Maybe your hair has always been whisper thin, or perhaps you’re losing hair due to pregnancy or stress. “There are many things that cause hair to thin, and they can look very similar,” says Dr. Jeff Donovan, a Toronto-and-Vancouver-based dermatologist specializing in hair loss. The most important thing, he says, is to pinpoint the cause.
Concern: Female pattern thinning (androgenetic alopecia)
This type of genetic hair loss can stem from either side of your family and affects roughly 30 percent of women by the age of 40, says Donovan. Treatment options include at-home foams containing minoxidil (found in products like Rogaine), in-office red-light laser devices and prescription hormone-blocking pills.
Concern: Hair shedding (telogen effluvium)
If you’re seeing an increase in the number of hairs in your brush (or in the sink or on your clothes), it’s likely temporary, but it’s important to identify the trigger. “A hair-shedding diagnosis is all about detective work,” says Donovan. “When did it occur, were you stressed at the time, did you have a baby, did you start a new medication?” Once the cause is identified and treatment begins, it will take about six to nine months for the hair growth to return to normal.
Concern: Styling-related damage
Years of achieving that pencil-straight hair with heat can have downsides. If you notice a change in your hair quality like increased breakage, give your hair a breather from harsh styling (think chemical relaxers and perms), to allow time for the hair to grow back. Limit heat styling to once a week and be sure to apply a heat-protectant spray first.
Part to the side
Thinning tends to happen around the centre of the scalp, so flip to a side part, which will help create the illusion of fuller hair. Reach for a mousse (rather than heavier products like serums, gels or creams) to help plump up strands, adding fullness — not weight.
Layer it up
Soft layers help to give the illusion of fullness and body, says Eric del Monaco, official hair artist and colourist for L’Oréal Paris in Canada. “Even if you’re going to wear a chin-length or to-the-collarbone bob, a little bit of layering will take a lot of the stress and heaviness away from the top.”