4 affordable things you can do to keep the hair you were born with

Thinning Hair Doesn't Have to Mean Thinning Hope

by Amy Osmond Cook


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It's the stuff some nightmares are made of. For some, it's being trapped in a snake den. For others, it's standing in public in nothing but your underwear. But one fear a lot of older adults share is the fear of losing hair. In a society that relishes its long locks, anyone touting a "magical cure" can name his price.

One inevitable fact of life is that thinning hair is a common byproduct of aging. Studies show that up to 50 percent of women over the age of 50 will experience hair loss. Sadly, many of us have a genetic predisposition to hair loss, called androgenetic alopecia.

"As we age, overall density changes and individual strands become finer," explained dermatologist Doris J. Day in her article for Prevention.com.

Before you silently accept your follicle-deprived fate, here are some methods that have shown to reduce the rate of hair loss.

1. You are what you eat.

Your hair is a direct reflection of your diet, so if you don't like what's happening on your head, you should pay attention to what's going in your mouth. Good nutrition has a variety of benefits for your health, but your hair stands to benefit from a diet loaded with protein, zinc, iron, and vitamin B12.

"A strand of hair is composed of mostly protein, which means your hair needs protein to grow," wrote WebMD contributor, Joseph Saling. "At any given time, about 90% of your hair is in the growing phase. For each individual hair, this growing phase lasts two to three years. At the end of that time, hairs enter a resting phase that lasts about three months before they are shed and replaced by new hair. If you don't get enough protein in your diet, a disproportionate number of hairs may go into the resting phase."

2. Get a massage.

Many people have found success in performing a daily scalp massage. According to Livestrong.com contributor, Shemiah Williams, a three-minute scalp massage not only stimulates the scalp and improves circulation it reduces stress. However, there is no medical evidence fully supporting massaging the scalp as a proven method for preventing hair loss.

3. The heat is on.

Ironically, sometimes our effort to improve our hair's appearance is the very thing contributing to its departure. Heated styling products are one of the biggest culprits to increased hair loss.

"Certain hair appliances that use high heat to help style your hair can lead to damaged hair and breakage, which can look like baldness," wrote contributor Krisha McCoy." Damaging hair appliances include blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons, and other devices that apply heat to your hair."

Krisha added that these hot hair appliances cause the most damage to your hair when you use them on wet hair. Some devices get so hot they boil the water in your hair shaft, which leaves your hair brittle.

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4. Avoiding certain medications.

If you need added incentive to improve your health to the point of decreasing your medications, hair loss could be a strong motivator. Many prescription medications contribute to increased hair loss in men and women.

"Among the medications that can potentially cause hair loss are blood thinners, vitamin A supplements, some arthritis medications, antidepressants, gout medications, medications for certain heart problems, blood pressure medications, and birth control pills," wrote Krisha. The good news is that your doctor may be able to prescribe an alternative medication.

According to an ABC News report, men will spend over $1 billion on hair treatment products this year. Men also will spend some $60 million on vitamins and nutritional supplements with dreams of keeping their hair on their head instead of their brush. With new products hitting the store shelves on a seemingly weekly basis, it's important to research the effectiveness of these methods to determine which ones look promising or should get the brush off.


Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Association of Skilled Nursing Providers SkilledNursingProviders.org. Connect with her at @amyocook.

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