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Hairy Scary

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— June 26, 2017

Hairy Scary

  • There are many ways to stay stylin', despite hair loss.
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Some baseball pitching staffs sport hair that trails beyond their shoulders, while many professional football players wear long dreadlocks with pride. Not since Samson has hair and feats of athletic strength shown such synergy. Maintaining that magnificent mane could be a challenge, however, even for the young. Balding, the common thinking run, is for older people. And certainly that’s true for the form seen most often in men, in which the receding hairline creates an M-shaped pattern. Known as androgenetic alopecia, “it’s an aging process that every human being experiences, and it gets worse as you age—the severity of a person’s hair thinning is related to genetics,” says Paul J. McAndrews, MD, a dermatologist whose LAarea practice specializes in hair replacement. But if you think the calendar is a magic shield against thinning hair, you’d be mistaken. “Hair loss can be due to a variety of factors like hormones, stress, autoimmune disease or illness,” explains Jeanna Doyle, licensed cosmetologist and author of Wig ED: What to Look for When Looking for a Wig (Books Ruhl). Stressful life events occurred more often among people with alopecia areata, in which the body’s immune system causes hair loss, in one study. And a lot of stress is tied to money, more specifically a lack thereof; in a survey by the American Psychological Association, 75% of people between the ages of 18 and 35 rated financial concerns as a “somewhat” or “very significant” source of stress. A few stressful days won’t cause your hair to fall out. But if you have a lot of emotional stress that results in physiological stress, you could shed some hair. In this case, though, when your body gets back to normal, your hair should grow back. Rough styling doesn’t help. “Harsh practices like tight braids, excessive chemical processes and high-heat appliances like curling irons may also cause damage that can lead to hair loss or breakage,” says Doyle. If you notice a change in the amount of hair you’re losing, McAndrews recommends seeing a physician trained in dealing with hair problems. “It’s important to get the correct diagnosis and then discuss various treatment options available for that specific diagnosis,” he says.

Loving Your Locks

Conventional medicine offers both pharmacological and surgical methods of hair restoration, and there are herbal remedies in Chinese medicine that have a history of usage in encouraging hair regrowth.

Instead of Hair There are a lot of stylish alternatives to hair, including hats (a favorite move of aging rockers) and scarves. However, Doyle says extensions, toppers—small sections of wig made from human hair that you can color to match your own and clip into your existing hair—and wigs may be preferable choices for women whose hair loss is particularly significant. If you feel uncomfortable with a hat or scarf, the topper or wig route may work better for you. Gettin’ Wiggy with It. Using a wig or a topper can be easy and affordable if you know what to look for. “Wigs vary in price, and prices are determined according to the features and materials,” says Doyle. A synthetic wig, which will last from about three to six months, is lower priced. A wig made from human hair costs more, but with the proper care it can last up to a year. What to Look for in Wigs. “You can get a believable and affordable wig with some simple shopping guidelines,” says Doyle. Look for a wig that has a matte or natural-looking finish with some dimension such as highlights, lowlights, an ombre effect (the gradual blending of one color hue to another) or rooted color, where the roots are darker like you’re growing your hair out. Choose a wig that has a part and hairline that is slightly obstructed—like one with bangs and a part that has some layers or is set off from the middle.
  • Saw palmetto, an herb often taken by older men with prostate issues, may be helpful if age-related hair loss has shown up early in your case.
  • Take a closer look at your diet. Ditch the sugar and load up on green leafy stuff, lean protein and such omega-3 sources as fatty fish.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • If you’re under serious stress, find some consistent way to deal with it (yoga, meditation, exercise—you know the drill).

How to Stay Stylin’

One way to counteract hair loss is to get creative in putting together your personal look. Doyle says that the way to style your hair when you’re experiencing hair loss will depend on where the loss is concentrated. “For many, the crown of the head is the most problematic to deal with,” she says. Using soft sponge rollers or Velcro rollers can help in that they add volume to the hair you have without using excessive heat. Doyle says that you should beware of products with alcohol sulfates or parabens in them because they’re bad for hair health.

Caveat Emptor—Buyer Beware Take a hard look at claims for amazing hair growth by people who have something to sell. “Consumers should be aware of many scam/snake oil treatments on the radio, internet, etc.,” says McAndrews. “If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.” He notes that a number of companies play on the vulnerability of people with hair loss by claiming “that their products cause ‘fuller and thicker looking hair’ and hope you interpret that as clinically significant hair growth. However, these companies and doctors won’t put in writing that their products cause ‘clinically significant growth’ because they do not.”

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