When I first got sick with vestibular migraine, to say I was suffering is an understatement. I couldn’t function. I couldn’t move through space without feeling like I was whirling. Feeling too much movement is indescribably hideous. It leaves you feeling exhausted, dizzy, nauseous and disoriented. Even sitting perfectly still, I felt rocking, dropping and swaying sensations. My eyes couldn’t focus on moving objects. I tried to be strong in front of those I love, but I was seriously depressed. I cried every single day while I was alone. Who would have thought I’d have to consider needing help for headache and hair loss.
The toll vestibular migraine placed on my body was significant and visible. Because of the constant nausea and vomiting due to daily, ongoing 24/7 dizziness, in just a few short weeks I lost 20% of my body weight and with that I also lost my hair, SO much hair. I can still remember my mom’s expression as she was sitting in a specialist’s waiting room with me. I ran my hand through my hair and my fingers were so wrapped in strands it startled her.
Vestibular migraine, headache and hair loss – STRESS!
Migraine disease can be incredibly physically disabling. It can impose a great amount of stress that takes a toll on one’s body. The depression, physical & emotional shock, poor diet and extreme weight loss that come along with that stress can all trigger noticeable hair loss. On top of that, some of the medications we are prescribed for relief can cause hair loss as a side effect. Because of those reasons, I believe dizziness, migraine headache and hair loss are connected for many of us. Ways to prevent it has a place for discussion on migraine forums.
How I returned my hair to a healthy state
Over the last few years as I’ve fought to get my vestibular migraine symptoms under control, I’ve also fought to return to a healthy body weight and to return my hair to a healthy state. Stick with me as I share the strategies I used to do just that. The good news is when hair loss is caused by triggers mentioned above there is a lot you can do to prevent further hair loss, save the current hair you have and work to encourage regrowth. While there are prescription medications and surgeries available, I’m going to focus on hair thinning here and not significant hair loss or baldness. Please talk with your doctor if you are experiencing significant hair loss as that can be a sign of other difficulties.
Could you be sensitive to your shampoo & conditioner?
Switching out my shampoo & conditioner was a game changer for me. I wish I would have found my fit sooner because I spent so much money trying different brands before finally finding the right one. I bought loads from local drug stores, tried samples from my beauty subscription boxes and even bought ridiculously expensive brands from department stores recommended by Instagram influencers only to realize they were making my hair worse. Headache and hair loss was expensive and time consuming on top of being such a downer.
Chemical sensitivity seems to be a common issue for those with hair loss and migraine. On top of the stress happening to my hair, I also seem to have a sensitivity to many brands. I’m sure it’s a shared ingredient used in them though I’ve never been able to pinpoint it. Most left so much hair behind in the tub drain that it frightened me. Since many with migraine experience sensitivities, I thought it was worth mentioning here so you can watch for the same issue and trial new brands to see if it alleviates your problem too.
Products I use to combat hair loss and migraine
Even if you don’t experience sensitivities, my advice here is to switch brands to one that is made to intentionally fight fallout. Here’s a list of products I’m currently using:
- Nioxin shampoo and scalp therapy for natural hair level one. They offer many more levels for more significant hair loss or color treated hair so give them a good search before choosing one for you.
- I highly recommend this scalp massage tool. It’s awesome! I use it a few times a week while washing my hair. I read that scalp massage can increase circulation to the scalp, which may pump hair follicles with the nutrients needed for hair growth. It feels delightful too.
- Tea Tree Lavender Mint Shampoo & Conditioner Set. I like to switch my shampoo out occasionally because it makes my hair bouncier so I also use this set a couple times a week.
- The only downfall to Nioxin is that the scalp therapy is not conditioning enough for me. It leaves my hair full of tangles and difficult to brush so plan to add a leave in conditioner if you choose this brand. I use Tea Tree Lavender Mint Leave In Conditioning Spray.
- Adding a volumizing product is key to making your hair appear as full as possible. I use Tea Tree Lemon Sage Thickening Spray.
- Nioxin Hair Thickening Gel is another favorite to add volume and bounce.
- It’s worth mentioning that many in our Facebook group have reported having luck with Bosley Revive Kit for Visible Hair Thinning.
Tips to save the current hair you have & encourage healthy regrowth
- Consider the brush you’re using. Your hair is the most vulnerable and prone to breakage when it’s wet. Using the right brush and brushing with care can help reduce and prevent breakage. I like Tangle Teezer Wet Detangler and Wet Brush Hair Brush Original Detangler with Ultra-Soft Bristles. Both are super soft and allow hair to easily glide through them.
- Avoid excess heat and air dry your hair when you can. Using a hair towel goes a long way in soaking up excess water reducing your drying time when you do have to blow dry.
- Braiding at bedtime- One thing I learned is if you have long, fine, thin hair you have to treat it like a newborn baby to keep it healthy and looking it’s best. Putting it in a loose braid at night will help prevent breakage as you toss and turn during the night. Silk hair ties like these are my favorite. I also like adding a little hair oil or coconut oil to the hair sticking out of the bottom of the braid to keep it from getting dry and to avoid split ends.
- Adding a silk or slip pillowcase is one of the easiest and most comfortable changes to make. They allow your hair to slide as you move your head during the night to avoid breakage. You’ll wake up with a cleaner, less messy look too. An added bonus is they’re also great to avoid wrinkles if you happen to be a side sleeper. I recommend Adubor 100% Mulberry Silk Pillowcase for Hair and Skin because it’s very inexpensive compared to most and comes in a variety of colors.
Tips to help your hair look fuller and thicker
Don’t let headache and hair loss discourage you from asking a trusted styling professional. It’s their job and most truly want to help you look your best.
- Get a volumizing cut. The right cut is everything when you don’t have a lot of hair. Talk to a trusted hair stylist about your concerns and ask for their recommendations. Typically, short to medium length hair is the most flattering for those with fine or thinning. Personally, I love long hair so I add long layers throughout my hair rather than just on the ends.
- Color can be an effective strategic tool in masking hair loss. Avoid harsh chemicals and significantly bleaching your hair, but adding a few strategically placed highlights on the top of your head can lighten your hair closer to the shade of your scalp to mask hair loss.
- Switch your part. Just changing the direction of your part can help your hair sit higher and appear thicker. If you blow dry, dry in the opposite direction of your part as well.
Consider your tools
- It’s best to avoid excess heat, but occasionally using the voloom hair volumizing iron on a few pieces of the most hidden hair on your head goes a long way in adding volume and making your hair appear thicker. I love this thing!
- I also use this amazing Revlon volumizing hair dryer. Try to let your hair mostly air dry then just before it’s dry carefully use this around your roots, for just a few minutes with your thickening spray to add softness and volume.
Supplements for migraine headache and hair loss
- Iron helps carry oxygen and is a necessary nutrient for healthy hair. Consider having your iron levels checked. If you’re low add iron rich foods to your diet or consider supplementing. My iron is always very low so I supplement with prescription iron or Pure Encapsulations Iron-C.
- Vitamin C is essential for iron absorption. If you’re low in iron, consider boosting with vitamin C. I use Pure Encapsulations Essential C.
- Vitamin D is not only essential for healthy bones it’s essential for healthy hair as well. Again, plan to ask your doctor about having yours checked. I have a very difficult time keeping my vitamin D level in a healthy range so I supplement with prescription vitamin D along with Pure Encapsulations brand.
- Biotin is a vital building block for healthy hair. Because I have hair loss and migraine I supplement with a B Complex vitamin rather than biotin alone. I use Pure Encapsulations B Complex Plus.
Check out migraine Strong’s supplement dispensary to receive a discount on your supplement purchases as well as free shipping when you spend $50.
The best hair volumizing secret
I swear the Hair Halo was sent down from the angels themselves as a gift to girls with fine hair. This little, inexpensive accessory adds an unbelievable layer of thickness and it’s nearly impossible to spot in the hair. It’s not a wig, just an added row of hair. The hair is attached to monofilament (fishing line). You wear it like a head band so it leaves behind absolutely no damage unlike clips, glue or sew ins. It’s so easy and fast!
I have worn mine in front of my most observant friends and family and I promise no one knows! One person complimented my thicker hair, but that’s it! My guy asks me all the time “Do you have your hair in?” because he can’t tell! Make sure you purchase one made from real human hair because it’s easy to spot synthetic ones. Also do your best to match your hair length. It’s my opinion that they’re best used to add fullness and not length. Unless you have lots of layers cut into your hair, they look too sparse when falling below your natural hair length. I like one with a very thin back seam so pay attention to the seam width when you purchase. I wear an 18 inch golden brown & bleach blond (linked above), but find one that best matches your color and length. I’m wearing my halo in this picture. Can you spot it?
That’s it! I hope these tips help you return your hair back to its pre-migraine diagnosis health like they did for me. As always my tips are not meant to replace advice from a medical professional. If you are experiencing hair loss and migraine or planning to add a new supplement, please consult your doctor. If you have a product or tip you love, I’d love to read about it in comments.
4 thoughts on “Headache and Hair Loss- Smart Strategies To Help You Look Your Best”
THANK YOU JENNIFER! I have been looking into this recently as I am 62 and have VM and my hair seems to be thinning some. This is a wealth of excellent information. So appreciated.
Thank you for your sweet comment Nancy. I hope you find relief soon.
I was diagnosed with vestibular migraine in September. At first like you I had left side positional vertigo.my physical therapist was able to get that resolved with one visit then he told me the dizziness should subside in a couple of days 🙁 I went back to him a couple more times with no luck then he referred me to a neurologist which has put me on some meds to help manage symptoms. My hair was falling out quite a bit so I had my daughter cut it off pretty short but it’s still filling the brush every time I comb my hair. I’ve been out of work since September 13th.I spent 3 days in the hospital they were running tests finally I told them I’m going home. This isn’t helping me,the spinning was horrible.I am still identifying triggers for the vertigo then the headaches usually come after but not always thanks for this article. I will look into some of these suggestions.
I’m so sorry you’re going through this as well. Please search Migraine Strong for my Drowning in Symptoms VM story and my VM Recovery Plan. I hope they both help you. Please also consider getting in to see a neurotologist in your area. They seem much more knowledgeable in vestibular migraine than most. Reach out anytime.