Never in a million years did I think I would have to deal with thinning hair. Everyone in my family is blessed with an inordinate amount of healthy thick hair, so imagine my surprise when I started seeing my hair everywhere except for on my head. People lose hair everyday as part of the growth cycle, but when you start seeing an unusual amount of hair in your brush or on the shower floor, its time to take notice.
Some situations that might be affecting your hair could be:
Stress or trauma: Shedding is normal and temporary. Nutritional stores are shifted to vital organs during stressful times.
Diet and poor nutrition: Low protein, low iron stores, low vitamin D and calcium can cause hair loss. Changing your diet will help restore your hair.
Chemical processing and rough handling: Years of tight ponytails, over brushing, chemical dyes, straighteners, and curling, bleaching, and too frequent washing and heat drying can do a number on your hair.
Having a baby: It’s natural to lose some hair after you give birth due to hormones. Hair should return to normal in a few months.
Menopause: When the female hormone Estrogen begins to dip, so does hair growth. This will vary for each individual and can also be genetic in nature.
Illness: There are many illnesses that can contribute to hair loss. Thyroid disease, diabetes, lupus, and anemia are just a few. Hair loss can often be the first sign of disease according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
Medication: The side effect of several medications is hair loss. Check with your doctor if you are on a new medication and experiencing new hair loss. My hair loss was caused by a side effect of one of my immunosuppressant, prograf. Something my doctor failed to mention. Of course I’m not going to stop taking my meds because my hair is thinning so I decided to do a bit of research to see if I could at least slow it down.
There is an over the counter drug that has been approved by the FDA. It’s called minoxidil; you probably know it as the active ingredient found in Rogaine. According to Timothy, my friend and hair genius, it works. But Rogaine has a slew of side effects. There is a precaution in the literature that states you should inform your doctor before starting treatment, especially if you have heart or kidney issues.
Since I had a kidney transplant and am ditching the chemicals on my journey to wellness, I won’t be able to make a stop at the Rogaine train station.
Timothy gave me a few easy ideas to ease up on my hair.
Don’t shampoo as much and when you do, use the kitchen sink. There is less water pressure than your shower and is much gentler on your hair.
Gently massage your scalp to remove dead skin and stimulate hair follicles.
Air-dry your hair. If you want more volume, every half an hour or so, fluff your hair while your head is upside down to get the benefits of gravity.
Use a volumizing shampoo and sea salt spray.
Dry shampoo is your friend.
Of course the number one tip from my hair guru for thinning hair: cut your hair. Shorter hair has less gravity pulling it down and your new short cut will be more bouncy and voluminous.
Castor Oil: Since my hair is already pretty short I decided to keep looking for a natural way to increase hair growth. One treatment that kept popping up was Castor Oil.
Castor oil is a very thick vegetable oil that is extracted from castor beans. This oil has a variety of uses and is known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and laxative effects. I think the laxative component was the reason the children in “Mary Poppins” were subjected to castor oil and a spoonful of sugar.
Why castor oil for hair? Castor oil has is about 90% Ricinoleic acid, an unsaturated omega fatty acid which is extremely nutrient rich. Castor oil, just like many other oils, is often used as a leave in scalp and hair treatment. The simple act of gently massaging the castor oil into your scalp boosts the circulation of blood to the hair follicles and is essential to stimulating hair growth. The oil itself helps because of its high omega fatty acid content which is another important component in growing healthy hair. Well-nourished hair will be stronger, more resilient, and less prone to breakage. Just like trying any new skin product, you should do a test patch to see if your skin has a bad reaction.
I scoured the Internet but found no actual studies about the effect of castor oil on hair growth, so there is no documentation that castor oil works. The only way to find out whether it will work well for you is to give it a try.
I bought a vial of castor oil at the health food store and it is really, really thick. I thought I’d try it on my eyelashes and eyebrows by cleaning an old mascara container and using a dropper to add the castor oil. I have been brushing a tiny bit of castor oil on my eyelashes and eyebrows every night and I can say with certainly that they are not any thinner. This may be because the castor oil makes the hair thicker, or they might actually be growing. My eyebrows are now very soft, which is nice.
I found the straight castor oil to be too thick to put on such a large area like my entire scalp. There are many oil hair tonic recipes online but I was in a hurry to try this so I went to my trusted Target and picked up “Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil.” The byline was “Nourish, Heal & Grow,” which is just what I wanted.
Shea is mixed with other oils and has a much nicer consistency than castor oil right out of the bottle. The Shea’s also has a cap with a tapered top, which makes it easy to apply just to the scalp. I put the oil in my hair and let it sit for hours before washing. When I washed and air-dried my hair, it was soft, hydrated and shall I say fluffy. It was a nice change to my stick straight hair. I will keep using it. There are many other brands and many recipes, which I may try in the future.
Biotin: Another one of my stops to my hair growth mission was to the local vitamin store to ask about supplements that encouraged hair growth. According to the manager at GNC, the main ingredient in most of the formulas is Biotin. Biotin is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin and is one of the essential vitamins for enhancing hair strength, texture, and growth. Since biotin is water soluble, it is important to drink an adequate amount of water to get the full benefits. It’s also not an overnight fix. It could take months to see any results. To see an increase in hair growth using biotin, the usual recommended dose is between 500 and 1000 micrograms per day. Of course you should check with your doctor to avoid interfering with any other medication you are taking and to get the recommended dosage that’s best for you. In addition to supplements, there are many shampoos, rinses and serums that contain biotin you can put directly on hair.
Because I take so many meds, my one criterion was that my supplement had to be a gummy. I scrolled down Amazon lane for gummy hair vitamins and there are many options. I decided on a brand called “Vitafusion” because it included antioxidants, vitamins A, C, D, E, and additional B-6 and B-12. It’s a good all around vitamin supplement that contains added Biotin.
I have been taking the vitamins and using the oil in my hair for a few months.
My hair is still falling out, BUT I got my hair cut a week ago and am happy to report that Tim says I have a lot of new hair growth! So this is my plan right now, to do a castor oil treatment twice a week and take the biotin supplement everyday. My hope is that my new hair growth can keep up with the fallout.
Are you having any trouble with thinning hair? If so, what are your magic tricks?