If you’re an expat in the UAE, this is a conversation you would most probably have had – about how you are losing hair. Some feel it’s the water, others think it is the heat or other environmental factors.
Your pillow cover, towel, hair scrunchie and brush validate your fears every morning that yes, perhaps you might actually be either going bald or suffering severe hair loss. Many of us, women, have considered just cutting our hair off to prevent hair loss. However, it’s not all doom and gloom – there are ways to prevent or slow down the process of hair loss.
Nevertheless, trichologists and dermatologists, we spoke to made one thing is clear: If a woman has a genetic predisposition to hair loss or balding, it can be very difficult to stop or even reverse it.
It seems, you can, however, take steps to prevent complete hair loss or early balding and protect your hair and scalp better. Aside from that, experts agree hair loss is preventable and your water or your shampoo needn’t take the blame.
People think that after coming to the UAE, they start to lose more hair, but that’s not true. In women, especially, hormones may change or deficiencies in iron or thyroid are common reasons why they have hair loss or hair thinning.”
“If there was something wrong with the water, then all of us would lose our hair,” says Dr Suresh Babu, specialist dermatologist at Al Zahra Hospital, Dubai.
“People think that after coming to the UAE, they start to lose more hair, but that’s not true. In women, especially, hormones may change due to perimenopause and menopause or there could be deficiencies in iron or thyroid that are common reasons why they have hair loss or hair thinning.”
What is hair loss and why does it happen?
Hair loss or hair fall is a problem when you see more than 100 to 150 strands falling out every day, within three months. According to Dr Sanjay Parashar, consultant plastic surgeon, at Cocoona Day Surgical Centre, who works with patients suffering from hair loss, explained that some of the causes of hair loss in women includes nutritional loss from excessive weight loss, or it could be hereditary and to some extent stress.
“So adequate nutritional supplement… will help reduce hair loss. Apart from these…excessive dry scalp, dry hair due to excessive use of blow dryer, use of chemicals on hair, tight headwear like bandanas are all avoidable causes of hair loss.”
Channel your inner beauty through food
Hair care begins with the sage advice of having a well-balanced meal that nourishes your hair, inside and out, according to Zahra Darwish, Trichologist at Vivandi Trichology Centre, Dubai.
“Have essential fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6, which is found in salmon, flax seed oil, olive oil, eggs, turkey and nuts like almonds, walnuts and black raisins. It’s important to have vitamins B, C and D, which can be found in green leafy vegetables like broccoli, asparagus and avocados that also have selenium, iron and zinc.”
While protein are the building blocks of good hair, “People think chicken is a healthy source of protein, but it’s better to have less meat because these days meat has many hormones that can harm your body. Instead, have cooked seafood and fish, tofu or other soya-based products for including protein in your diet.
Taking about 2000mg of spirulina powder or capsules, which is high in protein, is recommended 2 to 3 times a week.” Avoid or reduce dairy in your diet like cheese as this has hormones too, she says.
“Go dairy free and instead add probiotics to your diet to improve gut health and have happy organs overall that will help you avoid hair loss.”
Maintain any type of hair and scalp well
If you used chemicals like chlorine to colour or bleach your hair in your 20s or 30s, then this may cause hair loss in your 40s. Even if you have, there’s no need to despair as there’s still time to reverse the damage.
Darwish advises not to comb your hair when it’s wet. “Because hair is at its most fragile state when it’s wet. Let hair dry by itself and do not wash your hair with hot water as it will take the nutrition away from your hair.”
Leave your hair open as much as possible and try not to tie your hair in tight ponytails as it can weaken your hair roots. It’s also important to have a healthy scalp, which means that your scalp has to have a good PH balance.
For example, if your scalp is too oily then she advises to shampoo alternate days. For other types of scalps, shampoo 3 to 4 times a week to keep the scalp clean and well hydrated.
Avoid those ‘hot tools’
“Don’t use any keratin-based product or keratin treatments in your hair as this will also cause hair loss,” she adds. If you want a good hair care routine, use any shampoo, but make sure you also use a hydrating conditioner, she advises.
Lifestyle changes to make
Quit smoking and if you’re unable to, increase vitamin C by taking a supplement or having more fruits and vegetables in your diet, Darwish advises. Avoid going out too much in the sun. She explains that if sun exposure can cause sunburn on your skin, then it will also damage your hair.
“If you can’t avoid sun exposure then use a sunblock spray meant for hair,” says Darwish. If you like to swim then you can opt for special hair treatments meant for swimmers that remove chlorine and other chemicals from your hair and scalp. Even if you’re wearing a cap while swimming, it is not enough to protect your hair from the chemicals in pool water.
Signs to look out for if you’re worrying about hair loss
Women can watch out for these common signs of hair loss like “…overall thinning of hair or a gradual thinning on the top of the head, which is one the most common type of hair loss,” according to Dr Anna Zakhozha, specialist dermatologist at 7 Dimensions Medical Centre, Dubai.
Receding hairline, bald spots, handfuls of hair loss are also some of the signs. “You may also experience very sudden hair loss, particularly after emotional or physical trauma,” she adds.
Coming back to a common assumption that the quality of water determines the quality of your hair. Regardless of where you stay, there are different levels of water hardness and it varies by region, says Dr Zakhoza.
“Sometimes, hard water that comes from our taps contains minerals like calcium and magnesium that makes our hair weaker, thinner and leads to hair loss. Softening your water with a shower filter or replacing your old pipes are an easy fix,” she adds.
Zahra Darwish is Trichologist Consultant at Vivandi Trichology Center located at the Fairmont Dubai Office Towers. If you are suffering from hair loss or any scalp condition, please book a consultation for a correct diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.