If you’ve recently combed your hair and brushed out one too many strands, or have suffered similar hair loss situations, you may be worried if your hair is thinning. Here, we clear up some misconceptions about thinning vs normal hair and give advice on how you can tell if your hair is thinning abnormally, how to treat that, and more.
Thinning vs. Fine Hair
First, it’s easy to confuse normal, thin hair (otherwise known as fine hair) with thinning hair, so we should clear up the difference between thinning vs normal hair. Fine hair is another hair type in which hair strands are normally thinner than other types, and it can be influenced by anything from age to genetics to ethnicity. Fine hair is smaller in diameter or width than the other two hair types, medium and coarse, and tends to have a silky and smooth texture. Fine hair is normal (and fairly common.)
Thinning hair, on the other hand, has nothing to do with diameter and more to do with the distance between individual hair strands on your scalp. The difference between thinning vs normal hair is that there’s simply less thinning hair on your scalp — fine, coarse, or otherwise. Fine hair is normal and not necessarily a sign of hair loss; on the flip side, thinning hair is essentially the same as hair loss.
Signs your hair is thinning
If you feel as though your hair is thinning at a rate that isn’t normal, here are a few signs that will help you distinguish between normal hair vs thinning hair.
You can easily see your scalp through your hair
Especially for women, it’s normal to have hair thinning and hair loss in the top of the head. If there are obvious bald spots in your hair when it’s resting or when you’ve tied it back, or if you find that your hair part is widening, this could be a sign of thinning hair.
You find more loose strands of hair
Because thinning hair and hair loss are synonymous, you might end up finding that you’ve lost more strands in the places where hair strands typically fall out. This includes during brushing, during sleep, and while showering. Between thinning vs normal hair, normal hair should also fall out regularly, but never more than 50 and 100 hairs a day.
Your hair comes out in clumps
When it comes to hair thinning, the way that hair falls out is just as important as how many strands there. If you brush your hair or rake your fingers through it and find that it comes out in bunches rather than individual strands, your hair may be thinning in a way that’s not normal.
Treatments for thinning vs normal hair
Now that you’re more aware of the difference between thinning vs normal hair, if you see almost all these signs, you might be looking for what you can do about it to treat it before it becomes something more serious. Here are some treatments, overall lifestyle changes, and more that you can use to treat your thinning hair and turn it back to normal.
- Minoxidil: Better known as Rogaine, Minoxidil is an over-the-counter, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug for hair thinning. According to Mayo Clinic, it works for around two-thirds of women who try it.
- Finasteride: Also known as Propecia, this drug is not over-the-counter, though it’s also FDA-approved. It works best with men and women under 60, and should not be taken if you are pregnant.
- Consuming more iron: Iron deficiency and hair loss, and subsequently thinning hair, have been linked in research. Consider eating more iron-based foods, like red meat, beans, seafood, dark green vegetables such as spinach, and dried fruit.
- Avoiding heating your hair and doing other chemical treatments: Heat and hair damage have also been linked in research by the NIH. For women, using a curling iron on your hair or doing chemical treatments on it, like dying or perming, could worsen hair thinning.
- Mental self-care: Lastly, the relationship between stress and hair thinning has also been so strongly linked in research that it has a name: telogen effluvium. Consider finding ways to relax and minimize stress as a way to stop hair thinning.
Taking care of your normal hair
Even if you find that your hair is completely normal and healthy, it’s still important to make an effort to care for it. Here are some ways to treat your normal hair to keep it as silky and smooth as possible.
- Using oil in your hair during the cold months: It’s easy for your hair to get dry and break during winter. One good way to combat this is putting oil in your hair to prevent water loss in your scalp’s cells.
- Minimizing sun exposure: Even normal hair can be damaged by the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. To keep your hair healthy when you go out on sunny days, consider wearing a hat to protect it.
- A balanced diet: You can help prevent your hair from thinning by eating proteins, since your hair is primarily made up of proteins.