How going off The Pill might affect your hair, and what you can do to treat any resultant hair loss.
By Helena Madonna
As a hairdresser, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is "Why is my hair falling out?" The answer is somewhat complicated and differs from person to person. There are many reasons, most of which are quite normal such as; changes in weather or irregular shampoo days. However, I've been getting an increasing number of clients coming to me worried about a more concerning amount of hair loss.
"Clients with different hair types; fine to thick, virgin to coloured and they all had one thing in common - they had recently stopped taking the contraceptive pill".
I figured there must be a link between the two. I began reading up on anything I could find linking hair loss and stopping oral contraception. Frustratingly, there weren't many plausible studies on this issue until I stumbled upon one that mentioned 'telogen effluvium'; one of the most common causes of rapid hair loss.
It can be triggered by high-stress levels, nutrient deficiencies and drum roll - discontinuation of oral contraception, which causes a sudden change in hormones that were supported by the pill.
What Is Telogen Effluvium?
What is telogen effluvium you may ask? To find out you'll have to endure a brief lesson on the cycle of hair. Your hair cycle goes through three phases:
ANAGEN: This is the most active stage of your hair growth cycle. She's the one doing most of the work. She's responsible for new hair being formed, being pushed out of your follicle and elongating your hair shaft. Around 80% to 90% of your hair follicles sit in the anagen stage at any given time.
CATAGEN: The transitional stage of your hair growth cycle. The hair stops growing due to the lower portion of your hair follicle regressing. Around 5% of all hairs are in the catagen stage at any given time.
TELOGEN: This is the resting stage of your hair growth cycle. The laziest of the bunch, she's responsible for your hair follicles inactivity. There's a white bulb of keratin at the root that keeps the hair in the follicle until it's ready to shed, starting the hair growth cycle over again. Around 5% of all hairs are in the telogen stage at any given time.
Telogen effluvium (TE) impacts your hair when in the Telogen stage. After a trauma or significant change happens to your body and/or hormones, up to 70% of your hair in the anagen stage prematurely enters the telogen phase, resulting in hair loss. This usually occurs around three months after a triggering stressor. On average, we lose around 100 hairs a day, someone experiencing TE can lose up to 300.
If any of what I'm describing resonates, before totally freaking out, allow me to first say that you're not going bald. TE causes hair loss but won't cause total baldness. I'll also add that TE is a temporary condition. In 95% of cases, it's self-limiting which means it goes away and usually within 6 months. However, even after the hair cycle returns to normal, it may take a while to notice an improvement. When those new hairs start reappearing it's crucial to look after them, so resist the urge to overheat style and make sure you're cherishing them with good products.
Treating Telogen Effluvium
Young Again Oil by Kevin Murphy is a multivitamin for your hair and one of my personal favourites. It's rich in many ingredients great for heat protection, UV protection (vital for our current climate) and hair growth. One of which is called Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, an oil that protects and nourishes, as well as promotes faster hair growth and reduces hair loss.
A dual-action treatment, The Power Base Masque by O&M contains almond oil - which has been reported to increase the elasticity of the hair and assist in follicle regrowth and keratin production.
Created using eyelash thickening and lengthening technology, Body Mass by Kevin Murphy helps increase microcirculation to the scalp to strengthen hair from root to tip. Ideal for all hair types, especially fine, ageing and thinning hair.
Iles Formula Scalp + Hair Rejuvenating Booster is a powerful leave-in treatment for men and women that helps reduce the signs of premature or temporary hair loss while boosting growth of thicker, stronger, healthy hair. Powered by a proprietary blend of ProcapilTM (Biotinoyl Tipeptide-1), wasabi, tomato and apple extracts.
Davines Naturaltech Energizing Superactive helps stimulate new hair growth, its formula improves the scalp tone, controls the hyper-production of serum, reduces hair loss improving hair density. Formulated using Caffeine to stimulate the cellular metabolism of the scalp.
If you're interested in using supplementary support, we recommend Hairology by Vida Glow. Delivering longer, thicker hair by reducing hair thinning and supporting hair growth. Powered by hero active, AnaGain™, Hairology supports and maintains healthy hair follicles to revitalise and strengthen strands from within.
I'm not sure about you but currently, my feed is flooded with a trend called "hair oiling". Although this may be new to our feeds, it's a technique that has been used for thousands of years and has been practised in indigenous cultures all over the world. Oils have been used on the scalp with the belief that they bring shine and volume to the hair, help to prevent greys and in the long run, also prevent hair loss.
Despite what the Tik Tok-verse may say, not all oils are proven to help in the hair growth department. However, the following are a few that have been proven to help significantly with both hair loss and protecting the hair.
Reduce The Risk
If you're thinking about going off of the pill but are concerned this could happen to you, here are some ways are proven to help reduce the risk of developing telogen effluvium:
Not as sexy as collagen, I know, but protein can be super beneficial when it comes to minimizing hair loss. Your body needs 40 - 60 grams of protein a day, so get gaining.
AVOID RESTRICTIVE DIETING
If you've been contemplating trying out the latest viral diet on your feed, now's not the time. Restrictive diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies that can cause and trigger hair loss.
They don't call it a beauty sleep for nothing. A good night's sleep has a long list of benefits. So grab your silk pillowcase and turn on your rain sounds because getting seven to nine hours of sleep decreases your stress levels which equals glowing skin and healthy hair.
Pick the cutest packing or even take them in gummy form, do what you have to do to get excited about taking your vitamins. Iron, zinc, vitamin C and many others help maintain healthy hair, skin and muscle tissue.
It is best to first consult with your GP if you're thinking of going off the pill but if you're noticing more strands on your hairbrush or in the shower drain - don't panic. To reiterate and put your mind at ease, telogen effluvium is only temporary and I hope that after reading this, ways to treat or avoid seem less daunting.