Hair Loss – What NOT to do

hair

There are so many articles on what to do when your hair starts falling out – what products to use, what to eat, how to style it. From experience these can be a little bit mind-boggling and of course everybody has different hair types, different types of hair loss and therefore widely varying opinions on products and methodology. Here’s my run down of the top ten things NOT to do when your hair starts falling out:

  1. Don’t panic

This one comes under the category ‘easier said than done’ – I know. Stress and anxiety is a massive cause of hair loss – at best it exacerbates existing hair loss. It’s difficult not to be distraught when you start losing your hair and start obsessing over each lost strand, staring longingly at everyone else’s hair and feeling generally crap and upset. Our hair is often our comfort blanket , our crowning glory – your hair (or lack of it) can make a huge difference to how you look and ultimately, how you feel. I know that. Try your best to distract yourself from what is going on with your hair. Make a plan of action and feel assured knowing you’re doing everything you can to help your hair.

  1. Don’t overbrush

Brushing your hair can be therapeutic and distracting; yet it can also become an obsessive ritual of seeing how much you have left and how much comes out when you do brush it. Some hair loss advice calls for regular brushing but experts say it is possible to over-brush your hair, and especially where hair loss is concerned over-vigorous brushing will only cause more harm than good. Use a natural bristle brush to distribute your hair’s oils evenly and minimise breakage. The same goes for washing – try not to overwash your hair even if it gets greasy and even if you are using a hair loss shampoo. This strips the oils and increases exposure to chemical nasties which do not do your scalp or hair any good. Using your hair loss shampoo twice a day won’t make any difference to your growth compared to if you were using it every other day – but it may damage your hair and have the reverse effect instead.

  1. Don’t go buying expensive shampoos

Sadly, there’s lots of people who’d like to cash in on your hair loss because they know how upset and vulnerable you are, and that most (me included!) are desperate to try anything, no matter what the cost, to get their hair back as quickly as possible. Please don’t be drawn in by anything which appears ‘too good to be true’. Equally, don’t go buying every single hair loss shampoo and product out there. They all work differently, they are different for different people, and their efficacy also depends on what sort of hair loss you have. Read reviews (you can read my post on Hair Loss Shampoos here) and make a decision on what is best for you. Give it a good month or two to see if it is working; you won’t see results in days or even a week or so no matter what anybody says. If it still isn’t working, try something new. I’ve made this mistake before and the best thing I did was eventually to buy one shampoo and conditioner and stick to that regime for over a month – that’s when I saw amazing results. Equally, I’ve tried shampoos, given them a month or two, and realised they are not working, kicked them to the curb and tried something new. Perseverance is the only way to be sure of what works and what doesn’t.

  1. You don’t have to cut it all off

When my hair fell out after my eating disorder, my hairdresser categorically told me to cut it all off. The best solution, she said, was to cut it all down to at least shoulder length and keep cutting it until it reached the length of my baby hair. That way, it could all grow at the same rate. 14 years old and recovering from an eating disorder, I was desperately clinging on to the hair I still had left. Losing it had been a shocking additional blow a few months into my recovery. There was no way I was going to cut it off.

My hair admittedly looked awful for at least a year. I lost mine from underneath, so stringy strands hung over bald patches which were gradually filled with lots of wispy baby hairs. As they grew they formed a fringe on my forehead and a fluffy ‘do beneath my old hair around the rest of my head. It wasn’t the best look, but it allowed me to keep my hair and eventually 3 years later my hair looked incredible. For a year or so I’d worn clip in extensions which helped me to feel more confident and forget about the state of my hair, and one day, I realised my hair was exactly the same without them. The baby hair had matured and was long and thick and as a whole it looked fabulous.

Since then, I’ve found some hairstyles and a few techniques you can use to help ‘mask’ hair loss whilst you are – of course temporary extensions, wigs and hair pieces are also handy. You can read about them here.

Of course if you’re brave enough to have it all cut to one length then this is good for hair health and growth and will ensure even regrowth – it is completely your decision. But know that if, like me, you are very attached to your hair, you can hold onto it!

  1. Don’t leave it unchecked medically

Hair loss is becoming more common in women especially due to the increased stress and pressure in our lives. Therefore it’s easy to put it down to stress or hormones. But there are other medical causes of hair loss which should be noted and it’s important to be vigilant for in case your hair loss is caused by an underlying health problem. If your hair loss is persistent, make an appointment with your doctor just to be sure there’s nothing else going on. They may even refer you to a trichologist for help with your hair loss.

  1. Don’t overstyle it

We all love our hairdryers, curlers, straighteners, rollers – but it goes without saying, these are NOT good for your hair, especially when it is in a weakened state. I made a conscious decision to stop using the hairdryer (unless it was an emergency – you know we all have those) and I rarely use straighteners or curlers but these were vetoed too. It may well be torture but it is worth it to help your hair to recover and alleviate the anguish that comes with seeing clumps of hair all over the floor after styling. There are lots of nifty tutorials on Pinterest for creating curls (and other hair styles) with no heat and little pulling or breakage on the hair, so if you are naturally curly embrace them and take a look online for inspiration.

  1. Don’t use tight bobbles and clips

Bobbles are the worst thing for your hair. Even ones without the metal clip which can snag hairs pull on your scalp and hair follicles and can accelerate hair loss. I only wear clips or loose slides when my hair is falling out and if I really want a bobble in I use a trick Iwas shown on a shoot by my lovely best friend and renowned hairdresser Mark – attach two bobby pins one either side of your bobble – scrape your hair into a pony then slide one clip through the centre close to the scalp. Wrap the other around a few times till it’s tight then slide the other bobby pin through the centre of your pony. Home-made bungee! So much less damaging for your hair and 0-expense, 0-hassle.

  1. Don’t forget to eat (and drink) for your hair

A few of you won’t like this one and will be sick of hearing it but honestly, good skin and hair health comes from the inside. What happens on the outside of our bodies in often an indication of what’s going on inside, so if your hair is falling out, it indicates a problem whether that’s mental, physical or perhaps a deficiency somewhere. If you’re not at the stage where you feel ready to address your diet then that is understandable, however without a good diet, your hair will struggle massively to recover. The real you will care more about your hair than what an eating disorder cares about, so concentrate on that and try really hard to follow that desire rather than any other false ideals that will be in your head. I really wish I had known what to eat to help my hair all those years ago – I was recovering and I’d have eaten anything to stop it from falling out. You can read my post on food for hair here.

  1. Don’t use harsh chemicals on your hair

Most commercial shampoos, whatever they claim to do, will be full of chemicals which are less than healthy for your hair. The ‘worst’ of these is sodium laureth sulfate, which is what makes shampoos and shower gels lather nicely. Experts say it strips the scalp of natural oils and can also leave hair brittle and dry. Once you know this, you’ll know that finding a shampoo without this in it is very difficult.

  1. Don’t feel alone, embarrassed or suffer in silence

More women than you realise will be suffering from hair loss but will not have told anybody about it out of shame or embarrassment. So many will be covering it up on a daily basis and feeling bad about it alone. Don’t feel like you are alone in this – take a look online and you’ll find lots of friendly women ready to discuss hair loss with you; forums where you can share what works and what doesn’t. And of course, you have this blog J

 

Hair loss is an awful thing to experience but at least now you know what NOT to do and can concentrate on getting your hair, and yourself, back to the best health possible.

Any tips I’ve missed here? Share them!

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Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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