What Leads to Hair Loss and How to Avoid It

Hair industry vet Philip Kingsley is the man behind the lush manes of Kate Winslet and Renee Zellweger, but thanks to his New York City Clinic, he has helped countless “ordinary” men and women deal with their hair issues.

His consultations allow him to weigh in on all the factors leading to hair loss and, more importantly, what to do about it: age, diet, hormonal balance, improper care (like chemical treatments), genetic disposition, amount of hair, and growth cycle.
Here, Kingsley shares with us how aging and diet affects the health of our hair, and how we can positively affect the look of our mane.

 The Fashion Spot:  Tell us everything you know about the cause of hair loss, and how to avoid it.
Philip Kingsley: As we age, our hair’s diameter decreases, giving loss of volume, but not necessarily less number of hairs.  If the process of thinning diameters continue, at a specific measurement, the hairs do not grow as long, and progressively become shorter as the diameter reduces.
Eventually, this can result in “non-meaningful” hairs – that is, hairs that can barely be seen and have no meaning to perceived volume – i.e appearing like empty spaces.
Women’s’ hair loss can be attributed to many causes.
a) low iron levels
b) poor nutrition with lack of proteins (hair is protein)
c) thyroid anomalies
d) ill health
e) hormone imbalances
d) traction – pulling constantly when styling.  
Genetics, of course, can play a part.  If the family background of hair is poor, there is more chance of these causes having an effect.
Hair thinning is normally not noticed until at least 15% is lost.  There is as much hair loss in women as in men, but women do not (or rarely) go bald like men.  Finding the causes through blood tests is first.  Once this is done, the loss can be treated.  However, there are various external treatments that may help, such as daily massage and shampooing.  Using a Scalp Mask (Philip Kingsley makes one).  Also, taking a protein supplement (PK4Hair) and a well balanced vitamin and mineral supplement helps.
tFS: So diet is really important.
PK: Remember, the foods you eat today will affect the hair you grow today, but not the hair that’s already grown.  So it’s best to plan ahead. Since hair grows about half an inch a month, you are growing next year’s crop.  Hair is a result of your total diet, and is protein hungry.  Protein is needed in at least two of your meals daily, if not three.
Remember if you can’t face steak for breakfast, egg whites will do.  Albumin, the white part of egg is an excellent protein for hair.  If you lean toward vegetable proteins, remember that soy is the only complete vegetable protein. Be sure to include brown rice with your meal if you are eating other vegetable proteins.
You’re on an energy deficit at breakfast.  Half a glass of fresh juice will not only give you lots of antioxidants and other micro nutriments, it also gives you simple sugars for instant energy.
The sheen and strength of the hair are really part of the same thing.  If the hair cuticle is damaged, the hair will be dull and the inner cortex of the hair will be exposed and will oxidize, weakening the fiber.  Almost any fruits and vegetables will increase antioxidants.  These help deactivate the hair hurting super oxide radical which is activated by summer sunshine.  Dark green veggies contain iron.  Hair will be weak or non existent without it.
Chew these plants well to break open the cellulose based cells that humans can’t digest.  This will expose the iron to our digestive system.  Put a tomato on the plate.  The vitamin C in it will help iron adsorb.
The food pyramid tells us that we require 3-5 vegetable servings and 2-4 fruit servings daily.  For the hair, add 1 more of each.
A good natural hair treatment from Philip Kingsley’s  Hair Bible is to take 2 eggs (I prefer free range), 2oz of olive oil, ½ a ripe avocado and 2oz of pure water.  Blend and apply to the hair, leave 10 minutes, and shampoo out.
Healthy shiny hair is the result of healthy diet because it’s the totality of the diet that actually makes the hair fiber.

tFS: What are the best fruits and vegetables for hair?

PK: There are several:

  • Avocado;  fats, more potassium than bananas, Vit B’s, E, K and the highest fiber content of any fruit.  It was just made for healthy shiny hair. 
  • Spinach;  A good source of hair growing iron.
  • Tomatoes;  Full of good micronutrients and lots of vitamin C to=2 0help your spinach irons absorb.
  • Nuts of various types;  helps decrease heart disease and grow better hair. 
  • Summer squash;  good source of carotenes, B1, B6, niacin, folic acid and antithetic acid. Will help the hair shine.
  • Apricots are a good source of carotenes including lycopene and lutein, iron, fiber, and potassium.  Not only do they help your hair grow, they deter cancer.
  • Sweet and sour cherries;  Vitamin A and C.  Good source of flavonoids, melatonin, and perillyl alcohol. Very good source of copper, and a good source of manganese.  You can’t grow hair without these.