and solutions for hair loss in women.

The best way to manage your hair loss is to create an appointment at a salon that has experience with hair replacement and hair loss solutions.

Your stylist will give you the best options available to ensure you’re happy with the outcome and you can start to regrow your hair and your confidence!

To find a stylist in your area with hair replacement experience, use our Salon Finder today!

Resources:

[1] https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/androgenetic-alopecia#statistics

[2] https://www.naaf.org/alopecia-areata

[3] https://dermnetnz.org/topics/anagen-effluvium/#:~:text=Anagen%20effluvium%20refers%20to%20hair,stage%20of%20the%20hair%20cycle.

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