Want to know some lesser known ways to boost the thickness of your hair?
Thinning hair can occur in both men and women as a result of genetics, medical or environmental problems as well as poor diet. Irrespective of who you are or how your hair loss occurred, it can be a distressing and perturbing complaint.
Which is why, we’ve created the ultimate guide to hair thickening. In this piece, we’ll talk you through the process of what can affect hair loss and what you can do to regain control over your hairline. We take a look at some of the common ways to thickening your hair as well as some more unusual and unconventional methods.
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How Does Hair Become Thin?
To understand how hair can be thickened, it’s essential to understand why it can become thin in the first place.
Made of keratin, hair is essentially a chain of dead cells pushed out through hair follicles at a rate of around six inches per year. Many factors influence how much hair we have on our head, the rate at which this grows and the density of these cells; factors such as:
- General health
- Specific health
The average healthy adult human will have between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs on their scalp. We lose about 600 of these each day though most are replaced naturally, this process slows down as we age or due to disease, stress, hormonal changes and environmental conditions. Even things like diet, over the counter medicines (as well as prescription drugs) and cosmetic procedures can also have a major impact on your hairline.
In this guide, we take a look at some of the natural ways that you can regain control of the thickness of your hair before investigating fillers and fibers.
Avoiding Hair Loss
Some hair loss is unavoidable due to medical conditions, genetics or environmental factors over which we have no control. However, there are things over which we do have control including our diets (see ‘Nutrition’ below).
We all know the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle for our bodies but few of us extend this same care and attention to our hair. Here are a few things to avoid if you want to keep your hair looking its best and at its thickest for longer:
- Protect your hair from the sun. Sun damage can cause brittle and dry hair and, if your scalp gets sunburnt, you could lose hairs from damaged follicles. When you reach for the suntan lotion to protect your skin, don’t forget to extend the same care to your hair. Grab a hat or sit in the shade.
- Swap the dye. If you are someone who dyes your hair regularly then you need to acknowledge that doing this can weaken the structure of your hair and cause it to appear thinner. Permanent dye penetrates deeper into the hair and is more likely to cause damage than semi-permanent or temporary dyes. If you must dye your hair, consider swapping the type of dye you use for one that is less damaging.
- Lay off the tools. Excess heat from hairdryers, crimpers and straighteners can all cause damage to hair. Try to limit the amount of hot styling that you need to do or at least use heat protector spray before you do.
Natural Methods of Thickening Hair
Can a topical treatment such as shampoos actually help with hair growth and prevent thinning hair? Well, it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem. Though essentially dead cells, hair stays attached to the head by the follicle and shampoos can work to improve the general health of the scalp and prevent hair loss. Some shampoos even claim to stimulate new growth as well as improve the condition of existing hair to increase volume.
There are plenty of products out there to choose from, each offering a dizzying array of claims, ingredients and other benefits. We can’t review all of these shampoos but we can give you some guidance on the active ingredients and their role in thickening hair so you can make your own decision on which brand suits you (and your scalp/hair type) best.
Containing vitamins A & E as well as tocopherol, Argan Oil nourishes the hair and feeds the key protein strand, keratin.
Castor Oil (ricinus communis)
Rich in vitamin E, omega 3 and ricinoleic acid, castor oil can be applied directly to the scalp to help repair, regenerate and replace hairs. Castor oil cannot reverse hair loss or combat underlying health complaints (or nutritional deficiencies), but, due to its antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it can help improve general scalp condition and circulation.
Containing essential polysaccharides and glycoproteins, aloe vera can help soothe the scalp and is thought to stimulate new skin growth.
A naturally occurring amino acid, collagen is an essential building block for new skin growth but is also an important component of all cell growth. We naturally produce less collagen as we age and it is this decline that is the cause of wrinkles, lack of density and volume in our hair as well as decay in bone health. Collagen can help boost the thickness of your hair and restore its health.
A vitamin B complex, Biotin can provide your hair by promoting healthy growth, strengthen the follicles and even boost your metabolism, meaning your hair grows more quickly.
Though hair in itself is dead, the production of the cells which create this strand requires a healthy source of protein, most of which can be sourced from your diet.
If you consider that a single strand of healthy hair will grow for approximately 2-3 years before being shed, it should be no surprise that an unhealthy strand will be lost much more rapidly. It therefore stands to reason that you should provide the essential building blocks that your body needs for healthy hair growth; protein.
Protein from quality sources includes eggs, lean meats such as chicken, turkey and salmon. Soya is a good alternative source of protein for vegans as are pulses and beans such as lentils and chickpeas. You can opt for supplements such as whey protein powder to add to smoothies and shakes but be aware that all of these sources should count towards your daily nutritional/calorie intake.
The condition of our hair is also important and the damage caused by free radicals, which cause oxidative stress, can be combated by eating foods that are rich in antioxidants. Foods such as blueberries, kidney beans, goji berries and dark chocolate are all rich in antioxidants. In fact, most fresh fruit and vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants and you should certainly be aiming to fill half of your plate at meal times.
Both Vitamin C and Vitamin B are essential building blocks for keratin production. Vitamin B helps keep our red blood cell count high which in turn helps to distribute important nutrients and oxygen around the body, including our scalp. Vitamin C on the other hand plays an essential role in the absorption of iron.
You can get most of your vitamin C intake from fruit and vegetables but vitamin B (specifically B6 and B12) can mainly be found in dairy products such as eggs and milk, fish (wild salmon, trout and shellfish) and fortified breakfast cereals.
Zinc is also an important element in hair repair and growth. It also provides essential oils to the hair follicles and can be found in wheat germ, peanut butter, crab, oysters, turkey, veal and chickpeas.
Selenium deficiency has been linked to hair loss and slow hair growth and including a natural source in your diet could help reduce hair loss. Sources of selenium in foods include sardines, Brazil nuts, grass fed beef, beef liver, yellow fin tuna and halibut.
The trace mineral, silica, has also been found to be an essential component for healthy hair growth and can be found in whole grain bread, oatmeal, bananas, spinach, whole grain pasta and beer, yes, beer.
Unorthodox Ways to Make Your Hair Thicker
The old wives tale about hanging upside down to make your hair grow faster and thicker may sounds dumb but there could be some scientific basis. The improved blood flow to your scalp could in fact help promote growth in your follicles. Try a yogic pose such as a headstand each day to see if it helps. The worse case scenario is that you get better posture and balance!
Scalp massage is another way to promote heathy hair growth and can be self-administered or you could opt for an Indian head massage as a treat. The increase in circulation to the follicles could help to produce regrowth.
Changing your pillowcases from cotton to silk may also help with thickening up your hair. It is thought that there is some degree of friction present as we sleep between our hair and cotton. This is reduced or eliminated by using silk and preventing hair loss. You could sleep like a king and wake up with a full crown!
Tabasco sauce is mooted as a good way to encourage hair growth and many people swear by it. The active ingredient, capsaicin was found in studies using mice to stimulate new hair growth. Unfortunately, this limited study has resulted in many people liberally smearing hot sauce on to their scalps to try and replicate the results. Putting it on your head could cause skin irritation and even burn your scalp. It may work if ingested orally so feel free to add a liberal dash to your food but take this weird method with a pinch of salt!
Using an antibacterial cream intended for the treatment of thrush is another way that some people report seeing miraculous regrowth and isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. By cleansing the scalp of any fungal matter and growth inhibitors, it just might have some founding in science. Some of these creams include ketoconazole which acts to block DHT (the precursor of male pattern baldness).
Lastly, there is a school of thought that bovine seminal plasma (bull sperm) can help stimulate new and healthy hair regrowth. There are clinics that offer the treatment as well as topical solutions marketed by a New Zealand company, The Natural Protein Company. Ours is not to question why, right?
Hair Fillers/Hair Fibers
What are they?
Hair filling fibers are tiny filaments that bond to existing hair to improve the appearance of a thick head of hair. They can be made from synthetic materials, plant matter or keratin.
Fibers are available in a range of colours to match to your own hair.
How Do They work?
Fibers are applied to the hair using either an applicator or by manually shaking the fibers on to the scalp. As they fall, they attach to the hair they come in to contact with. The result is a thicker and more dense head of hair.
Depending on the type of filler fibre you buy, a different type of bond is created. Some products (such as Toppik) use static to create a secure hold with your existing hair. Other products require an additional spray to adhere the fibers to the hair.
Depending on the type of filler you use and the method of attachment, fibers can stay in place for 24-72 hours as long as they do not get too wet; some fibers can withstand day to day moisture including light rain.
Do They Work?
The concept of hair building fibers is a proven one and is simply a matter of accentuating the volume of existing hair by attaching more filaments. In practice, the results of using hair building fibers can vary with the vast majority of users of quality products being very satisfied.
What are the Limitations of Hair Filling Fibers?
Fibers can create extra volume but cannot create hair where there isn’t any. The fibers do not stick to skin and cannot conceal baldness. If you have hair surrounding a bald spot then fibers can help to reduce its appearance by thickening out the hair around it.
No hair fibers are the same with each manufacturer offering something different (at different prices). Some do not withstand moisture or the demands of daily wear and tear whilst others do not work very well with ethnic hair.
It is important to try and match the correct color fiber to your existing hair. Often this may mean purchasing two (or even three) colors to create a tailored look such as salt and pepper grey.
The other thing to bear in mind when using hair filling fibers which differs from any other method is what is known as the ‘toupee effect’. Because the results can be very dramatic and are instantaneous, you do have the situation that people who know you will notice immediately. This can make you more self-conscious; some people stare, others ask questions but just remember that the change won’t go unnoticed.
Do Hair Building Fibers Promote New Growth?
Hair fibers work only to improve the appearance of your existing hair and do not encourage new growth. In fact, some fibers are known to cling more to the scalp and can actually prevent new growth by clogging the follicles. It is important to ensure that you choose a high quality hair fiber from a good source.
You can find out more information by checking out our guide to the Best Hair Fibers 2017, here.
Feature image via Pixabay.