Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings...and thinning hair? Most women expect the common symptoms of menopause without knowing that “the change of life” also changes your hair, including thinning the hair on your scalp and the unwelcome arrival of hair in other places, such as your upper lip and chin. Changing hormones are to blame for these menopausal symptoms, and while we can’t stop our hormones, using certain products and introducing vitamins and supplements can help improve the condition of your hair.
So, what is menopause?
According to the Mayo Clinic, menopause is defined as “occurring 12 months after your last menstrual cycle and marks the end of menstrual cycles.” On average, menopause occurs in the United States at 51, although it can begin in your forties, and as early as the mid-thirties. The Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University highlights three stages of menopause—perimenopause (before menopause), menopause, and postmenopause (after menopause)—as well as early menopause, in which women experience menopause due to events other than aging. These events can include surgeries like a hysterectomy or side effects of an illness.
Throughout perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause, women experience a variety of symptoms, including changes in hair. These changes can affect affect how a woman feels about herself. Luckily, at Madison Reed, we create products to help you look and feel your best.
You are not alone.
Nearly 50% of women experience hair loss during menopause, roughly the same rate as men, although it’s rarely talked about. The loss of hair in women can be psychologically significant because it’s “not supposed to happen.” If you’re truly worried about hair loss, we recommend speaking to your physician. However, it’s important to remember that changes in your hair later in life are the norm, rather than the exception. Thinning hair is a common occurrence across all demographics, and Madison Reed products are designed to help all hair types, from fine to coarse, curly, coily, straight and everything in between.
What to do about graying and thinning hair?
In addition to the common issue of thinning hair, most women notice more gray hair, often increasing during and after menopause. An increase in gray results in hair becoming coarser than normal. If you want to maintain your color, a permanent hair color such as Radiant Cream Color will gently and completely cover grays, leaving hair healthier-looking and softer to the touch. Plus, it’s made with ingredients you can feel good about—free of PPD, phthalates, ammonia, resorcinol, parabens and gluten–and contains added nutrients including keratin, which is a natural protein found in hair to help protect and strengthen hair.
Hair is also more fragile during menopause, so it’s important to use products that are gentle, such as Color Protecting Shampoo and Conditioner. This nutrient-rich system helps lock in color and create long-lasting shine. The sulfate-free products help preserve hair’s natural proteins, including lupine flower protein, keratin, argan oil, and ginseng root extract. These nutrients help strengthen hair from root to tip, which can help slow the thinning of hair.
Another easy tip is to make sure to stimulate your scalp to help keep a healthy blood flow. This nourishes hair follicles, encouraging them to grow. Scalp massages and brushing—gently but consistently—will help keep your scalp stimulated (and your hair, and you, less stressed).
Changing Hormones, Changing Allergies?
Throughout our lives, hormonal changes can contribute to the development or eradication of allergies. We often see toddlers outgrowing food allergies, or adults developing seasonal allergies after never experiencing them earlier in their lives. During and after menopause, hormonal levels have been altered enough that it’s possible to develop new allergies. Before using hair color, do a test patch to make sure you won’t have an allergic reaction:
How to do a hair color allergy test patch
- Mix a small amount of permanent color and a small amount of developer in a small non-metal bowl. You will be testing a very small patch of skin, so about 1” of color from the tube with a dime-sized dot of activator should be enough.
- Clean small patch of skin (we recommend the inside of your arm, wrist, or behind your ear) thoroughly. Use rubbing alcohol if you’re not sensitive to it.
- Use a cotton swab to apply the color mixture to your skin.
- Allow color mixture to dry. Then apply a small bandage to cover.
- Leave on skin for 48 hours to test for sensitivities to the ingredients. If you sense any discomfort or sensitivity, remove and clean immediately.
- If no discomfort or change in skin occurs, you are safe to proceed with coloring after test is complete.
Of course, each woman experiences menopause in her own way, and each woman approaches these changes differently. To some, thinning hair is not the end of the world; to others, it’s a big deal. No matter how you feel, know that it’s a common symptom, and that there are steps you can take to address how menopause affects your hair and your self-confidence, because we want you to feel your best no matter what.
Mayo Clinic: "http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/basics/definition/con-20019726
Women’s Health Research Institute, Northwestern University: http://menopause.northwestern.edu/content/stages-menopause