If you’re experiencing hair thinning, you’re not alone. Hair loss and thinning is fairly common, especially as you age.
In the United States, 50 million men experience hair loss from androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. This can result in your hairline receding, or the development of a bald spot at the top of your head.
You may also experience hair loss from certain health conditions such as extreme weight loss, illness, or stress.
If you’re looking for ways to manage thinning hair and even boost hair thickness, there are a number of different techniques you can try. From unique styling suggestions to over-the-counter medications, here are 10 strategies you can use to thicken your hair.
Treat your thinning hair with care when you wash it. Even if you shower daily, you don’t necessarily need to wash your hair every day.
When you do wash it, make sure to use a shampoo that’s gentle on your scalp and doesn’t dry out your hair.
You should always condition your hair after washing it as well. Conditioner provides a protective barrier on your hair that keeps it from breaking or splitting.
While washing your hair in and of itself doesn’t cause hair loss, how you clean and care for your hair may help strengthen and protect it.
Treat your thinning hair gently when you style it. This will prevent unwanted hair from falling out too fast.
Follow these tips for gentle styling:
- Make sure not to tug or pull your hair, especially when it’s wet.
- Avoid blow-drying your hair for too long, and keep the heat setting low.
- Try styling your hair with a wider comb that won’t pull out hair when you use it.
- Consider trying a new hairstyle if your hair thickness has changed. A stylist can recommend a flattering cut.
Certain hairstyles — such as tight braids, corn rows, and ponytails — can also lead to hair loss in the long term. You don’t have to avoid these styles altogether, but just take breaks and be gentle with your hair in between.
If you feel like your hairstyle looks best with these procedures, seek advice from a professional hair stylist. They can recommend a styling treatment that works for thinning hair.
Your doctor may be able to diagnose the reason for your thinning hair and recommend the most effective way to treat it.
Consider seeing a specialist like a dermatologist for your thinning hair.
Board certified dermatologists are specifically trained to treat skin, hair, and nails. They can help diagnose and treat causes of hair loss in men and women. They can also recommend specific products to use on thinning hair or suggest a medication to prevent further hair loss or promote regrowth.
A number of medications are available to treat male pattern baldness. Some are available over the counter and others require a prescription.
Over-the-counter (OTC) options include products that contain minoxidil. The brand Rogaine contains this ingredient.
You may find that the product helps your hair regrow or that it stops you from losing more hair. Rogaine is specifically helpful for hairs lost through androgenetic alopecia.
You can purchase products containing minoxidil, including shampoos, liquids, and foams. Men need to apply these products to their scalp twice a day. You may not see results until using the medication for 6 months.
A doctor may also prescribe you an oral medication called finasteride to help with thinning hair. This is also known as Propecia.
This medication may stop hair thinning or even regrow some of your hair. You need to take it continuously to see results.
A dermatologist may help you determine the specific type of hair loss that you’re experiencing and suggest treatments that target that type of hair loss.
Hair replacement surgery can thicken your hair. Hair transplants involve a doctor moving hair from one spot of your body to the thinning area of your scalp.
This can be done as an outpatient procedure using local anesthesia, but your scalp may be painful after the transplant. You may also need more than one procedure to reach your desired hair thickness.
Note that this cosmetic procedure may not be covered by your insurance carrier. In this case, you may have to pay for the surgery out of pocket.
Keep in mind that hair replacement surgery will not stop male pattern baldness from progressing in the long run.
Many factors contribute to hair loss in people that smoke. Most noticeably, smoking has been shown to damage the DNA of the hair follicle, leading to inflammation and scarring, and eventually androgenetic alopecia.
The association between hair loss and smoking provides yet another reason to consider quitting. Today, there are a good deal of smoking cessation aids and programs that you can try. Work with a doctor or healthcare provider to find the right plan for you.
Zinc and iron are minerals that contribute to healthy hair growth. You may not get enough of these minerals if you’re on a vegetarian diet or have lost a lot of weight recently from reducing your calorie intake.
Foods rich in iron include:
- red meat
- leafy greens
Some zinc-rich foods include:
- red meats
- seeds and nuts
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Taking supplements to thicken your hair is not straightforward. You should first talk to a doctor about supplementing your diet with additional vitamins and minerals to promote hair growth.
For example, too much iron or zinc may lead to toxicity or other side effects.
Supplements aren’t controlled or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so there aren’t clear guidelines on the best dosage. The different brands available aren’t all commercially proven to be safe, either.
You may also want to consider that getting too much of some vitamins — like A and E — may actually contribute to hair loss.
There are several ways to thicken your hair if you’re experiencing male pattern baldness or thinning hair from a different condition.
Being mindful of your hair care and eating a wide variety of healthy foods may be the first steps in managing thinning hair.
Talk to a doctor if you want to try hair-thickening medications, supplements thought to boost hair growth, or are considering hair replacement surgery.