While hair loss and receding hairlines are often thought of as a man’s problem, research shows that thin hair in women is a real—and prevalent— concern. And when it occurs, it can leave you feeling insecure and even “less than.” But you aren’t alone—38 percent of all women over the age of 50 experience significant hair thinning and hair loss. And by age 60, that number increases to an astonishing 80% of all women.
So, if you’re noticing a wider part or finding more and more hair in your brush, sink, or shower, or even on your pillow, you’re not alone. While thinning hair in women becomes more prevalent as we age and often appears in the aftermath of lifestyle changes, there are several natural remedies for thin hair in women shown to help not only reduce hair shedding but even promote healthy hair growth and help restore your mane to its former full glory—and perhaps provide even healthier hair than you had before.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about thin hair in women: why it happens, what causes it, and the easy steps you can take to fight and prevent hair thinning.
Shedding versus Thin Hair in Women
Before we dive into what causes thin hair in females, let’s look at what makes up your hair and discuss the difference between typical shedding and thin hair in women.
There are two parts to your hair: the upper part that is visible and grows out of your scalp and the lower part, or bulb, that lies beneath your scalp. The hair you see is mostly made of keratinized cells. (Keratin is a protein that makes up most of your hair, outer layer of skin, and nails, and it’s critical for maintaining strong, healthy hair.)
Like all cells, your hair goes through a life cycle that includes growth and death phases. The total life cycle of a hair follicle lasts about eight years, with the growth phase being the longer of the two cycles. When some hair falls out, ideally, they are just making room for healthier hair to take its place.
The healthy hair in the growth phase is protected by both an outer layer of the hair follicle that strengthens your hair and protects it from breakage and the bulb, which acts as an anchor for the follicle and helps to keep it in place.
Now, the average person sheds or loses about 50 to 100 hairs each day, most often in your hair brush or in the shower. If you suspect you’re losing more than this amount and simultaneously experiencing a lack of regrowth, you may be suffering from hair thinning.
If you’re seeing more hair lying around on your bathroom floor, pillow, or elsewhere, yet you’re unsure if you’re truly experiencing hair thinning, you can try this simple hair density test to get your answer.
If you want to know how thick and healthy your hair is, simply put your hair into a ponytail and then wrap a ribbon around the base of the ponytail, using your fingertips on each side of the ribbon to mark how thick your ponytail is. Then, measure the circumference of your ponytail by aligning your ribbon with a ruler. Ideally, you’re looking for at least a 3- to 4-inch circumference. If your ponytail is measuring smaller, you’re likely experiencing hair thinning.
Now that you know a bit more about what constitutes thin hair in women and how prevalent it is, let’s review what causes thin hair in females.
Top 6 Causes of Thinning Hair
Here are some of the top causes of thin hair in women.
One of the main reasons we see thin hair in women is due to their genetic makeup. The truth is that if your parents and other family members suffer from thinning hair or hair loss (also termed alopecia), you have an increased risk for it as well.
So, why does genetics cause very thin hair? Researchers are still trying to determine exactly how this works, but studies have shown that numerous genetic factors influence your hair in many ways—from its color to its texture and thickness. Oftentimes, when your genetic makeup is the cause of hair loss or thinning, it appears in a predictable pattern, which is known as male or female pattern baldness. In women, this most often begins with a widening part, which is a common place to first notice hair loss. In fact you’ve ever thought to yourself, “My hair is so thin I can see my scalp,” odds are that you first saw it along your part.
2. Hormonal changes
In addition, hormones play a major part in to hair thinning and hair loss. Women who are over 40 years of age and menopausal women are more likely to notice drastic changes in the health of their hair, mainly because the growth cycle their hair follicles go through is significantly affected by hormones.
Hormone changes can cause thin hair in women in certain areas and actually contribute to unwanted hair growth in new areas in women (like the upper lip or chin). This is also why postpartum women may suffer from hair loss. Remember that anytime there is a drastic shift in hormone levels and nutrient intake and status, including after birth, your hair can be affected just like the rest of your body.
While there are certainly a number of illnesses that cause hair loss in females, such as certain thyroid disorders, anemia, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), psoriasis, and more, the unfortunate fact is that many medications for certain medical conditions can contribute to thin hair in women as well. This is due to something known as drug-induced telogen effluvium, which means that a certain medication or substance has toxic effects on your hair follicles and pushes them into the shedding phase.
Some of the top medications known to cause thinning hair in women include medications designed to promote blood-thinning (anticoagulants), stabilize mood disorders, decrease inflammation (NSAIDs), stabilize blood pressure and/or cholesterol, fight acne, and more. If you suspect that your hair thinning is the result of a certain medication, it’s best to speak with your physician before taking further action and seeking a treatment for thin hair in women.
4. Nutritional deficiencies
Another major contributor to hair loss is a lack of sufficient nutrients in the body. This can be due to an eating disorder, restrictive eating, or simply not getting enough of the proper vitamins and minerals (especially B vitamins, zinc, and copper), and other nutrients in your diet to support the hair growth cycle.
Fortunately, consuming a nutrient-rich diet complete with hair-supporting healthy fats can go a long way in combating thin hair in women. Additionally, I recommend taking certain supplements to help ensure you’re sufficient in certain nutrients known to help prevent and fight hair loss and also support healthy, beautiful hair. My top recommendations include vitamin C, biotin, ashwagandha, and others shown to have a powerful effect on hair health.
5. Poor autophagy
Another cause of thin hair in women is having poor autophagy, which is the fundamental process in your body responsible for your cells maintaining optimal health by removing their own cellular waste. This process enables your body to repair damage from the inside-out and restores and rejuvenates your cells. Simply put, it’s the process that helps to keep us looking and feeling youthful!
Interestingly, research has shown that the very molecules that activate autophagy also stimulate hair growth. Likewise, the mechanisms that inhibit autophagy also restrict hair growth. And because you can activate autophagy via a number of natural methods, including engaging in intermittent fasting and taking certain autophagy-supporting supplements such as citrus bergamot, this is one factor you can take control of with a little dedication and determination.
Finally, we can’t discuss the top causes of thin hair in women without addressing stress. Whether your thin hair is the result of internal stress, such as psychological stress or an illness, or external stress, such as regular coloring, blow drying, flat ironing and even styling with products can cause trauma to your scalp, stress has an undeniable impact on the health of your hair.
When you experience internal stress, your body secrets the hormone cortisol (also known as the stress hormone). Because cortisol has been found to reduce how fast your hair grows and can contribute to the early breakdown of hair, it’s one of the major causes of hair loss in women. Fortunately, stress-induced hair loss is usually temporary and resolves on its own when the stressor is removed or managed. That said, it can turn into a long-term issue if your stress remains persistent.
Natural Treatments for Hair Thinning
In addition to engaging in stress-relieving practices, such as meditation and practicing mindfulness exercises, as I mentioned above, eating a diet rich in nutrients known to support healthy hair can go a long way in combatting hair thinning. But even the best diet can leave nutritional gaps, which is why I recommend supplementing a diet high in healthy fats with certain supplements.
When I first noticed my own hair starting to thin, I began to search for an all-natural solution, which is when I discovered a a bioactive form of keratin sourced from the luscious wool of sheep from New Zealand. And because I knew that increasing my body’s keratin meant increasing the very protein that makes up our hair follicles, I knew this was something to investigate more.
Today, you can find this incredible compound in OMI Hair Nutrition, which has been clinically shown to promote hair growth, improve hair strength, and even increase hair luster while also reducing hair loss by improving the anchoring of hair in the hair follicles. That’s why I recommend taking this incredible supplement and consuming a nutrient-rich diet to help restore your healthy hair growth cycles for a fuller, more youthful-looking head of hair.
By age 50, 38 percent of all women experience significant hair thinning and hair loss, with the likelihood increasing to 80 percent by age 60.
You can determine if you’re experiencing hair thinning by measuring the circumference of the base of your ponytail: Anything smaller than 4 inches indicates thin hair or potential hair loss.
Some of the most common causes of thin hair in women include: genetics, hormonal changes, certain medications, nutritional deficiencies, poor autophagy, and stress.
Fortunately, natural treatments for thin hair are readily available and include finding ways to manage your stress, following a diet high in healthy fats, and taking supplements known to support healthy hair, such as OMI Hair Nutrition, which contains both keratin and biotin.