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Hair is one of the first places to show signs that you’re going through menopause. For many women, their hair becomes stringy and unmanageable during this time. If you’re wondering why this is happening and what you can do about it, read on. We’ll discuss the causes of hair changes during menopause and offer some tips for keeping your locks looking their best.
I went through perimenopause persisting with trying to keep my hair longish. What is it about getting older? Rather than finally being glad to be free of the stereo type that to be feminine is to be an acceptable person in society we work harder to hold onto it with both hands.
My hair didn’t get the message because rather than comply with my daily and rather rough attempts to mold it to the idea of what it should look like in my head it had ideas of its own. None of which were accepted as normal in society.
It was stringy, course, and had developed a curl that would have been the envy of any spiral curl enthusiast in the eighties.
I gave up.
I now have very short hair and despite my misgivings, I haven’t looked back.
Hormones in hair loss
During puberty, women experience a surge in estrogen. This estrogen helps stimulate hair growth, and as a result, women typically have thicker and more lustrous hair than men.
However, as women approach menopause, there is a gradual decline in estrogen and progesterone levels. With this decline comes an increase in the activity of male hormones (called androgens) that the body makes.
Androgens cause the hair follicles on the head to shrink, which leads to hair loss.
Once lustrous shiny hair can become dry, thin and frizzy.
And to add some salt into the wound the androgens that cause the hair on our heads to disappear at an alarming pace are also responsible for hair popping up or growing thicker in places where we don’t want it.
On your chin for example.
Signs of hair thinning and/or hair loss in menopause
It’s not just hair on your head that can be affected by menopause. Many women also experience losing hair, hair thinning or loss on their face, arms, legs and pubic area.
The most common symptoms of hair thinning or hair loss in menopause include:
– A gradual increase in the number of hairs shed each day, you will notice more hair on your brush, clothes and in the shower.
– Thinning hair on the scalp
– Bald patches
– A receding hairline
– Hair loss or thinning on the face, arms, legs and pubic area.
Does menopause cause wiry, brittle or frizzy hair?
Your oil glands produce less oil and sebum thanks to the hormone changes in menopause. Sebum coats the hair and helps protect it against damage and with its decline your hair becomes drier and more brittle.
– Try using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to avoid frizzy hair and keep it hydrated and soft.
– Consider adding a leave-in conditioner or hydrating serum to your routine. This can work to nourish the scalp, which is especially important if you are experiencing thinning hair too.
Will I get dandruff?
Some women also experience an increase in dandruff during menopause. This can be caused by a decline in estrogen levels, which can lead to a dry, itchy scalp.
– Use a shampoo that is designed for dandruff control.
– Try using a moisturizing conditioner after you shampoo.
– Apply a moisturizing treatment to help soothe and condition the scalp.
– Avoid using products that contain alcohol, as these can dry out the scalp and exacerbate the dandruff problem.
– If the dandruff is severe, see your doctor for a prescription anti-dandruff shampoo.
The link between thyroid health and hair growth.
Thyroid hormones also play a role in hair growth. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can lead to hair loss, while an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can cause the hair to become thin and brittle.
If you are experiencing changes in your hair texture or appearance, it’s important to have your thyroid checked by your doctor.
Tips for Care of Aging Hair
Eat a diet rich in nutritious foods
As with improving any of the symptoms of menopause your diet is the first place to make positive changes.
Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale – Greens are high in antioxidants, such as A, C, and E, folate, and calcium. They also include iron, important for healthy blood flow and circulation. Keeping your scalp’s circulation healthy is one of the keys to preserving your hair. Try raw in salads or blended into a smoothie.
Lentils – Lentils are packed with nutrients, including iron and B vitamins. These vitamin help promote healthy hair and can also aid hair growth. Lentil soup is an easy way to add lentils to your diet.
Whole grains – Whole grains contain vitamin B6, which helps maintain a healthy scalp and encourages new hair growth by supporting the pituitary gland.
Coconut oil – Coconut oil contains a unique mix of fatty acids that provide a hot environment for healthy hair growth.
Eggs – Eggs contain high-quality protein and biotin, which is important for the formation of healthy cells. This includes your hair’s cells. Try adding an egg to yogurt or oatmeal in the morning for a boost in nutrients.
Avocados – Avocados contain lots of good fats and potassium, both of which are great for your hair.
Blueberries – Blueberries contain antioxidants that help protect cells from free radicals and Vitamin C, which is important for collagen production in the scalp.
Water – Drink water! Water helps to moisturize skin and hair from within. It also helps keep your hair follicles clean and running smoothly.
Movement helps get the blood flowing! Healthy circulation is important for a healthy scalp. Get up and move around every hour or so, even if it’s just taking a quick walk around the office. And make sure to take care of yourself during menopause by practicing self-care.
Reduce your stress levels
Stress can become a major issue for many people as we age and it has been shown to interfere with hormone production, including estrogen. This can lead to several problems, including hair loss.
– Make time for yourself every day, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes.
– Use stress-relieving techniques like yoga or meditation.
– Get regular exercise, which has been shown to help reduce stress levels.
– Spend time with friends and family, who can help provide a sense of support.
– Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol, as these can contribute to stress.
Haircare styling tools
– Blow dryers, curling irons, and flat irons that are too hot. Heat can damage hair over time, leading to frizziness or split ends.
– Don’t use rubber bands or ties containing metal to tie up your hair.
– Tight ponytails or buns too often – Pulling your hair back tightly will put excess tension on the hair follicles. This can lead to hair loss.
– Tight braids or cornrows – Tight braids can damage the hair follicles, leading to less healthy hair growth.
– Sharp metal combs or brushes with rough surfaces that can snag or pull on your hair.
Low maintenance hairstyles may be something to think about as they tend to require less tools to maintain them.
Get a silicone toothed scalp brush if you have short hair and make sure to use it daily. With short hair it can be easy to forget to brush. A scalp brush used daily will keep your scalp moisturised with natural oils which will keep dry flakey scalp at bay. You may also notice your hair looking shinier.
– Use a moisturising shampoo and conditioner made specifically for aging hair.
– Look for products that contain antioxidants, such as green tea, to help protect your hair from free radicals.
– Try a leave-in conditioner or serum to help add moisture and shine.
– Avoid products that contain alcohol, which can dry out the natural oils in your hair.
– Consider natural products that are kind and gentler to your hair.
– Colours and bleach are harsh on the hair. If you feel unable to go with the grey then also try natural colours that will be gentler and not cause further damage.
Protect your hair from the elements
Wear a hat to protect your scalp and hair from harsh sunlight.
Take supplements specifically for your hair.
Since your hair is made primarily of protein, adding a supplement to help with hair growth can be beneficial.
Biotin, a B-complex vitamin, has been shown to help stimulate hair growth.
Silica is a trace mineral that can also help with healthy cell production, including your scalp’s cells.
Zinc helps support the immune system and collagen production, which are both important for hair health.
Hormone replacement therapy
As it is hormones that cause menopausal hair changes hormone replacement therapy may help slow the natural ageing process as well as reduce other menopause symptoms.