Hair Thinning

Hair Loss Causes & Ingredients Focus

As distressing as it is to loose hair, it is difficult to identify a single underlying cause for hair loss. More often than not, its usually a combination of factors that lead to hair loss and thinning. Hence a holistic approach inside out is imperative in tackling this issue.

Some of the underlying causes include: stress (I know easier said than done to manage this bucket), lack of sleep, vitamin deficiencies (particularly B12 and B6), irregular Thyroid function, low Iron levels (anaemia), hormonal changes or fluctuations (including postpartum hair loss), increased Dihydrotestosterone (DHT, higher levels of testosterone is converted to DHT), impaired micro-circulation and poor scalp health (potential fungal infections), and other existing medical conditions for which treatment

Most of these potential causes we’ve heard about, however elevated DHT levels are not so often elaborated on. As hair on the scalp goes through its normal cycle of growing and shedding, DHT makes the follicles shrink. That means they get thinner and shorter, because the growing cycle doesn’t last as long. In some cases, the growing cycle becomes so brief that new hairs don’t even poke through the skin. Plus, the thinning of the hairs makes them easier to shed.

Again, I stress the importance of having complete blood work done to identify potential factors affecting you. That really should be your first step rather than splurging on products claiming to help with hair loss.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids’s for scalp exfoliation to get rid of dead skin buildup (Personally, I spray a light mist of Pixi Glow Tonic, once or twice a week). Alternatively, manual physical scrubs are also available with Sea Salt (Christophe Robin, G.tox by Goop, DpHUE), Sugar (Kristin Ess, Ouai, Nexxus, NatureLab. Tokyo), Charcoal (Briogeo) or Enzymes (Virtue).

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a small palm tree native to Florida and other areas of the southeastern United States. It is one of the most popular and best herbal DHT blockers. Specifically look for Saw Palmetto extract (as an active ingredient), which is considered a potent form. Some studies show that Saw Palmetto inhibits 5-alpha reductase (5-AR) in tissues from producing DHT. Beloved OGX Niacin and Caffeine range had this ingredient.

Caffeine, the common stimulatory ingredient found in coffee may also help to promote hair growth by blocking DHT. An in vitro study found that caffeine applied topically in concentrations of 0.001% and 0.005% could stimulate hair follicle growth. While the exact mechanism of action still requires research, this effect may come from the compounds ability to block 5-AR receptors. OGX Niacin and Caffeine range now discontinued but was excellent, Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo (with Panthenol, Zinc PCA and Niacin), Vegamour GRO Hair serum (formulated with Panthenol, Caffeine, Turmeric, Red Clover extract, Biotin and Peptide)

Yerba mate extract is rich in antioxidants because of its high concentration of polyphenols, comparable to red wine and considered superior to green tea with its antioxidant composition. Claims to have 10x the caffeine potency of any other natural ingredient. Levara Amazonia’s range includes Yerba Mate as their star ingredient however whether its an active ingredient in the formulation is vague.

Stinging Nettle – If inflammation with scalp is a concern for you, studies have proven this is excellent for reducing inflammation in scalp, neutralize free radical damage and aid in blocking DHT activity topically. Rich in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium (which in itself has amazing properties for hair loss), vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin K, potassium, silica, and calcium are heavily present in the nettle leaves, roots, and stems. It also possesses a rich source of iron and omega-3 acid, antioxidant and antimicrobial powerhouse.

Fenugreek is an ancient ingredient, used extensively in Ayurvedic formulations. Known to be high in protein and nicotinic acid content, which are known to help combat dandruff and hair loss. Fenugreek seeds contain a unique combination of plant compounds that include saponins and flavonoids. These compounds may help hair growth because of their anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal efforts.

Pumpkin Seed Oil – Shown some promising effects on its ability to inhibit DHT. In fact, its effects on DHT have been studied for many years in relation to its effects on enlarged prostates.

Pygeum Bark also known as African Plum Tree, known to be rich in essential fatty acids, and reduce DHT levels leading to hair loss.

Prescription under Doctors advice – Minoxidil (stimulates hair growth by increasing the growth phase cycle, shortening the resting phase, and increasing the blood flow to the hair follicle) Topical application of Regaine or Rogaine (5% Minoxidil) or Keranique (2% Minoxidil))

Prescription under Doctors advice – Ketoconazole is an anti-fungal medication commonly used to reduce dandruff. Studies suggest that it may also help to block DHT and promote hair growth. A study comparing a topical ketoconazole solution and various concentrations of minoxidil found that using ketoconazole with minoxidil stimulates hair growth more than minoxidil alone.20

Prescription under Doctors advice – Finasteride is an oral medication which targets the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. This is not prescribed to women and limited specifically to men.

Other OTC Supplements that can be considered include Biotin, Vitamin B12 and B6, Iron among many others.



Hair & Scalp Serum Treatments

As I started drafting the post on hair serums & treatments, I soon realized they’re two separate categories on our hands, hair serum intended for hair strands away from roots and secondly scalp serum, intended for topical application on your scalp. Overall, scalp health is one of the most crucial factors around hair loss and health of hair strands.

Scalp Treatment – Vegamour GRO Hair Serum – Website states, A proprietary plant-based blend with a combination of clinically-tested vegan actives known in some subjects to inhibit the production of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT, I have a separate post specifically on this and ingredients to look for) & miRNA22, promote healthy circulation, soothe scalp irritation as well as revitalize & strengthen roots. Very light watery serum (lighter than Ordinary) and absorbs instantly. I like to massage on specific spots to encourage growth. It made my hair appear bouncier and fluffier after each application. Formulated with Caffeine, Turmeric, Panthenol, Red Clover, Biotin and Peptide. As with any hair product, I need more time to test for proper results however, I find myself reaching for this actively.

One of the main ingredient of difference between Vegamour and Ordinary serum is inclusion of Alcohol Denat (listed as third on inci list and can be felt in the consistency and upon application – no stinging or burning, just feels like it evaporates quickly) which some with very sensitive scalps may find it irritating, however I had no such issues.

Scalp TreatmentThe Ordinary Hair Density Serum, a light watery (slightly denser than water) serum that doesn’t leave any sticky residue or result in an oily scalp. Although caveat to that is it does need to be massaged in well so it dissipates evenly else you will notice slight residue. Few drops in areas that need dire help and over time I’ve seen slow growth specifically in those areas (around my temples). Formulated with trademarked peptide complexes, Caffeine (1% by weight), Larch wood extract, etc. I would stock up on this next sale.

Scalp Treatment – OGX Niacin & Caffeine (discontinued🤬), so I don’t see much point in elaborating how amazing this was but what stood out were the ingredients Niacin, Caffeine and Saw Palmetto (natural DHT blocker, i.e. hormone that contributes to hair loss). Talking about DHT could be a post in itself, let me know if you’d like a separate post. In the same spirit, looked for other products with these ingredients to help with the situation

Scalp Treatment – Weleda Revitalising Hair Tonic, feels refreshing on scalp but high in alcohol. Can’t say alcohol caused any issues with my scalp but for some sensitive skins it might. Also can’t say I have had any visible results with this. Indeed this gives a voluminous feel to mane.

Scalp Treatment – Aveda Invati Advanced Scalp Revitalizer – instantly adds texture to my hair. They claim, it thickens to help lift hair at the root and invigorates the scalp when massaged in. It smells of a gorgeous herbal earthy concoction, the liquid itself feels heavy on my scalp and leaves my scalp tad sticky. In terms of visible results, cannot rave. my scalp and hair. Perhaps consistency would be the key in seeing results, but when scalp and hair feel oily and hay like, consistency is also tricky.

Next few serums are specifically focusing on serum for hair strands:

Hair Serum – Christophe Robin Regenerating Serum with Prickly Pear Oil – If you’ve used Prickly Pear line (specifically mask and shampoo) you will know in part what to expect from this. A creamy consistency, multi purpose serum aimed to serve as heat protectant, and improve overall health of hair strands (including split ends or dry or frizzy hair). And I have seen this does exactly what it claims. My hair strand definitely feels healthier, more nourished without it being weighed down. I’ve used one pump daily on wet and dry hair, and somehow I prefer this on dry hair because it almost behaves like a leave in conditioner but better. Not to mention that gorgeous aroma from this line mmmmm, love!

Hair Serum – Antonin B Ceramides Enriched Desert Serum showcased in LE Boxwalla, was a new brand discovery for me. This oil serum is particularly suitable for dry, color treated or chemically processed hair. It is formulated to deeply penetrate your hair and makes it stronger, softer and healthier without weighing it down. It is an oil based serum and all you need is a drop or two (depending on hair length and volume). With my fine hair, it is easier to go overboard and ends up making my hair oily at the ends. So it is imperative to stick to a drop and no more. But it does help with dry lifeless ends, bring vitality back. I can see this working incredibly well for colour treated and daily blowouts hair.

Hair Serum – Levara Amazonia Hair Growth Treatment Serum – This particular hair serum had me all over with its inci list specifically, potent formula rich in Yerba Mate, Saw Palmetto (more on this specific ingredient in next post). However inci list had me baffled with Aqua, Phenoxyethanol (75%)….ermm so preservative is right on top composing majority of the formula and actives much later. Someone from this company needs to break this down for me. Secondly, directions of use state, “Distribute evenly through damp or dry hair. No need to rinse, this serum is designed to be left in. Use once daily to unlock your hair growth potential.” So I interpret this as application on hair strands, however website also includes, “Made with a cocktail of intelligent haircare ingredients, this intensive leave-in serum helps to achieve fuller, healthier, thicker locks by stimulating the scalp to promote healthy hair follicles.” Stimulating scalp it says, but directions state apply to hair, so which is it. Application to hair or scalp or both? Needless to say, still testing but it does leave hair sticky and clumpy.

Hair Leave in Moisture treatments are always focused away from hair roots:

Christophe Robin Sandalwood Hair Cream & Prickly Pear Multi purpose balm, these two are amazing. End of story. I have a separate post on hair creams (let me know if you want to be linked to), but these provide that instant hydration and moisture to hair ends. They appear healthy and tamed (doesn’t feel sticky or clumpy or oily). Of course they both smell incredible, always a bonus.

Kerastase Elixir Ultime is used mainly on second or third or fourth day when my hair needs shine and movement under all that texture. Adore the scent, however given its laden with silicones I use no more than a pump on my fine hair (bottom half only). If you’re an ardent fan of heat styling, definitely a good heat protector.

Mauli Grow Strong Hair Oil is a wonderful version of hair oil departing from traditional Ayurvedic oils which can be unpleasant. I apply mainly on my ends and doesn’t feel heavy or sticky at all. Over time I’ve noticed more nourished roots as well.


Good Hair Housekeeping Practices

Today’s post captures basic hair housekeeping practices which do make a difference in the long run.
Hair reference: I have fine, volume less hair with hair loss issues which caused mild baldish patches near my temples, and top near hairline.

Washing – long story short, wash no more than 2 times a week. Washing to remove dead skin on scalp, removes excess oil, sweat and product build up. For those suggesting sulphate free shampoos are the way to go, I would say not necessary. For me personally, I found sulphate shampoos performed better than the other version. I’ve yet to find a sulphate free shampoo that I love. For me aside from cleansing scalp, I like volumising shampoos. I’ve always said, for my fine limp hair I need va va volume. Long time loyalist of Christophe Robin range, his cleansing & volumising pastes (Rose & Rhassoul or other one with Tahitian Algae both tick boxes for me) are the best in this arena. For those who believe that some shampoos are able to help stop or slow hair loss, nope. No it’s not on scalp for long enough to do much, much like a face cleanser with actives. It ain’t gonna do much! In saying so, I’m currently testing Caffeine shampoo intended to leave on scalp for 2-3mins however I’ve yet to assess its impact.
Post wash, always towel dried my hair. Keep it in my hair towel till it absorbs most water from my hair, and then extract as much water from my hair.

Hair Brushing & Detangling – a very split view on this topic. Some suggested I slow down on brushing my hair, given the rate of lumps of hair loss (and hair bunches stuck in my paddle brush) and some said 100 effin strokes to stimulate growth. Safe to say, I have tried both and have come to a conclusion to be guided by your scalp condition. The mental stress and psychological impact of brushing and seeing lumps on floor and hair brush had me in tears on my bathroom floor. So take your time with this, and to untangle your hair gently run your fingers through your hair to release the knots and pressure on follicles of your hair.
Also, when detangling hair knots, please go from bottom of your strands to top, gently work your way up. The pull and tug stress on your hair roots & follicles results in breakage. Slow down, breathe and one knot at a time, bloody time consuming but better than being on bathroom floor sobbing.

Scalp Massage, yes gentle stimulation is needed. Now that be with finger tips, or hair brushes or scalp massaging tools is really up to you. All this while I have flipped my head and gently massaged with finger tips. Recently I’ve discovered Vegamour silicone revitalizing massager which I’m really enjoying. Circular motions, as gentle or vigorous massage (its one way or another, its incredibly relaxing). I’ve always massaged in dry hair, except gentle massage when washing my hair.

Other Scalp Treatment Options, High Frequency helps with improving hair quality, strengthening the follicles, overall density and elasticity of hair. Another option which I’ve not personally tried and will refer to Chrissy @honeyanddewskin for Jet Peel. Surely she can guide you through and offer more information. Basically this procedure, offers scalp exfoliation to aid with hair loss and thinning – a high velocity air pressure with Detox Water (aloe, saline and silver oxide) to gently exfoliate and deeply cleanse scalp.

Buns and fabrics for hair, I’m a serial Bun Shover or I say, just ‘Bun it’ (it’s a verb in my world). Anything it will be shoved up in a bun. I rarely go very short with my hair because I cannot bun it. But two strong caveats to that are, 1. it should Not be too tight that you’d pull, tug and stress your scalp and hair follicles, & 2. The choice of hair tie. I recommend silk bands for least possible breakage. Silk ties, bands, pillow cases….all worth the investment. My personal choice is 100% Mulberry Silk. For night snooze, I tie a loose pony tail to able to rest on my pillow.

Heating & Styling, haha this is a joke in my world because I’m a serial Bun shover (please see note above). Ok on a serious note, AVOID heating and heat styling (irons, curl tongs, blow drys) like a plague. For drying my hair, I just flip my head and air dry that’s it, no more. For me styling entails, adding volume and texture products. This also means nothing on my scalp to avoid any possible product build up. My love here is Christophe Robin Rose Volume mist, which goes strictly on my strands and least 2 inches away from hair roots. The liquid itself is light and doesn’t clump my hair or make it feel like hay. Provides a good balance of texture with moisture.