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WebMD health-e head2toe: skin care today

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Thinning Hair Treatments and Solutions

Has your hair gotten finer in recent years? Innovative shampoos, conditioners, and other products can help.

Conditioners That Use the Science of Skin Care

Among the latest advances in hair care are better conditioning products that make fragile hair less likely to break or tangle.

Zoe Draelos, MD, editor of The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology says, "Advances in silicone technology, such as the use of dimethicone and amodimethicone have improved hair conditioning, smoothing the cuticle, temporarily mending split ends, improving the ability of hair to retain color, and decreasing hair breakage."

Another major development has been the application of skin care ingredients to hair care. For instance, some of the ingredients used in anti-aging skin care products, such as collagen, peptides, and sunscreens, are now found in hair care products. Many of these products penetrate the hair and help increase its moisture. Peptides, for example, provide extra conditioning and make the hair shaft stronger by depositing a shield on the shaft.

Hair primarily consists of a protein called keratin, which is made of 21 different amino acids. Common hair care practices, such as blow drying, coloring, and styling, cause a reduction in the amino acid level of the hair. Recent research has identified three amino acids -- histidine, tyrosine, and lysine – that, when added to products like shampoo or conditioners, help repair hair by restoring the amino acid balance.

Healthy Hair Starts With Protection From the Sun

Both natural sunlight and artificial ultraviolet light break down the keratin protein in hair and damage its elasticity. Hair becomes weakened and dry with excess sun exposure -- similar to the effects of bleaching though not as severe.

Sunscreens are now found in a variety of hair care products, including shampoos, conditioners, and hairsprays. They prevent breakdown of keratin due to sun exposure and also keep hair dye from fading in ultraviolet light.

Conditioners that come with at-home hair coloring kits now contain sunscreens that filter both UVA and UVB rays.

Can You Reverse Hair Loss?

Men and women both experience hair loss. Men usually have to deal with it at a much younger age due in large part to genetics. Two drugs, minoxidil and finasteride, have been shown to encourage the regrowth of hair in about one out of every three men. Finasteride, however, carries some risk of sexual side effects such as erectile dysfunction.

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