How to deal with hair loss caused by coronavirus stress
If you’ve noticed more hair accumulating in your hairbrush in recent months, you’re not alone.
In July, when Californian dermatologist Dr Sandra Lee, better known as Dr Pimple Popper, posted a TikTok video talking about clients with sudden hair loss, it clocked up a quarter of a million views in 24 hours.
Google Trends reports that the search terms ‘hair loss cure’ and ‘is hair loss a symptom of Covid?’ have gone up 170% and 120% respectively over the last few weeks, according to research performed by L’Oréal.
And, taking a more scientific turn, the University of Nottingham has announced a study into the stress Covid-19 is doing to our physical and mental wellbeing by using strands of our hair for analysis.
‘There are different types and different causes of hair loss,’ says Anabel Kingsley, consultant trichologist at hair health specialists Philip Kingsley.
‘One of the most common types in women is androgenetic alopecia, or hair thinning, which is slow, progressive and down to genetics, when follicles are predisposed to be sensitive to androgen male hormones.’
What Anabel’s seen since lockdown began was such a huge increase in stress-related hair loss enquiries that the clinic began offering Zoom consultations, as did leading hair loss expert Simone Thomas, whose own experience had prompted her to open Simone Thomas Wellness in Bournemouth.
‘Hair is non-essential to physical survival so it will always be the first part of you to suffer when something is off-kilter,’ says Anabel.
‘Stress can cause telogen effluvium (TE), a temporary, excessive, daily hair fall.
‘One reason for this is that stress impacts nutrient absorption and may negatively affect the way you eat if you skip meals or reach for comfort foods of little nutritional value.
‘This can result in increased hair shedding as nutritional deficiencies commonly cause hair loss.’
This kind of hair fall after a stressful event can take three to six months to start showing.
It happens when hairs are prematurely put into the shedding phase of their life cycle, a process triggered by the stress hormone cortisol.
Usually, we tend to lose around 100 hairs of the 90-150,000 on our heads every day.
‘With TE, you can expect to see closer to 400 hairs shed daily,’ says Nicola Smart, consultant trichologist at the Smart Hair Clinic in London’s Vauxhall.
‘This is a fairly significant increase that will occur diffusely across the scalp and in extreme cases, cause a temporary decline in density.
‘For women with African hair types who are more likely to use protective styling over longer periods, it may appear as clumps of hair loss rather than diffuse or gradual shedding.
‘But this is simply the 400 or so hairs that have accumulated over a certain period without being able to come loose.’
As TE is usually temporary, for the four to nine months it will take for our hair to recover from any lockdown loss, there are ways to help encourage it to regrow healthy and strong…
First, stock up on supplements that will help balance out any nutritional shortfall caused by stress or a poor diet.
A firm favourite, Philip Kingsley Tricho Complex (£45 for 45 days supply, philipkingsley.co.uk) is packed with rebuilding biotin and L-lysine to support healthy growth and restore locks.
Start taking care of your scalp using potions formulated with ingredients that support new hair too.
The Inkey List Caffeine Stimulating Scalp Treatment (£14.99, cultbeauty.co.uk) is a brilliant, budget-friendly overnight treatment to stimulate the scalp’s stem cells and encourage growth.
Grow Gorgeous Intense Hair Growth Serum (£45, growgorgeous.co.uk) stimulates the scalp with ingredients including caffeine, while also giving a noticeable thickness boost to lengths.
For an aromatic alternative, Alchemy Oils Amla Hair Remedy (£38, alchemyoils.co.uk) is rich in oils such as amla to strengthen follicles, coconut to protect from breakage, and shine-boosting lemon.
Pick the right shampoo and conditioner
Carefully selecting shampoo and conditioner will help gently take care of your hair without placing any stress on it.
Try Aveda Invati Advanced Exfoliating Shampoo (£25, aveda.co.uk) that helps prevent build-up of styling products or grime from blocking hair follicles as it detangles to prevent breakage.
The same brand’s Thickening Conditioner (£27) mimics hair’s fibre-building blocks to create the impression and feel of more fullness.
Know how to firefight
And if you’re suffering a sudden fallout, Kérastase Genesis Ampoules Cure Anti-Chute Fortifiantes (below, £49, kerastase.co.uk) is formulated to tackle an intensive shed.
One ampoule massaged daily on to the scalp for six weeks will help slow shedding and strengthen the link between the hair fibre and the root, aiming to return your crowning glory.
How to manage more gradual thinning hair
Strengthen the hair
If you want to lengthen hair, use a protein-based range as this helps with strengthening. Focus on the scalp as well as the ends.
Redken Extreme Length will promote hair growth from the scalp, while the ‘sealer’ focuses on the ends of the hair.
Strong hair also grows better. When hair is lacking nutrients, it is essential to put them back into the hair.
Make sure you use a product that strengthens the hair with a natural protein, as well as ensuring full colour protection.
Look after the scalp
Ensure that you are using a product that helps to activate or stimulate the scalp as the scalp needs to be clear of any dirt/debris.
Remember, when using products for thinning hair, your focus needs to be the scalp and not so much the hair.
A good treatment will assist in cleansing the scalp area while stimulating the blood flow, which in turn, will assist in producing healthy hair.
Blow-drying and volumising products are great for making hair feel and look thicker and fuller.
When creating volume, you need assistance and support.
This can come from a volumising product. It is designed to make the hair feel physically thicker and will assist in getting volume from the root area.
For Extreme Length products, see redken.co.uk
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