Many factors contribute to hair thinning, loss as we age

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I get many questions on a daily basis concerning hair thinning and loss. I will try to explain and clarify the cycles of the hair.

The hair is far more complex than it appears on the surface. The hair follicles are completely formed in utero.

As we grow, our scalp expands; therefore, the density of our hair decreases as we age.

The hair follicle is beneath the scalp; the blood supplies the nourishment to the follicle keeping the hair healthy and intact. Everyone's hair grows approximately one-half inch a month, but each individual hair has a different growth cycle.

Each hair goes through three different phases. You don't need to know the names of the phases, but you do need to know that the duration of each of these phases determines how long your hair will grow. Each hair on your body goes through these three cycles.

The first one is the growth, second is rest, third is shedding. If we're lucky we have a long growth phase. Some of us can grow our hair down to our waist.

Most of us, no matter how long we let it grow, won't grow hair past our shoulders. For others the length is even shorter. So many things affect this cycle.

The five top reasons our hair doesn't grow or grows slower and gets thinner are: genetics, age, diet, stress and medication.

All five of the above and sometimes combinations of them retard hair growth. Therefore the second and third stages become more dominant, and the hair thins.

There are many ways to help stop the thinning process and encourage the growth cycle to jumpstart.

A high protein diet (hair is protein) helps tremendously. All of the B vitamins that help stress are also helpful.

Sleep, water, hormone balance and healthy diet are of utmost importance.

Don't be afraid to really stimulate your scalp when shampooing. That massaging will stimulate the blood flow, which will bring nutrients to the follicle, keeping it healthy.

Brushing your hair 100 times a day (not pulling like we used to talk about) is great for scalp stimulation.

The object is to keep that follicle from dying. The growth cycle needs to be predominant over the resting and shedding cycles.

Regular trims, not using drug store shampoos with fillers that clog the follicle and make it die, avoiding drug store color, which also burns follicles if not done properly, and using MSM (organic sulfur - a good nutrient for follicle health) are all important in keeping hair healthy and thick.

If your growth cycle needs more nudging, Rogaine for women and other products such as biotin and Nioxin might help; however, they should be used regularly.

I hope this helps you to understand another reason why, in addition to overall health, the right salon and products are important.

Joy Ross is owner of Style It Salon in Old Town Bluffton. www.styleitsalon.com

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