Female hair loss: When Thea Jourdan hit 40, her glorious chestnut mane began to fall out


Men aren't the only ones who go thin on topShe never imagined her glorious chestnut mane had a best-before date. Then Thea Jourdan hit 40 — and it began to fall out in handfuls

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UPDATED:

21:31 GMT, 21 March 2012

All my life I have been incredibly proud of my beautiful head of hair. My natural reddish brown curls were so fat and round you could pop your thumb through them.

When I wanted a sleeker, more sophisticated look, I dropped in at my favourite salon for a Chelsea blow dry — just the thing to create a glossy chestnut wave that fell over my shoulders like a cloak. Even Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, would have been jealous.

Sadly for me, those halcyon hair days are a distant memory. For just like Nigella Lawson, the sultry 52-year-old chef who was pictured with thinning hair during a recent lunch, my once-lustrous locks have become dull and straggly. Like hers, my scalp will no probably show a few bare patches some time soon.

Losing it: Thea Jourdan bemoans the loss of her once-enviable locks

Losing it: Thea Jourdan bemoans the loss of her once-enviable locks

Look in my shower plug of a morning, and you can see a few thousand strands which should still be on my head. As well as losing quantity, I am also down on quality. To use a culinary comparison, my glorious sausage curls have become unappetising, dry, twisted cheese straws.

And the reason for the demise of my crowning glory Two years ago, I turned 40. Almost overnight, my hair started losing its volume and shine. A ten-minute primping session has become a thing of the past. Instead, it takes hours with bucket loads of expensive hair products to get a half-decent result.

And it seems I am not alone. According to London-based hairdresser Jean Nol de Casanove, even the fattest, juiciest locks have a sell-by-date. Fluctuating hormones, diet, weight-loss, pregnancy and years of hair-styling abuse all start to take their toll in our 40s.

‘This seems to be the cut-off point when hair simply starts to lose its oomph,’ he explains. ‘You may have had beautiful thick swishy hair all your life, and overnight it seems to melt away. Then, it’s the professional stylist’s job to turn the situation around.’

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Thea misses her big brown curls

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Thea misses her big brown curls

Film star Demi Moore, 49, who is battling her own demons following the break-up of her relationship to Ashton Kutcher, 33, reportedly spends hours with her stylist having hair extensions fitted to hide the fact that her glossy locks have lost volume.

Even Madonna, 53, who is famed for her valiant attempts to hold back the years, struggles to retain a youthful bouffant. Her hairline seems to have been steadily receding since 2006.

‘/03/21/article-2118428-12466E68000005DC-947_224x423.jpg” width=”224″ height=”423″ alt=”Thinning on top: Nigella Lawson has recently lost her lustrous locks as well as some weight” class=”blkBorder” />

Thinning on top: Nigella Lawson has recently lost her lustrous locks as well as some weight

Thinning on top: Nigella Lawson has recently lost her lustrous locks as well as some weight

Hair may also respond to a diet rich in protein, iron and Vitamin D — which is thought to be important for hair growth. Most of us diet to halt middle-aged spread in our 40s — something else which has a negative effect on our hair. Nigella Lawson recently shed three stone, which some say is showing in the thinning of her locks.

‘I’d definitely say that her dramatic weight loss has had a big impact on her hair,’ says Mark Woolley, creative director of salon Electric Hair. ‘I meet a lot of models who worry that their hair is thinning and losing condition, usually because of the extreme diets they go on.’

Having children also has an impact on our tresses — even before they are born. Many women are horrified when their hair starts falling out in clumps following a pregnancy. This is because the hairs’ growing cycle is prolonged while you are carrying a child, meaning fewer are shed, only to fall out en masse once the baby is born.

‘Pregnancy puts a lot of strain on the body, and it can have a profound effect on the look and texture of the hair,’ explains De Casanove. ‘Some women get their old hair back, as it was before they had children, but for many, it is a case of saying goodbye to their luxurious locks.’

Expensive hair repair options include weaves, which are literally hair pieces woven into the natural hair to hide thinning.

More permanent solutions include hair transplants, when hair follicles from the back area of the scalp are embedded in problem areas to re-grow there, or scalp reduction, when thinning areas are surgically removed.

Price of ageing: Demi Moore's hair is getting thinner and flatter, left, while Madonna's is receding

Price of ageing: Demi Moore's hair is getting thinner and flatter, left, while Madonna's is receding

Price of ageing: Demi Moore's hair is getting thinner and flatter, left, while Madonna's is receding

‘These types of procedures should only be done after a period of observation and a professional diagnosis,’ warns Carole Michaelides. ‘It’s no good getting a transplant if you are really suffering from alopecia because the new hair follicles may suffer the same fate as the ones that went before.’

Some over-the-counter medications also have a beneficial effect, including Minoxidil (Regaine) which opens up the blood vessels that feed the hair follicles.

‘It helps women who have some thinning caused by hormone loss, but it helps more if used in conjunction with an anti-androgen, which works against those pesky male hormones,’ says Michaelides.

Otherwise, Jean Nol de Casanove has some simple advice: ‘Think about getting a shorter haircut and creating more definition and shape. Layers create softness and movement which flatter more mature faces.’

Deep-acting conditioners can improve the look and feel of the individual hair shafts if your hair is dry. Professional hair-strengthening products which contain a chemical known as Vita-Ciment can feed the cortex — the core of the hair shaft.

But old tricks sometimes work best. ‘A bit of judicious teasing can lift the hair from the scalp and help to hide thinning patches, though it must be done carefully,’ says De Casanove.

Then of course there’s bad weather. A perfect excuse for a hat.