FROM hair loss to lifeless locks, your hair can be affected by hormonal fluctuations.
Estrogen and progesterone levels decline during perimenopause and menopause, which means hair can experience hammering.
One man in the know is famed hairstylist Michael Douglas, partner of TV presenter Davina McCall.
He campaigned to raise awareness of how menopause affects the 13 million women in the UK going through it at any given time.
Michael, 47, who has styled Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, as well as Rochelle Humes and Holly Willoughby, reveals what happens to hair during menopause and tells Claire Dunwell how to tackle the tricky transition.
- Follow Michael on Instagram @mdlondon for more tips on this and other hair issues.
GIVE HAIR A REST
If you feel your hair is hurting because of menopause, it will thank you if you release the heat.
Let your hair dry naturally using an air-dry cream or mousse, or experiment by tying it up in a bun with a scarf or other hair accessories.
Try a messy top knot or braid, but don’t overtighten.
There’s something refreshing about switching up your hairstyle, and at the same time it gives your locks a break, especially when they may be under strain.
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HAIR is protein – and it grows if you eat protein. Your hair can’t get enough.
But there’s a hierarchy of protein delivery around your body, and your hair is at the bottom.
If you eat 45g of protein a day, your hair is unlikely to get any because it will go everywhere else first.
If you can get 55g a day from your diet – a chicken breast contains around 30g – your hair will thank you.
Try adding nuts, lentils and a piece of fish to your diet. This will give you the best hair you can genetically have.
Collagen supplements are also good because they are pure protein.
FABULOUS MENOPAUSE MATTERS
Last October, Fabulous launched its Menopause Matters campaign to support our female readers who were suffering in silence.
Led by Lisa Snowdon and backed by celebrities like Zoe Hardman, Trisha Goddard and, of course, Davina, it aimed to make HRT free through the NHS and implement a menopause policy in every workplace.
Weeks later, the government pledged to cut the annual cost of repeat HRT prescriptions to £18.70 (a saving of up to £205 a year), while companies like the Young’s pub chain and Estée Lauder promised to support the staff.
In June, Menopause Matters was awarded Campaign of the Year at the 2022 British Society of Magazine Editors Awards.
But our work is not done, we will continue to talk until the taboo around menopause is definitely broken.
Hormonal CHANGES can make hair dry, so you might think it needs less washing.
But you won’t get good hair growth unless you clean it.
Use a mild shampoo on your scalp, wash it twice and let the shampoo pick up dirt on the ends as you rinse.
You don’t need to shampoo the ends, especially if your hair is dry.
The brain doesn’t instantly recognize hair problems, but your shampoo can help trigger them.
If you have an itchy, irritated scalp, try a tea tree or menthol shampoo, which creates a pungent sensation and in turn sends a signal to the brain that something in the hair needs to be addressed.
By using a tea tree shampoo once a week and a shampoo designed for dry or damaged hair, you should cover it.
For hair that feels greasy, a one-minute cold rinse — if you can tolerate it — slows the sebaceous glands, extending the time before it starts to feel greasy by 10%.
If you’re in your 40s and losing a significant amount of hair, that usually indicates you’re going through menopause, but don’t panic.
There are lots of things you can do and you might even end up with better hair than before.
When there is a drop in hormones, testosterone in the body begins to function in a different way.
It can shrink the hair follicle and hence women start to grow thinner hair strands.
Hair normally grows 90% of the time and falls out 10%.
The growth phase of the cycle begins to slow down due to this increased testosterone activity and the shedding phase accelerates and this is when people panic about their hair loss.
All it takes is for the growth phase to restart, but it’s a slow process.
To help, there’s a fantastic ingredient called Minoxidil – available over the counter as Regaine – which reactivates the hair follicles and is proven to grow new hair in most cases.
It acts as an adhesive bandage until your hair begins to recover and you should start seeing an increase in hair growth within a month.
CHEAP IS BETTER
Most hair products you buy at the supermarket are much better than what is sold at a hair salon.
A brand like Pantene generates £1billion in revenue a year and if you take just one percent of that you have £10million to invest in research and development.
That’s way more than a niche brand sold in a salon spends.
The shampoos and conditioners you buy from places like Sainsbury’s, Superdrug or Tesco are top notch.
Opt for sulphate-free and PH-balanced shampoos, as they are both gentle and cleansing and as good as anything you’ll spend £20 on.
An ingredient called argan oil is great for dry hair during menopause.
Choose a product that’s right for your hair type – ‘menopausal hair’ doesn’t exist.
Inside each hair follicle are a sweat gland and a sebaceous gland, which produce natural oils.
In some people, the glands become more active, resulting in an oily scalp. If they are less active, you get a dry, flaky scalp.
HRT has many benefits when it comes to hair and hair recovery.
Gland activity in the hair follicle can be affected by hormonal fluctuations and HRT restores balance to your system, including hair and scalp.
I can’t tell people to take HRT, and not everyone can take it, but those who do usually find that hair returns to its old pattern within six months.
BREAK OR NOT
HAIR can break when too bleached or highlighted, or too tight in a ponytail.
During menopause, you might think your hair is breaking as the short strands are just new growth that hasn’t caught up with the rest yet.
Each hair follicle produces three strands of hair of different lengths – short, medium and long. When this cycle gets out of whack – like during menopause – you can end up with lots of long and very short locks but none of medium length.
There may also be a delay with the appearance of the shortest, and when it appears at the same time, it looks like a break.
Don’t panic, but trim the ends and wait for the shorter hair to catch up.
Experiment with different ways to style your hair. Try bangs or a balayage, maybe a shorter cut, and look at it positively.
AVOID THE MIRROR
There is a psychological condition called Hair Awareness, when you become paranoid about it.
Signs include not being able to stop looking at or touching your locks, and you may convince yourself of things that aren’t happening.
Your hair isn’t necessarily your friend right now, so try not to look at yourself too much in the mirror.
I developed baldness after the pandemic and became very paranoid about it – but once I left it alone it started growing back.