For most of my life, my hair has been shoulder length or longer. From the age of around 14, I started dying it and I pretty much continued to do this for my entire adult life – up until recently, anyway! Over the years I have dyed my hair almost every available shade and, although I’ve got to say I looked pretty badass, for the last 13 years I haven’t treated my hair very well.
The constant bleaching, brushing and dying started to have a negative effect on my hair – who’d have thought it? But when I ignored it and started using bleach even more often, it was evident that my hair was not at all happy. It looked and felt like straw and it was extremely brittle. To combat this, instead of using fewer harsh chemicals, I opted for through more and more products onto my hair. I used expensive conditioners, coated my hair with serums and tried just about every hair repair product on the market.
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Follow the trail of hair
Of course none of that really worked. Not while I was still brushing, straightening, bleaching and dying my hair. It was around this time that I started to shed hair wherever I went. It wasn’t so bad at first, just lose hair getting caught around my hairband or a few strands on the back of my top. But as time went on, I started to lose more and more hair. My boyfriend and my friends started joking that they’d always know where I’d been because there’d be a trail of bright red hair left behind. I’d laugh along with them, but inside I knew that this wasn’t a good sign.
Postpartum hair loss
I decided to carry on ignoring my hair loss problems and live my life in denial. That was until things got much, much worse. After giving birth to Oscar, I experienced some serious postpartum hair loss. Huge clumps of hair would fall out when I showered and I’d have to pull it out of the drain each time I washed. Whenever I brushed my hair, the brush would be full of hair as if I’d used thinning scissors on and combed the excess out. Only it wasn’t excess hair – it was coming directly from the follicle and there was a lot of it! It was at this point in my life that I started to take things seriously.
Hair loss made me feel extremely self conscious.
My hair started to look pretty shoddy and no matter what products I used or how many hair bands, head scarves or bobby pins I bought to try and hide the effects of my hair loss, it was still glaringly obvious. I didn’t know what to do – it seemed that there was no way to cover it up or hide it, I just had to live with this awkward hairstyle until it grew back…if it ever would. The whole situation made me feel extremely self conscious and I remember that I’d always try to avoid going out if possible. I decided that enough was enough; I needed to stop exposing my hair to so many chemicals and start treating what I had left with much more care and respect.
I did a lot of research into things that I could do to help stimulate hair growth again. The first thing I did was cut down the amount of chemicals I was using. I switched to a more gentle shampoo, stopped dying my hair, ditched hair products such as serums and I even tried a shampoo bar. I can’t say I got on with the shampoo bar, but after a few weeks of using fewer chemicals on my hair, things started to improve. Thankfully, after lots of research and some time being kinder to my hair, things started to improve. I’m fortunate that it seemed the majority of my hair loss was hormone related and the rest of the damage was reversible, but for some people it’s not quite as simple.
Common causes of hair loss
Now I know that my hair loss was hormone related, and thankfully, after trying several different methods and cutting down on the chemical usage, my hair has now almost fully recovered. I’m fortunate, as I know that it could have been a lot worse. I didn’t go bald from postpartum hair loss, however it is entirely possible condition referred to as ‘postpartum alopecia’. Hair loss in both men and women is more common than many people may realise and there are a number of possible causes.
The most common causes of hair loss are male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness. This is a hereditary condition that occurs gradually with aging and in a predictable pattern. As it’s hereditary, most people know to expect it, but that doesn’t make it any easier. There are some ways to solve men’s hair loss problems, like caffeine shampoos a toupees – there seems to be a lot more on the market for men than for women.
Vitamin C and iron are both vital for hair growth. Having a deficiency in either of these could cause you to shed more hair than usual. Taking a good vitamin supplement will work wonders for your hair and skin, so always make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin C and iron in your diet.
Some illnesses can cause hair loss. If this is the case for you, it’s best to talk to your doctor about what can be done to combat the issue.
Postpartum hair loss is extremely common for women, hair loss can also occur during menopause. In most cases hair will grow back given time, but there are a few things you can do to help it along: use fewer chemicals, run your fingers through your hair when wet instead of brushing, avoid hair dryers and heated hair utensils and wear your hair down when possible.
For me, simply cutting back on the chemicals and damaging products used on my hair massively helped and now I have a full head of unruly hair! I’m pleased to report that according to the NHS, in many cases of hair loss, the hair does eventually grow back. If you’re concerned about hair loss and you feel that it’s getting worse and not better, please visit your doctor as they will be able to advise you.