The iconic stylist Stacy London is known all over the world as the cohost of the popular television show What Not to Wear. After it ended its 10-year run, she was looking for her second act. In the meantime, she has dealt with chronic pain caused by psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, back pain, and a torn hamstring. After negotiating a difficult menopause transition, she found her next move: Talking about health challenges to encourage others to enter the conversation and get the help they need.
She agreed to be a beta tester for a proposed new company, State of Menopause, which would sell products that help with menopause symptoms. In 2020, when the original owners decided not to go forward with the project, she took over as the CEO and majority shareholder. “We’re not claiming to cure menopause. We’re trying to mitigate symptoms with acute symptomatic relief,” says London.
London’s mission is to help women celebrate midlife, to look forward to what’s to come instead of bemoaning what has been lost. “Every natural progression has an end. Yes, it’s a change, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Why can’t we acknowledge that saying goodbye to a certain part of your life doesn’t mean there isn’t something else to say hello to?” she says.
Talking About Menopause and Menopausal Symptoms
London wants to break the silence around menopause so women can finally reach out without shame and get the help they need. “Just because you can no longer bear children doesn’t mean your usefulness is gone. I see this as a vehicle to have conversations about women at midlife and the effects of menopause that just don’t seem to occur. Menopause still seems to be a taboo subject,” she says.
Taking Care of Your Menopausal Hair
Menopause causes a number of physical changes to the body. This can include dry skin, vaginal dryness, cystic acne, hot flashes, and more. Many women, however, don’t realize that their hair is affected by menopause. This is what Stacy wants to discuss today: Low levels of estrogen and progesterone and an increase in testosterone can make hair thin, brittle, and dry. Some women experience hair loss. Here, Stacy London talks about the importance of taking care of your hair as you age.
Everyday Health: How does thinning and loss of hair affect women?
Stacy London: When I hit menopause, my hair really changed, in terms of how thin it felt. I lost a lot of body and it started to break both at the ends and at the root. My scalp was very dry, which led to hair shaft breakage. So I understand how debilitating it can feel anytime our physicality changes. I think it makes your self-esteem plummet. We have been taught that it’s okay for men to experience balding. Bald men are considered sexy now! But women are told we can’t have some hair loss. Unfortunately, culturally, women are supposed to have a ton of hair, and that’s part of their identity.
EH: What do you recommend for women in terms of midlife hair care?
SL: See the right doctor if you have concerns. Most women don’t realize that the American Academy of Dermatology says women should see their dermatologist about hair issues.
Change your hair-care routine. You have to acknowledge that the routine you’ve probably followed for years is not going to work anymore. You’re going to have to look for products that have more humectants in them and that are more hydrating.
Use silk, satin, or sateen pillowcases. They will prevent your hair from catching when you sleep, especially if you’re a restless sleeper like I am. I’d wake up and there would be a hair farm on my pillowcase!
Use only silk-covered scrunchies to tie your hair back. Don’t use the elastic bands that catch and pull on the hair. And don’t pull hard — tie it back loosely so it doesn’t break or pull out hair.
Use dry/wet brushes when you’re shampooing and conditioning to actually brush it through your hair. It’s much gentler than massaging products into your scalp. It also ensures that you’re getting an even amount of product all over from the root to the tip of your hair shaft.
Stay away from products with parabens or alcohol in them. They are dehydrating.
EH: Tell us about State of Menopause’s new hair-care line.
SL: The company has just launched a new line of hair-care products that target dry, brittle hair: a shampoo, conditioner, hair oil, and warming hair mask. A few key ingredients include argan oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, coconut oil, vitamin B5, and [a variety of essential oils for aromatherapy and more]. We wanted to formulate hair care that was moisturizing, but lighter than all the shampoos and conditioners that claim to be deeply hydrating, because sometimes the weight of the shampoo and conditioner themselves will make very fragile menopausal hair break. We went with very light oils like avocado oil, that really hydrate the hair but don’t pull on it. When you rinse, it comes out without pulling out or breaking strands of hair. We use a lot of glycerin, because it’s a humectant, which pulls moisture from the air. To me, it feels like your hair is almost like an antenna for moisture all of a sudden. It also gives your hair a lot more body, so you don’t have to use extra products. The less product you have on your hair, the better.
We also have a self-warming scalp and hair oil that stimulates and moisturizes. And there is what we call a hair mask to rehydrate dry, damaged, and overprocessed hair.
EH: Any further words of hair wisdom?
SL: Step away from the mirror and really look for your reflection elsewhere in the eyes of the people who love and adore you, whether you have hair or you don’t have hair. And don’t listen to the rule that after age 50, you should cut your hair short. Those style rules can take a hike. I’ve had enough rules for my lifetime. My only rule is that you control the narrative of your story. That’s what I want for you!
This content was originally published here.