Why Your Hair Is Thinning

Certain factors—some controllable, others not—can decelerate the speed at which your hair grows and contribute to larger problems like thinning and hair loss. According to Las Vegas dermatologist Alison Tam, MD, “Many of the problems that cause a change in hair growth are considered ‘stressors’ to the follicle. Since hair follicles are not necessary for keeping the body alive, it goes into the resting phase (and then sheds) when exposed to the stressor.” If hair falls out earlier than it should, it may grow back thinner because the density has changed.

Thinning hair doesn’t just happen to men. Women can experience it too. “When hair thins, the follicles produce finer hairs over consecutive cycles,” says Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Clinic in New York. “The diameter of the hair fiber becomes thinner than those that were previously made and the growth cycle becomes shorter.”

When women notice thinning, it tends to occur more toward the crown of the head. “Women notice thinning and/or hair loss about 20 years later than men. Sometimes thinning starts in your 30s or 40s and sometimes it doesn’t occur until much later,” says Dr. Tam. When thinning becomes predominant, it’s because more hairs have shifted into the catagen and telogen phases. “The hairs shrink and become smaller and smaller until they are very fine and light in color,” says hair restoration specialist Dr. Craig L. Ziering

The condition of your hair can affect texture, making it look thin even if it physically isn’t. “If the hair is damaged and split, it can start to look thin. Fraying ends give the look of thinner hair and achieving good hair volume can become difficult, too,” says Britney Huinker, owner of the Argyle Salon & Spa in Los Angeles. 

For some, oil may cause thin patches. “When there is too much oil on the scalp, it can drown the follicle, causing growth to come to a halt and forcing the hair to die early,” says Karim Dossa, national educator for Rene Furterer. You can gauge how thin (or thick) your hair is at any given point based on the density of the hair at the root. There’s no preset standard as to what the norm is for thickness or thinness since it’s based on the individual.

Do you have any styling tips for thinning hair?

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9 comments | Post a comment
Claittymarie
Extensions! I know its not good....but its make me happy so far.... My hair gets breaks so easily.... I havent find any solution..and i whant to look pretty..thats the reason!
Posted June 29, 2013 9:37 PM EDT
1
Ramy
Why are so many comments endorsing hair extensions? Extensions make thinning hair so much worse. In fact, every woman I know who has had extensions is suffering not just hair breakage but lasting follicle damage.
Posted June 05, 2013 4:02 PM EDT
2
kris
Thinning hair is depressing. The hair extensions are worth the money and the happiness!
Posted June 03, 2013 6:43 PM EDT
3
Sue
How about eliminating horrible ingredients?!?!?! Stress and hormones are one thing, adding toxic chemicals to our scalps/hair is just plain stupid. WE are exacerbating this symptom.
Posted June 03, 2013 4:23 PM EDT
4
The Frugal Exerciser
For me, it's because I suffer from hypothyrodism but I'm fighting it with taking hair pills and being super gentle with my hair. I was using the laser comb but it broke. It really does work. A lot of women might start suffering from hair loss these days because of hair weaves.
Posted June 03, 2013 12:59 PM EDT
5
colleen
I have had extensions and they are wonderful if you get there right kind. The wrong kind can damage your hair so fast your head would spin.
Posted June 03, 2013 12:19 PM EDT
6
Lisa
First step is to get your thyroid checked! Low or high T levels can cause hair to fall out.
Posted June 03, 2013 11:43 AM EDT
7
Debbie
I am 57 and in the past couple of years have noticed a definite thinning of my hair. The hair is more fragile and breaks easily. I do have my hair professionally colored so will this make it worse? Other than styling tips for thinning hair to make it look better, is there anything to reverse this thinning or do I have to live with it as it continues to worsen?
Posted June 03, 2013 11:14 AM EDT
8
Andrea
Extensions can be a big help!
Posted May 28, 2013 3:56 PM EDT
9

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