14 February 2011 ~ 11 Comments

Sassy Style Talk With AJ: Stop The Presses. Help for Tresses, by Anita Roberts

Every morning I wake and stumble into the bathroom only to be confronted by one of my greatest frustrations.  My hair.  Just the thought of facing my follicles is anxiety inducing.  I have thyroid disease.  A notorious stressor of tresses.  I also have RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), and take medication to control my immune system.  Plaquenil and other DMARDS (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) are merciless in their attempt to rid our scalps of adornment.  So I have a double whammy in the way of illness-induced alopecia.  I think I nearly destroyed my marriage moaning and groaning about it.  These days, I keep quiet, and simmer in silence while using some tricks to make my fine hair look fuller.

Many people with autoimmune illness have the very same complaint:  my hair falls out in clumps!  I have bald patches.  My hair thins cyclically and I don’t know what to do!  Often, well-meaning folks try to point us in the direction of Rogaine, not realizing that a Minoxidil-like treatment won’t work for individuals with autoimmune or medication-based hair loss.  It says so right there on the box!

Well then what CAN we do?  Now, if you’ve been reading my articles, you know what’s coming next.  Nutrition!  The simple fact is that nutrition is the starting place for healing.  Food, vitamins, aminos, fats and fiber are our fuel and our medicine.  If you aren’t eating well, and mostly whole, natural foods, with at least some of it raw –you are never going to be at your best. If you were born with fine, thin hair, you’ll never have luxuriant tresses – no matter what you eat – but a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of protein and iron can make a difference.

Hair is 98 per cent protein and instantly responds to the addition of protein-rich foods such as fish, poultry, eggs, low-fat cheese and other dairy products, seeds and nuts.  Fish packs a double punch of protein combined with health-building essential fatty acids and natural oils.  Nuts have B vitamins and fiber.  Eggs are quick, easy and very versatile.  I like to start each morning with an egg or piece of fruit and a freshly juiced citrus, coconut, organic yoghurt, and vitamin smoothie.  It tastes decadent, but is actually amazingly good for us thyroidians.  Vegan and vegetarian diets can be nutritionally complete as long as you are eating a wide variety of whole foods.

Sugars and starches, soft drinks, and junk food snacks belong in the dead food compost heap proven to trigger body chemistry imbalances, as do caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.  Smoking has been conclusively proven to damage many important nutrients while nicotine of any type will destroy Vitamin C. Moreover, studies show that smoking can actually damage your thyroid! If you can’t completely eliminate foods that are not good for your hair, consider cranking up your hair vitamins and at least cutting back on the unhealthy habits. Look for foods that contain a lot of A, E, and B vitamins, as well as essential fatty acids.  If you have a tendency to crash diet or participate in food-limiting fad diets, you encourage hair loss.  Cut back on nutrition with restrictive dieting and you will most likely experience hair loss a month later.

But what can we do about the visual look of thin hair?  Fear not, my lovelies.  I have some tried and true methods to fool the onlookers and thrill the eyes.  There are some amazing products out there that really boost volume.  One of my favorite lines of product is the big sexy hair line.  This stuff works!  Another line that offers both economy and volume is Aussie and its products geared toward thickening.  Be sure to concentrate the mousses and thickening sprays towards the roots of the hair. They can make the ends look brittle and frizzy.

Shampoos and conditioners also offer some support, and you can go mainstream with products by Aussie and Pantene, which work great, or spring for slightly higher-priced winners like Paul Mitchell, Kiehls, or Bumble and Bumble, all of which get high marks.  For those of you who want a volume boost, but don’t need to wash daily, there has been a renewed interest in “dry shampoos” lately.  These are a blessing for mornings when you’ve become far too intimate with that snooze button or junior has decided to repaint the dining room with cereal before you have to run out the door!  They absorb oil, thicken slightly and leave a nice scent.  Just literally spray, brush and go! Many of the brands I’ve mentioned offer them as part of their line now.  Give ’em a try. I think you’ll be thrilled by how convenient they are.  And fellas, don’t be afraid to try these tricks, too.  A fuller, thicker head of hair makes both men and women feel more confident.

Heated styling tools, like flat irons and crimping irons, offer a quick but really significant boost to root volume.  When used in conjunction with a setting spray, like Spray and Play by big sexy hair, you can really get that crown bump that is currently so popular.  Heavy use of these types of irons can damage hair, however, so you might want to save that one for special occasions.  I use this trick when I want to pull out my full Audrey Hepburn complete with cat eyes and 1960s outfit!

I have an added and unusual problem in that the Plaquenil causes a change in the hair pigment, and causes color to drop out.  As if the hair loss weren’t bad enough!  It can literally turn hair a semi-clear, ginger ale type of color.  Since coloring the hair every two weeks only adds insult to injury as far as damage goes, I use non-permanent products designed to simply tint the hair and extend my color sessions out as far as I can.  Jazzing and Clairol’s Ion offer a wide range of colors that are fairly subtle, but effective.  Beauty supply stores sell several different brands of more extreme color, such as Manic Panic and In the Zone.  I’ve actually mixed these colors and added conditioner and had success with toning them down.  It’s up to you how wild you want to go.  If you feel uncomfortable doing this on your own, have your hairstylist give you some tips and instructions for doing it at home.  It saves a lot of dough and you can just turn it into a spa day, complete with facial and an indulgent, luxuriant (bubble) bath!

The key is to experiment, play with different options and ideas and see what works or what you like and remember, nothing looks more beautiful than a gal with a sassy swing in her step and a smile on her face or a guy with a firm step and forward gaze.  It’s about the whole package, and the delivery is first class all the way!

Further reading

1.      Mary Shomon’s Hair Loss Solutions (for Thyroid Patients)

2.      Mary Shomon’s Thyroid Guide to Hair Loss

3.      Hair Loss in Women

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