As if horrid zits and murderous mood swings weren’t enough, now we can thank those blasted hormones for messing up our hair as well. Turns out, hormone levels affect both the quality and quantity of hair, making it thin, brittle or lustreless during certain times. When? And how? Here you go.
Popping the pill changes some women’s hair, usually (thankfully!) for the better. Normally, it makes strands luscious, shiny and voluminous. But go off the pill and there may be sudden hair loss, along with changes in texture.
What you can do: Consider all-over colour or highlights, which will plump up the hair cuticles and create instant volume. Plus, build body with a thickening shampoo and apply a pea-size dollop of conditioner just to the ends so locks don’t become limp.
Hair and hormones: Thyroid troubles
Hair loss, in fact, is often the first sign of a thyroid disorder, since fluctuating levels of this hormone directly affect your strand’s growth cycle.
What you can do: The thyroid gland accumulates more toxins than any other organ, so an imbalance of this hormone can accelerate hair loss. Counter by switching to organic foods and non-toxic hair products wherever possible. Besides this, stock your diet with proteins and give your scalp a daily massage.
Hair and hormones: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is caused by an excess of male hormones, which can trigger hair thinning at the front and top of the scalp. This is more acute in PCOS sufferers who also have a family history of genetic hair loss (ME!).
What you can do: Ask your doctor about drugs to reduce the levels of male hormones – this should help hair regrowth. As will head massage, which increases blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles.
Hair and hormones: Stress saboteurs
Stress is often blamed for hair loss and grey strands – and usually with good reason. Hormones (like adrenaline) are released in the body during stressful events and they affect the absorption of B-vitamins, which are needed for pigmentation. Stress also produces testosterone – the male hormone – which affects the hair follicle and causes thinning.
What you can do: Taking a B-vitamin complex supplement and trying relaxation techniques could go a long way.
Surging pregnancy hormones usually spark hair growth, giving expectant moms luxurious, thick hair. That’s the good news. The not-so-good-news comes during the last trimester and the months after that, when new mommy’s hair may suddenly look like she’s been through a war zone. Not only will those thick strands begin to fall out in clumps, the texture may also change from straight to curly and vice versa. Blame it on the low levels of estrogen in a woman’s body after childbirth, which lead to excessive hair loss. But relax: this problem is normally temporary and your tresses will right themselves in 6-8 months.
What you can do: In the meantime, eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals and avoid chemical treatments like colouring or perming. Also, switch to shampoos that contain ingredients (like keratin) to coat the hair, making the strands appear fuller. Or try a new hairstyle: a shorter ‘do can make tresses look fuller. If the hair loss hasn’t righted itself within a year, visit your GP.
Hair and hormones: Androgenetic Alopecia
This hormone-related hair loss syndrome is genetic and affects half the female population, often before the age of 50. In most cases, it represents an abnormal sensitivity of the hair follicles to androgens – male hormones produced in women by the ovaries and adrenal glands. Female pattern AGA commonly causes hair loss at the top of the head, resulting in a widened part but preserving the hairline. Less often, women develop male pattern AGA with hair loss at the temples, causing an M-shaped hairline. In either pattern, hair becomes shorter, finer and less pigmented with each successive growth cycle.
What you can do: Rogaine is the only over-the-counter product with a prayer of promoting hair regrowth in women with AGA. But it works in fewer than 50% cases, must be applied twice a day, takes as long as 32 weeks to work and the effect is lost if use is discontinued.
Hair and hormones: Menopause
Levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone fall during the menopause, while testosterone increases. This affects hair follicles, causing the hair to start thinning on top of the head, along with becoming finer in texture.
What you can do: A good way to increase your estrogen levels during menopause is through a diet rich in plant sources of phytoestrogen – such as nuts and seeds. Berries are another great option, especially those that are rich in flavonoids, like raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and pomegranates. It’s also good to eat sources of plant protein such as those in soy products like soy milk, tofu and edamame.
Have you noticed a connection between your hair and hormones?