Book a consultation

Hair heroes

Hair changes are common during the menopause but can ingredients and products really make a difference?

As talk of the menopause becomes more commonplace, increasing amounts of beauty products and health supplements have become available. Addressing menopausal symptoms is a welcome change but is there really a need for menopausal haircare and skincare? How do we know if a product can tackle our changing hair or skin concerns, or if beauty companies are just cashing in?

One report in the US predicted that the menopause supplement industry will reach $24.4 billion by 2030 [1] and another estimates that the UK’s women’s health market will reach £677 million by 2030 [2]. Clearly there is a lot of money to be made from women’s health and beauty.

RELATED: should I take supplements during menopause?

There is also demand. By the time we reach the perimenopause or menopause, most of us will be used to buying beauty products suited to our hair and skin types. So it’s only natural that if you experience changes to your hair that may be related to the menopause – for instance your hair becomes drier or thinner – you’ll want to find products that will help.

The tricky bit is deciding what’s marketing hype and what will actually make a difference. Newson Health founder, GP and menopause expert Dr Louise Newson says, ‘If it’s labelled menopause, it’s a marketing thing.’ You might also find it’s more expensive than a regular product, with similar ingredients.

A report by The Behaviours Agency, which questioned women aged 45 to 60, found they didn’t want to be defined by the menopause – slapping a label “for menopause” on products can feel pigeonholing or like a brand is jumping on the bandwagon [3]. Instead, most of us just want our symptoms addressed.

RELATED: hair loss: is the menopause to blame?

When it comes to haircare, you don’t necessarily have to buy expensive, targeted products to manage your hair. Many beneficial ingredients that are in these products are accessible and affordable, or available in “regular” products. Trichologist Zoë Passam from Philip Kingsley advises on what to look out for:

Plant oils: for shine

The likes of argan, baobab and jojoba oils can improve your hair condition. Zoë says: ‘Many women report plant oils increase softness, moisturisation and shine. Oils can help to improve hair elasticity, and in turn reduce breakage, such as when styling. Oils are best applied as a pre-shampoo treatment on wet hair, and the use of steam may help to enhance their penetration into the inner part of the hair (the cortex). Shampooing will remove any excess oil, so your hair doesn’t feel weighed down. It should be noted that there is little evidence to suggest that massaging oils into the scalp is an effective treatment for hair loss, and doing so may exacerbate scalp conditions, such as dandruff.’

Coconut oil: for a healthy scalp

Studies have found that coconut oil can help keep your scalp healthy, treat dandruff and is effective at hydrating a dry scalp [4]. Zoë says: ‘Coconut oil is thought to have a positive impact on the scalp microbiome, maintaining a healthy balance of natural skin flora. Coconut oil may also improve skin barrier function by decreasing trans-epidermal water loss.

‘Coconut oil may have a positive impact on hair condition, due to its high content of fatty acids, especially lauric acid, which penetrate easily into the hair shaft.’ It’s been shown to reduce damage to hair from combing and brushing and reduce the loss of protein from hair when used as pre-wash and post-wash [5]. Zoë says that since coconut oil can be quite heavy, it is best for coarser hair textures as it may weigh down fine hair and it best used as a pre-shampoo treatment.

RELATED: hair changes and how to keep it looking good

Aloe vera: for calming

You may be used to putting aloe vera on sunburn as it’s known for its soothing properties, but this anti-inflammatory ingredient can also calm your scalp. Zoë says: ‘Aloe vera may be beneficial for those with dandruff, due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is also soothing on the skin, so may help to calm scalp irritation.’

As well as helping your scalp, aloe vera can hydrate your hair too, leaving it looking shiny.

Caffeine: for stimulating growth

Just as your cup of coffee can perk you up in the morning, caffeine can stimulate hair (through topical application – not drinking it!). Zoë says: ‘There is good evidence that caffeine may be beneficial for women with female pattern hair loss, due to its ability to inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which converts testosterone into the more potent androgen DHT.’ DHT damages hair follicles and can cause hair loss. Women who have too much DHT (sometimes owing to hormonal imbalances during the menopause) can experience hair loss.  

Caffeine may also act as an antioxidant, providing some protection against the damaging effects of UV light.

‘Many shampoos containing caffeine are now available, however it is questionable whether applying caffeine in a shampoo will confer these benefits, since the shampoo will be diluted and rinsed off,’ says Zoë. ‘Leave-on products containing caffeine are more likely to be beneficial. However, caffeine is unlikely to be sufficient on its own to treat female pattern hair loss, which typically requires treatments containing minoxidil.’

RELATED: hair loss and hormones: Dr Sajjad Rajpar & Dr Louise Newson

Hyaluronic acid: for hydration

This is a well-known ingredient in skincare, where it can be found in cleansers, serums, moisturisers and masks. ‘Hyaluronic acid helps your skin to maintain moisture levels, reducing trans-epidermal water loss and improving skin elasticity,’ says Zoë. ‘This may be helpful if you suffer from a “tight” scalp, or have atopic eczema, in which the scalp barrier function is impaired.’

Hyaluronic acid can also help your hair retain moisture, making it look more shiny and less frizzy.

RELATED: dry, brittle hair and the menopause

Keratin: for smoothing

Hair is primarily composed of a type of protein called keratin, and a study found keratin peptides increase hair hydration, brightness and softness [7]. Numerous hair products contain keratin and Zoë says: ‘While hair damage cannot be reversed, products containing keratin can help to smooth the hair, improving its feel and appearance, by filling in damaged areas, improving manageability and frizz. It is unlikely that such products will truly strengthen the hair, since hair strength is primarily related to the bonds in the inner part of the hair (the cortex), particularly disulfide bonds, which cannot typically be repaired once broken. Hair may become weakened by heat styling, colouring and UV exposure so limiting these will help to maintain hair in good condition.’

Zoë Passam is a trichologist at Philip Kingsley


  1. Grand View Research
  2. Insights10
  3. The Behaviours Agency
  4. Saxena R, Mittal P, Clavaud C, Dhakan DB, Roy N, Breton L, Misra N, Sharma VK. (2021), ‘Longitudinal study of the scalp microbiome suggests coconut oil to enrich healthy scalp commensals, Sci Rep. 11(1):7220. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-86454-1
  5. Rele AS, Mohile RB. (2003), ‘Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage’, J Cosmet Sci. 54(2):175-92. PMID: 12715094.
  6. Panahi Y, Taghizadeh M, Marzony ET, Sahebkar A. (2015), ‘Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial’, Skinmed. 13(1):15-21. PMID: 25842469.
  7. Villa, A.L.V., Aragão, M.R.S., dos Santos, E.P. et al. (2013), ‘Feather keratin hydrolysates obtained from microbial keratinases: effect on hair fiber’, BMC Biotechnol. 13, 15
  8. Al-Waili NS. (2001), ‘Therapeutic and prophylactic effects of crude honey on chronic seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff, Eur J Med Res. 6(7):306-8. PMID: 11485891.
Hair heroes

Looking for Menopause Doctor? You’re in the right place!

  1. We’ve moved to a bigger home at balance for Dr Louise Newson to host all her content.

You can browse all our evidence-based and unbiased information in the Menopause Library.