Beauty Q&A: Hair Help!

Q: Amber, my mom has been experiencing extreme hair thinning and hair loss for several years now. Do you know of any products that she could use to help her hair grow again? I am recommending that she starts to see a new stylist. -Sheriece

A: Sheriece, there are products your mom can use to strengthen her hair, but it depends on whether her hair is thinning out, or breaking off. Your mom's hair could be thinning due to over processing. Daily use of heat, and relaxing too frequently can cause serious abuse on your hair. If she uses heat products, she should try to use them only once or twice a week (wrapping or roller setting are good alternatives), and only with an alchohol-free heat protectant (see my post on these). Relaxers (see a gentler one here) should be touched up every 6-8 weeks to prevent over-processing, but I think your mom might want to give the relaxers a rest for a while.

As you suggested, seeing a new stylist can definitely be in order if your mom's current stylist is engaging in some less than healthy styling practices. For example, too-tight braids/dreads, or poorly cared for extensions can cause hair to break off at the root. Whatever your mom has been using or doing to her hair while its been thinning, I would stop using or doing immediately. The hair and scalp need a rest, and deep, restorative conditioning is in order here.

Once a week, after cleansing with a gentle shampoo, she should condition with a protein-rich conditioner and sit under a hooded dryer or conditioning cap. A fave protein conditioner of mine is Joico K-Pak Moisture Intense HydratorTreatment, $18. A protein conditioner must ALWAYS be followed by a moisturizing conditioner to keep the hair from becoming brittle. I like Redken All Soft Heavy Cream, $16.

After your mom's hair has strengthened some, reduce the number of
protein treatments to no more than once a month. She can spritz on a little Aphogee ProVitamin Leavin In Conditioner, $4 after washing on the days she only uses a moisturizing conditioner. Key strengthening ingredients she should look for in products are: Keratin, Amino Acids, and Protein. She should avoid mineral oil and petroleum, as these will clog her scalp and prevent healthy new growth.

I must mention that since this is an ongoing problem, I'm inclined to think that your mom's hair loss is more medical in nature. In fact, it sounds like your mother may be suffering from alopecia. Alopecia is a dermatological condition that can appear in numerous types of hair loss, and can be caused by anything from poor diet and prescription medications, to hormones and aging. The only way to get the problem diagnosed and properly treated, is to see a dermatologist, which I strongly urge your mom to do. For more info, check out Dr. Susan Taylor's Rx for Brown Skin by Dr. Susan Taylor, $15.

Hope this helps!

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