Christine Shaver, a dermatologist at Bernstein Medical Center for Hair Loss in New York City reminds us that “it’s important to differentiate genetic ‘baby hair’ from broken hair and miniaturized hair as they all can look similar. If hair is broken, then styling practices need to be reassessed as heat, chemical, and over-styling can cause more brittleness and cracking,” she says. “Miniaturization is the shrinking of hair in genetic hair loss and can occur in both men and women.” Thankfully, this can be reversed to some extent with medications liketopical 5 percent minoxidil ( a.k.a Rogaine). In contrast to baby hairs, which are stable, the amount of miniaturized hair on a persons head will tend to increase over time.
Additionally, Shaver adds that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) scalp injections can help women reverse miniaturizing hairs. “Both these therapies need to be maintained for their benefit to continue as the hair is always growing and cycling,” she shares. “While Rogaine can be applied at home, PRP injections require periodic in-office treatments with your dermatologist.”
Also watch for changes in texture, Hill notes. “The changes in the texture around the hairline are individual and impacted by your genetic makeup, hair type, texture, and hairstyling habits. Extensive tension, overuse of heat and styling tools, as well styling products can impact the texture as well as cause those finer hairs to grow in coarser and thicker.”
Pregnancy can create baby (-looking) hairs temporarily. “Following pregnancy, there is often a large shed period of hair as the plentiful pregnancy hormones decrease in the body,” explains Shaver. “Following this shed, hair initially grows back more wispy and fine and then over time strengthens, darkens, and returns to normal.”
Ah, the golden question: Do you actually have baby hair or just breakage? Emmanuel weighs in: “If it is breakage, the hair along the edge of your hairline will feel dry, it will also be uneven in length and brittle. You will also notice split, frayed hairs,” she says.
“If it is hair loss, you may notice a smooth, shiny surface with little or no hair this may be due to traction, pulling your hair too tight, or overusing hot tools really close to the scalp. The scalp may look red and inflamed as well,” Emmanuel clarifies.
So what to do if your baby hairs are really breakage hairs? First, cut back on heat styling. “These hair-care practices weaken the strength of bonding among hairs and can create brittle nodes which lead to premature cracking and breakage,” Shaver explains. But if you absolutely cannot help yourself, “You should always try to use the lowest temperature possible when styling hair to avoid additional trauma.”
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Baby Hair or Breakage: How to Tell the Difference – Allure