If You Have Thinning Hair, Reach into a Stylist’s Bag of Tricks


stylist 01 - If You Have Thinning Hair, Reach into a Stylist's Bag of Tricks


Were you born with thin hair, or did you just notice it? According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), hereditary hair loss is a medical condition that affects about 30 million American women and 50 million American men, but those numbers do not include men and women suffering from thinning hair for any other reason or those born with naturally fine, thin hair. Called diffuse alopecia, thinning hair should not be ignored, because it can be an early manifestation of several underlying conditions.

But first, let’s differentiate between the two types of fine or thin hair. Naturally, fine hair is determined by heredity, measured by the actual diameter of one strand. You can have either a lot of those fine hairs or not depending on how many strands there are per square inch. With the exception of fine hair, all other hair types consist of three layers: the medulla at the center of the hair, the hard cortex covering it, and an outer layer, the cuticle, composed of keratin scales. If the cuticle scales are densely packed and closed, hair looks healthy, shiny, and sleek; if they bristle, then hair looks coarse and dry, or flyaway. The medulla is generally absent in naturally fine hair, and the outer layer is not thick enough. That’s why fine hair is extremely vulnerable, easily tangled, and difficult to comb, and it frizzles quickly in the sun, in chlorine water, and at the hand of heated styling tools.

In contrast, hair can be “fine” or “thin” owing to age and pattern balding in both males and females and in diseases such as alopecia areata and others as well as a symptom of conditions that can be improved once discovered. According to a recent article by Dr. Harold Levy, an internal medicine specialist at Johns Hopkins University and Yahoo Health Expert, the main causes of thinning hair for men and women are hormonal abnormalities, local trauma, medications, stress, scalp inflammation, and normal age variation. If you notice marked signs of hair loss, a general rule of thumb would be to see your physician and/or a dermatologist to rule out any serious health issues. That said, the AAD recommends hair styling and scalp camouflage techniques to minimize the appearance of hair loss in women and men. Something your hairstylist already knew …

Hair loss and thinning hair: Learn the tricks of the trade

After washing and styling, fine and thinning hair loses natural volume quickly, flattens out, and does not keep its intended form. Aside from medical conditions, another reason for flattened style lies below the scalp. Since you can’t “work-out” your hair follicle muscles to make them stronger, you’ll need to artificially increase the volume of the hair near the root. “The one thing that definitely helps is to use styling aids that can make hair strands fatter. Those that are recommended by your stylist for fine or thin hair will actually coat and increase the diameter of the hair strand,” says Bob Rider, owner of Hair Replacement Clinic in Dayton, Ohio. “Definitely ask your stylist for tips on how to create fullness at home,” advises Rider. “And another great tip is to start with wet (not dripping-wet) hair because when it’s wet, the hair is swollen, the cuticle is raised and it will accept what you put on it.” Hairstylists agree on these styling basics for making the most of limp locks on a daily basis:

  • Always blow-dry and brush styles forward to maximize hair, especially on a cut with a forward line. This will bring hair toward the face to accentuate positive facial features.
  • Use a ceramic-barrel round brush to flip hair either up or under at ends. The ceramic barrel holds the heat, thereby making the brush more effective in styling.
  • Create volume at the roots by using the round brush and aiming the blow dryer at the roots as you move the brush away from the scalp.
  • Try setting curlers in a zigzag pattern so that each section holds up the ones on each side, instead of laying flat on top of one another.
  • Use heated styling tools effectively and properly.  It’s the amount of exposure to heat that damages fine hair to the point of breakage and dullness. Actually, the correct usage of hot styling tools will yield a longer hold for fine hair because the high heat changes the structure of the hair. Follow the recommendations that come with your heat appliances for your type of hair.