The transition into menopause can bring a range of symptoms both physical and emotional and if the hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings and anxiety weren’t enough for us to be dealing with, menopause can also affect our hair and nails.
Here we look at what changes to expect and some confidence-boosting tips so we can hold on to that sparkle and keep our locks and nails healthy and strong during menopause.
Decreasing levels of oestrogen and progesterone can affect hair growth. This can cause hair to grow more slowly and become much thinner, in some instance’s hair starts to fall out. A decrease in these hormones also triggers an increase in the production of androgens, or a group of male hormones. Excess amounts of androgens can shrink hair follicles, resulting in hair loss/balding on the head. However, in some cases high androgen levels can cause excess hair in unwanted places on the face such as the chin or upper lip (often referred to as ‘peach fuzz’). Other possible effects of the menopause for hair include dry scalp, dandruff and hair becoming dry.
Undoubtedly, hair loss, excess facial hair and scalp issues may make you feel self-conscious about your appearance, but it’s important to understand that these conditions are extremely common. In fact, around 40% of women experience hair thinning or hair loss during and after menopause.
Even though the cause of hair loss for women going through menopause is typically related to hormonal changes, it is important to recognise that there are other factors that can contribute to hair loss. These include extremely high levels of stress, illness, or a lack of certain nutrients. But in general, hair loss due to menopause is not permanent and there are lots of treatments and everyday lifestyle changes you can make to overcome this and improve the quality of your hair.
What can we do?
- Reduce the use of heat damaging styling products such as straighteners and curling tongs and when using hair dryers avoid using the highest heat setting.
- If you must dye your hair, choose an all-natural hair colour. Artificial chemicals found in dyes and perms can compromise your scalp and hair health.
- Use a volumising shampoo and conditioner which are particularly rich in Keratin (a protein which is the building block of your hair), Biotin (a water-soluble B vitamin commonly used for hair loss) and Amino Acids (which help to strengthen and repair).
- Make sure you eat a healthy and varied diet, include complex carbohydrates such as chickpeas, sweet potatoes and whole grain foods, healthy fats such as fish, flax seed and olive oil and green veg. All contain nutrients which may help to prevent hair thinning and loss.
- It’s important to keep your stress levels in check to prevent a hormonal imbalance. Partaking in regular exercise, or doing yoga and other breathing relaxation methods are especially effective in helping to relax and reduce stress
Brittle nails are one of the more surprising symptoms associated with menopause. Nails are made out of a hardened protein called keratin but the drop in oestrogen levels weaken the keratin layer so nails can break easily. As oestrogen also assists with regulating water retention in our bodies, the lower hormone levels can cause dehydration which in turn affect our nails causing them to become dry, snap and flake.
But don’t despair, there are simple steps we can take to ensure our nails stay strong and shiny.
What can we do?
- It’s important to keep our hands moisturised. Moisturising hands and nails after washing them will help nourish them.
- Protect our hands as often as possible by using gloves for everyday household chores such as cleaning or washing up to avoid further damage from chemicals and harsh water.
- Keeping hydrated is also essential so we need to increase our water intake and cut back on the caffeine and fizzy drinks.
- Avoid nail polish removers with acetone as they will dehydrate nails even further.
- Calcium helps strengthen hair and nails and works well with Vitamin D which helps absorb the Calcium. It’s important to have a good diet and get out and about in the sun to increase those Vitamin D levels.
- Supplement your diet with a multi-vitamin which specifically strengthens and repairs brittle nails. Bioglan’s Beauty Collagen range offers a variety of formats of hair, skin and nail supplements which contain Marine Collagen, Biotin, Vitamin C and Selenium.