There are a lot of advantages to getting older. You’re wiser, more experienced, and you have the knowledge and confidence of a lifetime to use to achieve your goals. In many ways, the person you become is the best version of yourself, armed with understanding and enlightenment that you could never have achieved when you were young.
That being said, it’s not always sunshine and roses! Our bodies undergo plenty of changes as we age, and lots of them aren’t so easy. One of the most frustrating things that you can experience as you get older is losing your hair.
Isn’t that just a Man’s Problem?
Hair loss might seem like something that happens mostly to men, but plenty of women discover that thinning hair is an affliction that knows no gender lines when they age. In fact, of all the people dealing with hair loss, about 40% are women.
That’s almost half! If you’re a woman who has experienced hair loss, thinning hair, or even discovered a bald spot on your head, you’re not alone! About two-thirds of postmenopausal women are suffering from some kind of hair loss. That means it’s more likely than not that you’ll have to deal with it too, especially as you get older. Hair loss is, unfortunately, just a natural part of the aging process. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it!
Anyone who has struggled with hair loss or thinning hair knows how demoralizing it can be. Having a thick, lustrous head of hair is a strong foundation for self-confidence, so when that head of hair starts becoming a little less thick, it can feel like your confidence is thinning too.
Lots of women feel embarrassed by it, but they shouldn’t be! Not only is it a natural process that almost everyone goes through, but there are also plenty of things you can do to stop your hair loss from progressing further or even regrow some hair that you’ve lost. It’s vital that you feel comfortable talking about it, especially with your doctor. With treatment, you might find that your confidence is regrowing right alongside your hair.
Because hair loss in women is discussed less frequently than their male counterparts, many women have trouble finding the information they need to fight the thinning hair fight properly. In fact, many women don’t even realize they’re damaging their hair until it’s too late, but stopping your hair loss is possible, and you do have options!
It’s important to understand the causes of female hair loss so you can understand how to treat it. There are plenty of solutions out there if you know where to look! In this article, we’ll be going over some of the reasons why a woman over 50 might be losing her hair and some of the treatments she can use to fight it.
It’s essential to realize and keep in mind that everybody’s hair is unique, and what works for someone else might not be the perfect solution for you. It’s always helpful to work with your doctor to figure out the best path to follow when you’re battling hair loss. If your hair is thinning or you’re losing your hair, it could be due to an underlying health issue. You should always see your doctor to get to the root cause of your health and hair problems.
Even though it might be a sensitive or embarrassing subject, don’t be afraid to speak up and talk about it! One of the best and most important things you can do to prevent further hair loss is to catch it early, so keep on the lookout!
What Is Female Pattern Baldness?
You’ve probably heard male pattern baldness discussed plenty of times before. It’s an extremely common condition for men to experience as they get older. As a general rule of thumb, about 20% of men will experience it in their 20s, 30% in their 30s, 40% in their 40s, and over 50% of men struggle with male pattern baldness in their 50s. But did you know there’s female pattern baldness as well?
It’s not usually as dramatic as the male version, but it’s no less traumatizing and challenging to deal with. Female pattern baldness is not only the most common cause of hair loss in women over 50 but is also one of the most treatable. It’s sometimes a little trickier to spot than male pattern baldness, which starts at the forehead and continues to recede the hairline, sometimes all the way back.
Some men also end up with sizable bald spots on top of their heads to go along with the gradually receding hairline. When a man’s hair starts to recede, he usually knows it! All you have to do is look in the mirror to notice if your hairline isn’t where it used to be.
Female pattern baldness, on the other hand, tends to present a little differently. Instead of starting at the front of your head and moving backward, female pattern baldness usually starts at the crown of your head and slowly moves outward. This can be a little more difficult to spot, especially if you’re not specifically checking for it.
If you’re worried about female pattern baldness and want to catch it early, check the top of your head! Female pattern baldness can also sometimes appear at your temples and gradually go from there, more similar to the male version, so it’s worth checking your temples in the mirror as well.
Remember, if you see anything that seems out of the ordinary, bring it up with your doctor! They can do a quick check to see if you’re exhibiting the usual female pattern baldness symptoms and work with you to find the right treatment.
Female pattern baldness is also known as androgenetic alopecia and is sort of a catchall term for hair loss caused by changes to the hormones in your body. Like its male counterpart, female pattern baldness is hereditary and is brought on by genetic factors.
It becomes much more common after menopause when your body chemistry starts to change. Discovering that your hair is thinning is always a disheartening experience, but remember that you’re not alone! Less than half of all women make it past 65 with a full head of hair.
There are also plenty of things you can do about it, ranging from a simple change in your hairstyle to more serious treatments like medication or even a hair transplant. As science advances, we’re getting better and better at fighting the natural effects of aging, and hair loss is no exception.
How Do I Know If I Have Female Pattern Baldness?
This is probably pretty obvious, but the main symptom of female pattern baldness is, well, baldness – or losing some hair, anyway. It’s pretty rare for female pattern baldness to result in a fully bald head, unlike male pattern baldness.
A certain amount of hair loss is a normal part of the hair growth cycle, and you don’t need to worry about it. Every day, the average person loses 50-100 hairs from their head. That might seem like a lot, but it’s just part of the process that your body uses to refresh itself and get rid of old, dead hair.
However, if it seems like you’re losing a lot more hair than usual daily, it might be time to get in touch with your doctor, especially if you’re approaching menopause. Check your comb or hairbrush when you’re done brushing your hair, and see if there’s any more than usual. It’s normal to see some fluctuation, but if you see more and more hair stuck between the teeth, you could have a problem.
You can also perform the same test just by running a hand through your hair. Having one or two hairs pulled loose and stuck between your fingers isn’t a big deal, but if it’s coming out in small clumps, then you should probably contact your doctor and get your head checked out.
You can also check your scalp yourself in the mirror, although the effects of female pattern baldness might be a little harder to notice for you than for your doctor. Male pattern baldness is much more dramatic, with the hair loss starting at the hairline and gradually proceeding backward across the scalp.
Female pattern baldness is usually a little more subtle and involved a gradual thinning of the hair instead of a defined hairline that moves. It’s also a little harder to spot since it’s on top of your head instead of in the front, where you’d see it in the mirror every day. Female pattern baldness typically starts as a thinning of the hair on top of your crown, at your natural part.
It’s best if you can catch it here before it starts to spread to the rest of your head. As mentioned earlier, some women also notice a thinning of the hair around their temples. As female pattern baldness progresses, it passes through three different phases that doctors use to describe how serious the problem is:
- Type 1: Type 1 female pattern baldness is characterized by a thinning just at the top of your head, by your part. This is the earliest and least serious hair loss stage, so if you can catch it before it progresses, that would be ideal. However, it’s also the most difficult to spot, especially if you regularly wear your hair up, covering your part.
- Type 2: This is where the hair loss starts to spread from your part across your head, gradually thinning a wider area. You might notice your part getting wider and some thinning in the areas directly around it. While you might not be able to regrow all of the hair you’ve lost if you’re at this stage, it’s still entirely treatable.
- Type 3: Type 3 is the last and most severe stage of female pattern baldness. In this category, the thinning has spread more or less across your entire head, and you might notice a fully bald spot where your part used to be. You can still treat your hair loss if it’s this advanced, but it’s more difficult, and you might need to try something more than just medication if you want a full head of hair again.
When it comes to hair loss, just like with all medical conditions, catching it early is the best thing you can do to prevent things from getting worse. If you notice any thinning or balding on the top of your head or anywhere else that concerns you, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. Even if you feel it’s not that big of a deal, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
What Causes Female Pattern Baldness?
Unlike some other hair loss forms, female pattern baldness isn’t usually something that you can develop due to your lifestyle or other factors. It’s a genetic condition caused by gradual changes in your hormones. That’s why it’s much more common after menopause, although women can experience it as early as their 20s.
Female pattern baldness is hereditary, which means it’s passed down to you by your parents. If other close members of your family, like your mother, father, siblings, or grandparents, developed female or male pattern baldness, it’s much more likely that you will as well, especially as you get older. Certain endocrine-related conditions can cause female pattern baldness and some tumors that release hormones into your body.
Smoking increases the likelihood of developing female pattern baldness, so if you’re looking for a reason to quit, try this one. Your doctor will work with you to discover the underlying causes of your hair loss, whether caused by female pattern baldness or other factors. If you have other symptoms, like an irregular period, sudden and severe acne, or hair growth in unwanted places, you might be suffering from a different condition and should contact your doctor.
The Hair Growth Cycle
he leading causes of female pattern baldness work by affecting the growth cycle of the hairs on your head. The hair growth cycle is a particular pattern, and when it’s interrupted or changed, it can lead to female pattern baldness or other issues.
There are two main parts to each strand of hair on your head: the hair shaft and the follicle. Hair shafts are pretty self-explanatory – they’re the actual strands of hair that grow out of your head. Follicles are a little more complicated. If each hair shaft is a tree, just think of follicles as the roots.
A follicle is a small pouch of skin underneath your scalp, one for every hair shaft on your head – about 100,000 in all. Each hair grows from a follicle and stays rooted in it for most of its lifespan. The follicle is also connected to your bloodstream and transports essential nutrients from your blood to the hair shaft to help it grow.
That’s why your diet has such an effect on how your hair looks – the food you eat gets broken down into nutrients that enter your bloodstream and make their way all over your body, including your hair. If you’re not eating the right nutrients and vitamins, your hair can end up with a dull and unhealthy appearance!
The hair growth cycle is broken up into three distinct phases. Every hair on your head goes through all three phases in its lifespan, before eventually falling out and making way for a new hair shaft to grow. The first phase is called the anagen phase.
Anagen starts when your hair shaft is first growing and continues for the majority of its life. Your hair is attached to the follicle during anagen, which continues to feed it with nutrients from the tiny blood vessels under your scalp. The hair shaft continues to grow throughout the duration of the anagen phase and can reach anywhere from 18 to 30 inches in length. This period can take anywhere from two to seven years, depending on your age, the health of your hair, and other genetic factors.
Because your hair shaft is firmly rooted in its follicle during the anagen phase, it’s relatively difficult to pull out of your head. This is a good thing! The majority of the hairs on your head at any one time are going to be in anagen, between 80% and 90%. Finally, once the hair shaft reaches its full length, it moves on to the next phase.
The second phase of the hair growth cycle is called catagen, also known as the transition phase. Catagen starts once your hair shaft has reached its maximum length. During this phase, the shaft disconnects from the follicle and starts to drift upwards towards the surface of your scalp. This usually takes two or three weeks, making catagen the shortest part of the cycle.
At this point, because your hair shaft is no longer connected to the follicle, it stops growing. These newly disconnected hairs are usually referred to as “club hairs,” named after the little bulb at the bottom of the shaft shaped like a club’s end.
Finally, once your hair shaft approaches the surface of your scalp, it enters the third phase, called telogen. Telogen is sometimes called the resting phase and is the final phase of the hair growth cycle. It can last for about three months and only ends when the hair shaft falls out. During telogen, your club hair sits just at the surface of your scalp.
Although it’s still embedded in your skin, hair shafts in telogen are very easy to pull out of your head. In fact, that’s the whole point! These club hair shafts need to be removed so that new hairs have room to grow. When you comb your hair or run your fingers through it, the strands of hair that get pulled out are almost always in the telogen phase.
That’s what’s supposed to happen! While the club hair is sitting there waiting to fall out, the follicle underneath is already hard at work in the anagen phase, growing a whole new hair. This is how your body naturally recycles hairs and makes way for new ones to grow.
What Does The Hair Growth Cycle Have To Do With Female Pattern Baldness?
The unfortunate and inevitable truth of the aging process is that, once you hit about 30 or so, all the systems in your body slowly start to degrade. It’s a very gradual process, but the older you get, the more you’ll notice it.
The hair growth cycle is no exception, and the way it’s affected by age contributes to the development of female pattern baldness. There are two significant changes that the hair growth cycle undergoes as you get older. The first has to do with the production of hormones in your body called androgens. Androgens include hormones that are considered “masculine,” like testosterone, but women have them too!
A lot of things in your body are controlled by androgens, like sex drive and hair growth. When you’re young, your body is flooded with androgens, which means lots of sex and lots of hair! But, as you get older, androgen production begins to dwindle.
The slowing of androgen production in your body has a couple of significant effects on the hair growth cycle. The first is that the anagen phase starts to get shorter.
Instead of growing for a full seven years, your hair might only grow for five or four. As you get older, the anagen phase keeps shrinking. This is relevant to female pattern baldness because your hair is spending less and less time rooted in your follicles before falling out.
This wouldn’t be a huge problem by itself, except that it also starts to take longer and longer before the anagen phase starts up again. That means your hair is falling out faster and taking longer to grow back in. This is a significant contribution to thinning hair. Even though your hair is still growing, you’ll have less of it on your head at any one time.
The other significant change that affects the hair growth cycle as you get older is your follicles’ shrinking. Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly why your follicles get smaller as you age, but they believe that it has to do with the replicating stem cells in the follicles turning into skin cells and no longer functioning.
Regardless of the reason, the result is that smaller follicles produce thinner hair shafts that are easier to break or pull out. Even during the anagen phase, when your hairs are usually firmly rooted in place, thinner hair shafts can be more easily broken or tugged out. Plus, it takes longer for new hairs to grow, so every hair that falls out prematurely contributes to the overall thinning of your mane.
What Can I Use To Treat My Female Pattern Baldness?
There are a few different ways to treat female pattern baldness, but the most common is minoxidil. Minoxidil is the generic name for Rogaine, and it’s the only topical treatment currently approved by the FDA for female hair loss. While it was initially developed as a treatment for high blood pressure, researchers discovered that minoxidil did a great job of regrowing hair in places where it had been fallen.
While it can’t regrow everything, this drug is currently the best to fight the effects of hair loss. To use minoxidil, all you have to do is apply it to your head in the areas most affected by hair loss. Most over-the-counter kits will include an eyedropper or spray applier you can use. Then, just gently massage it into your scalp. Make sure you get it all the way to your roots because if it’s stuck in your hair, then it won’t do much for you. Wash your hands, and wipe away any of the formulae that might have dripped down onto your forehead or face.
Air-dry your hair, and don’t shampoo it for at least four hours. You’re going to have to do this twice a day for it to be most effective, but the results can be extremely encouraging.
Minoxidil is not without its downsides, however. There are a few side effects, including a deposit left behind by the solution that can irritate your scalp. Minoxidil can also cause a condition known as hypertrichosis, where the hair starts to grow in unwanted places like your face or hands.
If this starts happening to you, stop using it, and get in touch with your doctor. Sometimes minoxidil can cause your hair to regrow in a slightly different color or texture than it was before, which is a little annoying but ultimately harmless.
Finally, if you do decide to stick with minoxidil, you can’t stop. If you do, you’ll just end up losing all the hair you just regrew. Minoxidil isn’t a miracle drug, so it won’t be able to grow back all the hair you’ve lost. However, if you get started early, it can be extremely effective in making your hair appear fuller and thicker.
What Else Can Cause Hair Loss In Women Over 50?
There are a few other things that can cause you to start losing your hair. Another common one is a condition known as telogen effluvium. This is the second most common cause of hair loss in women, after female pattern baldness, and, as the name suggests, it also has to do with the hair growth cycle.
Typically, about 5% to 10% of your hairs will be in the telogen phase at any one time. If you’re suffering from telogen effluvium, the anagen phase slows down, and that number can jump to almost 30%. It’s similar to the slowing of the anagen phase caused by the natural aging process, but much more dramatic, and the results can be more severe.
Thankfully, telogen effluvium is generally both treatable and temporary, so if you catch it early, you can reverse any thinning caused by the condition. A similar condition called anagen effluvium causes even more dramatic hair loss, but it’s typically only seen in patients undergoing chemotherapy or other cancer treatments.
What Are The Symptoms Of Telogen Effluvium?
Like with female pattern baldness, the most apparent telogen effluvium symptom will be the loss of hair on your head. Just like with any other form of hair loss, checking your hairbrush or inspecting your head in the mirror is going to be the best way to check for telogen effluvium.
However, TE tends to present itself slightly differently than female pattern baldness. While female pattern baldness results in hair loss focusing on the part on top of your head, telogen effluvium affects the entire head equally, resulting in thinning all over. It’s sporadic for this condition to cause a receding hairline, although it is possible.
In some severe cases, telogen effluvium can even cause your eyebrows or body hair to fall out. Don’t panic if that happens, though! TE is almost always reversible, so your eyebrows will most likely grow back on their own.
What Causes Telogen Effluvium?
There are a few different things that cause telogen effluvium. Unlike female pattern baldness, which is usually a natural process caused by changes in your body chemistry, TE can develop due to external factors. The biggest triggers of telogen effluvium include:
- Stress: TE is most infamously caused by severe stress or if you’ve experienced a traumatic event in the recent past, like a car crash. The effects usually aren’t seen until up to three months after the event in question.
This happens because the shock of the sudden environmental change forces your follicles to enter a resting state, and it takes a few months for them to start back up again. Stress-related telogen effluvium is almost always temporary, and the lost hair just grows back on its own.
If you’ve recently experienced something shocking or traumatic and you notice your hair falling out, don’t worry! Once your body settles back into its rhythm, the condition will clear up in about six months. It may take as long as a year for your hair to finish coming back, but it almost always does.
- Environmental Factors: Much like stress, a sudden change in your environment can cause temporary telogen effluvium. This is especially likely if you’re in an area with potentially damaging particles or toxins in the air, like heavy metals. Typically, once you return to a safe and familiar environment, the condition clears up on its own, and you can have your hair back after a year or so.
- Hormonal Changes: Your follicles can also be shocked into a resting state by a sudden change in hormone levels. This can be caused by menopause, severe weight loss, or any other fluctuations in hormones. Pregnancy is also a common trigger for TE, and the hair usually grows back about six months after the baby is born.
- Diet: For your hair to grow properly, it requires certain nutrients. If your diet doesn’t include enough of these essential nutrients, it can trigger telogen effluvium development. Telogen effluvium has been linked to a deficiency in iron, zinc, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and protein. If you’re not getting enough of these key vitamins and minerals, your doctor might recommend taking supplements until the condition clears up.
- Other Conditions: TE can also be a symptom of some other underlying condition, like an allergy or a thyroid condition. Your doctor will be able to run some tests to make sure this isn’t what’s causing your hair to fall out.
Whatever the reason, telogen effluvium is almost always treatable and often goes away on its own once the underlying source of the condition is treated. The natural effects of the aging process can compound these symptoms, so be sure to make an appointment with your doctor if you notice your hair thinning or falling out.
How Do I Treat Telogen Effluvium?
The best way to treat TE is going to vary depending on the root causes of the condition. If it’s related to stress, then the cure is simple: try to relax! Obviously, this is much easier said than done, but reducing your stress levels is always a good idea anyway. If you’re having trouble, try meditation or yoga. You might be surprised at the results, not just for your hair, but for the rest of your body as well!
If your hair loss is due to a lack of the right nutrients, you can try taking supplements and vitamins. Haircare companies like Keranique can offer supplements specifically designed to treat hair loss causes, which is often better than just going to the store and finding the vitamins by themselves. Keranique’s Hair and Scalp Health Supplements include all the nutrients your hair needs, including vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and zinc, as well as special supplements like Keraviatin, which keep your hair looking thick, soft, and luxurious.
Hair Regrowth Kits
In addition to the supplements, Keranique also offers a complete hair regrowth kit. The system is based around a three-pronged attack on your hair loss symptoms and combines standard hair loss treatments like minoxidil with premium hair care ingredients explicitly designed for women with thinning hair.
Unlike traditional Rogaine, Keranique’s system was created with women in mind, which means you’re getting something invented specially for you and your body chemistry. Keranique’s system is intended to provide you with a healthier and thicker head of hair in just three easy steps:
- Keranique Shampoo and Conditioner: This unique shampoo and conditioner set is specifically formulated to fight the conditions that lead to thinning hair, breakage, and split ends. It also works to thicken the shafts and add volume to your hair, making up for any thinning that you’ve already experienced.
- Keranique Regrowth Treatment: Once you’ve used the shampoo and conditioner, next comes the regrowth treatment. Keranique’s unique formula uses minoxidil, much like standard Rogaine, but it’s specifically designed with women in mind. It also comes with a patented Easy Precision Sprayer so that you can target thinning areas more accurately.
- Keranique Lift and Repair Treatment Spray: The final step is Keranique’s special styling spray that works to add lift and style to your hair while protecting it from environmental damage like toxins and heavy metals. It also gives you 24-hour frizz control and can repair up to 96% of split ends.
These three products working together can be far more effective than one hair loss treatment by itself.And if you are looking for the full treatment you can also shortcut the process with the hair regrowth system and if you’re not entirely satisfied, Keranique offers a full 120-day money-back guarantee so that you can get a full refund. Just give them a call within 120 days of receiving the kit, ship back whatever you didn’t use, and your refund should come shortly afterward.
Getting older isn’t always easy, and losing your hair can just make things more difficult. But there are more reasons than ever for you to feel optimistic and confident about maintaining your hair as you age. As always, talk to your doctor before making any major decisions, and don’t be afraid to speak up about your hair loss.
Just because you’re over 50 doesn’t mean you have to give up your hair, now more than ever. Now that you’re finally wise and experienced enough to live your life the way you want to, why should you let hair loss hold you back? Whether you’re using supplements or minoxidil, take control of your hair, and actively fight the thinning that comes with age. Remember to stay on the lookout for any possible hair loss symptoms and be proactive about treating it.