Lorna Jones understands how it feels to go through hair loss. In fact it was her own experience with it, and her quest to find a remedy, that led her to become a certified trichologist.
After qualifying from the prestigious International Association of Trichologists and undertaking clinical training around the world including Australia, South Africa and the US, Lorna set up her own clinic, Caring for Hair, in London where she is now based.
Specialising in hair and scalp conditions including hair loss, scaling, hair thinning and hair breakage, Lorna offers expert advice and treatment to her clients, as well as emotional support. Alongside her day to day treatments, she leads support groups for those suffering from CCCA (central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia), a permanent hair loss condition primarily affecting Black women. She has also contributed to articles on hair loss and scalp health for publications including The Independent and written her own book If Only Hair Could Talk.
Here, Lorna explains the changes your hair goes through during the menopause and shares her suggestions on ways to keep your hair healthy and strong.
What are the hormonal changes affecting hair in the perimenopause and menopause years?
Thinning hair can be the result of Female Pattern Hair Loss which is hereditary. However, it is triggered by a change in the hormonal levels. Both men and women produce androgens, which are the male hormones – testosterone. At perimenopause, the oestrogen levels start to decline and it allows the androgens that are already present in women, to have a greater influence.
READ MORE: What is the difference between perimenopause and menopause?
The testosterone present changes to another type of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). As oestrogen levels continue to decline, the production of male hormones doesn’t increase, but continues to play a more dominant role, creating an imbalance. It is the dominance of the male hormones, along with inherited genes that can cause a condition called Female Pattern Hair loss which results in hair thinning.
Not all menopausal women will experience thinning. They must have a genetic predisposition which then becomes active when the oestrogen levels start to change.
What are the most common symptoms?
Typically, the hair grows in cycles. There are three phases: the growth phase (anagen), a resting phase (catagen) and a shedding phase (telogen).
When hair is affected by the imbalance of oestrogen in the body during menopause, the growing phase shortens, and the hair begins to thin. This results in more of the scalp being visible.
Is this a time of life when a woman should review the products she is using on her hair and scalp?
Absolutely. As the hair is changing, she will need to respond to those changes. As the hair follicles that produce hair get smaller, the production of sebum can also decline. Sebum is the natural moisturiser for hair, so this can result in hair feeling dryer.
READ MORE: Oliva Coleman’s hairdresser shares his dry hair rescue kit
Do symptoms improve as women move from perimenopause into menopause, or are the hormonal changes permanent?
Moving from perimenopause into menopause will result in fluctuating hormone levels. However, once women are post-menopausal, then anything that has happened will have settled. The hormonal changes are permanent.
What are the key product ingredients to help with symptoms, and how does each ingredient work?
There are two herbs that could be helpful:
–Saw Palmetto which studies have shown can reduce the production of DHT, so this has the potential to help reduce hair loss.
–Red Clover which is a phytoestrogen may help to stabilise female pattern hair loss.
Got a perimenopause or menopause question?
How should you change your hair care routine in the perimenopausal years?
It would be useful for women to start thinking about it as they approach their perimenopausal years. This includes looking at diet, so eating well and trying to incorporate oestrogen-rich foods into the diet. Also, managing stress levels and having techniques in place to provide stress relief. All of these can impact the growth of hair.
What is your own hair care routine?
Hair care routines will differ from person to person, depending on their hair type. As my hair can get dry, prior to washing I incorporate a hot oil treatment at home as part of my hair care routine and always deep condition my hair after every wash.
I recommend Nwelle Pro. The products have been produced by a world renowned dermatologist, and have been tested and trusted by other dermatologists. The softening shampoo, detangler conditioner and nourishing moisturiser are amazing.
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Can HRT help with perimenopausal hair loss or hair thinning symptoms?
As this is a medical matter, I would not be able to comment, but as hormones are being re-introduced into the body, then you could expect that the hair would be affected, if the woman has a genetic predisposition to Female Pattern Hair loss and has suffered hair thinning prior to taking HRT.
READ MORE HRT is it safe? Everything you need to know.
Are there any supplements that can help with the symptoms?
Supplements usually work best when there is a deficiency in the body of vitamins and minerals.
Any lifestyle/diet changes that can help with perimenopausal hair changes?
Always ensure that the body and hair stay hydrated. I would also recommend foods that contain phytoestrogens which are plant based eg flax seeds and green fennel. In terms of lifestyle, remember that stress impacts hair.