Q: My hair is thinning over the top of my head, limp and dull. I’m in my late forties and wonder if there is anything I can do?
A: Menopausal hair loss is a common reason women visit trichologist Philip Kingsley in London (philipkingsley.co.uk). ‘Diminishing oestrogen levels gradually lead to a heavier shedding rate and/or a noticeable reduction in thickness. Also, androgens – the male hormones which women have too – increase as a percentage, weakening scalp hair and triggering more facial and body hair.’ The effect can be diffuse like yours, or at the temples and possibly hairline. There’s no miracle cure but you can improve the situation – but you need to allow several months for a real difference.
Eat protein: hair is protein so make sure you eat high-quality protein (meat, oily fish, poultry and eggs), especially at breakfast (when energy levels to hair follicles are at their lowest, says Philip Kingsley), and also lunch.
Make sure you consume enough iron: iron deficiency is very common, even when women stop menstruating (one third of women between 51 and 64 are below par). If you don’t eat red meat (or only very little), consider a supplement, such as Spatone, £7.55 for 28 sachets.
Perk up a sluggish digestion: it can lead to dull, limp, oily hair. Consume lots of fresh vegetables and still pure water. Nutritionist Kathryn Marsden recommends live natural yogurt, cold pressed olive oil, nuts and seeds. Reduce dairy foods, caffeine, sugar and salt.
Consider supplements: pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends Saw Palmetto – Prostasan, (£13.40 for 30 capsules, from Victoria Health), which helps counteract the androgenic activity, plus Silica 2500 Plus (£15.68 for 90 tablets), for healthy hair (also skin and nails).
Give your hair TLC: shampoo and condition your hair often, daily is best. Before shampooing, massage the scalp all over with your fingertips for a couple of minutes (with a little borage or wheat germ oil) to encourage blood and nutrient flow to the follicles.
Try special masks: once a week, apply a scalp mask and massage in for five minutes, then follow with a hair mask, suggests Kingsley (his Scalp Mask is £4.60 for 30ml, Elasticizer £14 for 75ml).
A topical drug may help: Minoxidil is licensed for male pattern baldness in women too. It works better in younger women but the effect is slight with only about 20 per cent of women aged 20-54 seeing moderate hair growth – and it’s expensive because you have to keep on using it or the new hair will fall out.
Pump up the volume: for quick fixes, there are lots of tips in Jo Fairley’s and my new book, The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible (beautybible.com).
Om the Money!
Orla Kiely has designed a gorgeous limited edition, full length, extra thick, sticky yoga mat to raise funds for the charity Action on Addiction (actiononaddiction.com). On sale until 18 December 2011, £35, from yogamatters.com
Three of the Best: Supplements to Boost Children’s Immune Systems
As winter chills approach, children are likely to get infections, especially at school. Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends these natural helpers.
Sambucol For Children, £8.84 for 120ml: based on elderberry extract, this was developed by leading virologist Dr Madeline Mumcuoglu specially to support young immune systems.
Bee Prepared Immune Support Chewables by Unbeelievable Health, £15.45 for 30 chewables: with bee propolis, black elderberry extract, olive leaf extract and beta glucans this can be taken daily. Good for sore throats and mouth ulcers too. For all ages over four years.
Winter Honey Bee by Potters Herbals, £9.25 for 50 grams: delicious honey from bees fed on specific trees and herbs known to strengthen the immune system. For children from two.