Some men are growing facial hair for Movember but lots of people are just trying not to go bald. Male pattern baldness affects half of men over the age of 50, according to the British Association of Dermatologists. But that’s not all – half of women over the age of 65 are also grappling with hair loss. Usually, though, their hair thins, rather than disappearing quite so radically as it does in men.
So what can both sexes do to preserve their crowning glory, or mitigate what they’ve lost?
1. See your doctor Sometimes an over- or underactive thyroid can cause your hair to fall out, as might iron deficiency. And polycystic ovary disease might cause hair loss in women.
2. Eat plenty of protein Your hair is made primarily of protein, so eating a diet that’s rich in the stuff will give you the best chance of having healthy hair. Iron’s important too, and good sources of both these nutrients are red meat, fish, oysters, white beans and lentils. But, of course, they won’t restore what you’ve lost.
3. Treat your hair well Mistreating your hair can cause hair loss. So look after your hair by not tying it back too tightly, blow-drying it too aggressively or overdoing the heated rollers. That said, losing your locks to hair damage is temporary and your hair will grow back.
4. Go brunette Again, this won’t bring back lost hair, but dying your hair a darker shade rather than opting for blonde will make your hair look thicker.
5. Don’t take anabolic steroids Want muscles? Go to the gym by all means, but don’t be tempted to take body-building drugs. They can increase levels of male hormones that make you go bald.
6. Rinse your head in onion juice As unlikely as this may seem, there’s some evidence from Iraq that applying onion juice or garlic extract to your head can stimulate hair regrowth in people who suffer from a kind of patchy baldness known as alopecia areata. But the studies were small and, let’s face it, you’d might be better off walking around with no hair than smelling like onion soup.
7. Don’t smoke Or, at any rate, don’t smoke if you’re Asian. A study of 740 Taiwanese men found that the ones who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day were more likely to suffer from hair loss. It could be that smoking damages hair follicles.
8. Take drugs Not the illegal kind, obviously, but one of a very small number of over-the-counter treatments which have successfully led to hair regrowth in some people. Both minoxidil (Regaine) – which women can use as well as men – and finasteride (Propecia) have had good results, but they only work for as long as you take them, so you could be in it for the long haul.