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Martha Stewart: Six Tips for Styling Hair After Experiencing a Period of Thinning

Martha Stewart: Six Tips for Styling Hair After Experiencing a Period of Thinning

Article by Rebecca Norris, Martha Stewart, November 17, 2021

Whether you just gave birth or are grappling with a hormonal or autoimmune disorder, here are several ways to gently arrange your strands  so you can face the day with confidence.

Hair loss is often gender specific. While men typically experience this condition at their recession points (near the temples), women notice it along their part line, notes Alterna Haircare Global Education Manager Paul Wintner. However, if thinning is the result of alopecia areata, women may experience baldness in small patches, he adds. Regardless of hair loss' location, Lars Skjøth, the founder and lead researcher at Harklinikken, explains that it is typically the result of an interaction between genetics and hormones.

"Hormones carry out the 'order' from the genes to attack follicles, which ultimately causes the hair follicle to shrink, resulting in gradually thinner hair," Skjøth explains. As for what causes the hormones to induce this loss? Stress, inconsistent sleep, and poor nutrition are just a few culprits (all three have the ability to impact your endocrine system). "Other causes of hair loss include styling (or traction alopecia), illness (like autoimmune diseases, metabolic disorders, or substance abuse), and childbirth," he adds. Whatever the cause, though, it helps to know how to work with your strands after a period of loss. Ahead, several ways to style hair in the aftermath.

Switch up your part and consider extensions
If your hair is thinning around your part, Wintner recommends changing yours to the other side or, if you're typically a middle-parter, to the right or left. For bald spots caused by alopecia, Wintner recommends using gentle extensions (like clip-ins or tape-ins) to easily conceal the areas. He adds that growing your hair longer to cover the bald spots can also help.

Avoid wearing hats
Even though wearing hats can protect your scalp from harmful UV rays, doing so can also add unnecessary friction to your scalp; as a result, hats could be a driving factor in traction alopecia. Additionally, Skjøth says that constantly wearing hats can create suboptimal scalp environment. "When you're wearing a hat, the temperature of your scalp increases, which speeds up the production of the bacteria there," he says. "This leads to an imbalance of microorganisms, which can cause follicle damage and hair loss." While this doesn't mean that you have to avoid hats altogether, if hair loss runs in your family, it's a good idea to limit wear. Instead, consider using a claw clip or comfortable headband (one that doesn't aggressively pull your hair) to style your strands.

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Wear loose hairstyles
Since traction alopecia is caused by excess friction and tension, wearing tight looks—ponytails, buns, and braids—can exacerbate the issue. "When the hair is pulled into a tight hairstyle, it creates tension between the hair and the follicle—and can ultimately tear the follicle," Skjøth says. "Repeated tearing can create scars, and this damage will impede hair from growing." Because of this, Skjøth recommends wearing relaxed braids or loose buns and ponytails to avoid permanent damage and further loss.

Embrace natural textures
As much as you may like to straighten or curl your hair, doing so can damage your strands and lead to thinning. And, if you're already experiencing a period of loss, it can leave hair look thinner and flatter—which makes any particularly fine areas more pronounced. Because of this, Skjøth recommends embracing your natural texture and taking a break from heat. "Use your natural texture to your advantage and apply products with ingredients designed to treat your hair (and style at the same time), like the Harklinikken Leave-in Hydrating Creme," he says. "Products like this become a treatment for your hair and will help repair the strands, reduce breakage, improve elasticity, and add shine."

Conceal where you can
No, not with a hat, but with a root spray or powder designed to cover grays, like the Madison Reed Great Cover Up (ulta.com). "These products can be used to shadow the sections of your hair that appear thinner to camouflage the scalp that is visible," Wintner says.

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