Imagine a beautiful person – someone confident and attractive. What are the attributes of that person? Nice eyes? A white smile? What about their hair? Chances are, the person who you imagined has a thick, lustrous head of hair – especially if they’re a woman. Having thick, beautiful hair is a massive part of self-confidence for many women, which is why it can be challenging when your hair starts to thin or recede. Even though hair loss is typically thought of as more of a male problem, women experience it much more frequently than you might think. A full two-thirds of women will experience hair loss of one kind or another after going through menopause, and less than half of women make it to 65 with a full head of hair. If you’ve noticed that your hair isn’t quite as thick as it used to be, you’re not alone! There are plenty of women out there who have gone through the same thing, and there are a lot of steps you can take to solve the problem.
A receding hairline can be a particularly traumatizing form of hair loss. Because it’s so close to your face, even a little hair loss at your frontal hairline can cause a dramatic change in your appearance, so it’s important to try to catch it early. It can be especially difficult or uncomfortable because a receding hairline is much more common in men than in women. Hair loss starting at the frontal hairline is the usual form for male pattern baldness, which affects over half of all men during their lifetimes. However, female pattern baldness typically presents differently, so it’s relatively uncommon to see a woman with a receding hairline. Female pattern baldness usually appears along the part on top of your head and spreads from there, or sometimes starts at the temples.
A receding hairline, just like hair loss in general, is usually seen as more of a male issue. This means it’s not always easy for women to find information about it relevant to them. In fact, many women cause damage to their hairline without even knowing it! That’s why it’s vital to have all the important info on female hair loss, especially less common forms like receding hairlines. Knowledge is your greatest weapon in the fight against hair loss, so learning how to spot the symptoms and treat them is the best thing you can do to preserve those thick tresses. This article will go over some information that women can use to protect themselves from hair loss, including some common causes, symptoms, and treatments for a thinning hairline.
As always, it’s important to keep in mind that everybody’s body is different, and that’s just as true for your hair. What causes hair loss on one woman’s head might not be sufficient for someone else! That’s why it’s a good idea to check these things with medical professionals before making any big decisions. If your hair is thinning or losing hair, it could be due to an underlying health issue. As always, you should see your doctor get to the root cause of your health and hair problems. Remember that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about! Hair loss is a perfectly natural condition for both men and women, and you don’t need to be ashamed or keep it to yourself. Speaking up and communicating with your doctor is the best way to prevent further hair loss and possibly even regrow some of what you’ve lost.
Hair Growth Cycles
It might seem like overkill, but understanding how your hair grows and lives can actually be pretty useful. After all, if you don’t know what’s going right, how will you know what’s going wrong? Each hair strand on your head has two important parts: the hair shaft and the follicle. The hair shaft is, well, the hair itself. The follicle is a little less obvious. If you think of each hair shaft as a tree, then the follicle is the roots. Every hair grows from a follicle and spends most of its life cycle firmly attached to it. The follicle is also connected to your scalp’s tiny blood vessels, which is how it takes nutrients from your blood and uses them to grow your hair. Fun fact: this is why what you eat affects your hair! If you’ve ever wondered why it is that eating some foods, like eggs or salmon, can make your hair look shinier, then now you know. The proteins and vitamins in the food you eat get broken down and enter your bloodstream and travel to your hair from there!
Phases Of Hair Growth
Every strand of hair on your head goes through three phases in its life cycle: the anagen phase, the catagen phase, and the telogen phase. The anagen phase is both the first and the longest phase, lasting from two to seven years. During this phase, your hair shaft is firmly rooted in your follicle and continues to grow from your head. The length of time varies wildly from person to person and is based on genetics, age, health, and other factors. Each hair can grow from 18 to 30 inches during this time. Your hair shaft is pretty solidly attached to your follicle in the anagen phase, which makes it hard to break or pull out of your scalp.
The second phase is the catagen phase, which usually only lasts two to three weeks. The catagen phase is kind of a transitional phase. During catagen, your hair shaft disconnects from the follicle and starts to make its way to the top layer of your skin. At this point, because it’s not rooted in the follicle anymore, the shaft stops growing. Hairs that aren’t connected to a follicle are sometimes called “club hairs.”
The final phase is the resting phase, known as telogen. During the telogen phase, the now disconnected club hair rests right at the surface of your scalp before finally falling out. This can take up to three months. When you run a comb through your head, the strands of hair that get caught in the teeth and come out are generally in the telogen phase. Don’t worry, that’s what’s supposed to happen! While your hair shaft is hanging out on your scalp in the telogen phase, the follicle underneath is already busy growing a whole new shaft. All in all, the average person loses 50-100 hairs every day from the telogen phase. Meanwhile, 80-90% of your other hairs are growing strong in the anagen phase!
Changes In The Hair Growth Cycle
Just like the rest of your body, your hair changes as you get older. No system can run perfectly forever, and the hair growth cycle is certainly no exception. Your hair undergoes a ton of changes as you age, but there are two particularly significant ones. The first has to do with hormones in your body, particularly androgens. Androgens affect a lot of things, including sex drive and hair growth. As you get older, your body naturally creates less androgen than it used to. This results in some changes to the hair growth cycle, which shortens the anagen phase. That means that instead of growing for up to seven years, your hair might only stay rooted in the follicle for five, or four, or even less time. A shorter anagen phase means less time for your hair to grow before it falls out, contributing to thinning hair. As you age, the time it takes to start a new anagen phase also gets longer, which means your follicles are spending more and more time just not growing hair. This is one of the leading causes of both male and female pattern baldness.
The other significant change that age brings to hair growth is the natural shrinking of your follicles. As the follicles get smaller and smaller, the hair shafts they produce get thinner. This makes them much easier to break or pull out. Thinner hair shafts are more relevant to hair loss at the frontal hairline since female pattern baldness tends to be focused more on the top of the head.
One of the more common causes for a receding hairline in women is traction alopecia. You may have heard the word “alopecia” used before to describe a condition that prevents someone from growing any hair at all. Still, there are a lot of different forms of alopecia. Really, the word just refers to any kind of hair loss. Traction alopecia refers explicitly to a type of hair loss caused by constant tugging or pulling on the hair. It’s most often the result of wearing tight hairstyles, like ponytails or braids. When you keep your hair pulled tight, like in a ponytail, it creates a strain on the follicles in your hairline. If this continues, the hair shaft can be loosened or pulled free – even during the anagen phase. Repeated often enough, this can permanently damage the follicles, preventing the growth of new hair shafts. If you usually wear your hair up in a tight ponytail, bun, or braids, you may want to consider switching to a new hairstyle. If left long enough, traction alopecia can become permanent.
Symptoms Of Traction Alopecia
In the early stages of traction alopecia, you might notice some little bumps on your scalp or forehead that look kind of like pimples. This is the first sign that you may want to switch up your hairstyle. It’s important to keep in mind that traction alopecia is reversible up to a certain point. If you catch it in one of the early stages, you should be able to get back to your regular hairline in no time. As the condition progresses, you’ll start to notice broken or missing hairs along your frontal hairline. It’s not uncommon to lose hair on the rest of your head as well, depending on your hairstyle. Again, at this point, the condition is still reversible! It’s only once your follicles become damaged that the hair loss becomes permanent, so keep an eye out!
The longer you let traction alopecia go, the more symptoms you might see. Other common signs of traction alopecia include:
- Bumps on your scalp
- Redness of the scalp
- Soreness or stinging on the affected areas
- Blisters on your scalp
You also might develop folliculitis or inflammation of the follicles on your scalp. Folliculitis can appear as redness and small bumps on your scalp, like a rash. Sometimes the bumps have a little crust of dried pus on the outside. Typically, folliculitis goes away once the root cause has been addressed, but sometimes it’s necessary to apply oral or topical antibiotics to help treat the infection. Your doctor can take a look at your scalp and let you know if you need to take anything or if the inflammation will go away on its own. However, if left untreated, folliculitis can result in dark scarring or patches on your scalp and permanent damage to the follicles underneath. If your traction alopecia develops to the point where you notice folliculitis, you should see a doctor and immediately change your hairstyle!
Causes Of Traction Alopecia
Traction alopecia most often develops in people who wear their hair up in tight hairstyles. For this reason, it’s more common in women than men, although men with longer hair can develop it as well. Men can even end up with traction alopecia on their face if they have a beard with braids or ties in it! The main hairstyles to avoid if you’re trying to prevent traction alopecia are tight ponytails, buns, braids, cornrows, or dreadlocks. Traction alopecia can also develop if you use hair extensions or weaves or keep your hair up in rollers overnight. People with exceptionally long hair can get traction alopecia just from the weight of their hair, even if it’s down, although it’s not especially common. Traction alopecia is generally more common in African-American women, although no ethnicity is immune to it. It’s also more frequent among professions that require hair to be worn up, like ballerinas and military service people. You’re also much more likely to develop traction alopecia as you age and your hair shafts become thinner and easier to break.
Preventing Traction Alopecia
This probably seems obvious, but the best way to prevent traction alopecia is just to wear your hair down and loose as much as possible. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use ponytails and other hairstyles, but try to keep from making the style too tight. If you want to wear a tight bun, cornrows, or other tight styles, swap them out for a different look every couple of weeks or so. The longer you keep pulling on your hair, the more damage you can cause. When you do put your hair up in a ponytail, make sure not to use rubber or elastic bands to hold your hair in place. These can tug on the hair shafts, loosening them. If you want to braid your hair or put it in dreadlocks, try to keep the braid as thick as possible. This spreads out the stress points on your scalp, and thin, tight braids tend to pull more on your hair. Avoid chemically treating your hair, especially if you put it in braids or use weaves afterward. The chemicals in these treatments can damage or weaken your hair, making it break easier when you pull on it. When you’re wearing weaves or extensions, try to only leave them in for as long as you have to. The weight can pull on your scalp and cause traction alopecia. Other things to avoid include hair relaxers, rollers, and wigs. If you do want to wear a wig, try to find one with a satin liner.
Treating Traction Alopecia
If you notice any of the traction alopecia symptoms, seeing a doctor would be a good idea – particularly a dermatologist. The doctor will likely tell you to change your hairstyle. As a good rule of thumb, if you have your hair pulled back so tightly that it hurts, let it loose! A loose, messy bun or ponytail is a lot healthier for your hair than a tight one, even if it doesn’t look quite as dramatic. If you have very long hair, your doctor might recommend that you cut it shorter. The weight of all that hair can cause traction alopecia by itself, even if worn down. If your hair loss is fairly serious, your doctor might recommend some medication or supplements to help your scalp heal. Any open sores or folliculitis can be treated with antibiotics or topical steroids to reduce swelling. They might also recommend some medication like Rogaine to help regrow hair that you’ve lost. Generally, hair loss from traction alopecia will regrow on its own once you’ve changed your habits, but sometimes a little help is a good thing. Finally, in severe cases, a hair transplant might be required, although this is relatively rare for traction alopecia cases.
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia
Frontal fibrosing alopecia, or FFA, is another cause of a receding hairline in women. It’s not nearly as common as some other forms of alopecia, but FFA still affects many people, mostly older women. It tends to look fairly similar to traction alopecia, mainly affecting the frontal hairline. However, frontal fibrosing alopecia is a little more serious and can sometimes involve scarring or even losing eyebrow and eyelash hair. Unfortunately, the exact causes of frontal fibrosing alopecia are still unknown, although it’s thought to be an autoimmune condition.
The most common symptoms of FFA are hair loss and some scarring on the frontal hairline. Like traction alopecia or male pattern baldness, frontal fibrosing alopecia starts at your hairline and works its way back across your head. Luckily, the progression is very slow, and there are some ways to help stop or at least slow down the hair loss. About half of people suffering from FFA lose some or all of their eyebrow hair and the hair on top of their head. Some people also lose eyelashes, although that’s less common. Frontal fibrosing alopecia can also cause hair loss in other places on the scalp or even elsewhere on the body.
For now, there’s, unfortunately, no cure for frontal fibrosing alopecia. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t successfully fight the symptoms! It’s believed that FFA causes hair loss through inflammation of the follicles, so your doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatory medication like corticosteroids, tetracyclines, or hydroxychloroquine. There are also a few hormone blockers that have shown results, but right now, there’s still a lot that doctors don’t know about FFA. In fact, some researchers have suggested that none of these treatments are all that effective, and the hair loss just stops on its own. Either way, there’s plenty of research being done on frontal fibrosing alopecia, so better treatments are surely on the way.
Treatments For Hair Loss At The Frontal Hairline
Whatever the reason for your hair loss, the burning question will always be: How can I fight this? Let’s be honest, nobody wants to lose their hair, especially not women, so finding the right treatment to stop the process and maybe even reverse it is going to be the top priority. If you’re not interested in trying medication, there are a few short-term things that you can do to at least keep the hair loss from being obvious. Believe it or not, the simplest way is just to conceal it with makeup. Root touch-up powder is a secret weapon used by professional hairstylists to hide a thinning hairline before photo shoots, and it can work for you too. Just use any kind of root spray used to hide gray hairs. It won’t make your hair grow back, but it will create the illusion of a thicker mane. You can also try experimenting with a new part, especially a middle one that drapes over your forehead. Again, this won’t fight the actual hair loss symptoms, but it’s an excellent day-to-day solution that should work for a while. However, if you want something a little more serious, there are plenty of long-term fixes you can try.
When it comes to medication that fights hair loss, you really can’t do much better than minoxidil. It’s the cream of the crop and is the only medication approved by the FDA to treat women’s hair loss. Minoxidil is most well-known as the active ingredient in Rogaine, although it comes in many generic versions. Fun fact: minoxidil wasn’t developed to fight hair loss at all! Instead, it was invented as a medication for high blood pressure. The scientists behind it didn’t realize what they had until their research subjects started to report unexpected hair growth in places where they had previously lost hair. The doctors did a few more studies and ended up releasing minoxidil as a hair loss treatment instead. Minoxidil comes in two strengths: the original 2% concentration and a more recently developed 5% concentration. If possible, you may as well go for the more potent dose. The differences in side effects are fairly small, and the results can be more dramatic with the 5% solution.
Although minoxidil can be extremely useful, it should be noted that it’s not in any way a miracle cure. It can certainly stimulate the regrowth of new hair in both men and women, but it’s not going to replace all the hair you’ve lost, especially if you’re suffering from female pattern baldness. The other slightly annoying thing is that it takes quite some time to see results from minoxidil. It’s usually about two months before you even notice a difference, and it’s recommended that you stick with the treatment for a full year or so before you decide if it’s been effective or not. You also need to make sure that you keep using it. If you stop applying minoxidil to your scalp, you’ll start to lose the hair you just grew all over again. That means it’s a commitment worth dedicating time to.
Minoxidil is pretty easy to use, although it does require a bit of a time commitment. Most over-the-counter minoxidil kits come with an eyedropper or a spray canister of some kind. Use this to apply the solution to your head, anywhere that your hair is thinning. You’ll have to do this twice a day for it to be effective. Once you’ve applied the minoxidil, gently massage it into your scalp with your fingertips. Air-dry your hair, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Wipe your forehead and face clean as well if any of the solutions dripped down from your scalp. It’s crucial that you not shampoo your hair for at least four hours after using minoxidil, so you need to find just the right times to apply it.
Side Effects Of Minoxidil
Although minoxidil is considered to be pretty safe to use, there are still a few side effects that you might encounter. Some people find that when the solution dries on their scalp, it leaves behind a deposit that irritates their skin. This irritation is called contact dermatitis, and it’s believed to be caused by the alcohol that minoxidil manufacturers use as a drying agent. Minoxidil can also lead to a condition called hypertrichosis – that is, excess hair growth in places other than your scalps, like your cheeks or forehead. This is why it’s important to wipe any extra solution away from your face. The stronger 5% concentration of minoxidil is more likely to cause this particular side effect, so consider that. Weirdly enough, sometimes the hair that grows after taking minoxidil comes in as a slightly different color or texture than the hair around it, which can be a little irritating. Other than that, however, minoxidil pretty much avoids any serious side effects. That’s a plus.
If you’re looking for a more drastic method of dealing with hair loss, you might consider a hair transplant. It might have kind of a mixed reputation, but doctors have been performing hair transplants since the 1950s, and the techniques have changed pretty dramatically. There are two ways that hair transplants are usually done: follicular unit strip surgery, or FUSS, or follicular unit extraction, also known as FUE. FUSS is the more common procedure and involves removing a small six to ten-inch strip of skin from the back of your head. The surgeon then splits the strip into 500 to 2,000 tiny little sections, each as small as a single hair. Then, they very carefully graft each individual section onto the thinning areas on your scalp. FUE is similar, except that it involves removing individual follicles from the back of your head instead of taking a whole strip. With either procedure, the back of your head will regrow the hair on its own.
Although hair transplants can be extremely useful, there are a few significant downsides. The first is that it’s expensive, costing anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000, and it isn’t usually covered by insurance. It can also be somewhat painful, leaving your scalp tender to the touch for several days afterward. Like with any surgery, hair transplants come with the risk of bleeding and infection and can result in scarring of your scalp. There’s also the possibility of the new hair looking unnatural after it’s grown in. Once the new hair starts growing, there’s a chance of developing folliculitis. If you’re thinking about getting a hair transplant, you should definitely talk to your doctor about the risks before you make a decision.
Hair Regrowth Systems
One alternative to the traditional way of regrowing hair is to use complete hair care and regrowth system like Keranique. What separates Keranique from solutions like Rogaine is the combination of hair loss treatments with premium hair care products that strengthen your hair and prepare your scalp for optimal growth. This helps avoid the biggest downside of minoxidil by itself – that is, the fact that it can only regrow some of the lost hair. The addition of Keranique’s special hair care products makes up for this by making sure the hair you do have looks thicker and more lustrous than ever, hiding any thinning. Also, unlike Rogaine, Keranique’s products are designed specifically for women and their body chemistry, so you know you’re getting something created with you in mind. Here’s what it includes:
- Shampoo and Conditioner: Keranique’s Scalp Stimulating Shampoo and Volumizing Keratin Conditioner are specially designed to fight thinning hair by thickening, strengthening, and helping to repair each individual hair shaft. This helps create a thicker and more voluminous look, even if you’ve experienced some hair loss. It also fights the natural thinning of your hair shafts as you age, as well as repairing split ends and frizz.
- Regrowth Treatment: Keranique’s special Regrowth Treatment is made with minoxidil, the only ingredient recommended by the FDA to treat hair loss in women. Like any minoxidil treatment, it can be extremely useful in regrowing lost hair, and Keranique’s patented Easy Precision Sprayer helps to keep the solution precisely focused on the affected areas.
- Lift and Repair Treatment Spray: As if the first two products weren’t enough, Keranique’s regrowth kits also include their specially designed Lift and Repair Treatment Spray, which adds lift and style to your hair while helping to protect it from environmental damage. Not only does it create lift and keep your hair exactly where you want it, but it also infuses your hair with a strengthening complex that repairs damage and protects at the same time.
Unlike Rogaine, Keranique is an overall system that fights hair loss while keeping your hair looking thick and voluminous. They also offer a 120-day money-back guarantee, in case you’re not completely happy with the results.
Hair loss, especially when it starts at your frontal hairline, can be stressful and demoralizing. It’s easy to lose confidence when you start losing hair. But try to keep in mind that there are plenty of things that you can do about it! From simple lifestyle changes to hair transplant surgeries, there are a ton of options out there for someone looking to fight to preserve their hair. You must take the time to figure out exactly which solution is right for you. Talk to your doctor, or ask friends and family who have dealt with the same thing. Remember, there’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about! Of all the people in the world dealing with hair loss, a full 40% are women. That means you’re never alone in your battle against hair loss. No matter what’s causing your hair to be thin, just know that there are treatments out there. All you have to do is find the right one!