Though no one really talks about hair texture changes, our texture can (and usually will) change in some way throughout our life. To find out what causes changes in hair texture, we reached out to scalp expert Anabel Kingsley, a trichologist at Philip Kingsley.
Why Does Hair Texture Change?
Unfortunately, the most common reason for texture change is androgenic alopecia, or pattern hair loss, which leads to an unwanted change—an overall reduction in hair volume. “Androgenic alopecia occurs when hair follicles on your scalp are genetically predisposed to be overly sensitive to normal levels of androgens (male hormones). This causes hair follicles to become smaller, and hairs to gradually become finer and shorter with each passing hair growth cycle,” explains Anabel. This type of thinning can be caused by stress, which can exacerbate hair density changes because, Anabel notes, “through a convoluted route,” stress can raise cortisol, which can raise male hormone levels.
What Causes Hair Texture to Change?
Though your birthday is a reason to celebrate, aging is responsible for changes to hair texture. “Just like the skin on our face, our hair quality changes. Hair naturally gets finer as we get older,” says Anabel. “Just like we don’t have the same skin or muscle tone in our 40s, 50s, and 60s as we did in our 20s, we do not have the same quality of hair. Strands naturally get slightly finer and shorter as we get older,” she elaborates. However, look at your parents as an indication of how your hair might change over time. “The extent to which our hair diameter changes is largely reliant on our genes,” says Anabel. “If you have a strong genetic predisposition to reduced hair volume, shifts to hair volume can begin to occur as soon as you hit puberty. In those with slight or no genetic predisposition, it can be much more subtle.”
Whenever our hormones change, our hair texture is also subject to shift. Anabel explains that Menopause can trigger, or even speed up hair density changes. This is when estrogen (or female hormone) levels drop, and the percentage of androgens (male hormones) rises in relation to them. “Oestrogens are hair-friendly and help to keep strands in their growth phase. Androgens can have the opposite effect, especially in those with a genetic predisposition to follicle sensitivity.”
Heat, Diet, Stress
Of course, aside from temporarily changing our texture (straightening or curling with hot tools), what we expose our mane to can have a major impact on how it feels and behaves. “For instance, excessive heat styling can make strands feel dryer and become more fragile,” Anabel adds of this more permanent (unwanted) texture change.
Diet may also play a role in hair texture. “Because hair is primarily composed of protein, and amino acids are the building blocks of your strands, not eating enough protein can temporarily cause the growth of weak and brittle strands,” she explains. Like protein, iron is also crucial to maintaining your current texture. “A low ferritin (or stored iron) level is in fact one of the most common causes of the growth of shorter, wispier hairs, particularly around the temples and sides.” Otherwise, certain medical issues such as thyroid conditions can cause hair texture to change, and strands to become brittle and finer.
When Will You Notice Texture Changes?
Changes to the diameter of the hair follicle can take many years to become apparent. Think of it like watching hair grow (literally). “It is a slow and gradual process whereby a hair grows back slightly finer and shorter with each passing hair growth cycle, and the growth phase itself becomes shorter. When you notice density changes in part depends on the initial length of your hair growth cycle (it ranges from two years to seven years). When it occurs, and to what extent, largely depends on genes, and other variables such as hormonal shifts and stress levels,” she confirms.
Instead of freaking out about texture changes, prepare for it. “You can certainly do things to get the best out of the hair you have, and to minimize changes,” she reassures us.
How to Combat Texture Changes
Anabel advises the use of daily stimulating anti-androgenic scalp drops, which will help to protect hair follicles from the damaging effects of male hormones. “From our retail range, I recommend our Tricho 7 Volumizing scalp drops: $89, that we specifically formulated for women with fine hair and reduced hair volume. We also have prescription-only scalp drops, available exclusively at our London Clinic, to combat density changes. For an immediate boost in volume, use a lightweight thickening protein spray throughout your mid-lengths and ends. These wrap around the hair shaft adding bulk without weighing your strands down. I love our Tricho Pro Volumizing Protein Spray: $52.”
When dealing with any hair issue, remember the essentials. Less obvious things that commonly affect hair integrity include protein intake (again, because hair is made of protein), the health of your scalp, and stress levels. It’s also a good idea to get your thyroid checked routinely, as an imbalance may be the culprit behind texture changes. Also, take your vitamins “as nutritional deficiencies can impact your hair,” Anabel adds.