Hair loss (including thinning hair, bald patches, or excessive hair fall) is more common than you might think, but if you’re dealing with it, it probably feels like you’re the only one struggling.
Unfortunately, hair loss can cause self-esteem to take a major hit. If you’re noticing more and more hair in the drain when you take a shower, it’s important to know that you’re not alone.
The American Hair Loss Association reports that about 40% of women and 85% of men in the United States suffer from significant hair loss at some time during their lives, most often as they start aging.
That being said, a recent survey showed that Chinese people are losing their hair earlier than ever before. Of the 4,000 university students surveyed, 60% had noticed signs of hair loss or thinning hair.
Across Asia and worldwide, it’s no different.
The census fact sheet released by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) show that in 2015, more than 140,000 hair restoration procedures were done in Asia.
And estimated 397,048 surgical hair restoration procedures were performed worldwide in 2014 (a 28% increase from 2012).
Although the report is quite alarming, it’s worth noting that the procedures done were not confined to the scalp. The face and the chest were also some of the areas subjected to treatment.
Hair loss isn’t a death sentence for your full, thick head of hair, but you’ll have to move quickly if you want to save your hair without surgery.
The different signs of hair loss in men and women
According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), androgenetic alopecia or pattern hair loss is common to both Asian men and women.
For men, hair thinning begins at the temples and progresses to the top of the head. For women, hair loss usually begins at the crown or at the parting.
The report states that although both sexes may find hair loss to be alarming, the condition is more distressing for women.
Losing hair can be quite damaging to one’s confidence, but there are plenty of scientific explanations as to why this happens.
Why do some people lose more hair than others?
Thinning hair occurs when the hair shedding phase comes around more quickly than it’s supposed to. Normally, hair goes through the cycle of growth, resting and shedding. The growth phase, which lasts for two to seven years, is when new hairs grow from the follicles to replace the old ones. This phase determines how long your hair can grow.
During the resting phase, the hair remains stagnant for about three months. The follicle relaxes its grasp on the hair, preparing it for the final stage. While some of the hairs are in the resting phase, new ones are beginning to grow.
The shedding phase marks the last step into the hair growth cycle. In this phase, the resting hair detaches from the follicle and falls. And the cycle begins all over again.
However, some people reach the shedding stage more rapidly. They lose more hair than they grow new ones, so sparse spots become more prominent. Why does this happen?
Various factors come into play when it comes to hair loss. Sometimes, a combination of these factors could be the reason behind the hair fall. One theory as to why hair loss has become a major issue among Asians is the lifestyle shift. Western diets and poor lifestyle choices contribute to hair loss for both men and women. Poor nutrition, which results from the convenience of having processed foods, is one of the culprits why hair doesn’t last too long in the growing and resting phase.
Lack of protein, the main nutrient that makes hair grow, is one of the reasons why we have lackluster and brittle locks. Commonly found in meats, protein speeds up the growth process of hair, so the strands that you shed will be easily replaced by new ones. If you notice your hair falling more often than usual, it’s best to examine your diet to see if it has something to do with your receding hairline.
Stress is also a determining factor when it comes to hair loss. Traumatic events, difficulty at work, and psychological stress can inhibit your hair’s ability to grow back. In addition to this, genetics and hormonal changes can also trigger premature hair loss.
Knowing the reasons behind the hair loss condition may help you find cures that will restore your hair’s vitality.
Effective natural treatments known to protect against hair loss
Natural fruit and vegetable washing and conditioning treatments
Rinse hair with onion juice
Onion is rich in sulfur, which is one of the building blocks of hair. When applied on the scalp, it improves blood circulation to the hair follicles, making it sufficiently sustained with nutrients that have been blocked by DHT sensitivity. This leads to a more natural hair growth. Additionally, sulfur also stimulates production of collagen, a long-chain amino acid that strengthens the hair.
Onions as a hair loss treatment was studied in 2002. Onion juice was applied daily on the scalp for two months and the results were compared with those who only used tap water. Onion juice presented better results than tap water.
How to use it: Use a juice extractor or food processor to get the juice out of one medium onion. Mix the juice with 2 tablespoons of honey and apply the mixture into your scalp. Leave the mixture on for 30 minutes to 1 hour before shampooing.
Green tea rinse
We love green tea for its numerous health benefits. Rich in antioxidants, this humble beverage also does wonders for our hair. Green tea contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which promotes hair growth. It is also known for its ability to block DHT “Dihydrotestosterone”, one of the main causes of baldness.
How to use it: Steep 2 bags of organic green tea in hot water. Let the tea cool and use it as a rinse instead of water.
Apple cider vinegar hair rub
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is known for its numerous health benefits. Rich in potassium, ACV promotes hair growth and reduces split ends. It also helps restore the hair’s pH balance and eliminates product residue from the scalp.
How to use it: Mix 1 part warm water and apple cider vinegar. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and mix well. Apply the mixture into your hair and massage it gently into the scalp. Rinse with warm water—no need to shampoo.
Deep condition with virgin coconut oil
Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is a “superfood” and contains essential properties that support the healthy development of the skin, hair and teeth. As well as boasting numerous evidence-based health benefits, including lowering the risk of heart disease and boosting brain function in alzheimer's patients.
One of the best nutritional properties of virgin coconut oil for hair growth and protection is sebum – a natural oil produced by healthy skin, including on the scalp. Sebum coats and protects the scalp to prevent flaking, dryness and infections.
When sebum is removed or isn't produced by the skin, the scalp becomes unhealthy and hair loss can result. Replacing sebum with naturally occuring sebum in VCO is essential to restoring skin hydration and protection.
Another key property of virgin coconut oil is Lauric acid, a form of saturated fat found in coconut oil that strengthens the roots of the hair and prevents strands from breaking. It’s also been shown to kill harmful bacteria leading to infection making it a great protector against viruses attacking the scalp.
How to use it: Warm 1-2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil in a small bowl. Gently massage the oil into your scalp. Cover your hair with a shower cap for 30 minutes (or overnight for extra smoothness) and shampoo your hair. If your hair still feels oily, you can shampoo twice to remove the greasiness.
Beetroot hair mask and juice drink
Beetroots not only make the body strong; they also stop hair loss and promote hair growth. High in potassium and anti-inflammatory properties, beets helps combat scalp inflammation, which leads to hair loss.
How to use it: Drink a glass of fresh beetroot juice, or make a hair mask out of beetroot leaves. Grind the leaves until it forms a paste and apply it directly to the scalp. Rinse and shampoo the paste off after 20 minutes.
Fenugreek seed and coconut oil hair mask
Also called Methi, fenugreek seeds have long been used in India to add flavor to dishes and treat ailments. These seeds are also used to control hair fall, thanks to their lecithin and nicotinic acid contents.
How to use it: Grind 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds into a powder and mix with 1 cup of coconut oil. Massage it into the scalp and leave for 15 minutes before rinsing.
Aloe Vera hair mask
The aloe vera plant contains proteolytic enzymes that protect the scalp from diseases. It has a similar chemical makeup to keratin, the primary protein of the hair, which makes aloe vera an excellent remedy for hair loss.
How to use it: Get the gel of an aloe vera leaf and mix it with a little bit of coconut oil. Massage into the scalp and leave overnight. Rinse it off with warm water and shampoo as usual.
Egg white hair mask
Biotin deficiency can cause hair loss. Brittle and splitting hairs are signs that you need to take more of this B complex vitamin. Eggs are excellent sources of biotin, but eating plenty of eggs can pose a health risk. The alternative? Create a hair mask out of egg whites.
How to use it: Combine the white of one egg with a tablespoon of coconut oil. Use a fork to beat the ingredients until they form a paste-like consistency. Apply the mixture to your hair, concentrating on the scalp and leave on for 15 minutes before shampooing.
Switch to natural shampoos
Some shampoos and conditioners contain harmful ingredients, such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), Phthalates, mineral oils and alcohol that can irritate your scalp and make your hair lose vitality. The same goes for hair dyes and other chemical hair treatments.
You can reduce the amount of chemicals you put on your hair by choosing products made with ingredients found in nature. Active ingredients sourced from plants and herbs, such as noni enzyme and virgin coconut oil are safe, gentle, and will work to keep your hair and scalp healthy.
How to use it: Look for shampoos that are formulated to revive hair follicles and reverse hair loss. Made with natural ingredients, the high antioxidant content of our shampoo and conditioning treatment nourishes the scalp while encouraging cell repair that reverses hair loss.
Essential oil nourishing treatments
Rosemary essential oil
Rosemary oil is known for its ability to help prevent hair loss and premature baldness by stimulating the hair follicles. A good treatment for dandruff, rosemary oil helps to clear up scalp conditions that can slow down hair growth. It’s also perfect for dull or oily hair, as it helps normalize and balance the hair.
Lavender essential oil
A popular essential oil for aromatherapy, lavender oil also has surprising benefits for people suffering from hair loss. Some research indicates that lavender oil can help increase the number of hair follicles, as well as increasing the strength and depth of follicle roots, for more resilient hair.
A luxurious oil extracted from the camellia tea plant, it’s a carrier oil and not an essential one. Camellia oil contains omega-9 fatty acid, vitamins A, B, D, and E. Famed for being a beauty secret of geishas for lustrous hair and glowing skin. Not only can camellia oil help restore and strengthen damaged hair, it can stimulate the scalp to encourage hair growth while soothing scalp irritation that can hinder hair growth.
Native to South Asia, neem is widely used in the region to treat various health conditions. Neem oil, which is extracted from the fruits and seeds of the tree, contains high levels of antioxidants that protect the scalp from damage. The oil also contains fatty acids that condition hair and tame frizz.
Jojoba oil earned praises for its numerous skincare benefits. This liquid wax has antimicrobial properties that help balance sebum levels in the scalp. This is important as excess sebum is said to be one of the causes of hair fall.
Saw Palmetto oil
Saw Palmetto berries were a staple food of Native Americans. Primarily used in the treatment of the enlargement of the prostate gland, saw palmetto is also used as a remedy for hair loss. It blocks the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT, the molecule known to trigger hair loss.
Cooking with safflower oil does wonders to the health, but its benefits doesn’t end there. A good source of oleic acid, safflower oil improves blood circulation in the scalp. Moreover, it penetrates deep into the hair follicles, making hair shiny and strong.
How to use them: Essential oils can be found in most local and online health stores. The two best ways of getting the nourishing benefits of the oils are through scalp massage or by adding a few drops to your natural shampoo or conditioner.
Massaging the scalp increases blood flow to the surface of the skin, resulting in the hair follicles being activated and nutrients and oxygen reaching the hair, which encourages hair growth.
Combine with essential oils and/ or natural fruit and vegetable juice to nourish the scalp, enhance the strength of the roots, and help to reduce conditions that compromise hair growth like dandruff and dry skin.
How to use it: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to coconut oil and massage on to the scalp in circular motion concentrating on the areas where hair loss is most noticeable. Do this for at least ten minutes and then wash off the oil with a natural shampoo. You may need to wash your scalp twice until the oily feeling is fully removed. You can also use onion juice as an alternative to oil if you wish.
Increase the chance of hair loss reversal by making healthy lifestyle choices
In addition to trying the natural hair loss treatments above, it’s important to look at your lifestyle as a whole and identify any areas where improvements can be made to increase the likelihood of successful hair loss recovery.
Eat a balanced diet
Hair is made of mostly protein, which means it needs protein to grow. Choose lean proteins over ones that are high in fat to get the full benefits for your hair and also your body. Fish, eggs, chicken, and beans are amazing sources of good protein plus soy milk, low-fat cheese, yogurt, and liver.
Squash, seafood, nuts, whole grains, and dark leafy vegetables are rich in iron and zinc that carry blood to your organs. Blood circulation activates hair follicles and delivers nutrients and oxygen to your hair.
A balanced diet is essential to your hair and to your overall health. Avoid protein-deficient diets that will only speed up the balding process.
Drink plenty of water
If you are not hydrated enough, this prevents the hair shaft, which is composed of one quarter of water from flourishing. Stay well-hydrated and aim for 8 glasses of water per day. Drink more if you exercise or if it is hot. Limit your caffeine intake too as it removes water from your body.
Manage your stress
If you want to stop hair fall, first ask yourself if you are stressed.
Stress can be caused by many factors. It can be external, such as major changes in your life, work, and relationships. The causes can also be internal, such as chronic worrying or pessimism.
If you can’t handle your stress well, it can lead to certain side effects, including hair loss.
Try to identify stress points in your life and eliminate them as well as improving your overall wellbeing with regular exercise, through relaxation techniques like meditation and positive visualisation.
The good thing about stress-related hair loss is that it is manageable, and does not need to be permanent if the right steps are taken to reverse the signs.
Be kind to your hair
We take our hair for granted most of the time — until it starts falling out. That’s why it’s so important to be proactive, and prevent hair loss whenever possible.
Even if you haven’t started noticing significant signs of hair loss, be kind to your hair. Use natural products and try the natural treatments provided in this article before turning to chemical treatments and invasive surgical methods, which can cause more harm than good.
Read the next article: The Difference Between Medicated and Natural Hair Growth Treatments