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Your Ultimate Guide to Thinning Hair, its Causes and How to Fix it

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Main image – Elizaalves/Stocksy

You could say women’s bodies go through a lot. Hormones playing havoc with pretty much everything, periods once a month followed by the menopause, and then there’s childbirth, if that’s your jam. So, what we could really do without, actually, is our beloved locks getting thinner. Because – well, all of the above really.

But guess what? If you’ve been noticing the quantity (and quality) of your hair reducing over the years, you are not alone. It is a common issue in women and whilst we wish it wasn’t happening, we are – clearly – all in it together. 

But as much as we’d all love to hold hands and sing Kumbyah around the fire together, it pays to be a little more proactive. So, let’s find out what causes hair thinning in women, how long it takes to grow back and also, how to treat it.

Thanks to advice from hair and skin experts Dr Bessam Farjo, Dr Leah Ansell, Katy Grimshaw and Dr Jodi LoGerfo this is your complete, shame-free guide to the whys and hows of thinning hair. Because, quite frankly, us girls could do with one less thing to worry about.


How common is thinning hair?

Very, according to Grimshaw. “Thinning hair is much more common than you might think,” she says. “Approximately 6.5 million men and 8 million women in the UK are currently affected by hair loss. 


Image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy


Can thinning hair grow back?

Good news. “Yes it can, unless there is no hair follicle present which can be damaged or lost due to things such as alopecia or other similar hair problems,” explains Grimshaw

But how long can this take? “It can take up to 8-12 weeks to start to notice a new hair follicle pushing through,” she says. 


The causes of thinning hair

But why does hair thin in the first place? We asked the experts and it seems there are two main causes; genetic ones, lifestyle reasons.  We cover these in further detail below.


Image – Audshule/Stocksy


The genetic causes

  • I.Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA)/Female or Male Pattern Hair loss

According to Dr LoGerfo, “Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is also known as male or female patterned hair loss (FPHL). [FPHL has become the preferred term to describe AGA in women].”

“It is the most common form of hair loss that affects approximately 50% of women over the course of their lifetime, but really can occur at any time in life after puberty,” she adds.

  • Alopecia Areata 

Another type of hair loss that could be genetic is alopecia areata (AA). Dr LoGerfo explains, “Alopecia Areata (AA) is a chronic, autoimmune disease that targets the hair follicles in the anagen (growth phase), causing a non-scarring loss of hair.” 

She adds, “The shedding is sudden, and the regrowth is hindered. Unlike some other types of alopecia though, the inflammatory process does not cause permanent destruction of the hair follicle.”


The lifestyle causes

Image – Veralair/Stocksy

  • Self-inflicted damage to hair from combing and tangling can cause hair breakage

Dr LogerFo explains, “Combing wet hair can extend already thin hair to its breaking point. If you use defrizzing or leave-in conditioning cosmetic products after shampooing that contain oils or conditioning agents, your hair can be combed more gently and can decrease tangling and the force at which it takes to comb hair.”

  • Chemical damage

Damage can occur to hair from chemicals (e.g., coloring, highlighting, perming or straightening), which can cause changes in the hair texture, causing hair to break and make the hair structure of hair weaker. Dr LoGerfo advises, “Lubricating the hair with an oil or conditioning agent can enable hair to better withstand assaults and everyday weathering.”

  • The sun/UV light can damage your hair and scalp

It is extremely important to protect your scalp and hair from sun damage-use sunscreen on your scalp and apply a UV protectant to hair when in the sun. 

“Leaving your scalp without UV protection increases your chance of getting skin cancer,” says Dr LoGerfo.

“Additionally, if you have enough sun damage/frequent sunburns to your scalp, it can begin to affect the structures underneath (including the hair follicle) and can cause hair thinning,” she explains.

  • Swimming in a chlorine pool can cause hair breakage. 

“It is important to wash your hair after swimming (in a chlorine pool) as chlorine is a frequent culprit that causes hair damage. Using a conditioner or oil on hair oil before swimming can shield the hair and curtail the damage caused by chlorine,” the expert explains. 

  • Tight hairstyles can damage hair and can injure the hair follicle underneath

“Avoiding tight hair styles (tight braids, ponytails, twists, and cornrows) as well as tight extensions or clip on hair pieces is imperative,” says Dr LoGerfo.  

“All of these can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia or cicatricial alopecia. Traction alopecia can occur after prolonged or repetitive tension on hair from a hair style or hair piece, extension or weave,” she adds. 

It usually occurs on the frontal scalp but can really occur anywhere. This type of hair loss is permanent. Extensions and hair pieces should be fastened at least ¼ inch from the scalp to ease the tension on the hair and prevent damage to the hair follicle.

  • Insufficient sleep or poor sleeping habits 

This has “been shown to have negative consequences on the body, which theoretically can change hormone levels and could contribute negatively to your health, which can have an impact on hair,” says Dr LoGerfo.                              

  • An unhealthy diet

“Poor diet is associated with hair loss and hair structure abnormalities.. Since hair follicles have a high cell turnover, if you are depriving your body of healthy nutrition or if you are deficient in proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, hair changes or loss can occur,” says Dr LoGerfo.  She explains that disorders that decrease levels of nutrients like zinc and biotin in particular can have a profound impact on hair.

  • Stress

“After episodes of acute or chronic stress, many individuals face an intensified amount of hair loss,” says Dr LoGerfo

“Telogen Effluvium (TE) is one of the most common hair loss disorders related to stress. This type of hair loss (which usually occurs in women) can occur as a result of being under some sort of stress,” she adds.

  • Dandruff/Seborrheic Dermatitis

Dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis) is a common skin issue causing scaling, flaking, redness and itching of the scalp. It is an extremely common condition thought to be caused by a common skin yeast called Malassezia. 

“The yeast is thought to thrive in high fat environments, so the oil from the scalp is a perfect place to enhance its growth,” Dr LoGerfo explains.

“This causes an inflammatory process, making the cells rapidly divide, which causes the scaling and white flakes. If dandruff or itching is severe, you may notice hair breakage or loss,” she adds.

“This is temporary and once the dandruff is treated, the hair usually regrows,” she explains.


How to treat thinning hair from home


Image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy

Scalp massage

Who doesn’t love a massage every now and again? Well, luckily giving yourself a scalp massage every day can stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles which is key for encouraging growth. 

Also, it’ll keep you zen. “It is a relaxing process and stress reduction could contribute positively to hair health,” adds Dr Ansell.


Essential oils 

Dr Ansell says swotting up on your oils could be beneficial to you if your hair is thinning. For example, “rosemary oil has been demonstrated to be as effective as low-strength topical minoxidil (2.5%),” she explains. “So it is a natural and evidence supported option for treating hair thinning.”



And speaking of Minoxidil, this can come topically or orally. “It is not fully understood how it slows the rate of hair loss or regrows hair, but it is thought to increase blood flow, and shorten the telogen phase of the hair cycle (resting), and push the follicle to the anagen phase (growth),” expains Dr Ansell.

“It is an evidence-based and effective option in both forms. I advise talking to your board-certified dermatologist about the pros and cons of both.”


Gentle hair care

“Avoid harsh hair treatments, excessive heat styling and tight hairstyles that can damage hair follicles,” warns Dr Farjo.

Whilst a shampoo can’t regrow hair, dn itchy, irritable scalp can encourage shedding. So using a targeted shampoo to stop things like dandruff can help.  “Some think ketoconazole shampoo can help thinning hair, and other shampoos may give the appearance of thickened roots,” says Dr Ansell


Change your diet

“A diet that is good for you generally is good for your hair,” he says. “Ensure your diet is rich in essential nutrients like protein, vitamins and minerals.”



“Studies have not shown that biotin alone can help thinning hair,” says Dr Ansell. “However, supplement like Nutrafol may help thicken and grow hair, based on their own internal studies.” 

These are particularly good if you are postpartum which is a common time of life to experience hair loss or thinning.



“Spironolactone is an anti-androgen medication that can aid in combating thinning hair by blocking the action of androgens on hair follicles,” explains Dr Farjo

“In conditions like female pattern hair loss, excess androgens can contribute to follicle miniaturisation and hair thinning. By inhibiting androgen receptors, Spironolactone can help to halt this process, thereby promoting healthier hair growth.” 

This is particularly good for women experiencing hormonal hair loss. “It offers a targeted approach to addressing the underlying cause of their thinning hair,” he says. “However, it’s crucial to consult a professional for a proper medical evaluation before starting any medication regimen.”



Dr Farjo also says that this helps to slow down hair loss. “Finasteride helps in addressing thinning hair by targeting the root cause of male pattern baldness,” he says.  

“It works by blocking the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone responsible for the shrinking hair follicles. By reducing DHT levels, Finasteride helps to slow down hair loss and, in many cases, can promote the regrowth of thicker hair too.” 



“Corticosteroids work by reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system’s abnormal response that leads to hair follicle damage in conditions like alopecia areata,” Dr Farjo explains. 

 “When injected directly into the affected areas or applied topically, corticosteroids can help halt hair loss and sometimes even promote hair regrowth. Their efficacy may vary depending on the individual and the severity of the condition.”


Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol

You’ve heard it all before but Dr Farjo says cutting down can impact your hair’s health.  “Both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact hair health and growth,” he explains.


Reduce stress levels

Sure, easy peasy – right? But if you’re consistently stressed, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what’s causing it and make some changes. “Chronic stress can contribute to hair loss, so practising stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga or deep breathing exercises may help support hair regrowth,” he says.


Seek medical evaluation

“If you’re experiencing significant hair loss, consult with a hair loss specialist to identify any underlying medical conditions contributing to your hair loss and to discuss appropriate treatment options,” Dr Farjo adds.


The in-clinic treatments that can help thinning hair

Image – Valbarstudio/Stocksy


We’ve heard how efficient laser treatment can be for skin conditions like pigmentation and acne, but what about hair thinning? “Yes, low-level laser therapy has shown promise in treating hair loss by stimulating hair follicles, increasing blood flow to the scalp, and promoting hair growth as a result,” says Dr Farjo

“These devices emit specific wavelengths of light that penetrate the scalp tissue, energising weakened follicles and potentially extending their growth phase. While the exact mechanism is still under study, clinical research suggests that they may be effective, especially when used as part of a comprehensive hair loss treatment plan.”


Hair treatments

“The three hair treatments we offer at the Spectrum One Hair Restoration Clinic are the perfect treatments to start treating hair loss,” says Grimshaw. “The appointments must be kept up consistently to see an improvement.” These include treatments like scalp PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma), microneedling, and hair and scalp boosters.


The takeaway

Don’t stress, say the experts. Which can be one of the most stressful things to try not to do. 

But whether you want to take the at-home route for thinning hair and concentrate on what you’re putting into your haircare regime, or you’d rather go down a more clinical route, you now know there are plenty of options available to treat it.

Remember, whatever you’re doing to treat thinning hair, it will get better but make sure you stay consistent and be patient – results won’t happen straight away.


Meet the experts

Dr Bessam Farjo is hair transplant surgeon at Farjo Hair Institute.


Dr Leah Ansell, MD, FAAD, is a leading board-certified dermatologist at Treiber Dermatology Associates in New York. Dr Ansell’s expertise includes medical, pediatric, and cosmetic dermatology.


Katy Grimshaw is founder of the Spectrum One Hair Restoration Clinic.


Dr Jodi LoGerfo is a skin and haircare expert, Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Family Nurse Practitioner certified in Family Medicine and Dermatology.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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