I don’t have thick hair, and no matter what I do, I’ve never achieved the right hold or volume I desire. I also wonder as I age, what will happen to my strands as the damage sets in of years of product use and processing. Soundsfamiliar? I spoke with Thom Priano, Celebrity Hair Stylist and Hair Loss Expert Dr. Robert Leonard, Founder and Chief Surgeon of Leonard Hair Transplant Associates to get the real deal on hair loss, products, and how to make the best of what you’ve got! As August was Hair Loss Awareness Month, perhaps it’s time to think about not just making your locks look great now, but ensuring they will years from now.
FPD: What is normal hair loss (i.e. when you take a shower and shed your hair) versus the signs of a problem?
Dr. Leonard: Typically we lose between 50 and 100 hairs per day, but a consistent loss of 150 or more hairs is considered significant. People may also mistake damaged hair for hair loss. I ask my patients to run their fingers through their hair. If eight to ten hairs come out with the bulb attached, this may indicate excessive hair loss. It’s important to count the number of strands, NOT the mass of hair. If you have long or thick hair, even two strands can look significant when they’re wadded up.
FPD: Can repeated use of volumizing shampoos actually end up damaging fine, delicate hair by constantly expanding the hair shaft?
Dr. Leonard: A volumizing shampoo doesn’t typically do enough to the shaft to cause damage – it takes a lot to injure hair. Harsh chemicals can certainly damage the hair shaft and cause hair to break off, but it won’t turn off the growth cycle.
FPD: What styling tools and products should someone with fine/thinning hair always use?
Thom Priano: For my clients with hair loss, I suggest ROGAINE® to re-grow hair – Women’s ROGAINE® Topical Solution for women and Men’s ROGAINE® Unscented Foam for men. ROGAINE® is FDA-approved to re-grow hair, and I have been using it myself for two years and definitely notice the difference.
If you have thinning hair, there are many hair care and styling products that really help make hair appear thicker. Look for anything that adds volume to the hair (shampoo, conditioner, gel, mousse, cream, or spray), but know that while these products can help make hair appear thicker, they cannot actually regrow hair.
When choosing a brush or comb for thinning hair, look for a wide tooth comb or plastic brush with rounded tips (despite popular belief, plastic with rounded tips is more gentle than sharp bristles).
If you do blow dry hair, keep it on a medium to low setting. For the best result I recommend letting hair dry naturally so it lays closer to the scalp.
FPD: Can excessive use of styling tools and dying hair lead to thinning issues?
Dr. Leonard: For the majority of people, hair loss is caused by genetics – none of your lifestyle choices have an effect on this (styling, drinking, smoking, etc). The only exception is traction alopecia, specifically for African American women. Long-term braiding destroys the follicle and the hair will not grow. The only thing that will help this condition is transplantation.
Thom Priano: I do recommend taking care of the hair you have. Fine, thinning hair is already fragile and can be further damaged by over washing, over brushing or over combing. Gently wash hair with a gentle, volumizing shampoo and follow with a lightweight conditioner and avoid tangling. If you don’t use conditioner, the cuticles on your hair rub back and forth creating more damage, which could lead to more hair loss from breakage.
FPD: Can brushing hair more often help to stimulate the scalp, and hair growth?
Dr. Leonard: Unfortunately this is a myth. While brushing hair certainly feels good, it doesn’t stimulate blood flow in any physiological way that promotes hair growth.
FPD: Is there an ideal cut, i..e a blunt cut, for finer hair?
Thom Priano: For women, layered cuts can add volume to your hair — whether it’s curly, wavy or straight. Stick with minimal layers, rather than heavy ones that can look flat. You can also consider cutting deep bangs to help mask thinning hair on the top of the head. For men with straight hair, a cropped layered cut is a great option. For men with curly hair, try a medium layered cut (it’s always a good idea to talk to your stylist about the best cut for you).