Hi everyone, it's been a while! 2016 has been such a fast year and I've had many changes come about. I moved apartments (to get away from a wretched NYC roommate situation) to my own studio, traveled to Australia and had many new projects at work. I love my job so it's been an effort putting down the work laptop and picking up the personal one.
Okay, let's get to the point! Over the past 8 months, I continued some of the 6 items I mentioned and stopped some of them as well.
Consulting a dermatologist and my PCP | Seeking scalp therapy
Always see your doctor first! I saw a couple of primary care physicians (PCPs) and they all struck out. Under the assumption that I was vitamin or nutrient deficient, they all suggested that I take multiple blood tests to confirm. 8 (EIGHT!) whole tubes of blood later only confirmed that I am healthy as can be, which obviously a known iron deficiency (I take supplements for this already.)
No luck there.
I went to a dermatologist and was put through almost a year of scalp therapy and cortisone shot treatments to my scalp to encourage hair growth. This was a weekly treatment which was both costly and time consuming. The end point of this came when I pressed my dermatologist to find the cause of my hair loss and he said he didn't know and only knew that shots would help. Well, this did not address any root causes. (Heh, see what I did there?)
Back to the PCP. One of my college friends suggested seeing an endocrinologist and while I pushed my doctors for referrals, none were interested in giving them out. Instead suggesting more blood tests...and less stress.
Returning to diligent 2% minoxidil usage
I hated this routine of applying minoxidil to my scalp twice daily. It, just like my dermatologist, did not fix the root cause but instead tried to increase hair growth, instead of preventing hair loss. Almost one year later now, I have stopped with the minoxidil and turned to seeking the fundamental issue.
Using gentle hair care products and taking vitamins and supplements
Yes! I started being more aware of the products I consume and use on my body, including both hair care products and routinely taking vitamins. Gone are the days of awful drug store shampoo and in are the days of organic shampoo!
PURA D'OR Anti-Hair Loss Premium Organic Argan Oil Shampoo (what a mouthful lol)
DE - STRESSING! Yes! Yes! Yes!
This was the golden ticket!! After my initial hair loss from moving to NYC, I was again plagued by it upon some newfound life stress. Work, while I loved it, was getting stressful. My previous roommate made life thoroughly unpleasant at home.
So what did I do?
I have not officially announced it in a blog post yet but many of you know that I moved to Manhattan, New York in July 2015. It's been around half a year since and I'm finally ready to talk about the stress of moving cross country and experiencing hair loss yet again. After my travels in Asia, I consistently used 2% minoxidil and my hair more or less went back to normal, had normal growth but not the thickness I had prior to traveling through Southeast Asia. I was OKAY with that. Eventually I stopped thinking and worrying about it and stopped using minoxidil.
But then an amazing opportunity arose for me to move to New York City - THE New York. THE Big Apple, with a cool new job that has proved to challenge me in many ways and a chance to experience NYC life in my twenties. How could I refuse? I was becoming too comfortable in California and felt I had plateaued quickly at my previous job with no real indication of further possible career growth. So you know what, I decided to take the leap and do it. I packed my life into 2 checked bags, 1 carry on, and 1 backpack, I booked a one way flight and arrived in the heat of summer 2015.
Finding an apartment, getting acclimated to my new career, and settling into the hustle of Manhattan life opened a world of stress for me that I never stepped foot into before. I began losing hair and tremendous amounts of it. I became self conscious of this hair loss and stressed about being stressed.
This is how much hair i loss after just casually running my fingers through my hair for a few minutes. Bear in mind that I have shoulder length hair.
I eventually loss so much hair along the crown of my head that it was becoming painfully obvious. I felt like an old man trying to hide his imminent baldness with a useless comb over. There are far worse angles but I can only bring myself to share one. I'm starting to see the humor in all of this. Stressed out, Kim?! Let's tell the world by showing them your scalp!! Hah.
BUT, that was 4 months ago. Here is a photo from today. It's still obviously a work in progress but look at all of those baby hairs! Progress in the right direction, yes please. This is the result of several practices, including the following:
I may do individual posts on each of these methods but it shall depend on time constraints and inspiration :)
This is a tough topic for me tackle. Almost a full year after I concluded my travels in SEA, I have been plagued by increasing hair loss. Initially, it was not noticeable (to me, at least) but I've recently gotten a bit of commentary on my now very thin hair. I searched the topic and other men and women have experienced this same phenomena after travelling through very humid and tropical climates as I did. After much research and perhaps some irrational thinking during this (continuing) ordeal, here are some reasons I considered as the cause for my hair loss as well as some discussion around them.
1. Female pattern baldness
My scalp after two days without washing my hair. Apparently, the Christmas tree hair loss patterns here may be indicative of female pattern baldness. As a 21 year old, this is absolutely terrifying for myself and a massive bash to my self-image and self-confidence. I know, many people will say that I shouldn't care about how I look and contribute a plethora of sayings along the lines of "confidence is from within." Let's be real. I'm 21 and losing handfuls of hair in the shower and I'm scared out of my wits about being prematurely bald.
2. Stress from moving to another country/travelling extensively
Admittedly, my hair was always thin to begin with as you can see from this picture from 2012, long before any sort of travelling. That was the texture but not the density of the hair on my scalp. I never felt any extreme stress while abroad especially when getting used to the new environment, foods, peoples and cultures. However, my body and physicality displayed quite the contrary with my yearlong hair loss. Physical and/or emotional stress might have sent my body into rest mode in which I'd tend to notice more hair loss. Actually, I might have forgotten about my hospital episode in Cambodia wherein there was the stress of a 104 degree fever that wreaked havoc for 4 days.
"During the telogen, or resting, phase the follicle remains dormant anywhere from 1–4 months. Ten to fifteen percent of the hairs on one's head are in this phase of growth at any given time." Source
Bear in mind that I am no dermatologist and I plan to seek professional help once I am back from my internship in South Korea. All of this is done with the most minimal of research and maximum of freaking out.
3. I wore a cap/hat almost everyday while backpacking
Unless my cap was excessively tight, then this would not be a good reason and/or cause for hair loss.
Hair loss myth busters
4. I dyed my hair too goddamn much
No, that isn't my real hair colour though it might as well be now that I've exposed my hair to so much sunshine. I've dyed and used heating tools on my hair for over 6 years now and I thought that my current hair loss is extreme karma for disobeying the almighty Asian parents that I have when I dyed my hair against their wishes multiple times. However, dyes are generally only harmful to the hair strands themselves and don't necessarily lead to hair loss.
There are SO MANY reasons I thought of that could possibly explain the current state of my scalp but of course, I should seek professional attention and I will! For now, I am using OTC 2% minoxidil treatments to help revitalize my hair follicles and combat some of my unfortunately low self-esteem. If all is well, I will post a hair loss/scalp update in 6 months - 1 year.
Does this discourage me from travelling to hot and humid locations? NO. Not at all. But it does make me more aware of how I'm taking care of my body.
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