By Morgan Allman
I don’t know about you, but when I think of menopause and all the things that come along with aging as a woman, happy thoughts don’t exactly come flooding through my mind. Instead, I think of all the changes we experience and learning to handle them with grace. One of the biggest changes many women experience is actually in our hair. What was once thicker than a redwood and as straight as a stick, may now be a curly, frizzy, cotton candy-thin, ball of fluff. You might also notice the dreaded hair loss.
During menopause, our hormone levels change. Estrogen and progesterone decrease, leading to an increase in testosterone. This causes our hair growth to slow, and the hairs that do make it are typically thinner and weaker. So, what can we do to combat this, and get back our luscious locks? Well, buckle up, sister, because we’re going to dive deep into just what we can do and what type of products we can use to cure those bad hair blues.
When it comes to washing your hair, especially in the middle ages, around the time of Menopause, there are a few things to consider. For starters, there’s the list of ingredients and the color of your shampoo. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Sulfates, parabens, SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), sodium chlorides, mineral oil and any kind of synthetic fragrances have no place in shampoos and conditioners. These chemicals strip your hair leaving it frizzy and vulnerable, mimic estrogen, irritate your scalp… the list goes on and on.
Instead, what you should be looking for hydrating ingredients like natural oils, such as jojoba oil, seed and nut oils, or argan oil, shea butter or aloe; vitamins; natural or herbal fragrances; and something formulated for your hair type if gray or colored. You should also avoid yellow shampoo if you are embracing the gray. Instead, look for clear or purple shampoo, which will reduce yellowing and pull out those cool blue tones that make grays shine.
While shampoos are important, and you should definitely strive to find the right one for your hair type, you should also be paying attention to the cleanliness of your scalp. Tiny particles called free radicals, accumulating from various environmental factors ranging from air pollution to UV rays to harsh chemicals all around us. These unstable molecules rob our hair of moisture, create buildup on our scalp, and can slow or even prevent hair growth. To combat this, try adding a scalp cleanser into your washing routine once a week.
Banish the bleach
Something a lot of people don’t realize is that all that bleaching the sun does to your hair can be, at least somewhat, prevented. Wearing hats or head scarves can protect both your scalp and your hair from the sun’s harmful UV rays. You can also try an SPF spray before going outside if you know you’ll be in the sun for a prolonged period. This will help to protect from bleaching, drying, and block those pesky free radicals.
Fight the frizz
Whether you’ve actually had the nightmare while asleep, or it haunts your day dreams, we’ve all been privy to the horror scene of a girl’s hair shooting straight out to the side the moment she steps out the door. Luckily for us, there is such a thing as hair oils. These work alongside your natural scalp oils, or sebum, to help strengthen your hair follicles and promote new growth. The Superpower serum from Better Not Younger works double time to nourish your scalp as well as your strands, and is gentle enough for daily use.
Say goodbye to hair dye
You may be tempted beyond belief to dye those grays when they start peeking through, and trust me, I get it. However, I’m inclined to say the cons just might outweigh the pros here. While yes, the pigment in dyes will cover your grays, temporarily, dyes also contain harsh chemicals that strip your hair of essential moisture and nutrients. All the while, opening your strands up to further frizz and damage.
If you are determined to dye your hair and wish away the gray – no shame, girl – please be sure to do your homework. Try a dye made specifically for graying hair, with hydrating properties. A few tips for maximizing control while minimizing damage to your strands: use a hydrating shampoo that’s safe for color-treated hair to extend your time between treatments. You’ll definitely want to add an oil or elixir, as mentioned before, to your routine, and you may also want to consider get trims more frequently to get rid of any split or broken ends caused by the dye.
Diet, but the good kind
Changes in texture and loss of hair during menopause are due to a drop in estrogen and progesterone levels. So, naturally one of the first things you’ll want to try is pharmaceuticals. However, diet can play a big role here, and prevent you from having to pump your body with more hormones. According to the Marion Gluck Clinic, a clinic founded on the principle of balancing hormones naturally, some of the key nutrients we should aim to include in our diets during pre-Menopause and Menopause include keratin, protein, vitamins A and B12, zinc and, among others. And while you may think you have to get all of these naturally, it’s perfectly alright to cover yourself with a daily supplement.
In the end, it’s all about knowing your hair type and what it needs to flourish. So, if you’re unsure, take a good long look – but not too long, Alice – in the mirror and try to see if your strands seem brittle, if your scalp is dry, if there’s buildup near the follicles, or if you notice discoloration. Implement the respective tips into your hair care routine, and watch your hair come back to life. Then, drop us a line and let us know what is working for you!