When it comes to keeping appearances, nobody is going to suggest that the average modern woman has it easy.
Unlike men, it’s not a case of a quick wash-and-go in the mornings – not when there are primers to apply, hair to straighten and an outfit to co-ordinate.
And while a bad hair days are a common enough phenomenon, traditionally women have been spared that painful process that many men go through; that of thinning hair and baldness.
Or at least that used to be the case. Female hair loss is becoming an increasingly problem. The blanket term for any kind of hair loss is alopecia but this can cover anything from receding hair lines, general hair thinning, actual bald spots and complete baldness.
It’s estimated that hair loss affects about 25 per cent of the female population in Ireland. It is a hugely complex problem – reasons for hair loss can range from a serious underlying medical condition to poor diet, high stress levels, certain medications and hormone imbalance. This means that it’s difficult to diagnose, as well as treat. Irish women’s embracement of hair extensions can also result in traction alopecia, where the weight of the hair extensions pull on the scalp and cause bald patches – which is ironic as the point of getting hair extensions is to have a fuller, more luxuriant mane.
Whatever about the practical difficulties of hair loss for women – the additional efforts that need to go into styling hair – it’s the psychological aspects that most women find very difficult to deal with. Thick, glossy hair is perceived as one of a woman’s most attractive attributes – note our fixations with the Duchess of Cambridge’s and Kim Sears’ fabulous heads of hair. Hair loss undermines what it supposedly means to be feminine, something TV presenter Gail Porter discovered when she lost all her hair while pregnant with her daughter Honey.
Equally alarming is the unpredictability of hair loss. It could be temporary or it could just be the beginning, although cases of women losing their entire head of hair are unusual. But because of the length of a hair loss cycle, any treatments will not be seen immediately.
So what are your options if you are concerned about hair loss? There are many products available specifically for volume enhancing. Hair supplements, which specifically boost hair growth, are also a good idea. Kate Hudson is a huge fan of Viviscal, a natural supplement that boosts hair growth and strength For more severe cases, a visit to a trichologist (a hair and scalp specialist) is recommended. The drug minoxidil, which causes hair growth when applied directly to the scalp, is often prescribed.
But really the main thing is not to panic. In many cases the hair loss is temporary and could even be seasonal shedding.