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Want Thicker Hair? Try Science-Backed Solutions Based on the Cause of Hair Loss

Boost your self-esteem, stat.

Scarce hair isn’t something that affects only men; nearly 40 percent of women notice some degree of thinning by age 40. Whether stress, hormones, age, or genetics are to blame, the end result can be a real confidence zapper. Indeed, studies show that hair loss has a big impact on women’s self-esteem and overall quality of life, in part because it’s not socially acceptable for women to suffer hair loss as men do.

The good news? We found innovations that may create thicker hair — no matter the cause of thinning — for a fuller mane and a happier you. Continue reading below to find solutions based on your preference, from the best all-natural fix to the best supplement to the best prescription medicine. Plus, check out three haircuts modeled by celebs that create fuller-looking locks.

Best Natural Solution: Rosemary Oil

One key to restoring volume is to wake up follicles that have become stuck in the resting phase, and a rosemary essential oil rub can help. The oil stimulates and strengthens circulation to the scalp so follicles get the blood and nutrients they need to shift them into, and prolong, the growth phase. In fact, a 2015 study found rosemary oil to be as effective at creating thicker hair as 2 percent minoxidil in 100 participants. Note that it took six months for all participants to see the effects.

To do: Mix 4 drops of the oil (like Now Essential Oils Pure Rosemary — Buy from iHerb, $7.38) and 1 tablespoon of a carrier oil, like coconut oil. Rub onto your scalp for one minute; let sit 5 minutes, then rinse. Use every other day.

Best Supplement: Astaxanthin and Biotin

Whether from age, stress, or hormone flux, when the hair follicle–shrinking hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) increases, it can cause hair to grow in thinner and fall out faster. But recent research has found that supplementing daily with a mix of astaxanthin (an algae-derived antioxidant that halts DHT production) and fermented biotin (a vitamin that helps produce the amino acids needed to form keratin, hair’s building block), results in a noticeably thicker head of hair with consistent use. A supplement that has both: New Chapter Perfect Hair, Skin & Nails Beauty Supplement (Buy from New Chapter, $31).

Best Rx: Hairstim

Since an over-the-counter, one-size-fits-all solution may not be strong enough to resolve every case of hair loss, dermatologists have created a way to tailor the fix specifically to you. The potent solution? Hairstim, which is a topical compound of study-proven prescription and natural hair growers.

How it works: After a scalp examination, your doctor determines what your hair-loss pattern is, then selects the ingredient blend that will best treat it, says New York City dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, MD. First, a base is created from prescription-strength hair growers like minoxidil, topical finasteride, and spironolactone (which were previously oral-only hair growth medications) and retinoic acid (research shows it enhances ingredient penetration). Then, the base is combined with natural ingredients like resveratrol, turmeric, and lavender, all of which target root causes of hair loss like scalp inflammation or overproduction of DHT. When applied to a clean scalp every night, you’ll see a substantial decrease in shedding and a noticeable increase in growth with consistent use.

Best Fuller-Looking Haircuts

Want an instantly volumized appearance? Consider getting a fresh haircut that creates the illusion of fuller hair with smart styling techniques. Check out these three ‘dos and show the pictures to your stylist the next time you’re at the salon.

Sparse Temples? Try a shoulder-length shag cut.

Meg Ryan, 61
Meg Ryan, 61Getty

Face-framing layers on a shag cleverly conceal receding around the hairline and temples. Ask for: a shoulder- length cut with long, graduating layers that begin at the cheeks.

Less volume on top? Try a layered pixie.

annie potts, 70
Annie Potts, 70Getty

A wispy-fringed, layered pixie pumps up hair’s volume at the crown. Ask for: an ear-length crop with stacked, graduated layers through the crown and soft, side-swept bangs.

Thinning all over? Try a bob with bangs.

Mary Steenburgen, 70
Mary Steenburgen, 70Getty

The movement and coverage of a bob and full bangs help hair appear thicker from any angle. Ask for: a long bob with blended layers and browskimming fringe.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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