Tag Archive for: Keratin

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/

 

Dermaroller: The Most Helpful Hair Loss Tool You Didn’t Know You Needed

If you’re up-to-date on the latest skincare tools, you’ve probably heard about dermarollers designed to pump-up your skin’s collagen.  You may have even tried one.  But did you know that dermarollers can help rejuvenate your hair too?  Although relatively new to the hair care scene, dermarollers have quickly become a tool of choice, recommended by many dermatologists and hair specialists.  What makes dermarollers so popular for treating hair loss?  Will the trend last?  We’re here to fill you in.  

What is a Dermaroller and What Does it Do?

A dermaroller is a small hand-held roller with about 540 tiny needles on it.  When rolled over your skin or scalp, the dermaroller’s needles create microscopic wounds that stimulate collagen and elastin production.  Collagen keeps your skin firm, elastic, and hydrated.  It’s also needed to build keratin which keeps your hair strong, shiny, and thick.  In addition to building collagen, dermarollers increase blood supply to the hair follicles, enlarging the follicles to allow new growth to emerge.

Why Are We Just Now Learning About Scalp Dermarolling?  Is it New?

Although dermarolling, also known as microneedling, has been around since the 1900s to treat birthmarks, hyperpigmentation, and scars, we started hearing more about the treatment in the late 1990s.  Since then, dermarolling has been studied and found to be effective among patients with alopecia areata (01) and androgenic alopecia.  Patients with alopecia areata have seen positive results when applying triamcinolone after using a dermaroller.  Patients with androgenic alopecia have seen positive results when applying Minoxidil after using a dermaroller. (02)

Are Dermarollers Safe?

Dermarolling is quite safe and easy to do.  Simply wet your hair and then gently roll back and forth with the dermaroller, left and right, for just a few minutes.  Make sure that you keep the dermaroller moving.  Holding a dermaroller in one place in one area could cause scarring.

Can I Do Microneedling at Home?

The microneedling that’s referenced in this article can be done at home. All you need is a dermaroller. The number of times that you use your dermaroller each week will depend on the length of the needles you are using and whether you are using your dermaroller to apply medication. Patients should always consult with their dermatologists to develop a treatment protocol since alopecia type, medications, hair density and other factors vary from person to person.

Other types of microneedling are performed in a dermatologist’s office. You may have heard of Protein Rich Plasma (PRP) treatments which are often done in conjunction with microneedling. During a PRP treatment, a patient’s blood is drawn and placed into a centrifuge machine. The blood is spun at a high rate so the components are separated. The platelets are then extracted and injected into the scalp. When PRP is combined with microneedling, topical anesthetic is applied first, medical-grade dermarollers are used, and then PRP is applied last. PRP treatments can only be done in a doctor’s office.

Which Dermaroller Should I Buy?

According to Dr. Ben Behnam, board-certified dermatologist, hair specialist and co-owner of Los Angeles-based Dermatology and Hair Restoration, the key to selecting a dermaroller is to get the correct needle size. “When dermarolling, you don’t have to go very deep to get results,” said Behnam. “I recommend just 0.25, which is very shallow. Many people read online that a 1.5 depth is recommended, but in my opinion, that’s too deep. Nobody needs a roller that strong. Rollers with needles that are too long hurt, and they can damage the hair follicle. You certainly don’t want to damage areas where your hair is thinning or balding.”

Using a Dermaroller to Apply Minoxidil (Rogaine), Finasteride, and other Topical Medications Gives Better Results

A study conducted in 2013 compared patients with androgenic alopecia who used a dermaroller to apply Minoxidil to patients who did not use the roller. Not surprisingly, patients who used the roller achieved more growth. The dermaroller creates tiny holes in the scalp that allows the Minoxidil, Finasteride and other topical medications to penetrate deeper than they otherwise would. The medicine works more effectively.

If you’re using Minoxidil or any other topical hair loss treatment on your frontal hairline, Dr Behnam recommends using the topical about two inches behind the hairline to prevent getting the medicine on your face.

Can a Dermaroller be Used on Facial Hair?

Although no research studies have been conducted on patients using dermarollers on their mustaches or beards, there’s enough evidence to indicate it’s worth a try. We know that Minoxidil is effective for hair growth and that dermarolling increases absorption. In addition to boosting collagen and keratin production, dermarolling may help improve blood flow to the area.

Keep in mind that you may notice some redness after using the dermaroller on your mustache or beard area. This irritation should disappear after a few days. If you experience bleeding, you may be using too much pressure. See if using less pressure helps.

Here are some other tips for facial dermarolling:

  • Start with clean skin and facial hair
  • Wait until acne has cleared up before dermarolling to prevent irritation or infection
  • Use the least amount of pressure needed
  • FIll-in each cheek with air as you do when shaving to get a flatter surface for dermarolling
  • Get a consistent pattern by moving the dermaroller back and forth in horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines

How Much do Dermarollers Cost?

Microneedling sessions at a dermatologist’s office can be very expensive, costing anywhere from $200 – $700 per session or more. Using a dermaroller at home, however, saves time, money and gas. Dermarollers designed for home use are similar to the ones dermatologists use, but have smaller needles. As we’ve discussed though, smaller needles can still pack quite a punch. Dermarollers used at home are very budget-friendly. The average price of a good stationary unit ranges anywhere from $15 to $30. A good quality electric unit costs $100 – $200 depending upon the features included.

Should You Test out a Dermaroller on Your Scalp?

So, here’s the takeaway.  A dermaroller is an inexpensive hair growth tool that increases the effectiveness of topical treatments among patients with androgenic alopecia and alopecia areata.  As with any medical treatment, you should always check with your dermatologist before buying or using a dermaroller.  Although dermarolling is an easy, low-risk at-home treatment, it is not recommended for scarring alopecias.   

Always make sure that you buy your dermroller from a trusted source.  As with any other hair tool, make sure that you keep your dermaroller clean according to the package instructions.  Finally, use your dermaroller as recommended, and be careful not to overuse it.  More won’t give you better or faster results.

Resources:

(01) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3996798/

(02) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746236/

 

 

 

Pump Up the Volume: 5 Tricks Men Can Use to Get Thicker Looking Hair

Is the comb-over really a good look?  Sure, Donald Trump made it part of his signature, but how many other guys do you know who can or want to make that style work?  If your hair is thinning due to male pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia, or other reasons don’t stress. Whether you’re 25 or 75, there are ways to increase your hair’s volume, so your hair seems thicker and more attractive.

More Volume Equals Less Scalp

What does it mean to increase your hair’s volume?  Simply put, volume is the amount of hair that covers your  scalp.  Your hair’s thickness is determined by the number of follicles that grow per square inch and the density of those follicles.  If you can’t see your scalp through your hair, you’re in good shape.  If you can, your hair’s volume may be thinning due to genetic or lifestyle factors. 

Men Get Their Hair from their Moms

Not surprising, the main reason why most men start to lose volume is due to male pattern baldness.  Androgenic alopecia is so common it affects 30 to 50 percent of all men by the time they’re 50 years old. (01)  You can blame your Mom.  Male pattern baldness is a genetically inherited condition that stems from the X chromosome. 

Men’s Hair Typically Loses Volume Gradually

With male pattern baldness, you may not notice a loss in volume right away.  Instead, the condition tends to develop slowly starting with a slightly receding hairline or a very small bald spot on the crown of your head.  The progression is gradual because your hair follicles shrink over time, leaving shorter and finer hair.  Eventually, the miniaturization of the follicles prevents new hair from growing.  Fortunately, the follicles remain alive, suggesting that new hair growth is possible.

Your Hair’s Thickness is Also Affected by Your Lifestyle

Are you under a lot of pressure at work?  Are you trying to drop a few pounds, or have you recently started a new medication?  If so, remember that stress, changes in your diet, illnesses, and some medicines can affect your hair’s growth cycle.  If your hair is feeling thin or lacking body, changes in your lifestyle may be the culprit.  The good news is that thinning hair due to these factors can easily be reversed with minimal treatment.  Many cases will resolve on their own without any intervention. 

It’s Easier to Make Your Hair Look Thicker Than Most Men Realize

If dealing with your hair doesn’t top your list of ways you want to spend your time, don’t worry.  Improving your hair’s appearance and quality doesn’t have to take a lot of effort.  Here are five tricks that Dr. Ben Behnam, a leading dermatologist, hair specialist, and co-owner of Dermatology & Skin Restoration Specialists located in Los Angeles, California, recommends to his male patients:

Use the Right Hair Products, the Right Way

Strengthen with Collagen and Keratin Enriched Shampoo 

“When it comes to building volume, not just any shampoo will do,” said Dr. Behnam.  “Choose one that contains both collagen and keratin.”  Collagen, the most abundant protein in your body, helps make up your tendons, ligaments, and skin.  Collagen also contains amino acids that your body uses to make keratin, the protein that makes up your hair. 

Keratin goes deep into the hair follicle, making the hair follicle firmer to smooth frizzy hair and make dull hair shinier.  According to Behnam, “a combination of collagen and keratin will make your hair stronger and healthier to give it a more lustrous appearance.”  

Moisturize with Conditioner 

“If you’re like most men and don’t use a conditioner, it’s time to change your ways,” says Behnam.   He recommends that his male patients use high-quality conditioners to moisturize their hair and provide a protective coating to the outer layers of the hair shaft.  Conditioner gives your hair a nice sheen and a thicker appearance.  For the best result, select a conditioner that doesn’t contain sulfates.  Sulfates inhibit the conditioner’s ability to moisturize by stripping away essential oils that allow the conditioner to work.  Apply conditioner after each time you shampoo.  Remember only to use conditioner on the ends of your hair, and not your scalp.  Too much moisture at the root will weigh your hair down and leave it limp.  

Use Hair Gel Sparingly

Do you use gel or creams to style your hair?  If so, be careful not to overdo it.  Too much gel clumps your hair, making it easier to see your scalp and inadvertently making your hair look more sparse.  In the case of gel, lighter and less give you more.

Consider Using Hair Growth Treatments

Minoxidil 

Minoxodil, sold under the trade name Rogaine, was the first hair regrowth treatment to receive FDA  approval.  The medication is available over-the-counter for men in a five percent foam or liquid.  Prescription Minoxidil is available in higher concentrations as a pill or topical formula.

Minoxidil works by enlarging the size of your hair follicles and extending your hair’s growth cycle.  Numerous research studies have proven that Minoxodil increases growth among men with male pattern baldness. (02)   

Minoxidil is an easy way to add volume if your hair is thinning.  Rogaine is sold at many retail locations and is simple to use.  However, you’ll need to be patient because it takes about three or four months to see signs of growth.  Once you start using Minoxidil, you’ll need to keep using it.  If you stop using the product, you’ll lose any new growth. (03)

Finasteride

Finasteride, the other FDA approved medication for male pattern baldness, is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor medication that is often used to treat an enlarged prostate.  Because Finasteride decreases production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), it has been proven to stop hair loss and promote new growth.  

Men typically do not experience severe adverse effects from FInasteride, but some do have side effects from the oral medication.  If side effects are a concern, topical Finasteride is available and is a good substitute.  Many men actually prefer the topical solution since it works similarly to the pill without systemic effects.  

All-in-one Treatments for Men

New products that combine Minoxidil and Finasteride and other active ingredients into one formula have been proven to be more effective than Minoxidil alone. (04)  Many men prefer the simplicity, convenience, and potency of all-in-one formulas.

If you’re testing a treatment that includes both Minoxidil and Finasteride, make sure that the formula contains retonic acid.  Retonic acid, a compound derived from Vitamin A, significantly improved hair growth among 43 percent of people who did not respond to Minoxidil alone. (05)  It is believed that retinoids work synergistically with Minoxidil to prolong the hair cycle’s anagen phase, increasing the growth rate. (06)

Combination formulas including more than five percent of Minoxidil and Finasteride are often customized and are only available by prescription.  Be sure to work with a board-certified dermatologist to get the compounded formula that best meets your needs. (07)

Avoid Anything that Pulls on Your Hair

“Wearing a tight ponytail, or anything else that pulls on your hair, is a recipe for disaster,” says Dr. Behnam.  Tight hairstyles can cause traction alopecia which is often seen around the temple area.  Early on, traction alopecia will reverse itself if you stop pulling on your hair.  However, longer term pulling can bring scarring and bigger problems.  If you want to avoid traction alopecia, stay away from buns, hats, cornrows, dreadlocks, and braids.

Feed Your Hair

Dr. Behnam often reminds his patients that strong, healthy-looking hair requires a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of protein.  After all, your hair is made up of a fibrous protein called keratin.  The protein-rich foods we eat feed our hair.  

Good sources of protein include:

  • Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Organic, grass-fed chicken
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna)
  • Eggs

Adding collagen to your diet is also a good idea.  Collagen, the protein known for your skin’s elasticity, also plays a crucial role in growing strong, healthy hair.  Your body produces collagen, but over time, your production capability diminishes.  So, when your collagen levels begin to drop, your hair may get thinner.  Bone broth, gelatin, and chicken are all good sources of collagen that can help prevent a decrease in volume.

Get the Right Cut

Men with thinning hair often grow their hair long, thinking that the extra length will cover sparse areas.  Quite the opposite is true.  When your hair is shorter, it looks thicker. With short hair, layers camouflage the sparse areas.  Not having the dead ends weighing your hair down makes it look healthier too.

Find a barber or hairstylist who knows how to properly proportion your cut.  According to Parker Plotkin, Master Stylist and Artistic Director at Lotus Hair Studio located in Palm Beach, Florida, and season two Shear Genius stylist, the trick is to balance out thinning areas. “Many stylists tend to give round cuts that are short on top and longer on the sides,” said Plotkin.  “The problem is that the round cut makes the reduced volume on top more prominent.  Most men will look better with a square haircut with close cut sides.”

Consult with a Board-Certified Dermatologist and Hair Specialist

A trip to the dermatologist doesn’t top most guys’ lists of favorite things to do, but if you’re concerned about your thinning hair, you should consult with a professional.  A number of men who are concerned about their loss of volume are self-treating to avoid the embarrassment of a doctor’s visit. (08)  If that’s you, you may want to reconsider.  Board-certified dermatologists and hair specialists are highly experienced with treatments designed to prevent further hair loss and stimulate growth.  The sooner you begin treatment, the faster and better results you’ll get. 

Resources:

(01) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278957/
(02) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3900155/
(03) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9777765/
(04) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23193746/
(05) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30974011/
(06) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3063367/
(07) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32166351/
(08) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19514838/