You’re in the shower, and as you run your fingers through your hair, several strands clump together and seem to fall right out of your scalp. You brush your hair before work only to find your brush covered in hairs that once resided on your head. You wear your favorite sweater, but the back of the shirt is covered in hair strands. While natural hair shedding is a typical part of your hair’s growth cycle, it is important to know how much shedding is too much and what you can do about it.
It is perfectly normal to shed anywhere from 50 to 100 strands of hair a day. The average individual may have anywhere from 80,000 to 120,000 or more hair follicles on their scalp. But who’s counting?
Natural Hair Shedding Periods
There are several periods throughout your life where natural hair shedding will occur. The first period occurs during infancy. The thin “baby hairs” will fall out and be replaced during the first year of life. The next period occurs during puberty. It makes sense considering the body goes through so many different hormonal changes. During this period, childhood hair changes to adult hair. It may be thicker and sturdier. So, if you have a teen going through a shedding cycle, put their mind at ease and let them know this is natural and expected! The final period of natural hair shedding occurs during adulthood, typically around the 40-year mark. During this time, hair may become grey and change texture. This is due to the hair follicles aging.
When to Be Concerned
Now that we know the periods of time when excess hair shedding is normal. Let’s take a look at when hair shedding is not normal. In short, when your hair shedding occurs at a faster rate than your hair growth, something isn’t right. You may notice your hair thinning at the hairline, patches of baldness around the crown of your head, or even more significant swaths of baldness.
Common types of hair loss that may occur due to excessive shedding are:
- Traction alopecia: this type of hair loss occurs when you pull or style your hair tightly. If you wear tight ponytails, cornrows, braids or brush your hair harshly, you can make your hair shed at an accelerated rate. Chemical treatments such as perms or relaxers can also cause traction alopecia even without the “traction.”
- Telogen effluvium: is a fancy term for temporary hair loss. Some hair follicles take a break and skip the growth phase in the hair growth cycle. As the hair follicles rest, your hair may shed, leading to hair thinning. This doesn’t usually cause baldness, just a noticeable thinning of the hair.
- Alopecia areata: is an autoimmune condition. This occurs when your immune system thinks your hair follicles are dangerous to your body and attacks them. This condition may cause unpredictable patterns of small bald patches. This condition affects both men and women.
- Androgenetic alopecia: is more commonly known as female pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss. It can cause an M-shape hair loss around the hairline and can cause baldness as time progresses.
- Anagen effluvium: While most of these conditions occur during the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, this condition occurs during the growth phase. Certain medications, including chemotherapy treatments, can cause your hair follicles to lose their natural ability to grow hair. This may be temporary.
Genetics, thyroid conditions, hormonal changes, certain medications, stress, and diet can also contribute to excess hair shedding. Take note of when hair shedding occurs and see if you can determine any specific triggers. This will help you determine the best course of action to treat your hair shedding before it becomes full-blown hair loss.
The Pull Test
Unsure if your natural hair shedding is normal or not? You can conduct a simple “pull test” to find out. You only need to grab a small section of clean and dry hair. Take your fingers and gently run them through the section of hair. As you get to the end, give your section of hair a gentle tug. Next, look to see how much hair came out during the test. If you see more than two or three hairs per tug, you may be experiencing abnormal hair shedding.
Preventing Natural Hair Shedding
While hair shedding is a natural part of life, there are several things you can do to prevent excess shedding and, ultimately hair loss. After all, your hair is part of your signature style and your personality!
Eat for Hair Health – Sometimes, your diet can be the cause of hair loss and shedding. To prevent this, make sure your diet is full of nutrient-rich foods to promote healthy hair. For example, foods such as avocados, spinach, oysters, and walnuts contain vitamins and nutrients essential for strong, shiny, and radiant hair.
Ditch Tight Styles – When you notice more shedding than usual, it is time to give your hair a break. Ditch the ponytails and tight braids in favor of more loose and relaxed styles. Consider a softer, larger braid, or use a hair tie that isn’t as restricting.
Nourish Your Hair with Oil – To keep your hair shiny and strong, consider nourishing your hair with some coconut oil or olive oil. Apply to your scalp, wrap your hair in a towel and rinse after 30 minutes. Remember, your hair naturally produces sebum, an oil that keeps your hair follicles hydrated.
Manage Stress – Stress can make you pull your hair out or encourage your hair to fall out. Even though it is easier said than done, be sure to find ways to manage your stress. Aim to get the proper amount of rest each night. Practice mindful meditation, exercise, or journaling to help keep your stress in check and the beautiful hair on your head where it belongs.
Invest in a Satin Pillowcase – If you sleep with your hair down, you may shed hair naturally by rolling over and getting your hair stuck to your pillowcase. To prevent this, invest in satin or silk pillowcase. This will allow your hair to glide naturally over the fabric instead of getting stuck on the cotton.
Increase Scalp Circulation – If you want to combat stress while increasing blood flow to the scalp, give yourself a good scalp massage once a week. You can buy a scalp massaging tool or use your fingers to massage your scalp gently. This will increase circulation and blood flow, allowing nutrients to reach your hair follicles.
Choose the Right Brush – If your hair is fine and thin, you might want to opt for a brush with gentler bristles, such as a boar bristle brush, instead of a plastic bristle brush. Also, do not brush your hair when it is wet. Always comb wet hair to prevent unnecessary breakage.
Check your Vitamins – Vitamin deficiency may cause hair loss and natural hair shedding. Talk to your doctor to determine if you need to increase your Omega 3’s, Vitamin C, or calcium to prevent hair loss and strengthen your hair. You can boost your vitamin intake with supplements or by eating vitamin-rich foods.
If you notice more hair shedding than what is considered normal, or if you want to find the right products to nourish and care for your locks, consider booking a consultation at First Impressions Rejuvenation Clinic. The team at First Impressions can recommend the right products for your hair type, discuss hair restoration treatments such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) procedures, and help you manage your natural and unnatural hair shedding.
If something feels off, it probably is. Listen to your gut and take steps to manage your hair health.
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