Ultimate Women's Hair Loss Playbook: Everything To Know About Female Pattern Baldness

The Ultimate Women's Hair Loss Playbook

  • Androgenetic Alopecia
  • Female Pattern Baldness
  • Hair Growth
  • Hair Loss
Ben's Lab Customer Testimonial - Andrew By Andrew Campbell 10 minute read

Contrary to popular belief, men are not the only ones who feel the devastating impact of hair loss. Today, more than 33% of women in the United States will experience hair loss during their life. Unlike male pattern hair loss, women's hair loss doesn't receive nearly enough attention, leaving many women feeling alone in their search for support.

Sound familiar?

If so, you're in the right place. In this exhaustive guide, we'll be breaking down everything you need to know about female pattern baldness, including what causes it, how to identify it, and (most importantly) how to stimulate hair growth and fight hair loss at the root.

 

Why Does Hair Fall Out Anyway?

Well, for starters, you need to understand the hair growth cycle since most types of hair loss happen when a disruption in healthy hair growth occurs, whether that be from hormonal shifts or stress. 

In most cases, hair loss doesn't happen overnight. Instead, women experience gradually thinning hair that slowly leads to thinning center part. Typically, this happens during specific stages of the hair growth cycle, and understanding your natural growth patterns is crucial to reversing the signs of visible hair loss.

Inside The Hair Growth Cycle:

You see, hair grows in four unique stages, each one acting as an essential component for healthy hair. 

Ben's Lab - Hair Growth Cycle (Anagen, Catagen, Telogen, Exogen)

During the growth cycle, you'll experience:

Anagen Phase (Growing Phase)

First, new hair follicles emerge from the scalp during the initial growing phase. Afterward, they continue to grow until they've been cut or otherwise removed, and most people experience new hair growth that lasts anywhere from 2 – 8 years, making this the longest phase of the process. It’s important to note that this phase is the most susceptible to change, which is something we’ll expand more on in a bit. 

Catagen Phase (Transition Phase)

Next, the transition phase begins.  As hair follicles begin to shrink, they detach from the dermal papilla and make room for new growth to take over. On average, this phase lasts around 10 days.

Telogen Phase (Resting Phase)

Hair follicles in the resting phase usually last between 2 – 3 months, and new hair begins to develop as the old hair is resting. 

If hair falls out during this phase, telogen effluvium is usually to blame. Hormones and environmental stress can cause hair to shed before it's ready, resulting in larger amounts of hair loss than normal.

Exogen Phase (Shedding Phase)

Contrary to what many believe, losing hair is completely normal; it's actually a crucial part of the hair growth cycle. During the hair-shedding stage, dead hair follicles fall out from the scalp, leaving room for regrowth to occur. While hair can fall out on its own, most of us experience shedding hair while washing, brushing, or styling our hair.

In other words, if you see clumps of hair in your shower drain, it doesn't necessarily mean that serious hair loss is at play.

What Causes Thinning Hair In Women?

Before you can identify why you're losing hair, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the most common factors that impact healthy hair growth in women (and men) alike. Androgenetic Alopecia (AA), also known as pattern baldness, is by far the most common type of female hair loss and is strongly linked your genetics and age

There are more than 63 genetic markers that are linked to androgenetic alopecia, which makes identifying the exact cause a bit of a challenge. Surprisingly, the most prominent genetic marker associated with AA comes from the “X” chromosome, which you inherit from your mother. This is called the AR (androgen receptor) gene, and it impacts the way the receptors in the scalp bind with hormones. 

Most of us know that age is a large contributor to hair loss, although some cases of AA can start in the early teen years. This can be due to changes in hormones, environment, and other factors that vary as we grow older. 

The bad news: These are factors that can not be controlled.

The good news? There are factors you can control to keep your hair fuller and ticker for longer.

Hair Loss Factors You Can Control

Now that you have a better understanding of how age and genetic factors can lead to female pattern hair loss, it's important to remember that there are other factors at play, regardless of your genetics.

A few key factors that can negatively influence the hair growth cycle include hormones, inflammation, chronic stress, and poor nutrition. These factors can severely shorten the anagen (growth) phase of your hair which eventually leads to hair thinning and balding. 

Ben's Lab Hair Loss Factors - Hormones, Inflammation, Stress, Nutrition

Hormonal Changes

It's no secret: As we age, our bodies change. Along with all the other symptoms of hormonal changes, hair loss can also be linked to a newfound imbalance: the increase in DHT production. 

DHT is a derivative of testosterone, converted by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, that increases as you age. From there, DHT binds to androgen receptors on the scalp, leading to miniaturization and eventual loss of hair. Although testosterone also binds to these receptors, DHT is much more potent and can bind with five times the affinity, making it difficult to restore healthy hair growth.

Of course, it's worth mentioning that age is not the only factor that can change a woman's hormones. Pregnancy and menopause, as well as health conditions like thyroid disorders, can have a substantial impact on your hormone levels.

Inflammation

Inflammation plays a critical role in the body’s ability to grow and maintain healthy hair. Numerous studies have found strong correlations between pattern hair loss patients and perifollicular inflammation. When this occurs, hairs transition from the anagen (growth) to the telogen (resting) phase more quickly, eventually leading to noticeable hair loss. 

Additionally, Ben's Lab has found that 5-alpha reductase activity, when converting testosterone to DHT, increases the inflammatory cytokine IL-6 near dermal papilla cells in the scalp, further contributing to miniaturization.

Chronic Stress

Another key component in hair loss is stress. Even if you don't suffer from a hair-pulling disorder like traction alopecia, chronic stress disrupts the body's hormones, leaving you susceptible to a weakened immune system, hair loss, and other serious medical conditions. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, and it has been shown to affect the cyclic nature of healthy hair growth. Elevated cortisol levels have been observed in both men and women suffering from androgenetic alopecia. 

Poor Nutrition

Lastly, don't overlook the role nutrition plays in your hair growth. There are vitamins and minerals that are essential in strengthening hair and supporting growth. The prominent ones being iron, zinc, B vitamins, and vitamin D.

Ultimately, inhibiting DHT activity, suppressing inflammation, reducing stress, and eating a balanced diet are all ways you can decrease your likelihood of developing a severe case of male pattern hair loss.

How To Detect Female Hair Loss Before It Gets Worse

Now, noticing clumps of hair in your shower drain doesn't automatically mean that you're experiencing hair loss.

Losing hair is a normal part of the hair growth cycle, and understanding which types of hair loss you should and shouldn't be concerned about is crucial in preventing bald spots and other more serious hair loss issues.

Step 1: Watch For Hair Shedding

You can expect to shed at least a few hairs each day, from brushing and styling your hair to tossing and turning in your sleep. On average, women shed between 50 to 100 hair stands in a single day, so you don't need to panic about a few loose hair strands coming out in your hair tie.

That being said, if you notice hair loss that continues to increase over time, it may be time to investigate the true cause of lost hair.

Step 2: Identify Your Hair Loss Stage

Hair loss doesn't happen overnight. Instead, female pattern hair loss progresses with time, slowing chipping away at the hair density until visible bald spots are present. Many professionals use the Savin scale to determine which stage of hair loss a patient is in.

The Savin scale is best used to monitor thinning hair and prevent it from becoming an advanced case of pattern baldness. To do this, they measure gradual thinning from the center hair part, which ranges from a light thinning in stage one to more noticeable hair loss in stage 4.

After stage 4, the patient is considered to be experiencing advanced hair loss that extends beyond the center part. In some rare cases, women can even experience frontal hair loss or the female equivalent of a receding hairline.

Step 3: Seek Preventative Treatments

Either way, the best course of action is always to treat hair loss before it reaches an advanced stage. That means taking proactive measures and advocating for yourself if you suddenly notice that you've lost more hair than usual.

Remember, hair loss is much more difficult to address the further it progresses. If you want to prevent further hair loss and avoid high-risk medical treatments, focusing on stimulating hair growth and reversing the signs of lost hair early should be the goal.

So, What Can You Do To Treat Hair Loss?

Growing hair is a bit of a science, but with the right tools and insight by your side, you can start the process of reversing signs of female pattern hair loss and reclaiming your healthy hair.

Today, there are more treatment options for all types of hair loss than ever before, and choosing the right option is essential to ensuring you get the best results possible.

Preventative Treatments (Ben’s Lab)

One of the best ways to defy hair loss is to use natural remedies to address the controllable hair loss factors: DHT activity, perifollicular inflammation, chronic stress, and nutrition.  At Ben's Lab, we specialize in creating products that address these key factors, resulting in a healthy scalp and thicker, fuller hair.

Backed by clinical trials, our products have proven to be especially beneficial for patients suffering from pattern hair loss. On average, 75% of users in this category saw a noticeable improvement in hair density and thickness.

Best of all, our products are all-natural, backed by science, and made without harsh chemicals, giving you the freedom to restore your hair without any uncomfortable side effects.

OTC Applications (Minoxidil, LLL Therapy, Microneedling)

In some cases, over-the-counter medications may be a good option. One of the most popular choices for OTC hair loss medication is Minoxidil. Originally developed as a high blood pressure medication, Minoxidil can help increase blood flow to the hair follicles on the scalp.

Keep in mind, like most medications, Minoxidil does come with some side effects. Some of the most common complaints from users include:

  • Initial hair shedding 
  • Scalp irritation
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Mild to moderate headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fluid retention
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or discomfort (less common)

Beyond hair loss medication, non-invasive procedures like low-level laser therapy or microneedling can also be used to support the growth of new hair follicles. Even though there isn't as much research to support these practices, many patients have reported promising results.

Medical Procedures

Although rare, there may be extreme cases where a surgical procedure like hair transplants could be needed. However, these procedures should only be used as an absolute last resort. Like any surgical procedure, hair transplants come with some serious side effects::

  • Scalp irritation
  • Scalp infections
  • Scarring at the treatment site
  • Nerve damage in the head and neck

Which Path Is Right For You?

So, how can you decide which treatment is right for you? Well, it all starts with understanding your stage of hair loss. For example, women in the earlier stages of the hair loss process can halt and even reverse the effects with natural remedies and OTC medications.

On the other hand, women with advanced hair loss or a severely receding hairline may choose to opt for a more involved medical treatment. No matter which path you choose, you should always start by consulting with a skilled and qualified hair loss professional.

When Should You Start Treating Hair Loss?

Before you rush to your doctor's office to schedule a procedure, you should note that starting a hair loss treatment plan depends largely on the treatment path you choose. Taking preventative, treatments like products from Ben's Lab should always be the first line of defense followed by more advanced options.

Here are three signs you should never ignore when it's time to treat hair loss:

A) You Notice An Increase In Hair Shedding

Sure, this may seem obvious, but many of us fail to realize the severity of our hair loss before it's too late. If you are losing more than 100 hairs per day, it’s time to seek out preventative treatments or OTC medications. 

For about 75% of patients, this alone will be enough to stop hair loss in its tracks and support new hair follicle growth.

B) You’ve Entered Your Mid-30s

Female pattern hair loss can develop at any age, however, the signs show more prominently as you age. Almost half of all females show signs of hair loss by the age of 50. And it turns out that hair loss in females is more common after menopause, affecting nearly 75% of women older than 65 years.

This means that by the time you’ve entered your mid-30s, you should be seriously considering taking proactive measures to prevent significant hair thinning or loss, regardless of whether other signs of aging are present.

C) You've Been Diagnosed With Other Conditions

If you've consulted with a professional and been diagnosed with a more advanced stage of hair loss, taking more serious action might be necessary. In these scenarios, it’s best to understand all of the options available to you and work with a medical professional who can help you determine the best path for your needs. 


Ben’s Lab Mission

Hair loss is something that no one wants to face, especially women. At Ben’s Labs, we’re committed to demystifying hair loss and, more importantly, hair growth processes, giving you the power to make informed decisions about your hair goals. 

To learn more about our approach to preventing hair loss in women, visit our online store today.