If your layers suddenly seem to be thinning out, or you've just found a larger clump of hair in your shower drain than usual, try not to panic—although hair loss can be a total cause for a freakout, there is hope. "If you notice your hair is thinning or falling out, the first step is to observe the rate and pattern of the hair changes," advises dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra. "If it is gradual thinning that appears similar to a relative like a parent, it is more likely to be inherited female pattern hair loss, which can become more severe with age." Genetics aside, factors like chemical processing, a hormone imbalance, as well as both physical and psychological stressors (like certain medications, or illnesses) can also contribute to hair loss. If you're losing strands suddenly and in major quantities, make sure to see a doctor sooner than later. "One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to address thinning hair is waiting too long—the further along the process of hair loss, the harder it is to rescue follicles and improve the appearance," Dr. Batra explains. "Some causes of hair loss are due to underlying medical or autoimmune conditions and can be reversed if treated early."
Under your physician's advisement, there are a number of at-home treatments to aid in the regrowth process. Batra recommends using one that includes the medication mioxidil, which is the only FDA approved ingredient for hair growth, and can be found in the Keranique system ($49; ulta.com). Vitamin supplements that use biotin can also be effective, as can low-level light therapy devices, but you'll also want to look at the products you currently have in your shower. If they contain sulfates in the ingredient list, then you'll want to swap them out for gentler formulas. Additionally, take it easy on the heat styling. "Color processing and heat styling contribute to hair loss by damaging the outer layer of the hair follicle, which is made of a strong sleeve of deak, keratinized cells that overlap like fish scales," Batra adds. "This exposers the softer, inner cortex of the hair fiber, which is more fragile and has a rougher surface. As it becomes weaker, it can split or break off entirely." Noted.
As you wait for the treatment to take effect, there are a few things you can do in terms of style to conceal the hair loss. "Temporary solutions to conceal certain areas include cutting hair above shoulder length, adding layers, and keeping the cut blunt," Batra says. "Adding bangs in the front can help conceal thinning at the crown, and if you color your hair, keep the shade closer to the color of the scalp and try to avoid strongly contrasting roots. This can draw attention to a wider part." You can also experiment with tinted dry shampoos and volumizers, but limit your use to once a week to avoid creating buildup on the scalp, which can exacerbate the hair loss.