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Since I entered my 40s, I felt my hair was getting thinner, but didn't really think much about it until my husband mentioned it. Being a foot taller, he could see the issue – he said he could clearly see my scalp and my part was a lot wider when just a few months ago he never thought twice about my hair. I never took before and after photos because I wasn't doing any sort of experiment for the blog. In fact, I was embarrassed about my hair situation and in a few outfit posts when it did show, I cloned my hair to cover up the spots. I have tried a lot of products to fight hair loss; some have been great and some notsomuch. Below I share tips to fight hair loss, products and methods I used, and my honest thoughts.
I Tried Viviscal to Fight Hair Loss
I think many people when experiencing hair loss will think of two brands – Rogaine or Viviscal. About a decade ago we had a friend who was experiencing hair loss and used Rogaine. It had such a distinct smell… there are some smells that just bother me even though others don't notice it. I just can’t stomach using the product. Maybe Rogaine doesn’t even have the smell anymore, but I just can’t. So I bought a box of Viviscal Extra Strength (why even have regular, anyone with thinning hair wants the strongest and most effective product amirite?).
I used a whole box and I believe the product really worked. I took it morning and night and after about two weeks my part didn’t seem as wide and white. The problem was my hair was so greasy! I could shower in the morning and by 5 pm I looked as though I hadn’t washed my hair for days. I changed shampoos, changed products, I didn’t connect it to the Viviscal until I came across this piece on The Cut. I then cut my Viviscal in half and the grease went down.
I Tried a Variety of Supplements to Fight Hair Loss
That article on The Cut convinced me to try something different when I ran out of Viviscal. I bought this bottle of Keratin, this bottle of Folic Acid, and this bottle of Biotin. Each morning I took two of Nature’s Bounty Hair, Skin & Nails Gummies, and one of the Keratin pills. Every night I took one Folic Acid and one Biotin. I’ve done the Keratin, Folic Acid, and Biotin since around the beginning of February and added the Nature’s Bounty gummies near the end of that month. It has maintained the growth I gained from taking Viviscal and added some, along with resiliency. I was seeing hair fall out everywhere – I’d put in shampoo or conditioner and end up with a spider’s web of hair on each hand. I’d blow dry my hair over the sink and have to clean out a whole ball of hair in the basin. I’d come to work and my upholstered office chair would have a layer of my hair on it. Since adding these supplements to my day, the fallout has gone back to the same kind of fallout I experienced in my 20s and 30s.
Biotin Gave me Acne
However, after a couple of months, I started getting acne on my chin and jawline, those deep pimples that take forever to reach the surface and just as long to go away. Doing more research, I found that Biotin can cause acne. I stopped taking the Biotin and the acne ended almost immediately. If you are experiencing acne and are taking Biotin, try removing it from your diet and then bringing it back at half the dosage to see if your system can handle it.
I Tried Collagen To Strengthen My Hair
I kept hearing how collagen would make hair and nails grow long and strong. Friends said that collagen peptides did as much as prenatal vitamins and being pregnant for hair growth. I went with the most recommended collagen peptides supplement brand – Vital Proteins. They say that collagen is tasteless and odorless…. they are wrong. I tried collagen powder in my morning coffee and almost threw up from the smell and taste. I found it easiest to consume when putting in my morning smoothies or vanilla-flavored protein shakes where it disappeared and didn't seem to congeal as much as it did in warm drinks. I used Vital Proteins for two months straight… and saw absolutely no change to my hair loss. My nails were a bit stronger, but my goal was stopping hair loss and collagen peptides did nothing to slow down hair loss or bring back hair growth.
I Changed my Diet and It Helped My Hair
My husband read the book Foods that Fight Pain as he was dealing with some aches and pains from getting older and wanted to see what he could do about it without medication. Based on that book and additional research that my husband and I did, we decided to change our diet:
- We cut out red meat and cured meats
- We cut out most cow-based dairy (we still eat goat cheese)
- We cut out almost all alcohol (we'd still have the occasional white wine or vodka)
- I added Borage Oil pills to my morning vitamins and supplements
I stuck to a diet that was full of veggies and plant-based protein and felt great. I also noticed my hair looked better and I noticed less hair fallout in the shower. Not only that, I felt better – my knees hurt less, I got fewer headaches and no more migraines and my skin looked fantastic. But then I fell off the wagon. Travel, celebrations, I slipped and then I just went all-in back with burgers and beers and soon after that, I started seeing the clumps of hair in the shower.
I visited my doctor and got a full workup. He said I was fine, my levels are fine, it's likely premenopause and stress. He recommended I get more sleep, and eat a diet rich in iron and consume Vitamin C at the same time to help with iron absorption. Think seafood with lemon, spinach with tomatoes, beans with peppers. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are also great for hair: salmon, oatmeal, seeds, and nuts. I'm not back 100% on the diet, but each time I look at my hair in the mirror it reminds me how it's worth it to stay on track.
I Tried to Reduce Stress to Reduce Hair Loss
One side effect of stress is hair loss, so I looked for ways to reduce stress to help my hair. A few things I did:
- I downloaded Headspace and committed to a guided meditation every day. I sometimes do two a day, finding it can keep me calm when I do it first thing when I wake, and help me sleep if I do it before bedtime.
- I stopped using my iPhone and computer at least an hour before bedtime and restricted my news consumption to just 15 minutes a day.
- I strove for a 10 pm bedtime so I would get a minimum of six hours of sleep a night.
- I upped my water intake. This doesn't sound like something to beat stress, but dehydration can cause anxiety. I have noticed that the days that I drink at least 40 ounces of plain water I am more level-headed and have better focus. A perk is it really makes my skin glow! I also take Fish Oil which keeps my skin hydrated in the winter, and likely also helps with my hair.
I Was Gentler With My Existing Hair to Prevent Further Hair Loss
I now only blow dry two times a week, when I used to do it daily. I turned down the temp on my curling iron and use it more sparingly. I use a silk pillowcase to prevent breakage and to wake with hair that needs less work to look decent. I invested in a microfiber hair towel, which is gentler on hair. I do the occasional deep conditioning, though not as often as I should. No point in taking pills to grow hair if I’m doing things to break it off once it grows!
You may also like: Curly Hair Routine for Over 40 Thinning Hair
I Switched Up my Hair Styling
I realized that my hairstyle required a lot of round brushes and hot tools – things that can cause hair stress and breakage. I began embracing my natural texture, allowing wave and eventually finding out I have curly hair. In this post, I share how I embraced my natural curl, coaxed it out, and what products I used. This change made it so I never use a curling iron and use a hair dryer maybe once or twice a month. I also don't have to wash every day, don't use brushes, and with it, I have found not only is there less breakage, but the texture makes my hair appear fuller and hides my scalp.
You may also like: The Curly Hair Community Intimidated the Hell Out of Me
I hope these tips to fight hair loss, especially when you're over 40, are helpful to you. I am not over looking for solutions and will continue to try products and methods to fight hair loss and maintain the hair I currently have. If you have any methods or products that have worked for you, please share them in the comments to help others dealing with the same issue!
Hi I’ve loss hair on the top of my head. More like balding which was very bad in 2006. I’ve tried everything to grow my hair back. My hair was growing but falling as much. There was improvement with growth though. Until I started taking mojome collagen. Mojome is a brand & you don’t smell or taste it. I have it with boiled water on an empty stomach in the morning. It has stopped my hair falling. I’ve been on mojome for +_1 year before I saw results.
But it wasn’t growing at the pace I wanted it to. Remember my hair was literally bald. So together with the collagen I’m using vigro leave in condition. I also made a home made oil with castor oil, 20 drops of rosemary essential oil & olive oil or coconut oil. I also massage bergamot essential oil which is very good (this I’ve been using for a few years) but I found the 100% pure works so so much faster. Just rub it into the sculp once a week & leave it over night. Then I oil my head with my oil mixture leave in over night. I wash my hair once a week. I have before & after pictures to prove my progress. I’m seeing a huge improvement, my hair has stopped falling as it use to & my baldness is almost non existent.
I hope this will help some1 out there.
So many people are oblivious to the fact that fast hair growth scalp therapy shampoos (obviously with no sulfates, no parabens and no DEA) exist. Persons are now able to possess longer hair and have more options. Surely worth looking into it.
When you’re discussing hair loss, damaged hair, preventing hair disorders, fast hair growth, hair health at large, very similar ideas come to mind.
As a general rule, you will want to avoid hair treatments and products that use chemicals such as parabens, DEA and sulfates.
What is beneficial for your hair is good for your skin as well.
Clearly the content on this page is so useful for multiple reasons. It stays away from the common traps and traps too many fall into- purchasing ineffective alternatives. Greatly appreciated!
Wow, I am so thankful to have found this post. I am 42 years old and suffering from hair loss and thinning from the top. I am Hispanic so you can only imagine how much hair and how thick my hair was at one point. It’s 6:47AM in Arizona and can’t wait for the store to open up so I can go buy all these supplements. I don’t take any type of vitamins…I should be at my age right . Thank you!!
I’ve read a blog post about reversing grey hair and I suspect it can be done. It makes sense that if we can detox in other ways, detoxing the scalp could also be beneficial. My logic is- did my scalp suddenly run out of color for those few strands or did something occur to stop it from making the color it’s supposed to? I tried a clay scalp detox and it totally dried out my hair for weeks so I’ll skip that. My next attempt is a grey hair serum from skinactives that I plan to try.
I’m 47 and I had a lot of hair loss about 4 years ago. My doctor ran all kinds of tests and the only thing that came back abnormal was a low Vitamin D. I started taking Vitamin D 2000 IU daily as my doctor prescribed. My hairdresser, who I had been with for years, immediately recognized new hair growth. In the winter, since we aren’t out in the sun, we are really susceptible to a low Vitamin D. Hope this could help.
Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen says
Interesting! I am also taking D but didn’t factor it in to the hairloss post. Thank you!
So, let’s trade advice; aches and pains for thinning hair. In the last year I had a rapid advance of stiff joints and an almost constant ache in my hips, knees and toe joints. I thought” damn this getting older is a b*tch”. So I went to my primary who gave me the side eye and said” well your blood pressure is a little high and you could lose some weight “. Not as helpful as I wanted. So I went to the interwebs and sought out advice from some post menopausal gals. The cumulative advice I took away has helped me tremendously. I almost never wake up stiff, can take a long (2 miles or so) walk without killing my joints, I can squat again!
This is what I do: supplements :
Natrol hyaluronic acid w/msm & glucosamine 3 caps a day.
Calcium citrate 1000mgs a day (taken with a citrus juice or fruit
800IU vitamin d a day
Natrol “Mood positive” 5-htp one a day.
Sooo much water.
No artificial sweetners (I didn’t realize some of the things that contain aspartame ).
This took an amazing 3 weeks to kick in.
I am not a doctor, nurse, healer, shamen or spoon bender. Just a middle aged woman with too much to say. Hey what do I know?
How much biotin do you take daily? Have you noticed any unusual side effects? About the hair color; yeah them greys are super resistant. I did find out by mistake that while dark brown dye does jack for my greys, red hair dye seems to have a grip like death.
I turned 40 in September and my hair has been coming in like nuts since May. While my friends and family don’t see it, I’m very aware of thinning at the front and along my part. I’m without a GP (as are most people where I live, thanks Canada health care) and clinic doctors haven’t been terribly interested despite the mental/emotional impact it’s having. I’ve always had thick, wavy hair, and it’s legit my only vanity. Seeing it hang off my hands like seaweed in the shower is pretty distressing.
I”m cramming in the biotin too, and will definitely check out the other vitamins you’re recommended. I started using Nisim Biofactor shampoo, conditioner, and gel extract a few months ago. While it’s still a little early to see results, it does look like I have new growth at the front, though I’m still losing quite a bit in the shower. I’ve definitely noticed that hair colour isn’t taking, which is interesting.
Thank you SO much for your pieces on your hair loss. It makes it feel a little more normal to read your, and your readers’, experiences.
Gloria Dern says
I’ve been losing my hair since my 20’s. An undiagnosed inflammatory thyroid problem, and now menopause, turned my remaining hair to straw. I find a co-wash ( I use As I Am) helps keep it from getting greasy and keranique color spray to cover the thinning on top sometimes and I like it because it doesn’t dry out or irritate my scalp. It makes my style last a second day, absorbs oil and looks natural in any light, except overhead daylight. Most casual or outdoor days I use BareMinerals Pure Transformation Night Treatment on my scalp in Clear. It absorbs oil, gives me some lift, looks like I am using nothing and gives me sun protection.
I’ve given up on color. My scalp hated it, and my grey (white, actually) has grown in and it is mostly a big chunk just off center at the front of my hairline and temples, with a little diffuse white that hasn’t approached salt and pepper yet. I am in love with it. It’s dramatic.
I would LOVE an update on the face tightening muscle shock thing you tried!
Ellen Martha Overstall says
Love all your posts, Ally. Just wondering…have you had your thyroid levels checked? If low, hair falls out, energy is low; and, alluding to your January post, depression can set in.
When mama’s hair looks good everyone is happy! We never even noticed the loss in your darling photos but understand how when something is off it’s a relief to name it and fix it!-Laurel Bledsoe
Hi Allie: I, too, have dark hair with hard-to-cover greys. What’s worked for me is Developlus Satin’s CoverGrey developer, along with their Satin haircolor. (Amazon sells it.) Just a word of warning: I find the colors, at least in the neutral family, to run two shades darker than what it purports to be on the label.
I also read that book. It sure makes sense. I’m pretty good about eating well during the week. But on the weekend is when I go off the rail.
Catherine Harper says
Alison, thank you so much for this post. It’s such an important topic. I stopped coloring my hair a few years ago, and I’ve noticed over the past couple of years that my hair looks much thinner when I wear it longer. I also have thyroid issues, which can cause hair loss. I’ve been taking vitamins and fish oil, eating flax and chia seeds (in my oatmeal, too), and adding rosemary oil to my hair products. It can supposedly help with hair growth, so I figured I’d give it a try. I also use a drop with castor oil as an eyebrow serum. I think some hair loss is normal as we get older, but I definitely want to keep my hair as healthy as I can, too. I get a clear glaze and keratin conditioning treatments and that also helps with the shine and texture.
I’m a ways over 40 and about two years ago I started noticing thinning around my hairline. I tried a few different supplements and didn’t see much improvement. Three months ago I saw the Reserverage Keratin Booster and decided to switch. The change was pretty amazing! The reduction in hair fallout was quick and dramatic, and my hair has started growing faster. It’s not making new hair grow (and I didn’t expect it to), but I’m very happy with the results! My hair is straight with a slight wave and I usually wear it like that, but I’ve found that giving it a little soft curl makes it look very full and healthy. I don’t take the time to do it every day, but when I do, the effort is worth it.
They’re not gray hairs, they’re wisdom highlights. 🙂
Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen says