Does what you eat affect hair loss?

You're using the right shampoos, sleeping with a bonnet and cutting down on heat - but you're still shedding. Could it be your diet?

Hair & Beauty

British women have revealed their fears about hair loss, with over 40% currently experiencing hair loss or hair thinning and three quarters admitting that they are really worried about suffering from hair loss or thinning in the future.

Unfortunately, hair loss due to medical conditions or certain treatments can be unavoidable, and it's well known that hair loss can increase with age due to hormone decline. That being said, it's important to do what we can for the health of our hair while we have it.

The survey by hair and scalp specialists Philip Kingsley revealed that London is the most affected region in the UK in terms of hair loss, with 77% of women experiencing this condition. The brand has shone a light on British women’s feeling towards hair loss and hair thinning, unveiling that just over half of women feel self-conscious about their hair loss, along with feeling less confident (42%), embarrassed (35%) and less feminine (31%).

These feelings have a direct impact on women’s day to day lives, with 90% thinking about hair loss at least a few times a day. This has impacted their confidence with 40% saying they feel less confident to go out to social events with friends, and over half noting they would avoid having their photos taken.

Woman with curly hair wearing a hoodie

The biggest causes of hair loss

The pressures of modern living are contributing to women’s hair loss and hair thinning, with almost three quarters of women stating that they feel their stress is giving them thinner locks. 33% felt their use of hair dye is the biggest contributor, with another 23% believing that the ingredients in the shampoo they use are hindering their hairs potential.

Even with their suspicions surrounding shampoo ingredients, British women have tried a number of products to combat hair loss, but only 44% have seen results. 32% have tried using specialist shampoos, 25% have taken supplements daily and 22% have tried scalp massage. Surprisingly, almost a third (30%) admitted that they’d never tried any specialist products to combat hair loss, but noted they’d be happy to try one, with 9 in 10 women saying they’d use a product designed to slow hair loss and hair thinning.

Outside of products, British women are making sure their diets are suited to their hair growth, with over half noting that nutrition plays a part in their hair care routine, although 23% of respondents still had no idea that nutrition was so intrinsic to hair health.

Priorities and the pandemic

On the conversation of hair loss Philip Kingsley Brand President and Trichologist, Anabel Kingsley noted, “Women are in the grip of a hair loss pandemic. Hair loss in women has always been a common problem. But the problems have been exasperated over the past few years because of immense psychological and physical stressors including Covid-19, the modern-day pressures experienced by women, women not having time to prioritise self-care, and women not having their health prioritised by others.  All of these factors have had a negative impact on hair growth and daily hair fall.

"As hair is non-essential to physical survival, it is the ultimate and unfiltered reflection of our nutritional status and overall wellbeing. I see so many women experiencing hair loss resulting from dietary inadequacies that have stemmed from self-deprivation, not nurturing themselves with balanced, fresh and wholesome meals, as well as from misinformation on what healthy eating looks like. I also consult to women each week with undiagnosed and untreated Iron, Ferritin, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D deficiency and/or hormonal imbalances which are worsening both shedding and density changes.

"On top of this, women feel pressure to have it all and do it all, sending cortisol levels rocketing – which affects their strand’s growth and health. Ultimately, there has been the perfect storm for hair loss.”

What to eat for stronger hair

Eat a balanced, colourful, varied and seasonal diet rich in energy, proteins, healthy fats, Vitamin B12, Zinc and iron. To help ensure your hair is getting all of the nutrients it needs to grow to its best ability, take hair-specific nutritional supplements.

Hair cells are the second fastest growing cells the body makes so they are very needy. Couple this with the fact that although hair isn’t physically essential, it is a tissue with incredibly high and unique nutritional requirements. Strands therefore benefit from extra helpings of certain vitamins, minerals and proteins.

The best foods for stronger hair include:

  • Oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
  • Fortified cereals
  • Seeds and nuts such as almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and pecans
  • Sweet potato
  • Eggs (especially egg yolks)
  • Spinach
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Lentils
  • Oats

What else you can do to take control of hair loss

  • The health of your scalp plays a vital role in hair growth. Everything from scalp inflammation and microbial imbalances to genetics and hormonal sensitivities can impact the health of your hair follicles, and the hairs that emerge from them. Use daily topical products to help stimulate and protect your scalp from both internal and external aggressors.
  • Know what your hair loss products are doing and what you can realistically expect from them. Leave-on topical products can make a lasting difference to your hair growth cycle, the rate of hair shedding, and the health of your hair follicles. Wash-off formulas, such as shampoos, conditioners and sprays, will help with instant aesthetics and breakage.
  • Self-advocate, speak up and seek help. There is always a reason for hair loss and always something that can be done to help. Women apologize for being ‘vain’ when they voice concerns about losing their hair. Actually, hair loss is never trivial. Our hair forms a major part of our identity and is incredibly important to our mood, self-perception and day-to-day confidence.

Despite Density changes taking place throughout a women’s lifetime such as post-partum and menopause, Density changes have only been considered by 42% of British women, although 73% noted they had in fact seen changes to the density of their hair.

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