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How Allie Got Her Hair Back: Fighting Hair Loss Over Age 40 and What Worked

By Wardrobeoxygen @wardrobe_oxygen

How Allie Got her Hair Back: Fighting Hair Loss over Age 40 and What WorkedThe other week I had a sponsored post about Nature's Bounty Vitamins. Everything in the post was true, I have been taking them daily for almost a month and I think they're great. However with sponsored posts you have rules about what you can and cannot say. Nature's Bounty's rules made sense - don't mention other brands, don't make any claims that they did something drastic, use this specific lingo so the product is represented accurately. So I couldn't really delve into what I've been doing to reverse the visible hairloss and thinning I was experiencing at the end of 2016.

Over 2016, I felt my hair was getting thinner, but didn't really think much about it until Karl mentioned it. Being a foot taller, Karl could see the issue - he said he could clearly see my scalp and my part was a lot wider when just a few months ago he never thought twice about my hair. I never took before and after photos because I wasn't doing any sort of experiment for the blog. In fact, I was embarrassed about my hair situation and in a few outfit posts when it did show, I cloned my hair to cover up the spots. This post ain't sponsored, so I can share all that I did to get my hair back, the successful and the notsomuch:

I think many people when experiencing hairloss will think of two brands - Rogaine or Viviscal. About a decade ago we had a friend who was experiencing hairloss and used Rogaine. It had such a distinct smell... there's some smells that just bother me even though others don't notice it. I just can't stomach using the product. Maybe Rogaine doesn't even have the smell any more, but I just can't. So I bought a box of Viviscal Extra Strength (why even have regular, anyone with thinning hair wants the strongest and most effective product amirite?).

I used a whole box and I believe the product really worked. I took it morning and night and after about two weeks my part didn't seem as wide and white. The problem was my hair was so greasy! I could shower in the morning and by 5pm I looked as though I hadn't washed my hair in weeks. I changed shampoos, changed products, I didn't connect it to the Viviscal until I came across this piece on The Cut. I then cut my Viviscal in half and the grease went down.

How Allie Got her Hair Back: Fighting Hair Loss over Age 40 and What Worked

That article on The Cut convinced me to try something different when I ran out of Viviscal. I bought this bottle of Keratin, this bottle of Folic Acid, and this bottle of Biotin. Each morning I take two of the Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin & Nails gummies and one of the Keratin pills. Every night I take one Folic Acid and one Biotin. I've done the Keratin, Folic Acid, and Biotin since around the beginning of February and added the Nature's Bounty gummies near the end of that month. It has maintained the growth I gained from taking Viviscal and added some, along with resiliency. I was seeing hair fall out everywhere - I'd put in shampoo or conditioner and end up with a spider's web of hair on each hand. I'd blowdry my hair over the sink and have to clean out a whole ball of hair in the basin. I'd come to work and my upholstered office chair would have a layer of my hair on it. Since adding these supplements to my day, the fallout has gone back to the same kind of fallout I experienced in my 20s and 30s.

The only negative I've experienced since adding hair supplements to my routine is my greys are stubborn as hell. This could be circumstantial, but now they will NOT take dye. I've gone to my stylist, I've done my old-school Natural Instincts, I bought Nice 'n Easy's Root Touchup and left it on for almost a half hour one time and still my greys are grey. If they were growing in thicker or more strategic a la Bonnie Raitt I'd be happy and rock the grey but it's really random and in weird places and seems to only make my hair look thinner. This is something I'm still trying to figure out; I sometimes use this L'Oreal Spray to cover them but it makes my hair gummy if I use too much and can splatter. Oh my gosh, are those age spots on my forehead? Oh no, it's just the spray splattering all over my face.

Karl and I changed out diet together last spring and the changes were drastic. Our diet wasn't about losing weight, but losing inflammation. Karl read the book Foods that Fight Pain and it was a game changer. A few things we did:

  • Cut out red meat and cured meats
  • Little to no cow dairy (we still eat goat cheese)
  • Cut out almost all alcohol (we'd still have the occasional white wine or vodka)
  • Add Borage Oil pills to our morning vitamins

Each morning I had oatmeal for breakfast, adding hemp hearts and a power blend of seeds. I'd also have a vegan protein shake. Lunch I did a variety of things, but tried to cut down on gluten and up the veggies. A quick go-to lunch for me is an avocado, a small jar with some olive oil, lime juice, salt, and red pepper flakes in it, and a bag of rice cakes. Add the avocado to the jar and mix up with fork and put on the rice cakes for a gluten-free avocado toast right at my desk. I also keep my office stocked with those 90-second rice packs, Kind bars, and Thai Kitchen soup bowls so I'm less likely to head to the deli in my building. Dinner Karl makes - we did a lot of seafood, dark leafy greens, and whole grains. Within a month I felt amazing. I didn't lose weight, but I had a spring in my step, slept better, my skin looked great and with it, my hair.

Then we went on our summer road trip. We tried to stick to our diet, but it was hard when we weren't the ones making our meals. Things went completely off the rails in Arizona when we ate all the meats with red wine. And then we visited Texas, and Memphis... well the food was great! We came home and tried to get on track, but there were more trips and then it was the holidays and eventually I'm back to feeling old and creaky and to top it off my hair is thinning.

I visited my doctor and got a full workup. He said I was fine, my levels are fine, it's likely premenopause and stress. He recommended I get more sleep, and eat a diet rich in iron and consume Vitamin C at the same time to help with iron absorption. Think seafood with lemon, spinach with tomatoes, beans with peppers. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are also great for hair: salmon, oatmeal, seeds, and nuts.

I went back to morning oatmeal with the additions. I haven't been as good about having my shake each day, but I do have it a couple times a week. I'm also back to having my morning Borage Oil too. I can feel it when I don't take the Borage Oil - my knees hurt, my back has twinges, and I think when I go too long my hair is more brittle. FYI, I know bacon and steak are delicious, I dream about how good they are but now when I eat either I ache like I have the flu and sometimes it brings on a migraine. Those who follow my InstaStories know I had a serious issue with my shoulder; I wonder if it's because I ate red meat and drank wine twice that week.

Alcohol dehydrates, and it also affects sleep. Other than a night or two with friends and wine and the ELOQUII store event where I had a couple of glasses of bubbly, I haven't drank in 2017 and it has helped my skin and I think my hair by keeping me more even keeled and provides me with more restful sleep.

I'm not back 100%, but each time I look at my hair in the mirror it reminds me how it's worth it to stay on track.

Supplements are called that because they work in conjunction with other products or treatments. Sure, they'll improve your hair, but to really get your hair healthy, other parts of you need to be healthy. My doctor said my hairloss could be attributed to stress as well as hormones so I've made some changes:

  • Bed by 10. Sure, I sometimes stay up later to finish a blog post or if I go out, but most nights it's lights out by 10pm, sometimes earlier. I used to say if I had 6 hours of sleep all was well, but now it's a minimum of 7.
  • Stay hydrated. I'm always with water bottle. I have a 32 oz. reusable bottle at work and refill it twice each work day. I have another at my bed; I make sure I finish it between washing my face and brushing my teeth at bedtime and when I brush my teeth the following morning. I drink a lot of flavored seltzer to switch it up; Polar liter bottles and La Croix cans are 90% of my recycling bin. I also take Fish Oil which keeps my skin hydrated in the winter, and likely also helps with my hair.
  • Be kinder to existing hair. I only blow dry two times a week, when I used to do it daily. I turned down the temp on my curling iron and use it more sparingly. I use a silk pillowcase to prevent breakage and to wake with hair that needs less work to look decent. I do the occasional deep conditioning, though not as often as I should. No point in taking pills to grow hair if I'm doing things to break it off once it grows!
  • Progesterone cream. I wrote about progesterone cream, but I stopped taking it. It seemed I didn't need it and then through the holidays things got so busy I forgot about it. After seeing my doctor I started using it again and again I got all the benefits from it. Read about my experience with natural progesterone cream here.
  • Keep roots colored. This is a bit of a pipe dream as my greys won't hold color. But greys from far away in dark hair just makes hair look thinner. If you want your hair to look thicker, cover the greys you don't want. Though the Clairol Nice 'n Easy Root Touchup didn't stick to my greys, it may for others and it's surprisingly easy. I did it before work, it wasn't as messy as a full-head dye job and it blended well into my hair even through the rest of my tresses weren't colored with Clairol. My friend who has black-brown hair keeps a tube of mascara in her bag to cover unexpected greys especially at her hairline. L'Oreal's Root Touch Up Spray only works until your next shampoo but it does cover even the most stubborn of greys without looking fake.
  • Change up the look. I moved my part, had bangs cut a bit deeper into my hair, and stopped wearing my hair straight or with only a subtle wave. Giving my hair a messy part and a more beachy style lets me work with the texture I have, which gives the effect of more hair. I think of Diane von Furstenberg's hair, it always looks as though she's caught in a breeze and it gives the effect of thick hair. She's a style icon of mine and now a hair icon too.

I'm not back to my 25-year old hair or even my 35-year old hair, but my hair situation is much improved from six months ago. As I said in this post, I'm not going to take hairloss lying down. If you have any methods, products, etc. that have been successful for you I'd love to read them in the comments below!

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