What happens to your hair in perimenopause, plus hair care products that help...

Is it your crowning glory or does it drive you to despair? Yes, we’re talking about hair and what might be happening to it during perimenopause. Hair changes during perimenopause aren’t inevitable – you might have none or only slight changes - but they certainly affect many women. We’re taking at look at the type of changes in your hair that you might see, what causes them, and what products can help you look after your hair during perimenopause.

What sort of hair changes can happen in perimenopause?

The most common changes to hair that you might notice as you move into and through perimenopause are:

  • changes in texture – your hair might become -
    • coarser
    • drier
    • more brittle
  • hair loss and thinning.

Genetics, heritage and hair type – thick and luxuriant or fine and flyaway – all have a role to play and, historically, women of Asian heritage have experienced less hair loss in middle years than, say, women of Caucasian or Afro-Caribbean heritage. That does seem to be changing, however, given changes such as diet, and living in a more westernised and industrialised environment.

Why does perimenopause cause hair changes?

Perimenopause marks the gradual transition to full menopause and can last for several years. It’s when we start to see changes in hormonal levels; for example, our bodies begin to produce less oestrogen. It’s this loss of oestrogen that has the greatest effect on our hair and can cause changes to the texture and thickness of your hair.

What else can cause changes to the hair during perimenopause?

Although you may see changes in your hair during perimenopause, it may not be the cause of changes to, say, colour, texture and thickness. Certain types of pharmaceutical drugs can trigger changes in hair colour and texture, and hair loss can be caused by medical conditions such as:

  • anaemia (iron deficiency)
  • hypothyroidism
  • lupus
  • protein deficiency

It’s vital therefore to find out the actual cause of any changes, especially hair loss, so do consult your GP for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Other major causes of hair loss include:

  • excess alcohol
  • smoking
  • stress

And, if you go through childbirth as you begin to move into perimenopause, you might also find yourself dealing with thinning hair, due to the massive hormone imbalance and shifts that your body has had to cope with.

Looking after your hair in perimenopause – our top tips

Even if you haven’t noticed any changes yet, it makes sense to take the best possible care of your hair as you move towards full menopause and beyond. Here are our top tips for hair care in perimenopause:

Keep it natural – if you’ve always relied on chemical tints, dyes, bleach or relaxers, this is the time to ease up and revert to your natural hair texture, curls or colour. If you still want a lift, opt for natural, organic non-chemical colouring for a lift and if you’re not keen on tight curls, try a pixie cut or make a feature of those curls – and make them more manageable - with an eye-catching bandana.

Don’t use harsh, chemical-laden shampoos - try washing your hair less frequently and, if possible, let it dry naturally.

Don’t overdo the heat – if you blow dry your hair after shampooing or use electric curling tongs or straighteners, avoid high-heat settings, as these can damage your hair and make hair loss worse. The same goes for extra-hold hair spray.

A head massage can help – many hair salons now offer head massages, using essential oils – which can stimulate hair growth. So, if your salon suggests one, say yes! Otherwise, it’s easy to give yourself a head massage, or ask your partner. Recommended oils for hair growth include: cedarwood, lavender, rosemary and thyme.

Eat well – and your hair will thank you. Aim for as varied a diet as possible, with plenty of whole foods, dark green leafy vegetables, healthy fats (such as olive oil) and the right amount of protein.

Go easy on the alcohol – alcohol interferes with the way we absorb important minerals and vitamins and too much can trigger hair loss. Excessive alcohol also has a diuretic effect, meaning that you need to urinate more often, and that can lower your magnesium and potassium levels. If you enjoy a drink, stick to current NHS guidelines.

Keep fit – try to include regular exercise into your daily routine, even if it’s just walking the dog (as long as it’s a brisk walk!)

Sleep well – as essential as eating well and exercising. Don’t burn the midnight oil, for any reason, and remember that our best and deepest sleep happens during the first third of the night – that’s when our cells renew.

Manage stress as far as possible – yes, life can throw all sorts at us out of the blue but try to find ways of switching off and relaxing, not just occasionally, but daily, even if it’s only for short periods, ideally in the evening before bedtime.

Vitamins and minerals can help – ask your GP to check your mineral levels, including copper, manganese, silica and zinc. If your levels aren’t what they should be, it might help to take a supplement, such as Biotin.

What are the best hair products to use during perimenopause?

Whether you already dealing with hair changes or simply aiming to keep your hair as healthy as possible as you approach menopause, here are some of our top products – all available in the Live Better With online shop.

Shampoos for perimenopause

We love the Plantur 39 range. The plant extract shampoo, for example, contains a natural source of caffeine and is great for fine and brittle hair, will help to retain its volume and help to prevent menopausal hair loss. Its phyto-caffeine complex helps to stimulate hair roots and other Ingredients include white tea extract for strength and zinc and niacin for healthy hair roots and hair growth.

Hair conditioner for perimenpause

If you’re looking for a product that will give hair growth a boost and smells divine, we think you’ll like Revita COR Hair Growth Stimulating Conditioner. It’s formulated with a powerful bio-adhesive that helps your hair follicles become more productive and hydrates your scalp. Ingredients include caffeine, lupine extract and ginseng and Revita has a delightful citrus scent. Use it regularly to prevent hair damage, combat perimenopausal hair thinning and encourage the growth of softer, stronger, thicker hair.

Suitable supplements for hair care in menopause

If your GP or nutritionist recommends taking a supplement to help with hair changes, Lindens® Zinc Magnesium and Vitamin B6 tablets are a formulation of three vital nutrients in one convenient tablet. The combination offers great support for your hair, - and for your nails, skin, bones and muscles.  It’s an excellent supplement if you like to push yourself during exercise too.

Hair colour dye for perimenopause

If you want to give your own hair colour a lift, stick to a 100% natural product, such as It’s Pure Organics herbal hair dye. It’s chemical free, comes in nine shades from golden blonde to very dark brown, and is ideal if you have a sensitive scalp caused by thinning hair.

Hair thickening products for menopause

If your hair is becoming noticeable thinner and you need a quick and easy solution, try

Toppik Hair Building Fibers.  They’re made of natural coloured keratin fibers, and use a static charge to bind to the smallest portions of your existing hair. What’s more, they won't come out until you wash them with shampoo, so they're safe to wear in the wind and rain.

(Our thanks to Ruth Witney of Bodmin House Hairdressing, Dulverton, Somerset, for her invaluable help with this article.)

Take a look at: Live Better With’s full range of recommended menopause hair care products, designed to combat perimenopausal and menopausal hair loss and thinning and changes in hair texture and help you to feel like you again.

Do read: our article on Brittle Hair and Nails in Menopause.

Visit: the Live Better With Menopause Community Forum for information, advice, and tips on hair changes during perimenopause - and to share your own questions and suggestions.