It's very typical for me to get emails regarding hair thinning on the top, the crown, all over (diffuse), and at the temples. It's more rare for me to get questions about hair thinning on the sides. However, I do get these sometimes and most of the time, they are from women. Last night, I received one from a woman who told me that by far, the hair loss at her sides was the most noticeable and she had no way to cover or camouflage this. I will tell you what I told her in the following article.
Hair Thinning On The Sides In Women: What Causes It?: Many of the common areas of hair loss can be attributed to androgens or genetics. This includes the more hormonally vulnerable areas that I mentioned above. It's thought that loss or thinning on the sides is more likely to be due to adrenal problems, excess cortisol, or metabolic issues. Of course, numerous things can affect your hair and scalp, so that is not an exhaustive list, but these are the things that are most common.
Additionally, all drastic shedding or loss can eventually show up in all areas of your head and scalp. In truth, any area that had less volume than other areas to begin with is going to be the first area that you notice. So, if the sides were not all that full at other times in your life, this is going to be the first noticeable area if you are experiencing a heavy bout of seasonal or medical shedding.
As long as this is strictly telogen effluvium or TE (temporary shedding) the hair should eventually grow back as the follicle cycles right themselves. So, eventually the volume that you had before should return. However, if you suspect some of the medical issues mentioned above or something else, then you should follow this lead. Because if the loss is caused by a specific reason, then it's not likely to improve (along with your regrowth resuming) until it is resolved.
Camouflaging Thinning Sides: The best way to do this is going to depend on how short or long your hair style is. If your hair is longer, you will likely have an easier time. If the hair is short, then it will be more difficult for the top hair to cover the sparse areas. In this case, your best bet would be to use the powders that blends in your scalp with your hair. Examples are toppik, couvre, and derma match.
The best of these options is going to depend on which of these products offers the best color match. These products look very natural, so long as they match your current color. You can use the powders while you are growing the top out. Once the hair is long enough for curling, you should know that waves and curls are a great way to give the illusion of more volume.
If your hair is longer, then the best bet is to use the top to add some dimension to the sides. The person who emailed me had the habit of pulling her hair back and putting it up. Although this helped her to cope with the shedding, it only show cased the problem with her sides. You really do want to use the fullness at the top to blend in with the sides and you can not do this if you are pulling it back.
Sometimes, there is a problem with both the top and the sides so that you don't have this blending option. There are hair pieces that you can get professionally "cut in" and blended that will give you a little help at the top so that the side can be covered.
Of course, these are all temporary, but effective, fixes. Probably the most effective way to really address the issue is to determine why it is happening. If it is TE, then you're looking at time and styling. But, if it a medical issue that you can fix, it's very wise to follow those leads.