Did you know the average person sheds 50 – 100 hairs per day? Hair goes through three different cycles – growth, resting, and shedding – but the phases aren’t uniform across all hair follicles. Different hair follicles will go through individual phases, so some hair follicles may be at a growth level and others at a resting or shedding period. So don’t panic if you notice some hair loss – it’s perfectly normal.
How to prevent hair loss may first start with your diet. The building block for hair is a protein called keratin. Studies show that incorporating protein-rich foods can boost hair health and reduce breakage. Proteins deliver the essential nutrients for hair to remain firmly anchored in hair follicles and increase the quality of keratin, resulting in more luminous locks. Foods that contain protein include lean meats, poultry, fish and seafood, dairy products, nuts, and peas. According to Dr Eric Rudnik, fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon are good sources of protein and contain essential fatty acids that also boost hair health.
In a clinical trial, participants who consumed more raw vegetables, herbs, and leafy greens experienced significant hair loss reduction. Improvement was correlated with the frequency of consumption, with people eating these types of food more than three times a week recording the most visible results. Leafy greens contain vitamin A, iron, beta carotene, folate, and vitamin C, and deficiency in these nutrients can trigger hair loss, so consider upping the kale, spinach, collards, and basil in your diet.
While hair supplements are often touted in ‘how to prevent hair loss’ articles, it’s important to understand what your body is actually lacking. Sometimes you may be overloading on vitamins your body is already abundant in, which can make things worse. Instead of diving head first into the trendiest supplement, take a blood test to identify the vitamins you actually need.
Vitamins that play an essential role in growth and retention process include vitamins A, B, C, and D, iron, selenium, and zinc. It’s important to note that our body doesn’t naturally produce zinc and selenium, so you may need to supplement or incorporate foods rich in these nutrients. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, chia seeds, and flaxseed are rich in zinc and selenium.
There’s a misconception that washing your hair every day causes hair loss, but Anabel Kingsley, a trichologist (a health professional that specialises in hair), says washing your hair daily may protect you against hair loss by keeping the scalp clean. Often buildup from products and pollution can contribute to blocking hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. The key is to use a mild shampoo, as harsh products can lead to increased breakage. “Frequent shampooing washes old, bacteria-laden oil off your hair. This stops too much oil from building up, and collecting dirt and dust,” Anabel says. While it may appear that hair sheds more frequently during shampooing, Anabel explains that it’s not the actual process that caused the hair loss: “Shampooing simply dislodges hairs that have already become detached from the follicle’s base and are ready to come out.”
Beyond shampooing your hair, there are some everyday tips on how to prevent hair loss.
If you have significant hair shedding, contact a medical professional to identify how to prevent hair loss. Minoxidil is considered a baseline defence as it prolongs the growth phase of the hair cycle. Another treatment is Phenylephrine, which contracts hair follicles, increasing the capacity for hair to remain anchored. According to Dr. Jeff Rappaport, a dermatologic surgeon, combining medial treatments such as Minoxidil with PRP offers the most visible improvements.
PRP is considered a ‘go-to’ treatment when doctors are asked about how to prevent hair loss. Your own blood is drawn, then it is spun in a centrifuge that separates the platelets (filled with growth factors that stimulate cell renewal) from the rest of the blood and injected into the area of concern. PRP is said to aid hair growth by activating dormant hair follicles, boosting blood supply, and thickening the hair shaft. However, the results are not immediate, as it takes time for the growth factors to affect your hair cycle and isn’t suitable for bald patches. “You still need to have some hair. I tell most patients to allow four months to see a difference. If it hasn’t helped by four months, it probably isn’t going to help you,” Dr. David Berman, a plastic surgeon said.
Story by Kristina Zhou. Holding shot via @emilydidonato