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Changes in Hair Texture During Perimenopause and Menopause

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

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In the curly hair community, discussions often revolve around embracing natural textures, defining curls, and maintaining overall hair health. However, one topic that has remained somewhat underexplored is how perimenopause and menopause affect hair texture.

As someone deeply entrenched in this community, I’ve noticed a recurring theme in the questions and concerns raised by members: the impact of hormonal changes on hair texture during perimenopause and menopause. Despite the wealth of information available on curly hair care, the specific challenges and nuances faced by women undergoing these hormonal shifts have not received the attention they deserve.

In this quest to help us understand hair texture changes during perimenopause and menopause, I’ve enlisted the expertise of a friend: a hair scientist and cosmetic formulator holding a PhD in Chemistry. Together, we aim to bridge the knowledge gap by delving deep into the scientific mechanisms at play. We’ll dissect how fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause and menopause impact not only the scalp but also the intricate fibers of curly hair types.

Our collaborative effort seeks to illuminate the unique journey of curly-haired individuals traversing this stage of life. Additionally, drawing from our combined knowledge and experience, we’ll offer practical tips and insights to empower you to maintain vibrant, healthy curls throughout and beyond menopause.

Hair Texture Changes with Perimenopause / Menopause

Hormones play a significant role in women’s skin and hair cycles. Fluctuations in hormone levels can change the appearance and feel of both skin and hair. Specifically, perimenopause and menopause mark distinct phases in a woman’s life when hormone levels undergo significant shifts. These changes can have noticeable effects on hair texture and overall appearance.1

Research has extensively explored the relationship between sex hormones and the menstrual cycle and their impact on skin and hair. One common observation is decreased sebum production and increased hair loss during perimenopause and menopause.2

Understanding Perimenopause and Menopause

Perimenopause marks the transitional phase when a woman’s body begins its journey toward menopause. Throughout this period, the ovaries produce hormones such as estrogens, androgens, and progesterone, which play crucial roles in reproductive health.

During perimenopause, the ovaries may function irregularly, leading to deviations from the typical ovary activity. As a result, menstrual cycles may become irregular, and the levels of sex hormones gradually decline, signaling a shift towards a less reproductive stage of life. The duration of perimenopause can vary, typically spanning from 2 to 8 years, influenced by factors such as lifestyle choices, smoking habits, dietary habits, and underlying medical conditions.

Perimenopause culminates in menopause, which is characterized by the permanent cessation of the menstrual cycle. The female body no longer releases eggs at this stage, and hormone levels are significantly reduced. Menopause commonly occurs in the late 40s to early 50s, with the median age in the USA being around 51 years old.3,4,5

Understanding Changes in Female Sex Hormones

In the human body, estrogen, progesterone, and androgens play pivotal roles in regulating various physiological processes. Throughout the transition phase of perimenopause, these hormones undergo a decline, significantly impacting both skin morphology and hair texture.

For example, the reduction in estrogen and progesterone levels contributes to a decrease in collagen content within the skin epidermis. This decline results in reduced skin thickness, diminished elasticity, and alterations in its natural appearance.

Moreover, androgens are crucial in modulating hair growth and regulating sebum secretion from the sebaceous glands. As these hormone levels decrease during perimenopause, there is a consequent reduction in lipid content on the skin surface and along the hair shaft, influencing both skin health and hair texture.4

Understanding Changes in Hair Density

Hair density refers to the number of hair fibers present per unit surface area of the scalp. During perimenopause and menopause, changes in hormonal levels can lead to alterations in hair density, presenting two potential scenarios.

Firstly, there may be a decrease in hair density, characterized by reduced hair fibers on the scalp. Alternatively, some individuals may experience increased unwanted hair fibers in undesired locations, which can also affect overall hair density.

Understanding Hair Loss

As women age and undergo hormonal changes, there is a notable shift in the physical properties of hair fibers, often accompanied by a decrease in hair density. During perimenopause, one of the initial signs of hormonal fluctuations manifests as thinning hair fibers, primarily due to a decrease in their diameter. This thinning can progress to hair loss over time, with continuous hormonal irregularities exacerbating the issue.

Hair loss typically begins in the frontal and mid-scalp areas, which are often the most visibly affected regions. The most prevalent type of hair loss in women is Female Pattern Hair Loss, characterized by a gradual reduction in hair density across the scalp. In post-menopausal women, this may progress to a condition known as Post-Menopausal Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia, which is distinguished by a visible reduction in hair fiber density specifically in the frontal area of the scalp.5

Understanding Hirsutism

Hirsutism refers to the growth of unwanted hair, typically noticeable on the face and chin. This condition arises from irregular androgen activity or heightened sensitivity of follicle cells to these male hormones. While relatively rare, hirsutism is frequently reported in females, posing both cosmetic and emotional challenges.

By understanding the underlying causes and manifestations of hirsutism, individuals affected by this condition can seek appropriate medical advice and explore treatment options to manage and alleviate its impact on their daily lives.

Understanding How Hair Texture Changes

Perimenopause and menopause bring about significant changes in the texture of women’s scalp hairs. Reduced follicle activity and delayed hair life cycle are common occurrences during this time, resulting in thinner hair fibers and a reduction in fiber diameter. These alterations affect not only the physical and tactile properties of hair but also impact the self-esteem of women consumers.

As hair fibers become thinner and finer during perimenopause and menopause, there is a noticeable reduction in hair body and volume across the scalp. This transformation affects the overall hairstyle and influences everyday hair management routines.

Reduction in Hair Body & Volume

Thin hair fibers necessitate adjustments in hair care practices, requiring specialized products designed to enhance body and impart volume to the hair. By recognizing these changes and adapting their hair care routines accordingly, individuals can better maintain the desired appearance and manage their hair with confidence during this transitional phase of life.

Dry Hair

Menopause may also cause dryness to the scalp and hair fibers. This is under the influence of hormones leading to the poor activity of sebaceous glands lowering sebum production. Sebum is a waxy material containing different types of lipids that coat the upper scalp surface and hair shaft. It is a natural hair conditioner that provides a slip and shine to hair fibers and reduces fiber-to-fiber friction, making it easy to comb and style. The lack of sebum raises the water loss from the scalp skin and hair proteins causing dryness to hairs.

Weaken Hair Fibers

Sebum coating is known to protect hair proteins against UV radiation. A lack of sebum or reduction in its quantity exposes the hair proteins to high-energy UV radiation triggering its free radical-induced degradation and undermining the mechanical strength of hair fibers. Hair becomes weak and vulnerable to break during combing, brushing, and styling. This is potentially another reason for lower hair density in elderly people.

Hair Care Tips

As women transition through perimenopause and menopause, their hair undergoes significant changes, becoming dry and fragile. To address the unique needs of their hair during this stage of life, specialized hair care routines are essential. Here are some tips to guide elderly women in caring for their hair:

  1. Use Hydrating and Moisturizing Products: Choose mild and gentle shampoos containing cationic conditioning polymers and hydrating humectants to balance the water level of hair fibers.
  2. Incorporate Rinse-off Conditioners: Opt for rinse-off conditioners with hydrating actives and natural emollients to provide long-lasting moisturization.
  3. Embrace Deep Hydration Therapy: Treat your hair to deep hydration therapy, as proteins are excellent water-binding molecules. Consider deep hydration treatments twice a month to nourish coarse and fine dry hair fibers.
  4. Try Leave-in Conditioners: Utilize leave-in conditioners enriched with natural emollients for day-long conditioning and protection against solar radiation.
  5. Use Bodifying and Volumizing Products: Menopausal women often experience fine hair with low diameter and lack of body. Regularly apply bodifying and volumizing products to enhance body and volume, effectively managing the limp-down effect on fine hair fibers.

Summary

Perimenopause and menopause mark natural changes in a woman’s body, accompanied by significant fluctuations in hormone levels. These hormonal shifts not only impact skin morphology but also alter hair texture.

In menopausal females, hair fibers undergo noticeable changes, becoming dry and weak due to reduced sebum coating over the hair shaft. This can also affect the health of the scalp, potentially leading to increased transepidermal water loss from the scalp surface.

Given these changes, menopausal women benefit from a customized hair care regimen tailored to ensure the health of their scalp and hair. By addressing their specific needs, women can maintain vibrant and healthy hair throughout perimenopause and menopause.


References

  1. Brzozowska, M.; Lewiński, A., Changes of androgens levels in menopausal women. Menopause Review/Przegląd Menopauzalny 2020, 19 (4), 151-154. ↩︎
  2. Bolognia, J.; Braverman, I.; Rousseau, M.; Sarrel, P., Skin changes in menopause. Maturitas 1989, 11 (4), 295-304. ↩︎
  3. Mirmirani, P., Hormonal changes in menopause: do they contribute to a ‘midlife hair crisis’ in women? British Journal of Dermatology 2011, 165 (s3), 7-11. ↩︎
  4. Blume-Peytavi, U.; Atkin, S.; Gieler, U.; Grimalt, R., Skin academy: hair, skin, hormones, and menopause–current status/knowledge on the management of hair disorders in menopausal women. European Journal of Dermatology 2012, 22 (3), 310-318. ↩︎
  5. Zouboulis, C.; Blume-Peytavi, U.; Kosmadaki, M.; Roó, E.; Vexiau-Robert, D.; Kerob, D.; Goldstein, S., Skin, hair and beyond the impact of menopause. Climacteric 2022, 25 (5), 434-442. ↩︎

HI,I'M VERNA

I’m just a girl who transformed her severely damaged hair into healthy hair. I adore the simplicity of a simple hair care routine, the richness of diverse textures, and the joy of sharing my journey from the comfort of my space.

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