Earlier this year, independent market research company Nielsen conducted a survey in the UAE for the anti-ageing brand Inversion – and among the 100 women surveyed, more than two-thirds admitted they were experiencing hair loss.
Furthermore, 65 per cent of the expats taking part in the survey named hair loss as a beauty concern they’d only been suffering from since moving to the UAE, blaming the country’s hot and humid climate for the thinning of their locks.
But it isn’t just the heat being blamed. You are also sure to have heard friends complaining about the quality of the water in the UAE being a factor for their hair loss, with the belief that the desalination process is contributing to the fall.
So is there any truth in it all? In the case of the water, experts are in agreement that it’s a myth. The water here may dry the hair out, which makes it more brittle and dull, but it has absolutely no effect on the life cycle of your hair, says Dr Michael Ryan, a Dubai-based trichologist (www.dubaihairdoctor.com).
‘If you flip it around and ask what is the main cause of hair loss here, I’d say it’s a collection of things, including humidity, our hectic lifestyles and the low nutritional value of the food,’ he concludes.
According to Dr Nameer Abdul Majeed, a dermatologist at Dubai’s Aster Medical Centre, hair loss complaints spike in the summer. Of the average 45 patients that book appointments with him on a monthly basis, nearly half make inquiries about hair loss – and this increases by at least 10 per cent during the summer months, he says.
He agrees that the increase has a lot to do with climate and diet: ‘It’s a combination of poor diets and a hot climate that results in the flaking of the scalp and leads to hair fall. A healthy scalp means healthy hair.’
We all lose hair on a daily basis as it comes to the end of its life cycle (the state of our hairbrushes after combing through every morning being testament to that) – so what exactly is classed as above average when it comes to hair loss?
‘Hair loss in women is, to a certain extent, normal,’ says leading New York-based hair restoration specialist Dr James C Marotta. ‘The average woman loses between 50 and 100 strands per day, even up to 150 in some cases.’
If your hair fall is considered within these levels, but you still feel it is thinner than normal, you are probably experiencing what trichologists call shedding, rather than ‘loss’ – and short blips like a stomach bug, high fever, crash diet, or particularly stressful week at the office could be to blame.
‘The good news is that as long as your system has recovered and you continue to take care of yourself, there’s no cause for concern,’ says London-based trichologist Anabel Kingsley. ‘Your hair will stop falling out and grow back as usual.’
So what’s the best course of action if you are worried about the fall? We’ve compiled 10 steps to boosting the volume in your hair – and in some cases, you can expect instant results…
1. Consult an expert
If you are quite concerned about your hair loss, consulting an expert to check if the fall is within normal levels is your best course of action. It may be due to the heat and humidity or simply down to the fact that you have been under the weather recently, but getting confirmation that there is nothing to worry about will set your mind at ease at least.
Dr Michael Ryan agrees: ‘Get the underlying cause diagnosed properly and don’t just take the advice of a friend who tried a vitamin. There are too many websites with incorrect information and ‘wonder’ products. Hair loss can be an indication of an underlying medical condition, such as hyper/hypothyroid, diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome.’
2. Use a thickening shampoo and conditioner
So things are normal – but you still aren’t happy with the state of your mane. Start by picking a shampoo and conditioner that will help volumise your locks. ‘Thickening products create a net around the hair, making the strand feel plumper,’ explains top New York-based stylist Theresa Adams. ‘They contain ingredients that create hold so that you get volume in the hair. The ingredients must also work to solve the concerns of those with fine hair – a weak cortex, oil build-up, and dry hair.’
Luckily for those of us in the UAE, Swedish brand Sachajuan has just launched its popular Thickening Shampoo (Dh135) and Conditioner (Dh145, Bloomingdale’s), which promise to not only increase the thickness of each strand of hair, but also to boost shine and for heat protection.
3. Cut your hair
Surprisingly, the length of your hair can make a big difference to its appeared thickness – and that can do wonders for your own self-esteem if you are worried about the lack of volume. ‘If you have thin hair, opt for a cut that is short-to-medium length,’ says UK-based stylist Nick Penna. ‘Often fine or thin hair that is very long can look stringy – and even thinner since it’s weighed down by the length.’
4. Tease the roots
A bit of careful teasing on the roots can lift your hair and create the illusion of volume.
Top NY-based stylist Nathaniel Hawkins says: ‘Start by parting your hair and sectioning it at the top, so that you have a top layer and an underneath layer. Clip the top layer back and take the underneath layer. Gently tease the hair by backcombing towards the root.
‘Finally, unclip the top section and comb it smooth, laying it over the teased hair. This way, your hair looks like it’s got a ton of volume, but there’s no evidence of teasing.’
Nathaniel recommends finishing with a flexible-hold hairspray to ensure it stays in place throughout the day. We love Colour Wow Get in Shape Hairspray (Dh140, Basharacare.com)
5. Try a root lifter
If you can’t master the teasing, a root-lifting product will have a similar effect – and it’ll be quicker and easier too.
‘Hair flat to the head always looks thinner than hair that is lifted at the root,’ says stylist Nick Penna. ‘Women can use a root lifter to give their hair bounce and volume right at the start of the hair shaft.’
Try Gosh Pump Up The Volume Spray for Fine Hair (Dh50, Landmark Shops), which can be sprayed on to both wet and dry roots to add noticeable volume.
6. Consider highlighting your hair
If you are open to colouring your hair, adding a few foils throughout can make a big difference.
‘Highlighting hair adds a look of depth to strands,’ says Nick Penna. ‘It gives the hair dimension, which creates the illusion of fuller locks instead of flat, single-toned hair.’
7. Use a ceramic brush to blow-dry
It might not seem obvious, but the hairbrush you are using could be making a big difference to the volume of your hair.
‘I like to use a ceramic barrel brush to build volume during a blow-dry,’ says celebrity stylist Devin Toth. ‘And an ionic dryer emits pure negative ions to reveal smooth, frizz-free results.’ Eideal Ceramic Long Barrel Brush (Dh115, thebeautyfloor.com) is ideal, promising definition and texture (without any frizz).
8. Use dry shampoo
Dry shampoo isn’t just about refreshing your hair between washes – it can help to immediately boost volume, especially when you spray it straight on to the roots of your hair and massage it in.
Colab is a good brand to choose, with a whole line dedicated to volumising hair. Treat yourself to Colab Extreme Volume Dry Shampoo (Dh48, Glamazle.com) is perfect for the job.
9. Look after your hair
It seems obvious, but thickening your hair will be impossible if you don’t learn to care for it first.
‘If women want thicker-looking hair, they should immediately stop flat ironing it,’ says Devin Toth.
‘Taking precautions like using heat protectant spray, not overwashing hair, and always using SPF on locks before you step into the sun can rescue your hair, making it look thicker and stronger in no time.’
For heat protection, use Joelle Blow Shine (Dh180, wojooh.com), while for days in the sunshine, Sachajuan Hair in the Sun (Dh120, Bloomingdale’s) will protect your hair from harmful UV rays, bleaching, and loss of colour.
10. Stick to a healthy diet
Beyond it all, looking after ourselves from the inside is very important to keep our hair healthy too.
‘Like for most of our physical problems, a well-balanced and nutritious diet is a must for healthy hair,’ says Garima Singh at UAE-based Organic Harvest (organicharvest.in).
‘Include vitamins, minerals and folic acid in your daily servings with a special emphasis on Vitamin C that’s found in citrus fruits. It aids in keratin, which in turn helps your hair grow strong.’