Tag Archive for: Biotin

Thickening Shampoos: Ingredients That Work

Are you worried about thinning hair? If the answer is yes, then you’ve probably considered a hair-thickening shampoo or conditioner at one time or another. However, there are hundreds of different products to choose from. Finding the proper treatment means knowing which ingredients are the most successful at growing thicker strands. 

What is a Hair Thickening Shampoo? 

The simple act of shampooing already helps to thicken your hair. Removing grime and grease releases substances that weigh hair down, giving it a lighter, fluffier appearance. Hair thickening shampoos, however, have the added benefit of including ingredients that make hair thicker, nurture hair growth, and, in some cases, slow or stop hair loss. 

Getting past exaggerated claims and scientific-sounding words can be challenging when hunting for a hair-thickening product that works. While many products are filled with over-the-top promises they fail to deliver, others are exceptionally effective. Not all hair-thickening shampoos or conditioners are the same. But how do you know which one to buy? Check for the right ingredients. 

What Hair Thickening Ingredients Should a Shampoo Include? 

The most efficacious ingredients in hair-thickening shampoos work in one of two ways: 

  • Blocking dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
  • Encouraging hair growth

Both men and women produce the hormone DHT, the primary hormone responsible for hair loss. At normal levels, DHT doesn’t cause balding. Unfortunately, some people experience higher levels of DHT. High levels of DHT can shrink or injure hair follicles, preventing healthy hair growth. Blocking DHT helps to reduce hair loss and maintain follicle health.  (01)

Hair doesn’t contain living cells, but the scalp and follicles that manufacture and grow strands of hair do. Therefore, ingredients that help to keep the scalp healthy, increase blood flow, or feed nutrients to hair follicles can help thicken hair and accelerate hair growth. To grow healthy hair, you need a healthy scalp. 

Popular hair brands may have cache in the drugstore aisle, but they aren’t necessarily more effective when treating thinning hair. When it comes to thickening shampoos and conditioners, it’s what’s inside that counts. The following are the most potent hair-thickening ingredients to look for. 

Hair Thickening Shampoo and Conditioners: DHT Blockers 

About 50% of men and women experience some degree of a hair loss condition called androgenic alopecia, which stems from excess levels of DHT. Therefore, ingredients that block DHT keep DHT from harming hair follicles and keep more strands from falling out. (02)

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto extract is derived from a fruit grown in the Southeastern United States. This extract is an effective DHT blocker in many studies. For example, one two-year study of a group of 100 males with mild-to-moderate androgenetic alopecia was published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology. The study found that 38% of participants who used saw palmetto saw an improvement in their hair loss. (03)

For men, the prostate is very sensitive to DHT levels. One study saw a significant reduction in DHT levels in the prostate of men who were administered saw palmetto, compared to men who were given a placebo. Although more studies are necessary, saw palmetto is proving to have strong DHT-blocking effects and could help with DHT-induced hair loss. (04)

Hair Thickening Shampoo and Conditioners: Growth Enhancers

An effective hair thickening shampoo or conditioner contains ingredients that create the right environment for optimal hair growth. Substances that nourish and strengthen the scalp and strands are essential for a thicker head of hair. 

Ketarin

Hair is mostly made up of keratin, a protein that’s also found in nails and skin. Keratin is an exceptionally strong material, which makes it an ideal protective protein. Tissues made up of keratin, like your fingernails and hair, are tougher and less prone to damage.  As a result, shampoos and conditioners that contain keratin work well as hair thickeners and strengtheners. 

Thinning or damaged hair experience a loss of structural integrity, where keratin cells have gaps in between or overlap unevenly.  When applied on these hair strands, keratin products fill in spaces in between those cells. The keratin acts like a filler or glue for the hair, which makes the keratin-infused strands smoother and stronger as a result. (05)

Biotin

Biotin, also referred to as vitamin B7 or vitamin H, promotes keratin production. Because hair is mostly made of keratin, biotin ensures healthy hair. A deficiency in biotin can lead to weak, brittle strands of hair and slow hair growth. Although rare, biotin deficiency can occur in people with medical conditions or who use alcohol frequently. Supplementation of biotin, whether orally or through topicals and shampoos, may foster hair thickness. (05)

Argan Oil 

Popularly known as “liquid gold” from the area it comes from (Morocco), argan oil has been used for centuries to counteract hair loss. This oil is made from the fruit kernels of the Moroccan argan tree. Argan oil has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an ideal ingredient for scalp treatments. 

Hair loss resulting from conditions like psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, which may inflame the scalp, may benefit from shampoos and conditioners containing argan oil as an ingredient. 

Perhaps more importantly, however, argan oil also contains linoleic acids that moisturize the scalp and hair. By strengthening and moisturizing the scalp, hair follicles, and strands, argan oil can assist in thickening hair. (06)

Choosing a Multi-Pronged Approach to Thicken Hair

Most people who have hair thinning or balding know that the causes typically stem from more than one source. While genetics may be one risk factor, other elements like scalp health, nutrition, and external influences also play apart. The American Academy of Dermatology Association lists the following possible risk factors that may lead to thinning hair: (07)

  • Increased age
  • Inherited genes
  • Immune system disorders (such as alopecia areata)
  • Medical treatments
  • Overall health
  • Hair care
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Scalp health and infections

There’s no one magic bullet for hair loss, because the causes may stem from many different areas. Because of this fact, combating hair loss should be a multi-faceted approach. For example, eating a nutritious diet, practicing appropriate hair care, and using a medicated treatment to combat hair loss will yield better results than relying on a one-track approach. 

Do Thickening Shampoos Work? 

So, do thickening shampoos actually help with hair loss? Yes! Although finding the right ingredients and utilizing thickening shampoos alongside other approaches is vital for success. 

If you’re experiencing balding or thinning hair, let Happy Head help you manage your hair loss. Our experienced board-certified dermatologists will work with you to find the right prescription topical to regrow your hair. You can also try a multi-faceted approach with our Happy Head hair thickening shampoo and conditioner. Filled with high-quality hair-healthy ingredients like saw palmetto and biotin, our hair thickeners will give your strands volume and depth, as well as strengthen the health of our scalp. Subscribe and save on your purchase! 

Resources: 

(01) https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/hair-loss/symptoms-of-high-dht

(02) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/

(03) https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/039463201202500435

(04) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11337315/

(05) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/

(06) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/

(07) https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/causes/18-causes

 

Choosing the Best Shampoo for Thinning Hair

If you have thinning hair, you probably shampoo your hair as gently as you can to keep as much hair on your head as possible. But are you using the right shampoo for your hair? There are a broad range of shampoo and conditioner options to help prevent further hair loss. However, the ingredients and results may differ for each. Understanding product contents and how they work can help you figure out which hair loss shampoos are best for you. 

How do shampoos for thinning hair prevent hair loss? 

Hair loss shampoos are also known as “hair thickening” shampoos. These products aren’t an overnight solution to thinning hair, but they can make a difference in two ways: 

  • Fortifying, thickening, and strengthening individual hair strands to give the illusion of thicker hair. Many hair loss shampoos work with the hair that you do have by making each strand fuller and thicker. Some ingredients in these hair thickening shampoos penetrate into the hair shaft and fill in any spaces, causing the strand to swell and bulk up. These thicker strands then create the appearance of more hair. 
  • Encouraging the growth of new hair. Over-the-counter shampoos for thinning hair aren’t typically medicated, but they do contain ingredients that promote hair growth. For example, some may include vitamins and minerals that are known to make scalp healthier and boost hair growth. 

Shampoos for thinning hair contain ingredients that are categorized as thickeners, but they may also contain ingredients called opacifiers. (01)  These ingredients are added to improve the appearance of the existing hair, like pearlescent flakes to make hair appear thicker and healthier. Before taking a deep dive into the ingredients of hair loss shampoos, it’s important to remember that most of the results from thickening shampoos are temporary. That said, they’re still an excellent choice for someone concerned about hair loss. 

Most Common Ingredients In Hair Loss Shampoos

What sets hair loss shampoos apart from average run-of-the-mill shampoos are their ingredients. (01) Average shampoos often contain elements that are too harsh for thinning hair, raising the potential of further hair loss. Hair loss shampoos are much more forgiving, cleaning the hair without disrupting the hair’s full life cycle. 

The following are the most common ingredients found in hair loss shampoos. 

Biotin

Look at any hair strengthening shampoo on the market, and you’ll likely find biotin on the ingredient list. Why? Because biotin deficiencies result in weak and brittle hair and nails. (02) Biotin, also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H, is a water-soluble vitamin that’s crucial for keratin production. Keratin and collagen are the primary structural components of each strand of hair, essential for hair growth. Many foods contain biotin, and this nutrient works best when consumed. Biotin is also available through supplements as a nutraceutical. However, hair loss shampoos and conditioners also contain biotin to help strengthen hair from the outside. 

Essential Amino Acids

Shampoos for thinning hair often include essential amino acids on their ingredient list. Like biotin, amino acids are vital for the production of keratin and collagen. Keratin and collagen require the following amino acids: (03)

  • Lysine
  • Arginine
  • Methionine
  • Cysteine
  • Proline
  • Glycine

To generate enough keratin and collagen needed for sufficient hair growth, the body needs a steady supply of amino acids. In particular, lysine and methionine are the most essential amino acids for hair. Hair thickening shampoos that contain these amino acids can help combat hair loss and encourage growth. 

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto, also known as serenoa serrulata, serenoa repens, or sabal serrulata) comes from palmetto berries (also called serenoa repens, serenoa serrulata or sabal serrulata). Studies show this berry extract acts as an anti-inflammatory for the scalp and skin. Furthermore, saw palmetto extract decreases sebum production and increases hair density in cases of androgenetic alopecia and polycystic ovary syndrome. (04, 05)

Niacin

Niacin (Vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid)  is a common ingredient in hair growth shampoos because it increases blood circulation, especially through the scalp. Improved blood flow feeds nutrients to hair follicles and encourages hair growth. Niacin also repairs DNA and boosts keratin production, helping to keep hair strong. (03)

Caffeine

Caffeine not only boosts the energy in your body, but it can protect hair follicles from dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is converted from testosterone and – when linked to receptors in hair follicles – results in hair loss. By preventing DHT from negatively impacting hair follicles, caffeine encourages hair growth and retention in both female pattern hair loss and male pattern hair loss. Additionally, caffeine may stimulate already weakened hair follicles, potentially repairing damaged roots. (06)

Zinc

Known for its immune boosting properties, zinc is also a hair-strengthening mineral. Zinc balances sebum production and boosts scalp health. Many dandruff shampoos contain zinc because of its dandruff-busting capabilities. Shampoos for thinning hair, however, also include zinc for its ability to strengthen hair and keep hair follicles free from obstructions like oil and dandruff. (03)

Green Tea

Green tea is a popular drink, but it’s also a common ingredient in hair growth shampoos. Green tea inhibits the production of a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor. The enzyme 5-alpha-reductase is responsible for the conversion of into DHT.  5-alpha-reductase inhibitors prevent the production of DHT, reducing hair loss. An additional benefit of green tea is its high antioxidant consent. Antioxidants combat environmental cell damage from free radicals, keeping your scalp and hair healthy. Green tea may also improve scalp health, balance sebum production, and treats dandruff. (07)

What to keep in mind when choosing shampoos for thinning hair? 

Choosing the right hair loss shampoo can be overwhelming, but following three simple rules can help you choose the one for you. 

Stick With Companies that Specialize in Hair Loss

When finding shampoos for thinning hair, stick to hair products from businesses that specialize specifically in hair loss. While cosmetic companies may know all about healthy hair, they may be unfamiliar with hair loss or balding. Whenever possible, take the time to find products sold or endorsed by reputable hair-loss companies. Although you may have to wait for shipping or make a special trip to another store, using shampoos from reputable companies that specialize in hair loss can make all the difference in how your thinning hair progresses. These companies understand hair loss and all its nuances, therefore their products are more likely to suit your needs. 

Pay Attention to the Ingredient List

Just like the way you check ingredient lists on food, you should check the ingredient lists on products you place on your body. When looking at the ingredient list, keep an eye out for items listed above. Furthermore, if you’re thinking about buying more than one product, keep using the same company product line. For example, a manufacturer of a hair loss shampoo may also have hair loss conditioner and hair loss hair spray from the same product line. 

Choose For Your Hair Type

Thickening shampoos may target various hair types. For example, one shampoo may be ideal for fine hair while another may be best for dry hair. Because these shampoos are formulated to work with a specific type of hair, you may need to find the one that matches with your hair type. The results can vary wildly depending on the different formulations, so finding the right shampoo for your hair type is essential. 

Don’t Wash Your Hair Away

Keeping your hair healthy means keeping it clean, but you don’t need to wash your hair away in the process. Finding an excellent quality shampoo for thinning hair may take some research, but it’s worth it to keep as much hair on your head as you can. Matching the right shampoo to your hair’s needs can help you resolve trouble spots and help reduce further hair loss. 

If you’re thinking you may need more than shampoo for thinning hair, contact our specialists at Happy Head. Our physicians tailor each hair treatment for every client, ensuring safe treatment aimed at your unique situation. Happy Head is so confident you’ll be satisfied with our services, we offer a six-month money-back guarantee. Contact us today for your personalized hair loss treatment! 

 

Resources:

(01) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458934/

(02) https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/hair-loss/does-biotin-really-prevent-hair-loss

(03) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/

(04) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2840915/

(05) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2840915/#CIT2

(06) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32599587/

(07) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6930595/

The Real Story Behind Vitamins that Prevent Hair Loss

I hate to start with a spoiler, but I’m going to start with a spoiler.  Neither vitamins nor supplements are FDA-approved or regulated for any type of hair loss.  Or, for any other health condition for that matter.  This means that information required to establish safety and effectiveness has not been submitted to or approved by the FDA.  Yet, do an Amazon search using the terms “vitamins for hair loss,” and pages and pages of products appear with assurances that the vitamins will help you regrow your hair.  Biotin, keratin, saw palmetto, and proprietary collagen blends are just a few that pop up on the first page, with prices varying from $11 to over $176.  Trying to figure out which ones are effective and worth the investment can make your head spin.   

If your hair is thinning or balding, it’s smart to question whether vitamins will help or if manufacturer promises are too good to be true.  So which ones do dermatologists and hair specialists recommend?  We’re here to answer your questions and set the story straight.  

Get Diagnosed Before You Buy Vitamins to Treat Your Hair Loss

Before you even think about trying any vitamins, you need to start with a diagnosis.  After all, you need to know what condition you’re treating.  Here are the three most common types of alopecia that cause either temporary or permanent hair loss:

  • Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a type of temporary hair loss that can occur up to several months after a traumatic or stressful incident.  The condition can be triggered by various events, including high fevers, surgery, certain medications, nutritional deficiencies, and autoimmune diseases.  When physiologic stress occurs, hairs that would normally be in a growing phase are abruptly pushed into a resting phase, resulting in shedding.  The shedding can occur in either small or large amounts.  While hair loss from telogen effluvium can be upsetting in the short term, the long-term prognosis for regrowth is good.  No medication is typically needed.  Hair usually grows back within six months to a year.  

  • Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia is also known as male or female pattern baldness.  The hair loss condition occurs when too much testosterone converts to an androgen called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  The condition is genetic and can come from either the maternal or paternal sides of your family.  The hair loss pattern among men with androgenetic alopecia differs from that of women.  Men tend to lose their hair on the front and top of their heads.  Women usually notice their hair loss first along their widening center parts.  Oral and topical medications have been proven to help prevent further hair loss and facilitate growth.  

  • Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune hair loss condition that can affect women, men, and children.  Hair loss is usually noticed first in small round or oval patches.  In some cases, hair spontaneously regrows, and in others, the hair loss becomes permanent.  Treatment usually focuses on treating any underlying conditions and using topical and oral medications.

Determining whether you have one of these forms of alopecia is a multi-step process.  Your dermatologist will likely order blood work as part of the diagnostic process.  The lab results will indicate whether vitamin deficiencies could be contributing to your alopecia.  If so, you may benefit from supplementation.  

Vitamins are Helpful When People with Alopecia Have Deficiencies

Much conflicting information exists about the role that vitamins and supplements play when it comes to hair loss.  More research is clearly needed.  The general rule of thumb when it comes to vitamins is to supplement if there’s a deficiency.  Particular deficiencies can be associated with the three types of alopecia we discussed.  Here are the three most common:

Vitamin D

Research has demonstrated that people with telogen effluvium, androgenetic alopecia, and alopecia areata are likely to have vitamin D deficiencies. (01)  The greater the deficiency, the greater the hair loss.  Vitamin D is absorbed into the skin by keratinocyte cells.  The cells process keratin which is found in your hair, nails, and skin.  When your body has a vitamin D deficiency, the keratinocytes in your hair follicles have difficulty regulating the growth and resting phases of the hair cycle.  

Iron

In addition to checking for Vitamin D3 deficiencies, dermatologoists typically check their patients’ iron levels. Iron deficiency inhibits hemoglobin production which produces the oxygen responsible for hair cell growth and repair.  Low iron is a common cause of alopecia and can easily be remedied with a supplement.  

Biotin

People don’t typically have Biotin, Vitamin B7, deficiencies in industrialized countries.  A regular diet typically provides enough nutrients to ensure adequate levels.  However, some research studies have demonstrated that biotin deficiencies often exist in people with hair loss. (02)(03)  Experts have conflicting views on whether biotin supplements are necessary, even when there’s a deficiency.  It’s best to consult with your dermatologist on this one.  

Should You Take Vitamins if You Don’t Have a Deficiency?

Even if you don’t have a deficiency, it’s tempting to take vitamins to see if they will help regrow or thicken your hair.  More isn’t always better though, especially in this case.  Taking too many supplements or the wrong type of supplements can create issues.  For example, extra vitamin A or vitamin E can cause hair loss, which is what you are trying to prevent in the first place.  

Prescription Medications Are Often Used With Vitamins to Get Better Results

If your dermatologist doesn’t think that you are a good candidate for vitamin supplementation, prescription medications may be a good alternative.  This is especially true if you have been diagnosed with male or female pattern baldness.  Medications commonly prescribed include:

Minoxidil (FDA Approved)

A vasodilator designed to enlarge the hair follicles so you can start to regrow your hair.  

Finasteride, Proscar, Propecia (FDA Approved)

A medication that blocks the conversion of testosterone into DHT that attacks your hair follicles.

Dutasteride, Avodart (Not FDA Approved)

A DHT blocker prescribed as a second-line medication if Finasteride does not give the desired results.

Spironolactone (Not FDA Approved)

A DHT blocker prescribed only to women as a second-line medication if Finasteride does not give the desired results.

Minoxidil and Finasteride are both available in oral and topical formulas.  Topicals are often preferred, especially among men, because they do not cause sexual side effects such as lower libido.  Topical medications have been proven to be just as effective as oral medications.

The most effective hair loss plans often combine vitamins and other over-the-counter treatments with prescription medications. Vitamin D, Minoxidil, and Finasteride would be a logical combination if a person with androgenetic alopecia has a vitamin D deficiency.  Prescriptions that effectively combine multiple topical medications into one are available and are convenient and easy to use.  

Some Supplements Have Shown Moderate Improvement in Hair Loss

Although they are supplements rather than vitamins, there has been a lot in the news lately about pumpkin seed oil, saw palmetto, and rosemary oil.  While not quite as effective as Finasteride, these supplements have demonstrated a significant increase in hair growth. (04)  These supplements may be a good adjunct therapy when combined with prescription hair loss medication.

Curcumin, the active ingredient derived from turmeric, is known as a natural anti-inflammatory.  Interestingly, curcumin did not improve hair growth on its own, but it did give positive results when combined with Minoxidil.  The hypothesis is that the curcumin helped the Minoxidil better penetrate the scalp.  However, more research still needs to be conducted.  

Garlic gel, derived from onions, scallions, shallots, leeks, and chives, doesn’t live up to the hype.  Users did not see a significant difference in hair growth.  

As with any product you try as a hair loss solution, make sure to consult with your dermatologist first.  Even products that seem innocuous can have side effects or contradict other medications.  Your dermatologist is the best person to evaluate your treatment plan and determine the best mix of prescription and over-the-counter options.  

What To Do If Vitamins Aren’t the Answer to Your Hair Loss

Vitamins can be helpful if your bloodwork indicates that you have certain deficiencies.  If not, proceed with caution.  Even the most effective supplements aren’t typically as strong as prescription medications to slow hair loss and stimulate growth.  If you need an alternative solution for your thinning or balding hair, Finasteride, Minoxidil, and other medications are effective and are available by prescription.  For more information about your options, contact us.  Our board-certified dermatologists and hair specialists are available to answer your questions and make recommendations based on the type of alopecia you have.  We can even customize a formula to meet your specific needs.

Resources:

(01) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34553483/

(02) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4989391/#:~:text=Biotin%20deficiency%20was%20found%20in,risk%20factors%20for%20biotin%20deficiency.

(03) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388561/

(04) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388561/

(05) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388561/

 

Diet and Hair Loss: Is There a Relationship?

 

When you’re losing your hair, you’ll try just about anything to make it stop.  Shampoos, conditioners, essential oils, vitamins… they’re all fair game.  The easier and less invasive, the better.  So, it’s only natural that diet is a hot topic.  Diet is a manageable lifestyle change that could make a difference.  

But, if you’re like most people, you probably have more questions than answers when it comes to how diet and nutrition affect your hair.  According to a 2017 study conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), there’s a lot of conflicting information, causing confusion about what to eat.  Determining whether specific foods will help or hurt your hair loss condition is even more challenging.  We hear it all the time from patients.  “Can alopecia be reversed by changing my diet?”  “Which diet will best reduce the inflammation on my scalp?”  “Do I have to go gluten, dairy, and sugar-free?”  

Before you resort to radical measures, keep reading.  We’ll help you separate truth from fiction and share firsthand information from our own Dr. Ben Behnam, board-certified dermatologist and co-owner of Happy Head hair loss solutions.  

Can Improving Your Diet Prevent Further Hair Loss and Stimulate Growth?

Does what you eat affect your hair?  That’s the question that most people want to be answered.  After all, why bother changing your diet if it won’t make a difference?  The answer is yes; nutrition may indeed affect your hair.  One study found that nutritional deficiencies can cause telogen effluvium, androgenetic alopecia, or alopecia areata. It also found that over-supplementation can lead to hair loss as well.  

The Wrong Diet Really Can Cause Scalp Inflammation

Nutritional deficiencies aren’t the only problem.  Scalp inflammation caused by an unhealthy diet is another issue.  A high fat, high-cholesterol diet has been found to stimulate the inflammatory process on the scalp.  A study conducted in 2018 found that mice who were fed a traditional western diet experienced skin discoloration, inflammation, and hair loss.  The mice’s hair turned black, gray, then white before falling out.  The diet, which induced inflammation, mimicked the aging process in humans and aged the mice’s hair by 36 weeks.  The hypothesis is that when what you eat generates an inflammatory response, it causes your hair to age prematurely.  

Which Diet Should You Choose to Prevent Hair Loss?

Now that we’ve established that the wrong diet is a recipe for disaster when it comes to your hair, which diet should you consider?  Keto, Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), Mediterranean… the list of possibilities seems endless.   The truth is that further research is needed on the use of diet in alopecia treatment.  One study indicates that the Mediterranean diet, which contains foods with anti-inflammatory properties, may stimulate hair growth and health among people with androgenetic alopecia.  Figuring out the differences between each diet gets tricky, though. In many cases, overlap exists in the philosophies behind the diets.  

A Protein-rich Diet Helps Build Keratin

Regardless of which diet you choose, it’s important to select a protein-rich diet filled with fresh, unprocessed foods.  Hair is primarily composed of keratin, a mixture of filament-forming proteins.  To make keratin, your body needs protein.  All protein is not created equal, though, according to Dr. Behnam.  “Select pasture-raised chickens, raised on a farm and not in a cage,” says Behnam.  “When chickens are trapped in a cage, their testosterone levels increase from the stress of being in the cage.  When you eat caged chicken, you get extra testosterone that can potentially convert to DHT leading to more hair loss.”

Vegetarians Often Lack Enough Protein in Their Diets

Dr. Behnam finds that his patients who are vegetarians tend to lack the protein and vitamins necessary for adequate hair growth.  We’ll talk a little more about vitamins later, so let’s focus on protein for now.  Some excellent sources of plant protein can compensate for animal protein.  Those sources include nuts and nut butter, lentils, beans, peas, leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and brussel sprouts.  

Dr. Behnam is a big advocate of protein powder, not only for vegetarians, but for all of his patients.  It’s important to use the right type, though.  According to Behnam, “Two types of protein powder are on the market.  One is whey protein isolate. Whey protein isolate powder is easily found in retail stores in muscle milk, and other types of sports shakes.  It’s less expensive.  The only problem is that whey protein isolate increases the concentration of amino acids such as valine and isoleucine, which lead to higher testosterone production.  That extra testosterone has the potential to convert to DHT and cause hair loss.  The solution is to use whey protein concentrate.  Whey protein concentrate is harder to find, but it will boost your protein without increasing your testosterone or DHT levels.”  

Do You Have to Give Up Caffeine?

If you can’t seem to get moving in the morning without a cup of coffee, don’t despair.  “Caffeine doesn’t affect testosterone levels,” says Dr. Behnam.  “You can enjoy it without worrying.  I recommend that you stay away from energy drinks, soy milk, and anything high in MSG, though.”  

Nutritional Supplements

Vitamins and supplements aren’t a big deal to most people.  You don’t need a prescription to get them, so they’re safe, right?  Not so fast.  Vitamins and supplements aren’t always as innocuous as they seem.  There are a couple of things you need to know:

  1. The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements
  2. Over-supplementation of selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and other vitamins have been associated with hair loss

That said, Dr. Behnam usually tests his patients’ Vitamin D and iron levels because deficiencies are prevalent and are well-documented reasons for hair loss.  Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the hair growth cycle.   While the exact reason why iron deficiency causes hair loss is unknown, reversal of iron deficiency in mice led to a reversal of hair  loss.  

Here’s the inside scoop on other essential vitamins:

Biotin

There has been a lot of hype about biotin supplements, shampoos, conditioners, and more.  Truth be told, biotin deficiency is rare.  Clinical trials have not shown biotin to be effective in stimulating hair growth without a true deficiency.  

Zinc

Zinc deficiency can be either acquired or inherited.  It is common among vegetarians since vegetables contain less zinc than meat.   Zinc deficiency causes telogen effluvium and brittle hair.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is the main ingredient in retinoids and retinoic acid.  It has been proven to work in conjunction with Minoxidil and Finasteride to increase absorption of the medications.  Vitamin A deficiency does not cause hair loss, although a connection between over-supplementation and hair loss has been found.  

Vitamin E

It’s not common for people to have vitamin E deficiencies.  More research needs to be conducted, but in one small study with 21 participants, people who received vitamin E supplements had an increase in hair count compared to people in the placebo group.  Too much vitamin E is too much of a good thing.  It can increase the risk of bleeding and decrease thyroid hormone production, resulting in hair loss.   

Balancing Your Diet Is A Process

Learning how to eat for healthy hair takes time.  Sometimes you don’t know if changing your eating habits or adding a particular vitamin will help until you try it.  If you’ve already been diagnosed with male or female pattern hair loss or some other type of alopecia, supplementing your diet with topical medications such as Minoxidil, Finasteride, Spironolactone, or Duasteride may be a good option for you.  Topical medications have been found to be as effective as oral medications without the bothersome side effects.  Even better, like your diet, our formulas can be customized to meet your specific needs.  For more information, contact us to determine whether you are a good candidate for Happy Head or one of our other prescription-grade hair loss solutions. 

Resources:

(01) https://foodinsight.org/survey-nutrition-information-abounds-but-many-doubt-food-choices/

(02) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

(03) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6065400/

(04) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7109385/

(05) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

(06) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

(07) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

(08) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/#:~:text=Despite%20its%20popularity%20in%20the,multiple%20factors%2C%20including%20patient%20history.

(09) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

(10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/

 

Hair Loss Reversal 101: What You Need to Know

If you’re experiencing hair loss, you’re not alone.  According to the American Hair Loss Association, at least two-thirds of all American men will have noticeable hair loss by the time they turn thirty-five.  Women account for forty percent of all Americans experiencing hair loss. (01) Those numbers are much higher than you thought, right?

Sure, most people expect to get some gray hair, wrinkles, and a few extra pounds as they age, but hair loss?  That’s not usually part of the plan.  We can color our hair, use Botox for our wrinkles, and spend some extra time at the gym.  But what can be done about a receding hairline?  More than you think.

There are Different Types of Hair Loss

The first step is to understand the different types of hair loss.  All hair loss is not the same, so not all hair loss will respond to the same treatment.  We’re here to give you a crash course.

The Term Alopecia Encompasses More Conditions Than Most People Realize

When people think of alopecia, they usually think of alopecia areata, the type that Massachusetts Representative Ayanna Pressley and actress Jada Pinkett Smith have.  However, if you use Dr. Google, you’ll see that WebMD defines alopecia areata as an “autoimmune disorder that causes your hair to come out, often in clumps the size and shape of a quarter.”  The definition is accurate, but not all hair loss is alopecia areata. Alopecia is an umbrella term for many different hair loss conditions.

There’s a Difference Between Non-Scarring and Scarring Alopecia

Alopecia falls under two broad categories:  non-scarring and scarring alopecia. There’s a big difference between the two types.

When people have non-scarring hair loss, their hair just falls out.  No redness, scaling, flaking, itching, or burning occurs. The alopecia can come on fast and furiously, leaving people holding clumps of hair in their hands, or gradually over a long period of time.

Scarring alopecia is a different story.  Also known as cicatricial alopecia, scarring alopecia is an inflammatory condition that occurs in otherwise healthy people. The hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue.  The hair loss can happen over time and go unnoticed, or it can happen quickly, causing symptoms such as severe itching and burning. (02)  Speed is essential when it comes to treating scarring alopecias.  The goal is to slow or stop further hair loss and promote hair regrowth in unaffected areas.

What Type of Alopecia Do You Have?

Many different types of hair loss fall under the categories of non-scarring and scarring alopecia.  Once you know what type you have, your dermatologist will work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Examples of Non-scarring Alopecia

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium is a form of temporary hair loss caused by stress, severe chronic illness, high fever, childbirth, thyroid disorders, major surgery, dieting, certain medications, etc.  Telogen Effluvium usually resolves itself over time.

Androgenic Alopecia

Also known as male and female pattern baldness, androgenic alopecia is a genetic condition experienced by up to 50 percent of men and women. (03)  Experts believe that pattern baldness is due to an excessive androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT) response which causes hair follicles to miniaturize.  When the hair follicles shrink, hair loss occurs.  Androgenic alopecia typically causes frontal hair loss in men and diffuse hair loss at the crown and top of women’s heads.

Alopecia Areata

If your hair falls out in clumps around the size and shape of a quarter, you may have alopecia areata.  This condition is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your body attacks its own hair follicles.  With alopecia areata, hair loss is unpredictable and can happen anywhere on your body.  Sometimes the condition resolves itself.  However, it can also reoccur without notice.  Many research studies are currently underway to understand the cause and effective treatment. (04)

Traction Alopecia  

Constant pulling on hair due to tight ponytails, buns, braids, cornrows or dreadlocks, hair extensions, weaves, and more can cause traction alopecia.  This condition, that’s common among actresses and models, can cause small bumps that resemble pimples.  Fortunately, traction alopecia can be reversed if you stop pulling your hair back.

Examples of Scarring Alopecia

Lichen Planopilaris

Lichen Planopilaris is the most common type of scarring alopecia.  Although it can affect both genders, lichen planopilaris is more likely to affect women aged 40 to 60 than men. (05)  Redness, itching, burning, and tenderness can accompany frontal or other pattern hair loss.

Central Centrifugal Cicatrical Alopecia (CCCA)

CCCA is found almost exclusively among black women aged 30 to 55 year-old.  The cause is still unknown and is being researched.  Women who experience CCCA experience inflammation and associated hair loss in the crown area. (06)

Effective Hair Loss Treatment Complements Your Diagnosis

After your dermatologist determines the cause of your hair loss, he or she will discuss treatment options with you.  Keep in mind that hair reversal treatments are not one-size-fits-all.  In some cases, “cocktails” which combine specific medications and protocols may be needed. Just to give you an idea of what’s out there, here are some of the most frequently used medications and treatments:

Minoxidil (Rogaine)

Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, is available over-the-counter as a topical foam and liquid and by prescription as an oral pill.  Minoxidil is a vasodilator reduces miniaturization of the hair follicles and elongates the growth phase.

Minoxidil has proven to promote growth among men and women with male and female pattern hair loss.  Minoxidil is also often recommended to patients with scarring alopecia to promote growth in unaffected areas.

Once you start using Minoxidil, you need to continue. When you stop using the medication, any new hair that grows will most likely be shed.

Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar)

Finasteride is a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor originally designed to treat enlarged prostates.  The medication, available both as a pill and a topical solution, blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that inhibits hair growth.

Clinical studies have found Finasteride to be highly effective in reversing hair loss in both men and women with scarring and non-scarring alopecias. (0708)  Topical Finasteride is often used to treat androgenic alopecia, while oral is typically recommended for scarring alopecias.

Finasteride is only available by prescription and is not recommended for women of childbearing age.  Check with a board-certified dermatologist to see if you are a good candidate for the topical or oral treatment.

Corticosteroids

Topical or injected steroids are often used to treat hair loss that is induced by autoimmune diseases such as alopecia areata and lichen planopilaris.  The corticosteroids allow hair to grow by inhibiting the autoimmune disease.

Steroid treatments are only available by prescription and should be surprised by a qualified dermatologist.

Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) Injections

PRP injections have become a popular treatment for healing wounds and regrowing tissue such as tendons, ligaments, and muscles.

PRP has regenerative properties and has been primarily tested on patients with androgenetic alopecia. (09)  When injected into the scalp, PRP is believed to stimulate hair growth by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles and increasing the size of the hair shaft.

As the name suggests, PRP injections are made from platelets derived from your blood.  Blood is first drawn, and then spun at super high speeds to separate the blood components.  The resulting plasma is highly concentrated.

PRP use is still in its early stages and can be expensive.  Research also indicates that PRP is most effective when used with Minoxidil, Finasteride, and other hair growth treatments.

Biotin

Biotin, also known as Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H, has become a familiar hair growth supplement.  Sold in supplements or as an ingredient in hair care products, Biotin is promoted as a way to make your hair grow longer and healthier.

Does it work?  Well, the jury is out.  Not enough research has been conducted to say yeah or nay. (10)  It won’t hurt you to try a new shampoo that contains Biotin, but there’s no evidence to indicate that it will help.  Biotin deficiency is rare. (11)  Most people get adequate amounts through their regular diets.

Many Biotin supplements sold are not FDA approved, and high concentrations of Biotin can interfere with the results of some lab tests. (12) As with any oral supplement, check with your doctor before testing it out.

Hair Transplants

Hair transplant procedures and techniques continue to improve over time.  Rather than using noticeable plugs, today’s surgeries move hair strips or carefully selected hairs from one area to another to promote growth that looks natural.

When determining whether a patient is an ideal candidate for a hair transplant, dermatologists consider several factors, including:

  • Type of hair loss
  • Degree and pattern of baldness
  • Patient age
  • Hair color
  • Donor hair density
  • Patient expectations

Although hair transplants are expensive and time-consuming, they are an effective, reliable, and safe way to get lasting results.

It’s Important to Set Realistic Expectations When Treating Alopecia

We’re fortunate to live during a time when hair loss research is prolific, and the list of hair replacement options is growing.  Whether you’re 25 or 55, you don’t have to live with bald spots, a receding hairline, or thinning hair, even if your genetics or immune system are working against you.

The first step is to find a board-certified dermatologist and hair specialist you trust and get diagnosed.  He or she will help you select the right treatment option for your type of alopecia and lifestyle.  Remember to set realistic expectations for your hair regrowth.  Treatments don’t work overnight, so be patient and track your progress over time.  After all, small signs of stubble today can lead to a fuller head of hair tomorrow.

Resources:

(01) https://www.americanhairloss.org/

(02) https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/cicatricial-alopecia

(03) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430924/

(04) https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/types/alopecia

(05) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470325/

(06) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/2768748

(07) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4809380/

(08) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9951956/

(09) https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/platelet-rich-plasma-does-the-cure-for-hair-loss-lie-within-our-blood-2020051119748

(10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/

(12) https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/safety-communications/update-fda-warns-biotin-may-interfere-lab-tests-fda-safety-communication