May 2013

Charlene Abretske

Beyond Your Chair| Jayne Morehouse


Challenge: Finding the Solution to Yo-Yo Hair Loss

Show me a woman who has ever experienced yo-yo dieting or hormone fluctuations or just plain stress and I'll show you a woman who is experiencing — or will soon experience — some level of hair loss.

Confession: Thinning hair is my biggest beauty challenge. Some days, it sheds a little faster than the normal 60 to 100 strands a day. Other times, it falls out in clumps — and with red hair and a white bathroom; I see every hair — and then freak out. On top of that, my hair is super fine. Between dieting, hormonal changes, pulling it with self-gripping rollers and just plain aging, it seems as if I have about half the hair I did in my 20s.

My friend Aly, who is a popular beauty and lifestyle blogger at (follow her, please) is a generation younger than I am. Yet she's experienced traumatic hair loss during low-carb diets and living the fabulous yet stressful life of a freelancer in New York City. Then last year, she got very sick and had to take medications that wreaked havoc with her hair.

"My hair is fine — finer than it's ever been," she shared in a recent blog. "And it's brittle. And breaks. Stress is also a constant factor in my life. It contributes to hair breakage, thinning and loss, as well. It's devastating."

Aly and I are obsessed with finding solutions, which is good news for you. Why? If you can help us believe that our hair's thinning has slowed, let alone give us the appearance of fuller, thicker, shinier, more youthful hair, we will bring our friends and never ever leave you.

Sounds easy, right? Or so I thought. My hair started thinning when I was in my early 30s. I was blonde back then (thank you, haircolorists!) and because the hairs were lighter, I didn't notice what was happening at first; I just knew that something was different. I thought what I was feeling might have been coming from stopping my body perms or growing out my layers. One day, when I was struggling to style some volume into my hair, it hit me — I had less hair.

Working in beauty, I didn't think finding a solution was going to be difficult. My first stop was a trusted stylist. I expected him to hand me a miracle bottle and all of my hair would grow back. That didn't happen. First, he hadn't even noticed I'd lost any hair: Strike 1. He had no idea what could be causing it: Strike 2. Then he suggested a product line that was based more on marketing than science and couldn't tell me how it would help me: Strike 3. Talk about hitting a brick wall.

My next stop was my dermatologist. His first and only recommendation was that I needed surgical hair replacement. When I questioned that as a first line solution when we didn't even know the underlying cause, he became defensive and told me to let him know when I was ready. That never happened.

Enter two special beauty pros who DID make a difference—Beth Minardi and Jeffrey Paul. Beth quickly referred me to Phillip Kingsley in New York City, the experts in hair health, growth and loss. They did a lengthy consultation, analyzed my situation, recommended I have my doctor perform some simple blood tests to confirm their suspicions and put me on a regimen, including diet modifications, supplements, products and more that began working within a couple of months; I was lucky because it can take up to six.

Jeffrey Paul is an expert in providing solutions for women's and children's hair loss. He not only founded the internationally acclaimed Wigs for Kids organization more than 25 years ago, he's the owner of Jeffrey Paul Restoring Beautiful Hair and the author of the book Women's Hair Solutions to Thinning and Loss. What he taught me about wigs, micro extensions, cutting and styling fine and thinning hair and so much more is too lengthy for this column, but you can learn it all in his book ( or in one of his classes for stylists.

The message: You don't have to know everything; just need a great team for consultation or referral. But be prepared: Treating women with hair loss also requires a deep level of compassion and understanding. Aly recently got extensions. They look absolutely gorgeous. But here's what she sees:

"The real reason I got hair extensions was not vanity. It was for my own peace of mind and sense of self-worth — to undo some of the hair thinning and breakage I suffered over time. I wanted to have full beautiful hair, maybe for the first time ever. But it's not my hair that everyone is loving and complimenting – it's someone else's. And that's been hard for me. I want to have gorgeous full, thick hair, but I want it to be for real."

There's your challenge. Are you up to it?

Jayne Morehouse is a columnist for Stylist Newspapers and the president of Jayne & company, a full-service brand communications agency for beauty companies and salons. Follow her on Twitter @JaynePR and @BeautyIQ and connect with her on