Finding strands of your hair when you hoover, clogging up the shower and filling up your hairbrush is something we get used to as women, but how much hair shedding is normal and how do we prevent it if it’s happening too much? Hair shedding is not unusual, but there are reasons why it may happen more than normal sometimes.
Why is my hair shedding?
The good news is, it doesn’t always mean there is something wrong. There is a big difference between hair loss and hair shedding. The average person loses 50-100 hairs A DAY, which is completely normal. We have around 150,000 hairs on average anyway, so this loss only accounts for around 1% of the strand on our heads. The hair goes through different growth stages where it grows, rests and sheds.
Anagen – The growth stage (the hair follicle is nourished via the blood supply)
Catagen – The transition stage (the follicle detaches from the blood supply)
Telogen – The resting stage (without nourishment, the hair dies and falls out)
When you wash your hair or if it’s the first time you’ve given your hair a good brush in a while, expect to lose way more than 50-100. If you detangle regularly you should just lose the normal amount. It’s worth noting too, that when we are wearing hair extensions, it’s not possible for all the hairs to shed. So when they are removed there will seem like loads of hair being lost. Imagine 50-100 hairs that have trapped waiting to get out every day since you had the extensions in and suddenly it will make a bit more sense.
How much is too much?
If you’re experiencing excessive, chronic hair loss (over 100 strands a day for several weeks) or even bald spots, there can be underlying reasons why it’s happening. Hair shedding is a completely natural thing that happens to us all continuously, whereas hair loss can be a common problem for women that can happen at different stages of their lives.
There is a quick easy way to test whether your hair shedding is normal (because who’s got time to collect them up and count them all?!). Grab about sixty strands of hair an inch away from your scalp and pull, then slide your fingers along the shaft to the end. If the number of hair that falls out is more than six, it’s a good idea to seek further advice.
What are the causes of hair shedding?
Many of us like a little help when it comes to our hair colour. The odd highlights or balayage isn’t going to cause too much damage, but changing up our look dramatically and too often can come at a cost. Especially if you decide to go from super dark brunette to bright white blonde, the levels of peroxide in the dye can seriously accelerate the rate of hair shedding. The ammonia and hydrogen peroxide damage the protein in your hair, causing it to become weak, dry and brittle and meaning more shedding. The harsh chemicals can also burn and damage the scalp leading to the follicle not being able to hold on as strongly and falling out prematurely. Perming and straightening chemical treatments can also have the same effect.
CHANGE IN SEASONS
Have you ever noticed that your hair sheds more in the autumn? Many believe that it’s down to evolution and that our hair sheds more in the colder temperatures because they lead to conditions like dry hair and dandruff. Whereas in the summer months your follicle holds onto the hair in order to protect our scalp from the harsh heat. Your hair will usually always be thicker during the summer.
We have been talking a lot recently about the harm over-styling with heat tools can do to your hair. Using straighteners, hair dryers, curling wands all the time will result in the hair shaft becoming dry and damaged to the point of breaking. This will inevitably lead to hair shedding.
Hair elastics have a tendency to pull on your hair, causing stress and adding to hair shedding. If your shedding seems to be coming from mainly at the hair line, this could be because you’re wearing your hair in styles that are too tight, too often. Try a messy, loose bun or a low ponytail to give your hair and scalp a break.
Most of us know that stress can cause physical as well as mental effects. Experiencing a job loss, relationship issues or a bad breakup can all be reasons why we are feeling more uptight and our hair is showing the effects. These life changes can cause exhaustion for you and your hair and cause the follicle to become undernourished. All of us relieve stress in different ways. For some it can be a hot bath and Netflix, others it can be a tough workout. Find out what works for you and take the time to add that into your week.
So what can I do to reduce hair shedding?
EAT YOUR VITAMINS
A proactive way to stop large amounts of hair shedding is by taking hair vitamins to strengthen your hair. Biotin is incredibly effective in helping to strengthen your hair and encourage it to grow. Vitamin A also has retinoids that increase hair growth and even assist with sebum production, coating your hair in natural oils and making it shiny and healthy. Taking multivitamins will not only keep your body healthy but your hair as well. These Hairburst chewable hair vitamins contain biotin and other vitamins, just make sure you get medical advice before taking any supplements.
KEEP YOUR SCALP HAPPY
Make sure you have a healthy scalp by using conditioner to keep it moisturised and scalp scrub to exfoliate it. We love this one by Christophe Robin which is even great for oily and sensitive scalps. When your scalp is healthy your follicles will hold onto strands of hair which will lead to less hair shedding. If you have dandruff or other scalp conditions this may add to your hair shedding, so use a dandruff shampoo to hydrate the scalp. Keeping your hair moisturised in winter is even more
important because of the seasons. Try using a hair mask weekly (or more often in winter) like this one by Kevin Murphy which is also sulphate, paraben and cruelty free!
AVOID CHEMICAL PROCESSING
Generally, it’s best to avoid chemical processes that straighten, bleach or colour your hair. If you do decide to change up your colour, try to only go and shade or two lighter than your natural hue. This will reduce the amount of bleach you use therefore limiting the damage. Hair extensions are a great option for giving you a dramatic change without the damage.
PUT THE HEAT STYLERS DOWN
Washing and drying your hair less often (if you can bear it) is not only great for the environment, it’s also good for your hair. Try heatless styling or get a good blow dry once a week that will make your style last much longer. If and when you do use heated tools, make sure you protect your hair with a great product like this Beauty Works Heat Protection Spray. If your tools have heat settings, try reducing the temperature to limit damage.
TREAT YOURSELF TO A SNIP
This will specifically help with seasonal changes. Getting a good haircut at the beginning of the summer will help to remove the dead ends that would only get further damaged by the sun. The longer damaged hair stays on your head, the worse shedding and breakage will be. Particularly if you are over processing your hair with chemicals and over styling, getting regular haircuts are even more important as you are damaging your hair at a much faster rate.
Once you understand that hair shedding is normal and how much is normal for you makes it far less worrying. Keeping yourself stress free and healthy is a great way to help with your hair health as well as your overall health. If you feel like your hair shedding is abnormal or are experiencing bald patches, go and see your doctor. The sooner you seek advice, the sooner you can get it sorted.
Healthy hair is an investment, and taking good care of it will not only pay dividends in how healthy it looks, but will also mean you have less hoovering of shedded hair to do….bonus!