What makes new hair grow?
7 Ways To Regrow Thinning Hair
These expert-backed lifestyle solutions and hair growth treatments will help your locks thrive.
Celia Shatzman is a freelance writer and previous editor. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Glamour, SELF, ForbesLife, Refinery29, Byrdie, Women’s Health, Health among others.
Updated on December 15, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Susan Bard, MD, is a board-certified general and procedural dermatologist with the American Board of Dermatology and a Fellow of the American College of Mohs Surgery.
- Share this page on Facebook
- Share this page on Twitter
- Share this page on Pinterest
- Email this page
Maybe at first, you notice extra hair going down the drain in the shower or more strands than usual left behind on your hairbrush. While you might feel like the only person facing this, the surprising truth is female hair loss is a lot more common than you think. In fact, more than half of all females will have hair loss at some point in their lives, and 40% will experience female pattern hair loss (FPHL) by the age of 50 years.
And there’s a good chance those stats are off, Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said because female hair loss is often an embarrassing thing to talk about.
What Is Female Pattern Hair Loss?
FPHL affects millions of females and is the most common cause of hair loss in females. Typically, FPHL occurs around the age of 40–60 years old (sometimes earlier). FPHL is different than male hair loss in the way that the hair thins and is not all lost. Usually, FPHL presents as a receding hair line or you may notice your hair part getting wider.
FPHL happens for the same reasons as male hair loss. Hormones called androgens are involved, namely dihydrotestosterone (DHT). How sensitive the hair follicle is to androgens like DHT is determined by genetics.
«But FPHL does not have the same pattern as male pattern hair loss,» Francesca J. Fusco, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said. «It tends to be diffuse or frontal or temporal, and it can be inherited through female relatives.»
Aside from FPHL, people can also experience a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium. This type of hair loss can occur as a result of «drugs, trauma, and emotional or psychological stress.»
While we can’t control our genes, we can control our lifestyle. Making these expert-recommended changes may help your thinning hair regrow.
«Significant psychosocial stresses can result in hair loss,» Dr. Zeichner explained. He is talking about telogen effluvium. When this happens, stress shocks hairs to move into the «resting» phase, in which they all fall out at once.
«This is the same type of condition that women typically experience after they give birth or after a major surgical procedure,» Dr. Zeichner said. «These patients typically develop rapid thinning of the hair along the temples.»
If you think stress may be causing you to lose hair, finding stress management techniques is key. There are several ways to manage and reduce stress, including meditation, yoga, hitting the gym, or adopting a mantra.
Watch What You Eat
«Protein is critical to healthy hair,» Dr. Fusco said. «Lean meat, fish, poultry, and beans are all great sources. Iron is also important; low iron can lead to anemia, which can lead to increased hair shedding. The great news is that with proper diet and supplementation, this type of hair loss is reversible.»
For iron deficiency and hair loss, getting enough iron and vitamin C is important. In addition, the study mentioned that deficiencies in zinc, biotin, and selenium are also associated with hair loss, but the evidence on supplementing these nutrients in your diet is somewhat mixed.
As always, it’s important to consult a nutritionist or your healthcare provider if you’re thinking about making changes to your diet.
Try a Supplement
Taking a natural vitamin supplement that is designed to boost hair growth can help, and even multivitamins can give your hair a boost, Dr. Zeichner said. The two most popular hair supplements on the market that have been evaluated and shown to help promote healthy hair are Nutrafol and Viviscal, Dr. Zeichner said.
Use a Topical Treatment
The only topical treatment that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for female hair loss is minoxidil, better known by the brand name Women’s Rogaine. «Topical minoxidil is the gold standard of treatment,» Dr. Zeichner said. «It helps lengthen the active growing stage of hairs and promotes healthy delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicle.»
Try Essential Oils
As a natural alternative to Rogaine, essential oils may be worth a try. Among complementary and alternative medicine therapies, essential oils have some of the best evidence and seem to be effective for hair growth, alongside two other therapies. But there hasn’t been a final conclusion on how safe or effective these natural therapies are.
Talk to your dermatologist before you try either minoxidil or essential oils on your scalp.
Treat Your Hair With Care
Another way to save your strands is to always treat them gently. That means no rough combing. Here are some thing you should avoid doing to your hair:
- Don’t brush your hair when it’s wet and weak.
- Try to avoid using heat on your hair (blow dryer, curling iron, etc.).
- Skip hairstyles that pull, such as tight ponytails and updos.
- Never vigorously towel dry (leads to breakage).
- Take a break from daily blowouts and over-styling, which irritate the scalp.
Ditch Your Dandruff
Another surprising culprit? Dandruff. Dandruff is a common condition affecting the scalp and causing small pieces of dry skin to flake off.
«As flaking builds up or if the scalp itches and scratching ensues, inflammation can lead to excessive shedding,» Dr. Fusco said. «I see this a lot because women don’t use their dandruff shampoo regularly because the ones they have used are medicinal and not beautifying. Easily solved with a product like the new Dove DermaCare Scalp Pure Daily Care, which combines dandruff fighting zinc pyrithione in a nourishing, pleasantly scented formulation made for everyday use.»
How To Disguise Your Thinning Hair
It may take months for you to regrow your hair (and truthfully, it may not grow back at all). In the meantime, you can reduce the appearance of hair loss by paying a visit to your hairdresser. A good haircut and a few easy styling tricks can easily fake fullness.
«Long or short layers can make a world of difference,» Dr. Fusco said. «Change your part frequently to give hair a lift, and use volumizers and dry shampoos for a boost.»
Batiste Dry Shampoos are fantastic for volume; apply them to roots. Also, trimming off even a couple of inches will instantly add volume, get rid of the excess weight of longer hair, and help hide any thinning areas. But if you don’t want to go shorter, get layers that frame the face to mask fine hairlines.
You could also camouflage thinning areas with spray-on root touchup products or even eyeshadow, Dr. Fusco said. Brush on Madison Reed Root Touch Up for a quick, easy fix. There are a number of hair mascaras to disguise growing out roots, which also bulk up the appearance.
A Quick Review
Female hair loss can be caused by a number of things including hormones, genetics, drugs, and psychological stress. Any treatment for hair loss will depend on the underlying cause. However, some remedies may help you regrow thinning hair or at least disguise patches of thin hair.
If stress is causing your hair loss, consider looking into ways to relieve your stress. Changing your diet may also help, but talk to a nutritionist or your healthcare provider before making any major changes. Treating dandruff if that’s your culprit or being gentler with your hair in general are two other remedies you could try.
Otherwise, there are a variety of products for hair loss, such as supplements, essential oils, and topical treatments. However, you may want to talk to your healthcare provider before starting some of these treatments. And a new hairstyle, volumizing shampoos, or hair mascara may also give thin hair a fuller look.
Still, losing strands even after you’ve made these lifestyle tweaks? If excessive shedding continues for more than a month, see your healthcare provider to find out what will be best for your situation.
Was this page helpful?
Thanks for your feedback!
HOW TO KEEP YOUR HAIR FOLLICLES HEALTHY
If you have noticed thinning or bald spots, you’re like millions of other Americans who live with hair loss. A recent study found that while there are dozens of causes, hair follicle health has a direct effect on normal strand growth patterns. With a few changes, you’ll be able to rejuvenate your hair’s texture, appearance, and strength. Here’s how to keep your hair follicles healthy.
What Is Hair Made Of?
Hair is made of keratin, a protein that keratinocyte cells produce and move to the skin and die. While the follicles are alive in the scalp, the bulb is the base for the root of the hair. The dead cells form strands that renew themselves through life cycle rejuvenation. While the strands are dead, it’s the follicles that must stay healthy for new hair to grow back after thinning or loss.
What Causes Hair Follicles To Die?
It is the hair follicles that transition through the anagen (birth), catagen (death), and telogen (rest) stages. During each cycle, the hair strands undergo structured changes but renew themselves when hair follicles are healthy. About ten percent of hair is always in the telogen stage, so it’s vital to proactively work to ensure that hair follicles are able to rest and enter the anagen cycle.
Anagen: Lasts Up To Six Years, Grows One Centimeter A Month
Catagen: Lasts About Ten Days, Hair Follicle Cells Stop Producing Keratin And Die
Telogen: Lasts About One Hundred Days, Hair Sheds And Follicles Rest Until Renewal
It is through problems like scalp trauma scarring or hereditary conditions that hair follicles are unable to renew hair growth. Once damaged, the hair follicles shrink and make the hair finer and fragile until they die completely and hair loss and balding become permanent. If there are hair follicles that are healthy in the scalp area that scarring occurs, Bosley hair restoration will help.
How Do I Know If Hair Follicles Are Dead?
It’s important to remember that hair follicle cells die, but hair regrows after the follicles rest. When your hair follicles are dead, they do not regrow hair. You can inspect your scalp and look for signs of hair growth. Even if you only see thin hair patches or fuzzy texture, your hair follicles are still alive and will continue to renew themselves. If you don’t see any activity for a month, there is a high probability that your scalp has suffered a trauma or genetically caused cells to die.
What Causes Infected Hair Follicles?
If your hair follicles are infected, common causes can be ingrown hairs, infections, viruses, inflammation, fungi, or bacteria. Folliculitis is often the diagnosis of affected hair follicles. Using a follicle energizer and nourisher will rejuvenate cellular regeneration and circulation.
Can Dead Hair Follicles Grow Back?
If a hair follicle is intact, hair can grow back with proper care. Using Bosley hair products will significantly enhance the likelihood of follicle cell rebirth. If there is scarring or has closed for some time without regrowing hair, it is likely that you won’t be able to grow any new hair without intervention. It will also help to seek an expert’s opinion about procedures like Bosley hair restoration. Whether you naturally regrow hair or require specialized intervention, hair follicle health is critical. Preventative care will also ensure your follicles do not die prematurely.
How long does it take for a hair follicle to grow back?
Hair follicles typically grow back within one to two months as long as your scalp does not need to recover from damage. If your hair follicles are damaged, it can take up to four years until they are able to regrow hair normally unless it is permanent, in which case no new strands will grow.
Why Does My Hair Fall Out With The Follicle?
If you have noticed that you are losing an abnormal amount of hair from the scalp, something has disrupted the regular hair regrowth cycle. It can be due to hair strands that do not grow as long as they should while in the anagen stage or that more hair follicles enter the telogen phase than normal. Likely causes are stress, which causes alopecia or telogen effluvium or an early resting.
How Do You Stimulate Hair Follicles?
Essential oils are ideal for stimulating hair follicles. Try these for thinning, balding, and texture.
- Peppermint essential oil widens blood vessels and increases circulation to follicles. It’s the perfect oil to use in a scalp massage to promote hair growth.
- Tea Tree essential oil has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties that can treat your scalp and hair follicles against inflammations and infections. Tea tree oil also helps to unclog hair follicles, enables hair growth, and conditions the scalp.
- If you find that your hair is thinning or balding, use rosemary essential oil. Rosemary is known for cell rejuvenation and hair growth. Recent studies also suggest that rosemary protects hair follicles from bacteria and fungi infections.
- Lavender essential oil has a reputation for motivating hair growth and preventing loss because of conditions like alopecia or male pattern baldness. Lavender usage also has been found to produce thicker, healthier, stronger hair strands.
How Can I Strengthen My Hair Follicles Naturally?
- Proper Nutrition
As hair follicles are made of cells, you need to ensure you consume enough nutrients every day to maintain their health long-term. Eat foods rich in Vitamin A, B (biotin), C, D, E, iron, protein, and zinc. Nutritional deficiencies cause hair thinning and loss, so if you are unable to eat nutrient-rich meals every day, you can take a Bosley healthy hair nutritional supplement to ensure your hair follicles get crucial vitamins and minerals.
- Do Hair Supplements Actually Work?
Hair follicle health is dependent on healthy cells that start with the nutritional support from food intake that travels to the bloodstream. It is through this function that the cells in the blood carry these vitamins and minerals to the hair follicles and generates hair growth and texture. With continuous nutrition, hair cells thrive.
- Calculate Daily Water Intake
If you have noticed your hair strands are lifeless and your skin is dry, chances are that you are dehydrated. Drink plenty of water and try to limit your intake of caffeinated drinks such as coffee, soda, or tea. You can also substitute tap water for coconut water or vitamin-enhanced drinks to give your body that extra boost. You can also put chia seeds in a cup of water and soak them for an hour to make a gel for your favorite chia seed drink recipes.
Can Bosley regrow your hair? Bosley was founded in 1974 by Dr. L. Lee Bosley to reduce hair thinning and boost follicle growth. It all starts with keeping your hair follicles healthy, which is why Bosley hair products were created to assist customers with hair loss solutions.
Hair follicles are structures within your skin that grow your hair. You’re born with millions of hair follicles in your skin. You can’t pull out hair follicles. Damaged hair follicles lead to hair loss or reduced hair growth.
- Appointments 216.444.5725
- Appointments & Locations
- Request an Appointment
What is a hair follicle?
A hair follicle is a tube-like structure (pore) that surrounds the root and strand of a hair. Hair follicles exist in the top two layers of your skin. You’re born with over 5 million hair follicles in your body and over one million hair follicles on your head. As you age, hair grows out of your hair follicles.
Your hair follicle is one of a few structures in your body that can stop functioning and begin functioning again (degenerate and regenerate). This process helps with hair growth on your body.
What is the function of a hair follicle?
The function of a hair follicle is to grow your hair. In addition to promoting hair growth, your hair follicles do the following jobs:
- Help repair your skin after a wound or an injury.
- Form new blood vessels (angiogenesis).
- Form new nervous system neuron cells (neurogenesis).
How does a hair follicle help with wound healing?
The cells in your hair follicles help your body heal after a wound. When your body receives an injury, the cells within your hair follicles are closest to the wound and quickly move to the site of the wound to start the healing process. Your hair follicle cells assist your body’s white blood cells in your immune system.
How does hair grow out of a hair follicle?
Hair grows in cycles within your hair follicle:
- Anagen: The first phase of hair growth takes between two to seven years. Growth begins at the root (dermal papilla) in your hair follicle, which gives your hair blood supply and the nutrients it needs to grow. Your hair grows about 1 centimeter per month.
- Catagen: The second phase of hair growth occurs when the hair transitions from a growing phase to a resting phase, which takes about two weeks. During this phase, your hair detaches from your blood supply.
- Telogen: The final phase of hair growth is the inactive phase, where your hair sheds or falls out of your hair follicle. This phase takes up to four months.
Where are hair follicles located?
Wherever you have hair on your body, you also have hair follicles. Hair follicles originate in the first and second layers of your skin (epidermis and dermis). Follicles holding your terminal hair, or the hair that grows on your scalp, eyelashes and eyebrows, extend into the first and second layer of your skin and sometimes into the third layer (subcutaneous tissue).
What does a hair follicle look like?
A hair follicle looks like a long tube that holds your hair. It’s in the shape of a cylinder with a rounded bottom in your skin. The top of the cylinder is an open hole, which is where your hair grows out. Your follicle is similar to a sock; your hair is your foot that goes into your sock.
What does a hair follicle look like when it’s pulled out?
You can’t pull out a hair follicle, as it’s the structure within your skin that holds your hair. If you pull out a strand of hair, you might notice a bulb or round ball (root) attached to the end of the hair strand. The root is surrounded by nerve fibers that let you feel when your hair moves or you touch your hair. Removing this root doesn’t mean your hair won’t grow back, because in most cases, it will.
What color are hair follicles?
While your hair color can change throughout your life, your hair follicle, which is part of your skin, is the same color as your natural skin tone. The color of your hair follicle doesn’t relate to the color of your hair.
How big is a hair follicle?
The size of each hair follicle in your body is different based on the size of the cells that make up the base of the structure. Hair follicles are microscopic and you can’t see them simply by looking at your skin.
What is a hair follicle made of?
Your hair follicle is made up of layers of cells within layers of your skin. These cells create a tube-like structure to hold your hair.
Conditions and Disorders
What are the common conditions that affect hair follicles?
Several conditions affect the health of your hair follicles. The most common conditions include:
- Alopecia areata.
- Baldness in women and people assigned female and male at birth.
- Hidradenitis suppurativa.
- Telogen effluvium.
- Whiteheads, blackheads or a dilated pore of Winer.
What are the symptoms of hair follicle conditions?
Symptoms vary for each condition and could include:
- Hair loss, thinning hair or limited hair growth.
- Pimples, fluid-filled bumps or blemishes on your skin.
- Swelling (inflammation).
- An itchy rash.
- A would that isn’t healing, has a yellow crust or leaks a white to yellow fluid (infection).
What tests check the health of my hair follicles?
Each condition requires different tests to make a diagnosis. Your healthcare provider will physically examine your skin and hair and ask questions about your medical history before running a test that could include:
- Blood test: Your provider will remove a small sample of your blood to check for conditions that cause your symptoms. Blood tests could include an ANA test, complete blood count (CBC), anemia test and c-reactive protein test.
- Biopsy: Your provider will remove a small sample of tissue from your skin to examine it under a microscope.
- Pull and tug test: Your provider will grab a small section of your hair and gently tug on it to identify how many strands fall out. They’ll perform this test on different sections of your hair on your head.
What are the common treatments for hair follicle conditions?
Treatment is unique to each person based on their symptoms and could include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines like corticosteroids.
- Topical medicine (minoxidil) to help hair growth.
- Anti-itch medicines.
- Cleansers or creams that include salicylic acid, azelaic acid or benzoyl peroxide to remove blemishes.
- Antibiotics to clear bacteria or infections.
- Talking to a mental health professional to reduce stress.
- Hair transplant.
How do I strengthen my hair follicles?
You can keep your hair follicles healthy and strong by taking care of your hair and your skin. You can do this by:
- Avoid pulling your hair out.
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.
- Reducing stress.
- Wearing protective equipment like a helmet to avoid injury when participating in physical activities.
- Wearing sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays.
- Cleaning sores and practicing proper wound care if you have an injury.
Do hair follicles heal after an injury and will my hair grow back?
If you damage your hair follicles after an injury, they can repair themselves and your hair will grow back. It could take up to four years before you see new hair growth out of damaged hair follicles, depending on the severity of your injury. Frequent injuries to your skin and hair follicles can produce scars, which make growing hair difficult. Hair that does grow is thinner and more fragile hair than normal. This can lead to hair loss at the site of your injured skin.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hair follicles are part of your skin that are responsible for growing your hair. If you accidentally pull out a strand of your hair and it has a ball (bulb) on the end of it, you didn’t pull out the follicle, and instead, you removed your hair root. That root grows back and your hair will grow back, too. If you notice you’re not growing hair in an area that you used to grow hair, talk to your healthcare provider.