What To Know About Hair Thinning

Illustrated by Lindsay Hattrick.

The experts fill us in

Hair thinning is as taboo a topic as acne or unkempt cuticles. When it comes to beauty, it's usually left out of conversations—but it shouldn't be, especially given the fact that hair thinning affects more young women than you might expect.

I have friends in their late-20s and early-30s dealing with skinnier ponytails and widening hair parts, and Lars Skjoth, founder and head of research and development of Harklinikken, which specializes in hair regrowth, says that it's not uncommon. "Around the 20s and 30s, there's anywhere between 25 to 30 percent of women that are experiencing noticeable thinning," he says. "Hair problems are not something that is belonging only to women in menopause. It starts a lot earlier than that."

Ahead, we chat with Skjoth and dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry about signs to look for, the difference between shedding and thinning, and different treatments.

The cause behind hair-thinning depends on the person

This should be a given, but the reason people's hair starts to thin varies. Specifically for women who are young, Dr. Henry says she puts her patients through a series of tests to get to the root of the cause. She checks their thyroid and iron levels, noting that "iron deficiency, along with vitamin D deficiency, can cause hair loss." She also checks for autoimmune issues like lupus or scarring conditions like CCPA, which is common among women of color. "There's another type of hair loss called alopecia areata, where you lose hair in patches," she says. Adding: "When we have a hair visit, it's going to be a really long visit in the office, because we're going through each and every step to tease out each of the symptoms that might guide us in making the right diagnosis."

A lot of the times, though, the cause is hereditary. So, look at the people in your family and see if they have significant hair loss and ask them when it started. If your genetics are to blame, Skjoth says the thinning can also be exacerbated by stress "and other health aspects, nutrition, and lifestyle that can then make this process go faster than it would have been had you not been in that situation." Basically, anything that gives your body a shock can cause your hair to shed.

There's a difference between shedding and thinning

Speaking of shedding, the hair that you find in your shower drain after you detangle isn't the same as thinning. "I'm not talking about a little shedding that you have and then it stops and then you feel that, after a couple of months, the hair seems to be getting back to its good, normal self," Skjoth says. "I'm talking about when you're starting to see more scalp, you feel that the ponytail is smaller, you feel that the volume, the luster, and the light of the hair is gradually disappearing. That's when you're actually thinning."

Dr. Henry adds, if your hair is falling out really quickly or coming out in patches, then that's also an immediate red flag. A little tool she says you can use at home is counting the number of hairs you lose a day. If you're losing more than 100, 150, that can become concerning.

Yes, there is such a thing as female pattern baldness

We often hear a lot about male pattern baldness, but there are female versions as well that are pretty common. The first, Skjoth says, is the same as male pattern, where the woman's hair at the temples moves backward and thins out in the crown. Another is what Dr. Henry calls the Christmas tree pattern. "If you have someone turn their head down, the thinness looks almost like a Christmas tree, wherein your part is getting a little bit wider as it goes back," she describes.

The earlier you notice something is awry, the better

Even though hair loss patterns can be similar between men and women, men notice they're thinning a lot earlier than women, Skjoth says. Partially because the thinning pattern is different, and also because, since women usually have a lot more hair on their head, it doesn't tend to be as noticeable. Or, as Skjoth puts it: "It might not be noticeable enough for them to take it seriously." Which leads some women to downplay the issue. "They maybe think, Oh, it's probably just the way I'm wearing my hair now or this style, or something like that, and then they're not paying attention until it becomes even more evident where maybe a parent, a friend, a stylist is saying, 'I need to tell you that you are, in fact, really thinning a lot in your hair.'" He says he has a number of cases where a woman comes in at 30 complaining about hair loss, and he notices that they've actually been thinning since 14 or 15. He adds: "The American Hair Loss Association has done surveys where they've asked, let's say, 8,000 women about their hair thinning. They found out many years ago that actually many women do not notice that they have lost a lot of hair until they've lost anywhere between 45 to 50 percent of their hair."

Pay attention to your hair styling practices

Though Skjoth mentions that some women might point to their hair styling practices as reasons to not take thinning seriously, Dr. Henry notes that the way you wear your hair can play a part. "The way we style our hair—specifically Black women—and the tension we put on our hair and the extensions and wigs and weaves and all of these things can really play a big role in damaging and breaking our hair," she notes. "So pay attention to your styling practices as well."

Don't despair, there's usually hope

As always, before you do anything, consult a medical professional who will be able to give you a proper and accurate diagnosis. Once you do so, there are a number of treatments you can look into. Skjoth's clinic provides individuals with personalized shampoos, conditioners, and nutrient-rich topical extracts depending on their needs that are updated throughout the course of the treatment.

Dr. Henry points to low doses of ingredients like biotin and turmeric, which she says can be great for those suffering from hair loss. "If you're noticing hair loss that's concerning, even if you have a family history, go talk to your dermatologist, make sure there's nothing atypical going on, make sure you're using the best products for your particular case," she notes as a sign-off. "You want to keep your hair in the best condition possible."

Photo courtesy of Helen Sloan/HBO

"And now our watch has ended"

In a thoughtful tribute on Instagram, actress Emilia Clarke said goodbye to Game of Thrones, and her character, Daenerys Targaryen.

Clarke posted a gallery of photos including some group shots with the rest of the cast, as well as a closeup of Dany's intricately braided hair, and a still from the show. "Finding the words to write this post has left me overwhelmed with how much I want to say but how small words feel in comparison to what this show and Dany have meant to me," she wrote, continuing to say that "Game of Thrones has shaped me as a woman, as an actor, and as a human being."

"The mother of dragons chapter has taken up the whole of my adult life. This woman has taken up the whole of my heart," she wrote. "I've sweated in the blaze of dragon fire, shed many tears at those who left our family early, and wrung my brain dry trying to do Khaleesi and the masterful words, actions (and names) I was given, justice." She also gave a nod to her father, who died in 2016, saying that she wishes he was still alive "to see how far we've flown."

Clarke finished by thanking her fans, telling them that "without you there is no us... I owe you so much thanks, for your steady gaze at what we've made and what I've done with a character that was already in the hearts of many before I slipped on the platinum wig of dreams," she said. "And now our watch has ended."

Photo courtesy of HBO

Don't reusable cups exist in Westeros?

Apparently, no one could keep their drinks off-set during the final season of Game of Thrones. The show, which has been known for its meticulous editing, has featured a Starbucks coffee cup in an episode, and now, a plastic water bottle. Someone get these characters a reusable cup!

Yes, in the final episode of the series, there's a disposable water bottle hidden in plain sight in one of the scenes. If you look closely enough, you'll see the bottle peeking out from behind Samwell Tarly's leg in a scene where many characters were arguing about the fate of Westeros.

Another water bottle was spotted by someone else, hiding behind Ser Davos Seaworth's foot.

It seems that everyone was too parched on the set of the final episode to worry about a misplaced water bottle making it into the final shots. Some are speculating that the team left them in on purpose as payback to the writers for the series' ending.

We just really hope that everyone in the series recycles. If there are disposable cups and plastic bottles available in the fictional world, we hope that there's an ethical way of disposing of them. Otherwise, well, it might be more disappointing than the series finale itself.


Think about all the ways you've begged for ruin

I'll admit I can get a little possessive about full moons; I was born on a full moon, you see. I'll admit there's something that makes people go mad over a full moon and there's something in that madness that situates me, gives me a place to drop my anchor. I see the full moon, her one wide open eye, and think of the first gods—the cyclops and the titans—how they betrayed each other. The full moon reminds me that each of us walks this life having inherited the stories of the lives that brought us here, we carry moments of great suffering in our DNA and we carry moments of great joy too.

A Scorpio full moon is especially prone to these sorts of reminders, dancing partner to the Sun in Taurus, since both these stars are so devoted to the past, since both like to mine a wound just to see how deep it goes and how much they can stand to endure. It's true, too, that Taurus is the sign linked to the Hierophant in the Tarot. The Hierophant is a figure in service to Mysteries: guarding and teaching the sacred. The Hierophant is pre-occupied with devotion and desecration and so is Taurus. Steadied by worship and undone by violation, a Taurus knows that a cycle is a cycle, there's always a hunger that thrives in the devotional figure, that seeks to be defiled and, in that way, tested. What better consort, what better polarity, for an Earth sign like that than the watery depths of Scorpio? Scorpio, the sign of transformation, of the occult, of karmic debts, fertile and secretive darkness. Scorpio, the snake that eats its own tail, our sexual power and our sexual shame. Scorpio rules money and Taurus loves to feel wealth, to sense abundance, to roll around in the rich black dirt.

While the Sun goes down under the star of Taurus and Uranus activates Venus, so the planet of love can pour her light over the bull's horns, the Moon rises in Scorpio and we are tasked with acknowledging the many ways we begged for ruin. Is there a heaviness on your heart, dear reader? Wasn't there a time when, green as a new stem, you begged the world to give you something real to experience, to bring you to your knees with wonder and revelation? You must have known that you had to break the bud to bloom, you must have sensed—somewhere in that ancestral memory of yours—that to love something, to pour your life into something, is to prepare to lose it. That's the deal we've made with god, or what governs time.

Have you left a cup out overnight and awoke to find it brimming with memories of betrayal, of loss, of something you felt was owed to you and never retributed? You can drink from the cup of the past searching only for the taste of it, seeking only to sate your thirst for bitterness. It's your right to feel everything you feel, to remember everything that happened to you and everything you set into motion, everything you did. But, listen. The sun is warm and generous, calling new life out of the ground. You move over the Earth like a cloud heavy with emotion and memory, threatening pour, while night waits on the other side, smelling like freedom—sweet, sharp and ineffable—full of poison blooms. You can hold the truth of this wild living world, its sacred promise to consecrate you with beauty and ruin you with it too. You can sip from the cup of the past with gratitude for your past self—the one who gave her life so that you could rise again, three times as powerful and wise.

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Screenshot via YouTube

It's so good

Lana Del Rey released a cover of Sublime's 1997 song "Doin' Time," and she made it completely her own. That means it's the perfect combination of trippy melancholia and full-out lust.

According to Rolling Stone, the cover will appear in an upcoming documentary which will "[outline] the history of the iconic California band." In a statement, Del Rey said, "Not a day goes by that I don't listen to at least one Sublime song. They epitomized the SoCal vibe and made a genre and sound totally their own."

Bud Gaugh, a member of the band, "We are so excited to be collaborating with Lana on this. The smoky, sexy, and iconic sound of her voice breathes new life into one of our favorite singles." It certainly does.

My personal favorite part of the cover is the fact that Del Rey doesn't change the gender of the person the song is about, like so many musicians often do. Instead, Del Rey's intonation of "me and my girl, we got this relationship/ I love her so bad but she treats me like shit" is gay rights.

Listen to Del Rey's cover of "Doin' Time," below.

Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images

Sounds fake, but okay

In a new interview for Australian Vogue, Kendall Jenner makes the claim that being associated with the Kardashian name was a setback in her modeling career. Hmmm, that's funny, because power and influence usually works in their holder's favor.

In the interview, Jenner addresses skeptics who doubted that she would make it as a professional model. "A lot of people assumed that because I came from a 'name' that it was a lot easier for me to get to where I got, but actually it's the completely opposite," she says.

"I've always been the person to prove [critics] wrong, even when I was younger," she says. "I've always been a hard worker: that's in my blood. My parents raised me and my little sister to be that way and the rest of my sisters, too." In the profile, it's revealed that Jenner used to attend castings "simply as 'K' or 'Kendall' to distinguish herself from her famous family."

But keeping her name off her portfolio wasn't going to fool anyone, really. Her face has been on television for years, and it seems unlikely that a casting agent wouldn't know who she was even if Kendall didn't come out and say it. Perhaps Jenner was more closely examined and more readily criticized by people who doubted her, but I'm not sure I believe that she had a harder time gaining a modeling platform or booking big jobs, even if she didn't use her last name.

After all, Jenner was likely able to get into those big casting rooms right away because of her family's connections, and she was able to devote her time to pursuing that career because of the wealth they have. She would've had a much harder time making a name for herself if she didn't come from an influential family. She probably wouldn't get to be so selective about which shows she walks, and she definitely wouldn't be the highest paid model in the world.