10 Science-Backed Ways to Prevent Hair Loss
Find out how to prevent hair loss with these easy tips, tricks, and products.
Approximately two-thirds of American men will experience some form of hair loss by the time they turn 35, according to the American Hair Loss Association. And an estimated 50 percent of women deal with noticeable hair loss at some point, too, the Cleveland Clinic points out. Clearly, hair loss is a serious concern for men and women alike—but because there is no single cause, trying to prevent it can be a challenge.
"There are over 50 forms of hair loss, approximately 10 of which are quite common but not known to most patients," explains Amy McMichael, MD, dermatology professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. But the good news is, no matter the root cause, there are some steps you can take to keep your hair healthy. Read on to find out how to prevent hair loss before it starts.
Maintain a healthy diet.
"As with anything that has to do with aging, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and living a healthy lifestyle can help with keeping the body healthy. And a healthy body can grow healthy hair," explains McMichael. By making sure that your diet is full of all the right vitamins and nutrients, you can prevent hair loss and keep your body in tip-top shape.
Drink plenty of water.
Your hair growth and your hydration levels are more closely linked than you might think. "The hair shaft is made up of one-quarter water," explains Gretchen Frieling, MD, a triple-board-certified dermatopathologist. "Staying hydrated encourages healthy hair growth."
To keep your hair healthy, Frieling recommends trying to drink eight glasses of water a day.
Limit your alcohol intake.
"Drinking alcohol in excess reduces hair growth," warns Frieling. In one 2013 study of male twins published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, researchers specifically found that consumption of more than four alcoholic beverages per week was associated with hair loss.
Don't dye your hair.
Be careful about dyeing your hair. "Products that bleach or lighten hair color strip away the protective coating of the hair fibers. This makes the hair shaft thinner and weaker, which makes them more susceptible to damage," dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD, explained to the Cleveland Clinic.
Don't brush wet hair.
Try not to brush your hair as soon as you get out of the shower. "Wet hair is in its weakest, most vulnerable state, so the chances of hair loss increase," Frieling explains. If you must tend to your hair when it's wet, she suggests using a wide-toothed comb or even "gently us[ing] your fingers to undo tangles."
Avoid tight hairstyles.
Shani Francis, MD, executive vice president of research and development at Ashira Industries, notes it's important to "minimize traumatic hair practices so that the hair and scalp are as healthy as possible." Things to avoid include "tight (over-manipulated) hairstyles, excessive product buildup, [and] habitual hair pulling," she says.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) seconds this, noting that hairstyles like buns, ponytails, dreadlocks, cornrows, and hair extensions "can cause strands of your hair to break or fall out."
And don't wear the same hairstyle every day.
It helps to switch up your look with your locks, especially if you're more fond of tight styles that pull at your hair. The AAD says you should "avoid wearing a tightly pulled hairstyle every day." Also, after putting your hair in something like a braid or a ponytail, they suggest that you "give your hair a chance to recover."
Keep your blow dryer use to a minimum.
"Let your hair air dry whenever possible," says Frieling. And when you do blow dry your hair, avoid putting your dryer at the highest temperature setting.
When Korean researchers analyzed the effects of using a hair dryer in 2011, they found that "hair surfaces tended to become more damaged as the temperature [on the dryer] increased." In the results of their study published in the Annals of Dermatology, they suggest keeping your hair dryer at least six inches from your hair when you dry and moving it around as much as possible.
And limit the use of other styling tools, too.
Just like hair dryers, Frieling says that styling tools should be used on the lowest possible heat setting to avoid potential hair loss. And when you are using tools like curling irons and straighteners, she says you should "use heat protecting sprays on your hair" to limit how much damage is being done.
Manage your stress levels.
According to Frieling, there are several types of hair loss associated with high stress levels, including telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, and trichotillomania. Though the ways in which stress affects your hair differs between conditions, they're all treated in the same way: by de-stressing.