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Why does our hair become less shiny as we get older

Dr Asim Shahmalak is Britain’s leading hair transplant surgeon. Dr Shahmalak, who practices in Harley Street and at his Crown Clinic in Manchester, and is one of the few surgeons in the country who can also perform eyebrow and eyelash transplants. He was a general surgeon in the NHS for more than 20 years before specialising in hair loss ands its treatment. He is also one of Britain’s leading experts in female hair loss and the treatment of it.

His celebrity patients include Coronation Street star Jack P Shepherd, model Calum Best, Homes Under The Hammer star Martin Roberts and former footballer Didi Hamann, who all had FUE (follicular unit extraction) procedures with Dr Shahmalak at Crown Clinic. The TV doctor Christian Jessen has had two FUT (follicular unit transplantation) procedures at Crown Clinic.

How does the structure of a woman’s hair tend to change as she ages?

A woman’s hair naturally thins as she ages because of falling levels of estrogen in the body – sometimes dramatically so post-menopause.

The female sex hormone gives the hair density, and helps with lustre and texture, although scientists still aren’t exactly sure how the relationship works.

Ironically, low levels of estrogen causing thinning, can also cause unwanted hair in other areas because of an imbalance with testosterone.

Although the menopause is a factor in hair thinning, up to 13 per cent of women have some degree of hair thinning and loss before they go through it. After the menopause, that figure rises to 75 per cent.

The structure weakens and hair becomes less durable, with a greater tendency to snap and split at the ends, making it more important to have it regularly cut and use scalp-nourishing shampoos.

What changes happen within the hair bulb/root to enact these changes?

The bulb or root shrinks because it is not being nourished properly, leaving the hair weaker and more prone to breakages. Excessive sebum production, known as seborrhea and sometimes as a result of stress, can exacerbate the problem if it is allowed to stagnate under the scalp. Because it blocks the follicle where the hair’s re-production cells are based, it generates toxins that collect around the root and prevent proper blood circulation. This shrinks the roots because they become asphyxiated and compressed. So it’s important to treat excessively greasy hair before it builds up.

How else does a woman’s hair tend to change – and why?

It’s widely believed now that it is genes rather than environmental factors like stress that cause greying in hair. A Danish study three years ago using identical and non-identical twins found little difference between greyness of hair among twins with identical genes. Otherwise, there is little scientific knowledge as to why some people go grey earlier.

The process of greying is fairly well understood though, and quite complicated. Every hair follicle contains pigment cells called melanocytes. The melanocytes produce eumelanin, which is black or dark brown, and pheomelanin, which is reddish-yellow.

They pass these melanins to the cells that produce the main hair protein keratin, thus deciding colour. When the keratin-producing cells die as the hair grows, they retain the coloring from the melanin.

When you first start to go grey, the melanocytes are still present, but becoming less active so hair appears lighter. As greying progresses, the melanocytes die off until there aren’t any cells left to produce the colour. This is exacerbated by ageing, but factors such as excessive UV light from strong sunshine can also damage hair over a long period by breaking down the melanin.

Why does hair tend to get less shiny as we age?

The decrease in melanin that affects colour also affects the sheen of our hair. This can be exacerbated by too much sunshine because ultra violet light can oxidize the melanin, which as well as giving sheen, also helps prevent a build up of chemicals that stunt growth and damage follicles. Combined with lower estrogen levels, losing melanin in this way simply means the hair is drier, more tired looking and has less bounce and bulk. There are shampoos and nutrients that will help however.

Why else might it become more frizzy/dry?

Changes to hormones make can hair more frizzy and drier. Other external factors include changes in hair texture and colour, as the sebaceous glands that produce thick, vibrant hair work less efficiently as you age. You need just the right amount of sebum to give your hair body and keep it healthy. Too much damages the roots, just as too little will make it dry and frizzy. Additionally, hair growth cycles affect density and frizziness. Usually they alternate between a growth phase (called anagen and lasting about three years) and a resting phase (telogen – which lasts three months). During telogen, the hair remains in the follicle until it is pushed out by the growth of a new hair in the anagen phase. At any one time, up to about 15 per cent of hairs are in telogen or resting. A sudden stress on the body, like menopause, pregnancy or illness, can trigger large numbers of hairs to enter the telogen phase at the same time – leaving hair looking dry and frizzy and having less body generally. After about three months, a large number of hairs will be shed. As the new hairs start to grow out, so the density of hair will hopefully thicken again.

Our Surgeon

Dr. Asim Shahmalak

Dr Asim Shahmalak is a world-renowned hair transplant surgeon who performed the UK’s first eyelash transplant in 2009. He runs Crown Clinic – one of Britain’s most successful and best known hair transplant clinics. He has treated a number of high-profile industry leaders and celebrities including the medical broadcaster Dr Christian Jessen, best known for Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies.

Expert hair transplant surgery by Dr Shahmalak

Related Articles

Hair transplants – where hair from the back of the scalp is extracted and transplanted in balding areas – may be a well-known or even commonplace procedure nowadays, but did you know that body hair transplants are also possible? 

Body hair transplants are certainly a lesser-known procedure, but still one that can be viable for the right candidate – here’s what you should know. 

How do body hair transplants work? 

Body hair transplants work in a very similar way to traditional hair transplants, except that hair is extracted from – you guessed it – donor sites on the body. Patients seeking this type of transplant have typically undergone several hair transplants already and exhausted their supply of donor hair on their scalp. However, for some patients, a body hair transplant is a preferable option if they have naturally thin, patchy hair or if they have acquired a scalp injury that impacts the typical donor areas.

Generally, donor areas for body hair transplants are the abdomen, chest and back. Hair follicles on the arms and legs may be in abundant supply, but the hairs tend to be too fine to use on the scalp. 

The body hair transplant process itself closely mirrors traditional hair transplants. The donor area is shaved before the surgery, and during the procedure the hairs are extracted from the donor area under local anaesthetic, before being transplanted into the thinning areas of the scalp. The length of the procedure depends on how many grafts are needed and the recovery process is comparable to standard hair transplants. 

Can hair be transplanted from the head to the body? 

Body hair transplants can work the other way around, where hairs from the scalp are transplanted in other areas of the body. A common example of this is eyebrow transplants, but head hair can be transplanted in other areas such as the chest or pubic region. Although a less common form of surgery, it can be an option for people who have lost body hair through genetic or external factors such as chemotherapy or injury. 

What are the results of body hair transplants? 

It’s worth noting that often body hair transplants do have a lower success rate than typical hair transplants, partially due to the lower levels of compatibility between the hairs on the head and the hairs on the body and the different structures of the hairs. However, during your consultation you will be able to discuss any potential issues with your surgeon. 

To find out more about body hair transplants and to find out if you may be a suitable candidate for the surgery, get in touch with Crown Clinic. 

 

For many men, the inability to grow a beard is something that they feel particularly self-conscious of. For those who can grow a beard, they often find that it doesn’t always grow in a uniform fashion, resulting in patchy facial hair.

Beard transplants are a permanent way to create a natural-looking, full beard. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, here’s what you need to know if you’re considering undergoing beard transplant surgery.

What happens during a beard transplant

Beard transplants are carried out through either follicular unit extraction (FUE) or follicular unit transplantation (FUT). FUE is the most common transplantation technique for beard transplants, which involves individual hair follicles being removed from the donor area and transplanted in the sparse areas of the beard.

The surgeon will determine the direction that the hair should grow in to make sure the new hairs blend in seamlessly with the existing beard hair and to create the desired look.

If you’re a good candidate for beard transplantation

To be eligible for a beard transplant, prospective patients must have an adequate supply of donor hair – this is typically hair from the back of the head, as it tends to be one of the last areas to go bald.

However, beard to beard transplants are also sometimes an option for disguising smaller areas of hair loss. This technique involves follicles being taken from the area below the jawline and transplanted in the sparse areas.

When having your beard transplant consultation, your surgeon should give you a thorough examination to determine if you are a suitable candidate for surgery and discuss your options with you.

What the potential side effects are

Although beard transplants are a generally safe procedure, it’s important to follow the aftercare instructions provided to reduce the risk of infection. Your face and scalp may experience minor swelling and irritation in the days after the surgery, but this will be eased by sticking to the aftercare routine.

FUE surgery does often cause some scarring in the donor area, but the scars are so small that the natural hair growth will disguise them.

How much a beard transplant costs

The price of the beard transplant depends on several different factors, such as the number of hair grafts required. During your consultation, your surgeon will be able to give you an accurate quote for the surgery.

Booking a beard transplant consultation

Crown Clinic is one of the UK’s most reputable hair transplant clinics, offering state-of-the-art facilities and procedures under the care of Dr Asim Shahmalak, a world-renowned hair transplant surgeon. If you’d like to find out more about beard transplants, get in touch or book a consultation.

Whether you’ve had a disastrous haircut that you’re desperately trying to grow out or are simply bored of your current hairstyle, there’s a good chance you will have searched for ways to grow your hair faster – but is that actually possible?

It’s worth noting that even the healthiest hair only grows around an average of half an inch per month, or six inches over the course of a year. Understandably, this can make people feel as if their hair is growing at a glacial pace – especially when you consider that we also lose up to 100 hairs per day.

How does the hair grow?

Hair grows from the follicle – or root – that is underneath the skin. The blood vessels in the scalp around the base of the follicles supply the roots with oxygen and nutrients, which will help the hairs to grow.

Does scalp massage help the hair grow?

Scalp massagers – brushes with soft, silicone bristles designed to be used when washing the hair – are currently proving popular, but are they actually worth the money?

Although scalp massage can increase blood flow to the scalp, and therefore bring more nutrients to the follicle, there is no evidence that massage will stimulate hair growth. However, scalp massagers can help to remove product buildup and excess oil from the scalp, which will improve the overall health of the hair.

Does cutting hair make it grow faster?

One of the biggest hair myths around is that getting regular hair trims can make the hair grow faster. This is, of course, completely false. Hair grows from the follicles, which are unaffected when the ends are cut off the hair.

Getting a trim can get rid of split ends, which occur when the ends of the hair become dry and damaged. Split ends can gradually progress up the length of the hair, meaning that hair is more prone to breakage – so if you feel as if your hair has been the same length for months, it could be due to split ends. Keep on top of them with regular trims to keep your hair looking healthy.

Will hair vitamins help my hair grow?

Although you will have undoubtedly seen countless influencers pushing pastel-coloured supplements on their Instagram feeds, claiming they have transformed their hair, this unfortunately isn’t true in most cases.

If you are suffering from hair loss due to a nutritional deficiency, then supplements may boost your hair growth, but you will need to consult with a GP to make sure that you are getting everything you need. If you have no deficiencies, hair growth supplements are unlikely to have any impact on the hair.

There may not be any quick fixes to hurry along your hair growth, but the best thing you can do for the health of your hair is to look after your overall health – take a look at Crown Clinic’s expert advice to find out how to keep your hair looking its best.