Hormones and hair loss – Dr. Geoffrey Redmond talks all about this exasperating duo in his book It’s Your Hormones. Dr. Redmond, who is the director of the Hormone Center of New York, is an Endocrinologist who understands the frustration of female hair loss, and women travel from all over the United States to be treated by him.
It’s Your Hormones came out in 2005 but I didn’t buy it until this week for some reason, even though I’ve read Grow Hair Fast and a bunch of other hair loss books! So many women on the various hair loss websites have gone to see Dr. Redmond in person, but that’s not in my plans anytime soon (from what I understand an initial consultation is around $700 and is not covered under insurance, and you have to get all your blood work done, and of course travel to NYC). What’s different about Dr. Redmond compared to most doctors you’ll probably see is that he believes you when you say you have hair loss, he doesn’t act like you’re crazy or belittle you because “it’s only hair,” and he doesn’t just say “your only treatment option is Rogaine.” He also understands the devastating impact hair loss has on women’s lives.
The book covers several hormonal topics – acne, PCOS, menopause, weight, PMS, sex, and more, but I’ll just summarize what Dr. Redmond says about hair loss. While there are several types of hair loss (such as alopecia areata), he believes most female hair loss is caused by hormones because many women have hair follicles that are overly sensitive to testosterone, so shedding occurs, even though testosterone levels may be normal. And a decline in estrogen levels can have the same effect. He’s treated over 5000 women with alopecia over the last 20+ years.
Dr. Redmond believes the reason it’s so hard to find a doctor that understands female hair loss is because it falls in between two medical specialties. Dermatologists are often the ones who treat hair loss because hair loss and skin go together, yet most Dermatologists don’t have a lot of training in hormones, which is the cause of most hair loss. Endocrinologists, who deal with hormones, aren’t normally trained in skin and hair issues.
He mentions hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s and says thyroid problems can cause hair loss if you have a severe over or under-active thyroid. And alopecia areata (autoimmune hair loss) is many times linked to Hashimoto’s, so make sure to get your TSH, thyroid antibodies, etc. checked if you do have alopecia areata. That’s about all he says about thyroid issues and hair loss – other than take thyroid medication only if you do have a thyroid problem. I believe thyroid problems can be extremely complex, and difficult to treat properly.
• Hormonal Hair Loss
According to Dr. Redmond, most hormonal hair loss is caused by the dreaded androgenetic alopecia (AGA). And he believes most doctors downplay the role of hormones in hair loss. With hormonal hair loss, hair thinning is generally greatest on the top (starting right behind the hairline and), and somewhat on the sides, but not as much. And the temples often thin (even women who will not develop hair loss sometimes have mild thinning there). He doesn’t say anything about a receding hairline, which I know a lot of women have (myself included). And he doesn’t mention hair strands thinning over your entire head.
• Estrogen and Testosterone
Estrogen and testosterone are the biggest influence in hormonal hair loss, according to Dr. Redmond. Estrogen = good for hair; testosterone = bad for hair. When you’re pregnant estrogen levels rise greatly, and your hair stays on your head longer and grows faster. After the baby is born, estrogen levels plummet. When estrogen levels fall (after birth, due to stopping birth control pills, rapid weight loss, or perimenopause, etc.) it can trigger hair loss. Signs you may have low estrogen include: hair loss onset in late thirties or after, perimenopause symptoms, being very thin, high amount of aerobic exercise, light periods (if not on the pill), dry or delicate skin, and fine or dry hair. Some women need more estrogen than others to maintain their hair.
Testosterone slows down the metabolism of hair follicles, and they get smaller and smaller, which equates to less hair. Within the follicles testosterone is converted to DHT, but Dr. Redmond believes both DHT and testosterone are hormonal hair loss culprits. Most women with AGA have normal levels of testosterone, but if they are hormonally vulnerable and predisposed to alopecia, even normal levels of testosterone could cause it. And of course elevated levels of testosterone could cause hair loss, and it’s also linked to PCOS, which he talks about in detail. To determine if testosterone is causing hair loss, check for other signs of testosterone problems: onset between teens and mid-thirties, oily scalp or oily hair or oily skin, itchy scalp, seborrheic dermatitis, acne, increased facial and/or body hair, being overweight, and irregular and often heavy periods. If you have hair loss plus some of these other problems, then you are probably vulnerable to testosterone.
Next both total and free testosterone levels must be checked. Dr. Redmond believes levels of testosterone approaching 50 ng/dL or higher will cause hair loss in those vulnerable to it, even if this is still within the normal lab range. But testosterone levels can fluctuate throughout the day, and levels change with age. And if you are vulnerable to testosterone, your levels will probably need to be lower (but he doesn’t say how low).
• Telogen Effluvium
If you don’t know if you have AGA and think you might have telogen effluvium, you might hate reading this paragraph. Many women Dr. Redmond sees have been told by doctors they have telogen effluvium (temporary hair loss). Many doctors will do a hair pull test, and if you have increased shedding the test will be positive. But unfortunately it will be positive no matter what the cause, so the shedding could be from TE or AGA. While some people truly do have telogen effluvium (from having a baby, having surgery, experiencing extreme stress, etc.) Dr. Redmond thinks most cases of TE are really hormonally based, which means your true problem is AGA. He doesn’t go into a lot of detail about other TE causes or chronic TE. Unless you know you had an event that could have caused your TE, he suggests you start treating your hair loss as if it’s hormonal instead of wasting time. He believes most hair loss will get worse without treatment, so start treating it asap.
• Scalp Sensations
Scalp itching and AGA often occur together, from excess stimulation of the oil glands, caused by testosterone. Testosterone blockers (like Spironolactone) should help with this, and a topical steroid lotion may be used. A burning scalp sensation, or the hair or scalp feeling uncomfortable to the touch, may be caused by low estrogen. Treatment with estrogen should help after a few months.
• Scalp Biopsy
Unless there is scarring alopecia, which Dr. Redmond feels is rare, he doesn’t recommend a scalp biopsy. Scalp biopsies can’t tell you if your hair is falling out due to estrogen or testosterone, or both. Most women get scalp biopsies to also determine if they have TE or AGA, but since he seems to think TE is not common, he assumes most women just have AGA. I haven’t done a scalp biopsy because I have heard the results are often inconclusive, but they still have their place if your doctor suspects you have scarring alopecia, or if he or she feels it would help with your diagnosis.
• Lab Tests
Dr. Redmond recommends these blood tests initially: Total and Free Testosterone (very important), DHEA-S – elevated levels may increase testosterone, FSH and Prolactin– only if your periods are irregular or you may be approaching peri/menopause, Estradiol – the main estrogen – helpful in some cases, but generally not necessary if you are under forty-five and have regular periods, are taking birth control, or are postmenopausal, TSH – thyroid function, and CBC blood count and chemistry profile – standard health tests, and Iron – deficiency may contribute to hair loss.
• The Pill To Treat Hair Loss
I wrote extensively about birth control and hair loss recently on hairlosshell.com. To increase estrogen, Dr. Redmond believes birth control pills are the best way to do it. While birth control obviously causes hair loss in some women, he feels it’s generally because they were on the wrong pill – one that had testosterone-like activity. And many women develop hair loss after getting off the pill, but he believes this is often because these women needed higher levels of estrogen, so they pill was helping their hair (and they just didn’t know it). And many women may be on the pill, which is helping somewhat, but they still need further hair loss treatments. Just remember to read up on the potentially dangerous side effects of birth control, and any other medication, and check with your own doctor before starting anything.
Dr. Redmond suggests that rather than taking the pill for three weeks and then a week of placebos (how I take Yasmin), instead you could take twelve weeks of the pill, then take 4-7 days off for placebos. Talk with your doctor about this before trying it. He suggests it keeps your hormone levels more steady, with less fluctuation. I am curious about doing this, but am not quite ready to try it.
He says the best pills to take for hair loss include: Yasmin, Ortho-Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, and Desogen. The worst for hair loss include: Loestrin 1/20, Alesse, Lo/Ovral, Levlen, Tri-Levlen, and Levlite. But make sure to read my other article about birth control because there are a lot of other pills you want to avoid as well!
Every doctor you’ve ever been to that believes you have hair loss has probably recommended Rogaine/Minoxidil. Dr. Redmond doesn’t prescribe it as his first choice because: he feels it doesn’t usually work!, it’s a pain to use twice a day, it’s hard to apply it over long hair, and it causes scalp irritation. He believes the 5% is more effective, and also more irritating, and I can’t use the 5% minoxidil strength personally. He suggests using it as a last resort, after trying other treatments, because if you start it first you won’t know if it’s helping or something else is, and then you will be stuck on it for life (once you stop, you will lose all the hairs it helped maintain on your head).
• Dr. Redmond’s Suggested Alopecia Treatment
With treatment Dr. Redmond believes 80% of women get stabilization for their hormonal hair loss, and many see some regrowth after a year. So if you are peri-menopause or younger, his treatment protocol seems to be: take a hair friendly pill like Yasmin, and it’s best to take Yasmin consecutively twelve weeks, and then take a 4-7 day break (but I’ve also read doing it this way has extra side effects like erratic bleeding). For menopausal women he talks about other forms of estrogen you may use. If you believe you have signs of testosterone vulnerability, then he recommends Spironolactone in a dose of 100-200mg a day, and at a bare minimum 75mg daily. He doesn’t mention working your way up to the full dose gradually, nor does he mention a lot of side effects from spiro. He briefly mentions taking Propecia (if you are on the pill and absolutely not going to get pregnant while taking it), but then he says it’s not very effective for women. He says Saw Palmetto could possibly slightly work, and he negates just about every other treatment out there (vitamins, eating more protein, etc.) And later on you can add Rogaine if you want.
• My Thoughts on the book It’s Your Hormones
I go to bed every night thinking about hair loss and how to fix it, and I’ll sometimes wake up a few minutes later in a panic thinking HORMONES. It’s HORMONES that are causing hair loss for most women! So I kind of feel stupid that I haven’t done even more research and testing on any and everything that has to do with hormones and hair loss. Personally I’ve tried so many different treatments that haven’t worked (iron pills, thyroid pills, diet, exercise, vitamins, Rogaine, etc.) so I am out of options and take Yasmin and spiro, as Dr. Redmond instructs. I can’t say if the Yasmin has helped my hair from getting worse, and my hair has definitely gotten worse since I’ve been on the spiro, but maybe it would have anyway, or maybe the spiro is making the shedding worse. He doesn’t mention that as a side effect. I think he downplays so many other possible causes of hair loss that women need to check out first, and I doubt only estrogen and testosterone cause hormonal hair loss – there are a lot of different hormones in the body.
From what I’ve read on several hair loss websites, Dr. Redmond seems to prescribe the same regimen to just about everyone. Some women say it works for them, but a lot of them don’t find success. First you need to find a good doctor to work with (which is easier said than done) and don’t try any of the treatments you read about online until you speak with a doctor first. Dr. Redmond is still taking appointments in NYC, but it’s expensive to see him. Have you visited Dr. Redmond? Have you read It’s Your Hormones? What’s your take on hormones and hair loss?
Christina Hendricks has been wearing hair pieces and wigs on a regular basis for some time now, but have you even noticed? I don’t watch the show “Mad Men” and I admit that when I have seen her on TV, my eyes have gone straight to her breasts because the media has made such a huge deal about her voluptuous figure. So when a few people mentioned to me that she wears hair pieces and toppers, I did some investigating and it’s totally, completely obvious that she wears hair pieces almost all the time! On the cover of most magazines she appears to be sporting full wigs!
Whereas Tori Amos rocks fiery red wigs, Christina Hendricks makes hair pieces her choice for achieving Hollywood hair. What’s crazy to me is that while Christina is well known for her red hair, hardly anyone on hairstyle blogs, or on the internet in general, mentions that her hair is actually fake! While a lot of female celebrities wear hair pieces on top of their head, it’s usually extremely difficult to tell, which leaves regular people like me feeling like celebrities get all the breaks. So I’m ecstatic that Christina Hendricks has no fear facing Hollywood with supplemental hair. Celebrities really are just like us!
In this first photo you can see Christina Hendricks with her real hair – her hair appears to be thinning slightly. She is 36 now, and I found photos of her in early acting roles from about ten years ago, and she had thin hair then too, so even though she’s known for her big hair, it doesn’t appear that she’s ever actually had big hair (nor is she a natural red head). Below I will show several photos of her with various hair pieces, extensions, and wigs. Although she looks great in all of these pictures, it slightly scares me how blatantly obvious her hair pieces are. You would think a celebrity hair piece maker would know how to give Christina hair that looks totally real – with real parts, and pieces that blend seamlessly with her real hair. Since she sometimes wears her hair naturally without supplemental hair, obviously the hair pieces she wears clip on the top of her head, which is exactly what I soon plan on getting.
In my hair replacement article, one of the challenges mentioned was that it can be hard to wear clip on pieces that look natural – that don’t look like they are just sitting on the top of your head. I want to get a piece that has a realistic looking part (which is lacking in all of the hair pieces Christina is wearing). I also plan on getting a hair piece with bangs because the other tell-tale sign Christina Hendricks is wearing hair pieces is that in some of her photos you can see where her real hair starts in the front, and where the supplemental hair begins an inch or so back from her hairline. So why do you think her hair pieces aren’t that real – does she have a bad hairstylist, or is it that difficult to get a totally realistic hair piece?
In this photo Christina is showing her real hair, but with hair extensions that give her hair length on the bottom. The hair extensions are obvious because her real hair is short, and the extensions are not an exact match for her hair color.
Christina is wearing a hair piece attached to the top of her head. You can slightly see where her real hair peaks through at her hairline, and then a piece without a visible part gives her fullness on the top.
In this photo it appears that Christina’s real hair is brushed up and then a hair piece sits behind her hairline to add volume and length to her hair.
Wow look at those awesome boobs! This is why it took me this long to realize Christina Hendricks was wearing hair, because even though her hair is fire engine red, it’s not the first thing that grabs my attention!
She’s wearing a really obvious topper or wig in this photo. Her hair has no part at all!
Due to the length of Christina’s hair here, it’s probably a wig, or she could be wearing a topper plus super long hair extensions. This is her on the cover of New York Magazine.
This has got to be a full-on wig.
Christina Hendricks out and about on the street, which means she probably wears hair pieces most of the time in her real life – not just when she’s on the red carpet. You can slightly see where the hair piece just sits on the top of her head.
This photo sort of freaks me out because her hair looks bad and really fake. It looks like her brown roots grew out, and the hair piece doesn’t match them. This makes me nervous because if a famous celebrity can’t get realistic looking hair, what about me?
So what do you make of Christina Hendricks wearing hair pieces and wigs in her regular life, and on the red carpet? Since a lot of the hair pieces are so obvious, do you think she cares if the whole world knows her hair is fake? Or do you think she doesn’t realize how obvious her supplemental hair looks? Or maybe since half of Hollywood wears extensions, she feels like hair toppers are no different. I’m sure most people have no clue she wears hair, though, and just thinks she’s another lucky celebrity blessed with perfect hair. Either way I’m excited that a popular celeb is showing the world she’s not afraid to wear hair pieces. And the fact that she has thinning hair has not hurt her career or popularity.
I’ve had the opportunity to interview Susan Falcone, who is an independent hair replacement consultant, and founder of www.crownedbeautiful.com. Her website is dedicated to teaching women how to properly transition into bonded hair replacement for partial and three-quarter hair systems faster, easier and with less emotional stress. In addition, Crowned Beautiful is committed to bursting the stigma associated with female hair loss and educating women in overcoming their emotional connection to it. Please visit her site to learn more – she has a lot of great information.
Since I’ve been dealing with hair loss for almost ten years now, and may soon start wearing a hairpiece, I knew Susan would be the person to consult. Here are my personal questions to Susan, followed by her response:
If my hair loss progresses, I feel like bonded hair replacement will probably be my best long-term solution for having a nice head of hair that doesn’t really limit my lifestyle. But what do you suggest for women like me that are brand new to the idea of wearing hair and might be afraid to take the big leap into bonded hair? Should we start out by wearing clip-on hair pieces or wigs, or just take the plunge and immediately delve into wearing bonded hair?
It 100% depends on the person. Most women start with a topical masking lotion, then graduate to a clip-on topper or integration unit before finally committing to bonding. It’s actually a very natural progression because it helps you to know that you’ve tried everything before bonding. You also get a good understanding of the limitations of each type of hair replacement system so you can make an experiential decision to move forward if what you are doing is not working for you. That progression also helps you to emotionally accept the idea of shaving and bonding more easily because typically you’re so uncomfortable with what you’ve been doing that you’re ready to take that step of shaving some hair to make way for the head of hair you want. That being said, I have also had clients who jumped right into bonding from pretty much nothing after having decided from their research that they didn’t want to deal with discomfort or limitations of clip-ons or integration units. Also, I’ve found that those with very thin hair typically adapt more quickly emotionally speaking than those who start out with more hair. The reason is, there’s less reason to wonder if you shaved your hair too soon.
I know bonded hair pieces usually blend in with your real hair on the sides and back. What if you shave your head completely or are totally bald – can you still wear a bonded hair system then?
Yes, but you would wear a full cap or full lace wig. I tend to advocate for women with androgenetic alopecia or diffused hair loss and try to educate them towards considering bonding a partial hair system because even though it’s hard to visualize, many women often have a usable hairline below the temples and around the back of the head at the nape of the neck. Keeping this hairline both dramatically increases realism and the ability to have a really natural look, and eliminates the difficulty of bonding at the nape, an area which can be very difficult for many people to get a tight bond for more than a few days.
Also, I’ve never been that happy with my real hair color so I was hoping I could get a hair piece that is quite a bit lighter than my natural color. Would I continually have to dye my real hair to match the hairpiece, or how could I wear a hairpiece that is a totally different color than my real hair?
Yes, you would have to dye your hair, unless you were wearing a conventional wig or fully bonded hair system.
One of my biggest personal fears about hair loss is that I’ll never get used to looking at my thinning hair in the mirror. And after I shave my hair where a bonded unit is placed, I’m afraid of the shock I’ll face every time I have to remove the piece. Does acceptance ever happen – where you can look at yourself without your hairpiece and not feel upset?
I know acceptance can happen because I’ve experienced it and I’ve worked with many women that have. This again depends on the person and her coping skills as well as her desire to see herself as a whole person despite a couple of hours every week or two she sees herself without hair. Obviously it becomes less “shocking” the longer you do it. Again, I think those women that have seriously thin hair make the adjustment more quickly because the improvement in appearance is dramatic and well worth the trade-off.
Years ago, when I used to go the salon, they would remove my hair and leave me sitting their staring at my bald head in the mirror. It was horribly depressing. However, once I started doing my own hair replacement, that stopped. I’m busy doing my own hair and not spending my time staring in the mirror and dwelling on my lack of hair. I’m focused on creating the look I want. Besides, it’s only about an hour every 10-14 days that I see that, and like I said, I’m busy doing stuff, not staring in the mirror.
I’ve found that women who are not having a successful experience with hair replacement are more likely to dwell on the shaved head than those who are more successfully managing things and are happy and comfortable with the results. In other words, to those having a good experience, it’s worth shaving their head and it’s worth seeing their shaved head in exchange for the experience they get. A lot of success is anchored in the combination of getting a good education and understanding of the nuances of bonding before you start, having a good product you are attaching to your head, keeping a positive attitude and a surrounding yourself with a healthy support system.
Once you start wearing bonded hair, does it have a negative impact on your hair follicles? If someone has genetic hair loss that is getting progressively worse, they may have come to terms with the fact their hair is never coming back, but for someone that has temporary hair loss, or is not sure if their hair might come back, could they potentially grow their hair back out later on without having damaged their real hair?
I’m not a healthcare professional so I can’t give medical advice on the health of follicles. My suggestion to women is to forego bonding until they know their hair loss is permanent. Also, it’s my opinion that bonding to hair is much more damaging to the follicle than bonding to skin. When you bond to the skin, there is no pulling on the follicle like there is when you bond to hair. This is one of the reasons I do not recommend bonding to hair.
I personally have not noticed a change in my hair follicles, nor have I heard complaints about that from my clients. I have a client that had extensive hair loss in the year following weight loss surgery. Recently she has sent me pictures of significant regrowth under the bonding areas and is considering growing in her hair to see if it’s full enough for her to consider wearing naturally again.
Can you go to the dentist and have yourself flipped upside down and not have the dentist notice you’re wearing hair, even under the bright fluorescent lights?
Yes! I just spent a year in Invisalign braces and went to the dentist every two weeks. He always wore those little magnifying glasses and never once looked at my hairline! After going there for about 8 months, one day the hygienist pulled me aside and asked if she could ask me a personal question. I thought, “Oh God, here it comes!” So I took a breath and said, “Sure.” She said, “Did it hurt when you got your nose pierced?” Just another great example of how we are more aware of our hair than others are.
There is a disclaimer that needs to be noted here though. The realism of your hair replacement mostly depends on the quality of the piece, the type of base and how good you are at bonding and recreating a natural hairline which is totally doable even if you shave your front hairline. However, I still use my own hairline all the way around with a perfect blend between the hairpiece and my hair. I also wear a thin set of bangs which helps diffuse the front hairline. I wear a really fine Swiss lace that is really undetectable. I pretty much never worry about being “found out” even if someone touches my head. When I wore a monofilament base with a poly edge all the way around or a clip-on or integration piece, I was paranoid all the time, because they were not undetectable.
Can you go swimming while wearing a bonded hairpiece, or go on a crazy upside down roller coaster? In other words, are there any limitations to what you can or can’t do while wearing hair?
You can do almost anything. I’ve gone swimming in the ocean during heavy currents. I’ve been on lots of roller coasters. Again, I need to add that no it’s not a problem providing you are bonding correctly. The biggest issue with swimming is learning how to protect your hair before you get in the water. Chlorine and salt water are more damaging to the hair than the bond.
Wearing hair provides some challenges, but if you really want to do something, you just need to think strategically about how to make it work. I have a client that’s a surfer and she figured out how to protect her hair so she can surf with no problems. I have several clients that are marathon runners. I have a client that’s a firefighter. Each person brings their unique challenge to the table and we work through how to best get what they want out of the experience.
The only thing I can think of that I recommend not doing is a sweat lodge because you are profusely sweating in very high temperatures for many hours without a chance for your body to recover back to its natural temperature long enough for the bond to re-cure. Also, if you are involved in a hands-on sport like wrestling or something where someone can get a really good grab on your hair while you’re profusely sweating, I wouldn’t recommend that.
If presented the opportunity, would you go on national TV (like on a talk show), to discuss hair replacement for women? I don’t think I’ve ever seen an episode of “Dr. Phil” or “The Doctors,” for example, that talks about the option of wearing a bonded hairpiece for women, so I know this topic would help a lot of women. I hate public speaking and being the center of attention, but wish I could help more women by going public about the struggles of female hair loss.
Absolutely. I would love to do that and educate women that bonding is a viable option and that there is life after hair loss. The obstacle is that I don’t have the resources to hire a PR firm to help me make a connection like that. It’s extremely difficult for one person to secure that kind of guest position on a TV show.
Do you do consultations with people in person at all?
I’m an independent consultant and I don’t sell hair or products so I have to charge for my consultation time. Between the cost of travel and the time involved, it’s not cost effective for most people to do in person consultations so it’s not a service that I typically offer unless there is a special request. I require that clients email me clear photos of specific areas of their head, which is totally acceptable for designing a hair replacement system. Also, The Basics of Hair Replacement for Women Personal Training System™ (PTS) very clearly teaches how to size and spec a hair system based on your unique needs so the client is able to make a lot of educated and strategic decisions on her own. Usually people will use my training system to design their hair system and then we’ll do a phone or Skype consult to further tweak the specs so they are as close as possible to look the client is going for. This works out just as well as an in-person consultation, in my experience.
I’m not sure if you have a job outside of Crowned Beautiful, but when people ask you what you do for a living, what do you say? I guess I’m asking if you tell everyone you meet that you work with women with hair loss, or if you only tell certain people. Currently I feel like wherever my career takes me next it will have to do with hair loss, and I’m not sure if I am open to the idea or not about telling everyone about my hair issues.
I’m also a personal development coach for professional women, a market completely unrelated to hair, but yes, I tell people that I am a hair replacement consultant. Of course they ask what that means so I tell people that I help women with permanent hair loss find cosmetic solutions for their hair loss so that their outer beauty can match their inner beauty and they can move on with their lives. People will then typically ask me how I grew my hair back! I always tell them I am wearing a hairpiece, then they look at me with a puzzled expression so I try to show it to them but they can’t see it. People are genuinely impressed when I’m saying I’m wearing hair and they can’t tell. It’s humorous.
I had to make a decision when I founded Crowned Beautiful to either jump in with both feet or not at all. People kept asking me if I was going to use my real name and this really annoyed me. I asked them how I could help women overcome the stigma of hair loss if I wasn’t willing to put my real name on my website and training program. It’s incongruent. If you’re teaching confidence you need to have it. Besides, I would have been so stressed out trying to hide my identity. The internet is not a place for hiding anything and I don’t think I would have been able to focus my energies on helping women, writing a book and blog or creating a groundbreaking educational product if I was busy trying to keep my identity under wraps. Know what I mean?
Founding Crowned Beautiful and forcing myself to go public with my hair situation totally was the push I needed to fully accept the fact that I wear hair, and not only that, but I really have no stigma around the subject anymore. I simply am not bothered that I wear hair. I’m truly happy with it.
Most women want to find a solution to their hair loss so that they can get on with their lives and not have it be the focus of their life. But I currently feel like I’ll always be thinking about hair loss, which is why I started my blog. Because you help women on an ongoing basis with their hair loss issues, do you ever get get tired of thinking about hair loss?
You know, I was really concerned about this when I was considering getting into this line of consulting. I didn’t want my life to revolve around hair. I wasn’t worried about focusing on hair loss because that is something I’m over. My focus for years has been finding a solution to my hair loss, which is hair replacement. My hair starting leaving me around age 12. It’s not coming back. No sense in focusing on that. So, I rarely think or focus on hair loss, but like I said, I was concerned about constantly being focused on hair in general.
Honestly, it hasn’t changed how often I think about my own hair. I’m in a good place with that. It’s not just about me anymore. It is a profession for me now and so my focus is on my clients and readers and how I can best serve them. And yes, it’s all about hair, but my work is all about focusing on the solution, not the problem.
Final Thoughts: Hair replacement is a complicated topic – thank you to Susan for answering many of my questions! If you have a personal experience with hair replacement, hairpieces, wearing hair, etc., please feel free to share your story (or questions) in the comments.
Birth control – especially the pill – is commonly used to control hair loss, but hair loss is also a common side effect from hormonal birth control. So what are you supposed to do? Here’s my personal story about taking the pill and how it may or may not have contributed to my hair loss. This is a long story!
• When I first started the pill
I’ve always been very cautious so even when I was young I would think about possible consequences to my actions. In college I decided to go on the pill because it seemed prudent. I also had acne and was hoping the pill would do double-duty – protect me from pregnancy and clear up my acne. This was back in the 90s before the internet so I just went to the doctor, told her what I wanted, and I got on the pill. Besides the acne I didn’t have any medical issues that the pill would help.
I wasn’t warned about any risks to taking the pill. Before I took my first pill I carefully studied the pamphlet to make sure I knew exactly what I was doing. The side effects were scary, but the doctor said I would be fine because I wasn’t a smoker. I remember reading about the potential for hair loss as a side effect (developing alopecia was a huge fear of mine) but I figured it meant a little hair loss, which I could spare, and I could just stop the pill in the rare case it happened. Despite my cautious ways, I was still too clueless to really understand the power of hormonal birth control.
The first pill I took (whatever random pill they were prescribing at the time) had some side effects so I got switched to something else. I recall taking Ortho-Novum 777 and Ortho-Novum 1/35 at some point. I had no clue about different pills, as most young women don’t – I just took whatever they gave me. Later on I ended up on Ortho Tri-Cyclen, which was super popular in the 90s and 2000s, and it worked fine for me. Once I was on the pill my acne vanished, and I don’t recall having any other side effects that bothered me.
Before starting on the pill I had super thick curly hair – thicker than people. I don’t recall shedding a lot of hair in high school. The first few years I was on the pill I didn’t notice much shedding, and even through bouts of depression I didn’t notice it. But a few years into taking the pill I was shedding a lot – my roommate would tease me because our floors would be covered in my hair. I still had so much hair so I figured it was just normal to lose a lot of hair because I had so much of it. Since my hair was so curly I didn’t brush it a lot because that would make it frizzy, so I also figured that’s why my hair was all over the floor and not in a brush (which could be the case).
I went on and off the pill a few times and do recall periods of excessive shedding, but it never dawned on me that it was the pill that could be causing it, and I wasn’t worried since I still had so much hair. Of course now I know that going on, going off, or of course being on the pill can all cause hair loss. So back then I had periods of Telogen Effluvium (temporary hair loss) but I just didn’t realize it.
• When I first noticed my hair was thinning
I was in my late 20s and had been on Ortho Tri-Cyclen for a few years when I actually noticed my hair was thinner than it used to be. Looking back through pictures, the thinning was probably really gradual, so it wasn’t until my hair was about 30% thinner that I even noticed it. At that point I had been on and off birth control for ten years. So did the pill cause my hair loss? The thing is there’s no way to really know. I can’t go back and know what my hair would have looked like had I never been on the pill. If I had thin hair to begin with, it would have been much easier to realize I was experiencing a problem, and then I could have pinpointed whether or not the pill was to blame. I wonder if there are any studies done on identical twins and the effects of birth control!
After finally noticing my hair loss I went off Ortho Tri-Cyclen. At the time I was also really depressed, so maybe it was depression that was causing my hair loss (even though I had been depressed before without a hair problem). I was off the Ortho Tri-Cyclen for a year and didn’t have a dread shed from quitting, and I didn’t notice any regrowth. It was just the same. After looking at pictures from that time, my hair may have gotten a slight bit better, and it didn’t get worse until several years after that.
Since my hair loss was still noticeable to me (probably not to anyone else at the time) I decided to go on Yasmin. Yasmin is, in theory, one of the best pills for hair loss, so I wanted to stabilize or improve my hair loss. The first few years I was on it I didn’t really notice anything – my hair just stayed the same. I continued on Yasmin because I liked the effect it had on my mood and my skin (I had bad acne at the time – which is why I later started Savvy Skin), and I knew it was supposedly a hair-friendly pill. Now it’s about seven years later and I’m still on Yasmin. But in the past year my hair loss has become horrible, and for the last several years it’s been getting worse and worse. Is Yasmin to blame? I doubt it. I am sure my hair loss would be horrible with or without it. But I want to get off Yasmin eventually because the risks associated with it are not good, and I can’t be on it forever.
• If I had to do it all over again
After reading thousands of different stories about women that claim their hair loss started after taking the pill, I believe the pill absolutely causes hair loss in some women, and while some women get their hair back, others don’t. There are countless women in their 20s who begin losing their hair after taking the pill, and while androgenetic alopecia does strike women in their 20s, it’s hard to ignore the fact that many women only notice a hair loss problem after taking the pill. So does the pill bring on genetic hair loss much sooner than normal? – it’s very possible. And of course the pill causes telogen effluvium (temporary hair loss) in lots of women who do fully recover eventually. I am still convinced there is a hormonally-induced hair loss epidemic striking women in their 20s, as I witnessed in New York City.
If only I knew how horrible my hair loss would get in my thirties, ideally I never would have gone on the pill. Maybe I never would have had to create hairlosshell.com. It’s hard to know if being on it for just a few months dooms you for life, or if the longer you’re on it, the faster it brings out genetic hair loss. Or are the hair loss effects it causes really only temporary, while genetic hair loss or something else, is the true problem? I know hormonal birth control can create a hormone imbalance, and negatively impact your thyroid hormones. It’s hard when you’re young to think about ten years in the future. If I had known being on the pill would possibly cause me to start balding ten years later I would have tried my hardest to avoid ever going on it. But of course that brings up other alternatives just as troubling – pregnancy, acne, etc.
• Why I would go on the pill
If I had never started the pill in college for fear of hair loss or other side effects, but later found myself with thinning hair in my twenties, then I would have gone on birth control to try to counteract the hair loss. Since birth control can help hair loss (just as it can cause it), I would have waited until I had an actual hair loss problem before going on it. If I had other medical issues (PCOS, severe cramps, severe bleeding, etc.) I’m sure I also would have ended up on the pill if the potential benefits outweighed the risks. I would have attempted to treat my acne with non-hormonal methods, but it’s tough because the pill was one of the most beneficial acne treatments I tried. And for many, pregnancy protection is the most critical reason for being on the pill, so the benefit it provides may out-weight the potential for hair loss and other issues.
• The best pills for hair loss
Thankfully we have the internet – if only I were ten years younger I would have had the internet and access to more birth control information. I never would have started on the pills I did (which it turns out were not hair-friendly). Here is a list of birth control pills and their effect on hair loss. Some pills are horrible for hair loss and can make it way worse, and some, like Yasmin, in theory can help it. But lots of women report severe hair loss when they take pills that are supposedly positive for hair loss, so the only way to know for sure what will work for you is to try them:( And while something might help hair loss, it could cause all sorts of other side effects:(
• The bottom line
Going on hormonal birth control is not something to be taken lightly. If you’ve seen the news you know many people are suing the makers of Yasmin for causing severe health problems like blood clots, and all birth control pills can potentially kill you! Talk with your doctor and do a lot of research before ever starting on the pill. Make sure the benefits outweigh the risks in your situation, and research other pregnancy prevention options.
So does the pill cause hair loss? Absolutely in some cases! Does it help hair loss? Again it does for some women. Unfortunately hormones are extremely frustrating and complicated and they are making me nuts:( Feel free to share your birth control and hair loss story in the comments.
DermaSmoothe Scalp Oil is a prescription treatment my Dermatologist prescribed me for my genetic hair loss. Apparently its use for hair loss is extremely rare because I haven’t found any information about its ability to help with hair loss, or to increase hair growth. I’m writing about DermaSmoothe because I like to document my experience with all treatments I’ve tried for genetic hair loss. I know there are other people out there (probably just a few) that were prescribed DermaSmoothe for their hair loss and are seeking more information about it also.
First of all, DermaSmoothe Scalp Oil is normally prescribed for people with scalp psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis, which is a type of eczema. On the official DermaSmoothe website (Hill Dermaceuticals), and on websites like WebMD and Drugs.com, there is no mention of the oil treating hair loss, thus my doctor must be using it off-label (meaning it’s not approved to treat hair loss, but it could still potentionally help).
As a low to medium-strength topical corticosteroid, DermaSmoothe treats scalp inflammation. That’s why my doctor prescribed it– she believes my scalp is inflamed, and the concept is if you reduce the inflammation, you reduce the hair loss. This is a great theory because inflammation could definitely make hair loss worse. Pre-treatment, my scalp looked great to me (no signs of psoriasis, no signs of any problem, except occasionally I get a little flaky skin, so DermaSmoothe would also help with that). My doctor says she prescribes DermaSmoothe to most of her female patients with hair loss and they love the results because it makes their scalp healthy.
• My experience with DermaSmoothe Scalp Oil
I forget how much the 4 oz oil costs, but I think it was $30-40, and my insurance covered a small portion of it. The medication is made with peanut oil, but there’s no warning about this on the packaging, so unless you read everything thoroughly, this could be a potential problem for someone with severe peanut allergies.
My doctor told me to use the DermaSmoothe once a week. You apply a thin film of the oil on your scalp (which should be wet/damp), massage it in, put on a shower cap, and then leave it on for eight hours. The official instructions say to leave it on for at least four hours, and then you wash it out with regular shampoo. The oil feels nice on my scalp, and it feels similar to Emu Oil. It has a scent that is kind of annoying to me, but tolerable (balsam pine) – it reminds me of some shampoo I’ve used in the past. Using the DermaSmoothe is easy – I just can’t go anywhere because my hair is covered in oil, but the first time I used it I felt excited that maybe it would do something positive for my hair loss.
The first time I washed the oil out, I was alarmed that so much hair fell out. WTF? I thought it was supposed to help my hair loss! My hair already sheds a lot, but it seems like a lot of treatments that are supposed to help hair loss only make me shed worse. I’ve used the DermaSmoothe about four times now, and every time I experience twice the amount of shedding for three days afterwards. I have this same problem with Nizoral shampoo, with hair dye, and with some other shampoos. Initially I had written off DermaSmoothe a few months ago, after using it for the third time and freaking out about all the hair I was losing. Last night I used it once again and I have hairs falling out everywhere. They are literally jumping out of my head. Needless to say, I think I’m done with DermaSmoothe. With Rogaine you always hear about the dread shed, but since there’s no information about DermaSmoothe helping hair loss, I am not willing to guess that it has to get worse before it gets better.
My doctor seemed shocked when I told her about the increased hair loss and thinks I have an allergy to propylene glycol, which is in the oil, and it’s in hair dye. It’s also in Rogaine. I don’t think it’s propylene glycol that is causing the excessive hair shedding, but who knows for sure. If I had to guess, I would guess it was the active ingredient in the DermaSmoothe that was causing my hair to jump ship. I find it hard to believe all the women my doctor treats for hair loss have great results with DermaSmoothe, except me. She never actually said it helped with their hair loss… just that it made their scalp feel better.
DermaSmoothe does list hair loss as a possible side effect! However it also lists excessive hair growth as a side effect too (which I find hard to believe).
• Bottom Line
Obviously speak with your doctor about your hair loss to get a diagnosis and treatment plan. From my own experience, DermaSmoothe Scalp Oil is not something I will continue using for my genetic hair loss. It causes excessive hair shedding and causes me to freak out more than I already do, which can only make things even worse. The oil is intended to treat psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, so if you have a visible skin affliction, your doctor may prescribe DermaSmoothe or something similar. As a psoriasis treatment DermaSmoothe does get good reviews, and psoriasis could cause hair loss, so in that case the treatment could actually benefit you. What about DermaSmoothe for scarring alopecia, alopecia areata, and traction alopecia? I don’t know – again your doctor would be the best person to consult. But for androgenetic alopecia / genetic hair loss – personally I wouldn’t rush out to try DermaSmoothe. If anyone has tried DermaSmoothe Scalp Oil, I would love to hear your opinion about it!! And please tell me why every product meant to help hair loss only makes my hair fall out more!
I have a new best friend – the headband! Headbands don’t sound very exciting, but they can be a lifesaver to hide female thinning hair. Every time I go to the mall I end up at the teen stores Claire’s and Icing to check out their supply of headbands and head coverings. And of course chain stores like Target and Wal-mart have a fair supply of various headbands in a variety of widths. I prefer soft headbands because they don’t give me headaches, and they come in widths from 2 inches to 5 inches for more coverage than your average hard headband. Scunci wide headwraps are common headbands you can find at more drug and chain stores.
• Coach Ponytail Scarfs
I treated myself to a Coach ponytail scarf last year when I had one of many major hair loss-related meltdowns. The picture in this post is of Coach ponytail scarves – they are really stylish (in my opinion). If you have a Coach outlet store near you, you can get one for around $20; they sell for around $38 in the Coach stores. Or just search for “coach ponytail scarf” on eBay and there are tons of them. They are 2 1/2″ wide, and reversible, so you have two different patterns to wear. I wear them like a headband and then put my hair in a ponytail, letting the ends of the scarf go into the ponytail along with my hair. If your hair isn’t long enough for a ponytail, you can tie the ends of the scarf in a knot. Since the scarves aren’t that wide, I of course wear my Toppik or Great Hair Day to cover the part of my scalp that is still showing. These scarves are super comfortable and they don’t pull your hair at all.
• Bolt Headgear Softbandz
I wanted something even wider than the ponytail scarf so I just got a Softbandz headband, and the great thing about it is that it can be worn 2 inches wide, up to 5 inches wide, which covers the whole top of my head. With careful styling, I can pull my hair in a ponytail and you can’t tell I have a hair loss problem when I have on this headband. Sure this isn’t the best solution, but while I’m in the in-between stage of hoping my hair grows back, and preparing for the fact I may need a hair piece, this is a good intermediate solution.
Since I just got the Softbandz, I’m not sure if it will get stretched out in time. Right now it’s rather tight on my head, so I do slightly worry it will contribute to traction alopecia, but at this point I have to do something to cover my hair. The headband is very secure, so it keeps my flyaways in place and doesn’t feel like it could fly off in a big windstorm. You can find a variety of different colors and patterns of Softbandz on Amazon, at boltheadgear.com, or they also sell them on eBay. I’m thinking of getting a bunch in different patterns – the one I got has a cute 60s style Pucci print. It just dawned on me that this might be okay to wear in the pool too – it’s made of lycra, which is swimsuit material. Ooh good thinking. And it will cover your scalp – when your scalp starts getting sunburned easily you know you have thinning hair:(
If you search for “wide headbands” on eBay.com you will come up with thousands of different headband options! There are plain ones that come in a variety of colors for only a few dollars each.
I haven’t bought any bandanas yet, but this classic head covering can be worn in a variety of ways to cover your thinning hair, and they sell for as cheap as $1 at beauty supply stores or Walgreens. When I think of bandanas I think of doing housework for some reason.
Regular scarves can also be worn in a headband fashion. I’ve been on the lookout for square scarves that are wide enough to be folded into a headband. Finally The BeauBeau is another fashionable scarf made especially for women suffering from hair loss due to alopecia or cancer. They come in fashionable prints and cover your whole head. They also don’t need to be tied so they are easier to wear than traditional scarves.
• The drawbacks of headbands
I work from home and don’t usually go anywhere fancy, so I can get away with wearing headbands and scarves most of the time. The wider ones look sort of casual, though, so I can’t really imagine wearing them out to a fancy place, or to a wedding (which I have coming up). I’m sure I can find some sort of fancy wide headband to disguise my thinning hair if I look hard enough. At least you can probably wear headbands in most office environments (as opposed to hats, which are frowned upon in a lot of places). And some of the tighter headbands I have (like the Softbandz) pose the potential to pull on my hair if I wear them all day and night every day.
What are your tips for hiding female thinning hair? Do you wear headbands? When Blair Waldorf was wearing headbands every week on “Gossip Girl” I could care less, but now I’ve apparently become her.
Yay for Great Hair Day by Joan Rivers! You have to laugh when you’re buying hair loss beauty products from a 77 year old, and she has better hair than you! How is that fair??? Joan Rivers Great Hair Day is a fill in powder that promises to save you from ever having a bad hair day again. Even though she has short hair, I know Joan Rivers also wears hair extensions for volume because she pulled one out to show the audience during one of her “Fashion Police” shows.
Joan Rivers Great Hair Day is a powder created to disguise thinning hair, so you use it on the top of your scalp to minimize shiny, balding areas. I have been using Toppik in light brown, the shake on fibers, and while I was happy with it at first, I’ve been having a real issue with it lately. I guess my hair has gotten even worse since I started using it, and now the Toppik makes my scalp looks bright reddish-orange in all fluorescent lighting. It’s horrible. I’ve been using a q-tip to remove some of the extra Toppik that sits on my part, but that only makes my scalp look both bald and orange in fluorescent lighting. Seriously – fluorescent lighting needs to be banned! I almost had a heart attack last week when I was trying on clothes in a Wal-Mart dressing room and got a look at my hair. It turns out being so broke I have to buy clothes at Wal-Mart is not nearly as horrifying as my fluorescently-lit scalp.
• Great Hair Day Review
I ordered Joan Rivers Great Hair Day because it gets mostly rave reviews, and it works different than Toppik. The color naming of the product is really strange. Great Hair Day comes in Light Blonde (shown in the compact in the picture), and in the left square. Then there’s Blonde, Red, Brunette, and Salt and Pepper. I have naturally dark brown hair, and the Blonde color I ordered is a close match to my roots, which I haven’t dyed in several weeks! I guess they were thinking of Heather Locklear on “Melrose Place” who was technically blonde on the show, yet her roots were almost black.
The little Great Hair Day compact, which costs around $29 from QVC, looks suspiciously like matte brown eyeshadow. A few weeks earlier I purchased a cheap matte brown eyeshadow and tried using it on my scalp with not-so-good results. I was using the foam brush that comes with the eyeshadow, rather than the “hairdresser brush” that comes with the Great Hair Day. The eyeshadow I bought ended up looking stupid, but I haven’t ruled out trying a different shade or brand. The ingredients of Great Hair Day also read like a typical eyeshadow.
Hey I just noticed you can Buy Great Hair Day on Amazon and they have it there for $19.99 plus shipping right now! The packaging is different than the one on QVC, but it’s cheaper!!
• How To Use Great Hair Day
With all that said, you “paint” the Great Hair Day fill in powder on your thinning scalp areas and blend it in. You can use the opposite end of the brush to part your hair in different areas to get to your scalp. It took me about 3 minutes to get decent coverage of the product on my thinning part, and at my hairline. It’s not as fast as Toppik, but it’s fast and easy enough. The product makes my roots appear darker, but that’s fine – I would rather be Heather Locklear than bald. Great Hair Day is supposed to be transfer-proof and stay on your head until you shampoo it out. So far I’ve applied it and worn it in bed and it was still intact the next day. I think some of it even stayed on my head after washing my hair! Here in Las Vegas, we don’t have rain, and I haven’t been working out much lately, so I haven’t tested it in more adverse conditions. The product has a pleasant smell, which is unexpected. In bad news, it’s only been a few days but the application brush is shedding quite a bit – I hope it lasts long enough.
• Fluorescent lighting = evil
In regular indoor lighting, and sunlight, the product looks natural and it definitely makes me appear less bald. It definitely helps hide the thinning, sparse areas. The true test came earlier today when I went to Best Buy, which is almost as notorious as Target, Wal-Mart, and Office Max for having the world’s worst lighting. I made a beeline to the bathroom to examine my scalp. It looked just slightly weird – brownish, baldish, and you could see black dots where the Great Hair Day had attached to some hair follicles. The dots just looked like dark hairs growing in, though. Without anything on my scalp, in fluorescent lighting my scalp just looks bald. With Toppik it looks orange. Great Hair Day is a slight improvement over both of those options. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, when you have thin hair and are in fluorescent lighting, life sucks. I have to avoid this lighting, or plan on wearing a hat or wide headband. You know that teen clothing store Hollister? Every store should have dim, moody lighting, where you can’t really see anything but at least your hair looks good.
I’m planning on lightening my roots to light brown asap, and when I do that I will continue this review… Okay now it’s a few days later and I dyed my hair a light/medium brown and the Great Hair Day in Blonde continues to look fine on me. It still makes my roots slightly darker, but it’s a close enough match that it looks good. So Great Hair Day in Blonde works for dark brown to light brown hair! I think it would be too dark on hair that is truly blonde, so I would consider the Light Blonde color for actual blonde hair.
• Bottom Line:
I have yet to find a product that makes me look like I have thick, perfect hair, but Joan Rivers Great Hair Day helps disguise my thinning hair, making my hair loss less obvious and less noticeable. The other reviews I’ve read of this product are mostly positive as well. In fluorescent lighting the product still looks acceptable, but I will go easy on putting too much of it in my part the next time I shop at Wal-Mart. Unless something changes, I plan on buying Great Hair Day again. I still also use Toppik Light Brown, but I will now only put Great Hair Day near my exposed scalp area. Finally, I haven’t had a great hair day in years and years, but with this product I have an “at least I can leave the house without a hat day.”
Have you tried Joan Rivers Great Hair Day? * Buy Great Hair Day on Amazon *
I’ve written about female celebrities with hair loss, and celebrities that wear crazy wigs, but there are tons more female celebrities that wear wigs and hair pieces during their day-to-day lives, on the red carpet, and for their music performances. Just about every female celebrity in Hollywood wears wigs from time to time for movie roles, but I’m not going to list those here because that’s not usually the choice of the actress. This list will include female celebrities that choose to wear supplemental hair because they want to enhance or change their appearance (like Taylor Swift in this picture).
Later I’ll do a separate post about celebs that wear extensions to add length and volume. I know I have a slight obsession with celebrity hair, but I still feel like there’s a stigma to wearing a wig or hair piece, but if everyone would realize sooo many women in Hollywood wear hair, it will become more acceptable for regular women to do it too.
Female Celebrities who choose to wear wigs and hair pieces (all the time, or occasionally) to enhance their appearance:
Helena Bonham Carter
Holly Robinson Peete
Kat Von D
Kim Zolciak from Real Housewives
La Toya Jackson
Interesting wig tidbit: Actress Ginnifer Goodwin enjoys wearing her hair short and edgy and has a “wig clause” in her movie role contracts. She insists on wearing wigs for her roles, rather than having to grow her hair out and living with a hairstyle she doesn’t like while she’s off-set. In commercials for her new movie “Something Borrowed” you will see her wearing a wig in every scene.
Jennifer Lopez appears to switch out her real hair with a variety of wigs on “American Idol.”
Madonna sporting a short blonde wig.
Beyonce is always changing up her wig hairstyles.
Nicole Richie sporting a topper, or a topper plus extensions.
Fergie finally read my mind and got a wig or topper (plus took out her extensions)! This is from her 2011 “American Idol” performance.
I will update this list when I spot more stars wearing wigs. Please leave a comment below with the name of any celebs that I’ve missed.
I have a new tool to disguise my thinning hair – dry shampoo. I first purchased Tresemme dry shampoo to prolong days between shampooing my hair, and then I discovered it actually helps to add volume to my thin hair! For the last few months, every day I flip my head upside down and spray the Tresemme dry shampoo to the underneath part of my hair. Then I wait a few minutes and brush it out. It adds noticeable volume and gives the illusion that my thinning hair is a lot thicker than it is in reality.
Next I add Toppik hair fibers to my visible scalp to minimize my widening part. Finally I add a lot of hairspray to the top of my hair and my roots to make it look fuller on top, and to keep everything in place. What’s sad is that I spend a lot of time on my hair, but no one would ever guess because it doesn’t look good – just passable for normal-ish hair (for now). My new motto is: it takes twice as long to look half as good:(
• Batiste Dry Shampoo vs Tresemme Dry Shampoo
The purpose of dry shampoo is to keep your hair clean between washings and to help you go an extra day or two before hair appears too dirty. While extremely affordable (less than $5), the Tresemme stuff did not work well to decrease oil in my scalp, and it left a powdery, sticky residue on my brown hair. Initially I had given up on the product, until I realized how great it worked at volumizing. In search of a dry shampoo that adds volume, and works well to freshen up my hair, I recently purchased Batiste Dry Shampoo because it’s also one of the cheaper dry shampoos (about $7) and overall it gets good reviews. You just shake the can and spray it onto your roots and wait a few minutes. Then you brush it out. Batiste dry shampoo does work a lot better than Tresemme to decrease greasiness and make my hair appear like it’s cleaner and fresher. It doesn’t leave that powdery or sticky residue and it brushes right out. It comes in several different scents, but I’ve only tried Blush (the pink can), which has a floral scent.
Unfortunately I haven’t had the volumizing success with Batiste like I have with Tresemme. I tried spraying Batiste underneath my hair and it doesn’t add much volume. So currently I use both products – the Tresemme for volume, and the Batiste to freshen up greasy hair. There are still several other dry shampoo brands I haven’t tried (Klorane, Tigi, Oscar Blandi, Suave, and Pssst!). Have you tried any of these dry shampoos? Have you had good results making your hair appear thicker, or cleaner?
I have one final note when it comes to not washing your hair often. When you suffer from hair loss, nothing is more agonizing that showering and seeing giant clumps of hair come out, so putting off washing your hair as long as possible is the natural reaction. I like to keep my scalp clean – especially with all the stuff I put on it, so I generally shampoo every other day. But on the off days I can have a reprieve from the dreaded hair washing chore thanks to dry shampoo. How often you shampoo is a personal decision, but if you hate doing it, dry shampoo might help you.
Do you have a volumizing trick to help with the appearance of thinning hair? I’ve tried lots of volumizing products in the past, and so far I’ve had the best luck with the dry shampoo and hairspray combo.
Yet again I’ve started a new hair loss treatment plan and I wanted to write a quick update. I went for my three month follow up Dermatologist appointment today. Since I’m on spironolactone the doctor wants to see me often to make sure I’m not having horrible side effects (I’m not). The Derm I’ve seen the last few times switched locations across town, and I was given the option to stay at my current clinic location, but to see her Physician Assistant instead. I jumped at the chance because I was hoping this new person would give me a higher dose of spironolactone for my hair loss.
• Another Dermatologist visit + Spironolactone update
The Physician Assistant just glanced at my hair and asked me if anything was new, and if I was taking the Prednisone I was prescribed by the main hair loss doctor. I explained that I had a huge fear of Prednisone, even though it’s a very low 1mg dose, and that I didn’t feel comfortable taking it (maybe I’ll change my mind one day). I’m sure she thinks I’m nuts for taking Spironolactone but not Prednisone. Anyway, I told her I haven’t seen results from the Spiro but that I would like to continue taking it, and go up to the standard dose for hair loss (which is at least 100mg). The main doctor balked at this request, but the Physician Assistant said it was fine and gave me a prescription for 50mg twice a day – yay! I’m going to do 75mg for two weeks and then go up to 100mg if I can handle it. Three weeks into the Spiro my hair stopped shedding, and I was thinking it was actually working, but a month later the shed picked back up to what it normally is – a lot considering I don’t have that much hair. I am very worried taking Spiro will have been a mistake in the end, but my hair is screwed either way at this point so I might as well take a chance.
• Rogaine 2%
After my hair restoration appointment, I was left feeling like I wasn’t doing enough to treat my hair loss (yeah I know that sounds crazy since I’m doing a ton) but that doctor stressed that I should really be using Rogaine to thicken up my thinning strands. Last summer I used Rogaine 5% and for two months I had terrible headaches and a terrible shed, and I couldn’t handle either one so I quit the Rogaine. Now I just use it on my temples and hairline. A few years earlier I had used Rogaine 2% (the women’s version) without having headaches or shedding (or results) but I have decided to give it a shot again. I’m so worried about the shedding so I’m just doing a test area on the top of my head – only on one side, and not near my part. I don’t know how I will tell if it’s working, but if I shed a ton, hopefully it won’t be as noticeable as it would be if I did my whole head. If the shedding isn’t too bad after a month, I will move to more areas.
What confuses me about liquid Rogaine is that it’s extremely hard to use and cover all of your scalp. I wish it were like a serum or shampoo that can be rubbed in everywhere. I’m afraid that I will miss different spots every day, and then it will cause shedding, but since I miss areas, it won’t make the hair grow back thicker. I haven’t tried the Rogaine foam, which a lot of people say is easier to use, but that only comes in the 5% strength. If I can tolerate the 2% for several months, I may then try the foam, but I worry about having yet another shed from that. UGH!
The hair restoration doctor also recommended I take Viviscal, and the pills came today. The doctor claims they sell a stronger version at their clinic, but I just bought the over-the-counter Viviscal Extra Strength. I find it hard to believe they will work, but I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t try everything within reason! What sucks is that they are expensive and I will need to take them for several months to see if I even have any results. Their main ingredient is an AminoMar C Marine Complex, which is made from deep sea fish. I don’t know how this is different than the regular fish oil pills I already take. If you look at reviews online, everyone is raving about Viviscal, but unfortunately I am immune to the placebo effect, unlike a lot of people.
• Final thoughts
It’s not a good idea to do what I’m doing and start three new things in one week – a higher dose of the Spiro medication, 2% Rogaine (even if it is just in a test area), and Viviscal. If my hair starts shedding less, I won’t know why, and if it sheds more, I won’t know the culprit! I just don’t have time to waste trying one thing for 6 months before moving on. Have you tried any new hair loss treatments recently? What have been your results?