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The Best Hair Care Routine for Thinning Hair in 9 Easy Steps
Dr Peter Thomas (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Peter Thomas (GMC)
Updated on May 20, 2024

While hair loss can be unsettling, it is also a common phenomenon. 85% of men [1] and 55% of women [2] experience it at some point in their lives, and it doesn’t always have to lead to balding. A good hair care routine can help you hide and regrow your thinning hair.

However, the internet is brimming with ineffective advice, and you may be left wondering where you can get a scientifically proven daily routine for hair growth. Our specialists have prepared the best evidence-based advice for achieving healthy, beautiful locks and curbing excessive hair shedding. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about:

  • The most common reasons your hair may be thinning 
  • The best hair care routine steps for achieving thicker, healthier strands
  • Advice for protecting your hair outside of your daily hair care routines
  • When to see a trichologist about your hair thinning
Table of Contents

Why is my hair thinning?

While some hair loss is normal in the shower or when brushing and styling it, shedding more than 100-150 strands each day can be concerning. There are many reasons why your hair may be thinning, ranging from temporary, reversible conditions to permanent forms of alopecia, which require treatment to stop and reverse. Here are the most common ones:

The best hair care routine for women with thinning hair

While there are no one-size-fits-all hair care routines since every woman has a different hair type, scalp needs and preferences, here are some basic steps you can follow to grow thicker, healthier locks:  

Woman assessing her hair and scalp condition

1. Assess your hair and scalp condition

The first thing you need to do before using any cosmetic products is to take a close look at your strands and scalp. Are they dry or greasy? Does your hair feel like straw? Do you have any flaking or red, inflamed areas on your scalp? Does it hurt when you move your hair or does your scalp itch even a day after washing your hair?

How does this help?

Much of your strand health depends on the condition of your scalp, where your hair follicles are located. A dry scalp can cause hair loss, as can skin conditions that may affect it. Furthermore, greasy hair requires a slightly different hair care approach than dry strands (lighter hair oils, specific shampoos, etc.). These changes can sometimes occur overnight, so identifying and keeping track of them is a good idea.   

Pro tip:

Keep a weekly photo journal of your hair and scalp, illustrating its condition, the cosmetic products, treatments and hair care routine you have used. This can help you better understand what works for your hair in the short and long run and how to best care for it. 

Woman washing her hair

2. Don’t hesitate to wash and condition your hair

It’s nothing more than a common hair loss myth that washing your hair every day will make it fall out. Regardless of your hair type, as long as you properly condition and moisturise your strands, you can benefit from cleaning them as often as daily.

Research shows that peak satisfaction with hair properties occurs when washing it 5-6 times a week. Just be sure to find the best shampoo for hair loss that matches your hair type. And don’t neglect the conditioner either, as it helps detangle more easily and reduces hair friction that can lead to strand breakage. Using one of the best 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioners for hair growth can save time quickly. 

How does this help?

Cleaning your scalp often frees it from the daily buildup of dirt, oil and product debris which can clog your pores and hair follicles. Moreover, it improves the quality of your strands. Studies show that washing your hair frequently can significantly reduce dandruff, increase strand strength and curb hair breakage. It can also make your locks less greasy and fresher-smelling [3].   

Pro tip: 

Use lukewarm water when washing your hair, and be gentle when lathering, especially when towel-drying, as rough handling can lead to unnecessary breakage. Also, if you use dry shampoo on busy mornings, remember to wet-wash your hair the following 1-2 days. That is because while dry shampoo does not normally cause hair loss, it does not clean your scalp and hair but merely absorbs oil. This makes your strands look cleaner and shinier but increases unhealthy buildup.  

Woman enjoying a relaxing scalp massage

3. Enjoy a relaxing scalp massage

Giving your scalp a good, 5-10 minute rub every day can help you start your day feeling amazing, reduce your stress levels and improve your hair thickness. You can do so using a special massage device or simply with your fingers, applying low pressure and moving them in a gentle, circular motion.

How does this help?

Scalp massage can promote hair growth because it improves blood flow to your hair follicles. At the same time, research shows that stretching the skin of your scalp can help activate some of the genes involved in hair production [4].

Pro tip: 

Not all devices were created equal – here is a list of the best and worst scalp massagers for hair growth. Moreover, a study conducted on 327 men with male pattern baldness revealed that massaging their scalp for 11-20 minutes daily led to hair loss stabilisation or regrowth in 68.9% of participants after 7 months [5].

Woman detangling her hair

4. Detangle carefully before brushing

Patiently working out all the knots in your hair can be painstaking and time-consuming, especially if you are sporting a longer hairstyle. However, this step is important. It can be simplified using a specifically designed conditioner formula for easy detangling. 

How does this help?

Brushing tangled hair can be a frustrating, painful experience. It often leads to giving up and leaving knots behind (which can grow and mat over time) or using force to pull them out. Forceful brushing can be effective and save time, but it will also break significantly more strands than necessary, leading to frizziness and split ends.   

Pro tip: 

Never detangle, comb or brush your hair when it is wet or damp, allow it to dry fully first. That is because wet strands break off more easily than dry ones, adding to your hair thinning problem [6]. 

Woman using essential oils on her hair

5. Use essential oils to moisturise and nourish your hair and scalp

Essential oils for hair growth can provide much-needed moisture, shine and smoothness to your strands. They can also make your hair stronger and help protect it from oxidative stress. Moreover, the best hair growth oils can also help curb certain forms of alopecia and help achieve regrowth. Applying them every day – as they are or combined into a hair mask – can do wonders, especially for dry hair. 

How does this help?

The moisturising properties of these oils come from their high fatty acid content. They can nourish and protect your hair because they contain vitamins and antioxidants [7]. And some of them have hair growth-promoting properties. Rosemary oil for hair growth has components that act as a natural DHT blocker, making it as effective as Minoxidil against androgenetic alopecia [8]. Peppermint oil for hair contains menthol, which soothes itching and helps alleviate the symptoms of yeast infections on the scalp [9]. While black seed oil helps regulate your natural hair growth cycle, curbing telogen effluvium [10].

Pro tip:

If your hair and scalp are greasy, you may want to try lighter hair oils, such as jojoba, argan, or sweet almond.

Woman using a derma roller

6. Use a derma roller once or twice a week

Studies show that using a small tool covered in fine needles (derma roller) on your scalp consistently can significantly increase your hair density in 3-6 months. Derma rolling for hair growth is not painful; it does not normally draw blood, and a 10-minute home session will often suffice. 

How does this help? 

The derma roller creates micropunctures in your scalp prompting your body to produce growth and healing factors at the microneedling site. Studies show it is very effective in increasing hair count and thickness in androgenetic alopecia but it can also help promote hair growth in alopecia areata and telogen effluvium [11][12].

Pro tip: 

Using topical treatments such as Minoxidil and a derma roller together can enhance their effects, as microneedling improves topical substance absorption [13].

Woman using hair growth medication

7. Use hair growth medications

This step comes with the caveat that it is best to have a trichologist’s recommendation for any hair growth drug. That is because while medications such as Minoxidil can be generally safe and effective, they can also have adverse reactions or interfere with your preexisting health conditions or treatments. 

Some drugs, such as Finasteride, require a medical prescription, and they are only normally recommended for men.  That is because they can cause birth defects and hormonal imbalances in women (however, some postmenopausal women can also use Finasteride). Once you have your hair doctor’s recommendation, daily hair growth medication can significantly improve your hair thinning over time.

How does this help?

Each medication has its own mechanism of action and can improve certain types of alopecia. For example, Minoxidil dilates your blood vessels so more nutrients can reach your hair follicles and helps androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata and telogen effluvium [14]. Finasteride helps lower the dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels in your blood, which can only treat male or female pattern baldness [15]. And steroid creams or steroid injections [16] can lower inflammation that causes hair loss in autoimmune conditions such as alopecia areata, scalp psoriasis or discoid lupus. 

Pro tip: 

Topical hair growth medications often come in different forms. For example, you can find topical Minoxidil as a solution, a spray, a foam or a gel. Use the easiest form to apply on your scalp and ensure that as little drug as possible ends up on your face and hands.   

Woman using thickening spray to hide her thinning spots

8. Hide your thinning spots

If you are experiencing androgenetic alopecia you may have a widened central parting and diffuse hair loss. Or alopecia areata may have given you bald spots. If this is the case, certain products can help you mask your hair thinning, such as hair thickening sprays or coloured sprays (just be sure to get some that are close to your hair shade).

How does this help?

Hair thickening sprays contain small fibres that bind to your natural strands, making your hair look denser and thicker. Coloured sprays are pigments applied on bald spots to reduce the contrast between the colour of your skin and that of your hair, making them less conspicuous.  

Pro tip: 

If your hair is so thin you can see your scalp, it is unlikely that sprays will suffice. Other, more permanent options, such as scalp micropigmentation for women may be worth it.

Or, if you are eligible, a hair transplant could be the key to solving your hair woes forever. That is because while applying hair thickening spray would be part of your hair care routine every day, a hair transplant is permanent

Woman using hairspray for volume and style

9. Volumise and style

The way you style your hair can make or break your look. Achieving more lift by using volumising serum or even volume boost hairspray can make your hair look thicker and healthier (rest assured that hair spray does not cause hair loss). Moreover, the right hair-loss hairstyle can do much of the heavy lifting in creating the illusion of fuller locks. 

How does this help?

Flat hair makes thinning more noticeable, while poofy strands naturally appear fuller. The right hairstyle can make good use of the healthy, plentiful hair on the back or sides of your head (or around balding patches) to conceal the thinning areas. Even bangs can be managed with sparse hair, as long as you adopt one of the best bangs styles for a thinning fringe

Pro tip:

If you have low hair density, you may want to avoid styling products which contain harsh chemicals, as they can damage your strands further. Cosmetics that give your hair a wet look can also make your thinning areas even more conspicuous, making strands clump together.

Finally, if you have afro hair (or type 3 hair), straightening it will make it flatter, making the thinning more obvious, while your textured strands will hide balding spots naturally.  

Hair care routine for men

What about a hair care routine for men?

It is true that there are certain small differences in growth rates and mineral composition between the hair strands of men and women. However, on an essential level, male and female hair is structurally the same and requires the same level of care to thrive [17]. So there is no need for a separate hair care routine for men.

Anyone can successfully follow the steps described above to achieve healthier, happier and more luxurious locks. While hair loss treatments for men can sometimes differ from those meant for women and companies market hair loss shampoos that work for men, the hair care routines remain the same. 

What can I do for my hair besides my daily hair care routine?

The two main factors within your control that can significantly influence your hair health are your lifestyle and styling practices. While following all the hair care routine steps helps significantly in achieving beautiful locks, truly healthy hair requires the following:

a well-balanced, nutritious diet

Eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet 

You may have noticed that sudden weight loss can lead to hair loss. That is because while vitamins don’t necessarily promote hair growth, some mineral and vitamin deficiencies can cause hair loss. Your strands need all types of nutrients to grow thick and strong. That is why a diet for healthy hair should include:

Reducing smoking

Reducing smoking

Not many people are aware that smoking can cause hair loss alongside other, much more serious negative health consequences. That is because nicotine makes the small blood vessels in your scalp contract, reducing the flow of nutrients that reach your hair follicles.

Moreover, smoking increases oxidative stress and leads to inflammation in your body. And since many electronic cigarettes contain nicotine as well, you may want to take into consideration that although it is a less harmful alternative, vaping can cause hair loss as well.

Woman protecting her hair from the sun with a large hat

Protecting your hair from the sun 

While it may feel great on your (sunscreen-protected) face, sunlight is not good for your hair. The UV radiation can dry out your strands, exposing them to easy hair breakage. Dry hair is not only brittle but also often flat and lacklustre, so wearing a large-brimmed hat on hot days can keep your locks gorgeous, while keeping summer hair loss at bay.   

Woman unhappy with heat styling

Avoiding heat-styling

Exposing your hair to the sun isn’t the only way to dry it out and damage it. Excessive heat styling can be even worse for your strands as the heat source is closer and hotter. Letting your hair air-dry and using low-temperature styling methods can preserve its natural moisture and shine and keep it strong. Since fixing heat-damaged hair can be tricky, it is best to take these steps to help avoid such an outcome. 

Woman wearing a tight hairstyle

Wearing tight hairstyles sparingly

While tight updos, cornrows or braids can be fun and glamorous, they can also make your hair fall out if worn for extensive amounts of time. That is because they can trigger traction alopecia, which develops when your hair follicles are exposed to excessive tension from pulled strands.

So, if worn every day, even tight ponytails can cause hair loss. Moreover, attaching heavy things to your hair can have the same effect. That is why the overuse of extensions can cause hair loss as well.  

Woman seen by a specialist about her hair loss

When should you see a specialist about your hair loss?

While not all types of hair shedding are irreversible, it is best to book a consultation with a trichologist for the first signs of hair thinning and balding. That is because if you are experiencing a progressive condition, such as androgenetic alopecia, an early diagnosis significantly improves your chances of curbing it and regaining hair growth. 

An experienced hair doctor has a variety of tools and methods that help them accurately assess the reason your hair is falling out. If traditional methods such as a hair pull test don’t suffice, they can order blood tests for hair loss or perform a scalp biopsy, leading to a confident diagnosis. If your condition requires it, they will prescribe the most effective hair loss treatment for your specific type of alopecia.

If your alopecia is mild to moderate, your trichologist will likely recommend evidence-based hair loss medications (e.g. Minoxidil 2%) or therapies (e.g. red light therapy for hair growth or PRP hair treatment). However, if it is more advanced or you don’t respond to non-surgical hair growth treatments, they may check whether you are a good candidate for a natural looking hair transplant.

However, even if your hair thinning is temporary and reversible, an appointment with a hair specialist is still worth it. While the hair care routine tips provided here are general, trichologists can assess your hair properties and help you develop a personalised one just for you. They can also advise you regarding the best shampoo for thinning hair and recommend the most effective hair growth and thickness products for your particular hair type.

The Best Hair Care Routine for Thinning Hair in 9 Easy Steps, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Peter Thomas (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr Peter Thomas (GMC)Updated on May 20, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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