There are plenty of completely normal reasons for hair shedding—in fact, it's part of the hair cycle for hair to fall out. But when you start to notice lots of strands clogging up your shower or coming out when you brush your hair, it can be alarming. It's not the end of the world, though, we promise. Losing around 100 hairs a day is normal, and it's not until you start noticing a lot more hair in the shower—or your hair comes out easily with just gentle pressure—that you should be really concerned and look into how to stop hair from falling out.
Trichologist Dominic Burg, chief scientist at Évolis Professional, explains that hair goes through periods of growth that last about five to seven years, then it chills for a while, and then it falls out. Obviously, not every strand of hair is on the same cycle (otherwise we'd all be bald every few years).
"The follicles cycle asynchronously, meaning they each do their own thing in their own time, and this results in about 100 hairs per day entering the falling phase," Burg says. "This may sound like a lot, but if you compare that to the number of follicles on your head—between 100,000 and 150,000—then you're only shedding 0.001% of your hair each day, and each of these is being replaced by a new hair shaft."
Meet the Expert
What Causes Hair Shedding?
"There can be a number of causes; genetics is the primary reason for men and many women," says Blaisure. But many women commonly experience hair shedding, thanks to stress and lack of nutrients (like vitamins B, D, and zinc). "Another common reason for excess hair fall is hormonal changes, particularly in women," Burg adds. "These can happen with pregnancy, childbirth, a change in contraceptive pill, or during menopause. The change in hormones can affect the way hair grows by shortening the growth part of the hair cycle, leading to increased fall."
According to Hill, you should be concerned if you're seeing one of the following symptoms:
- You seem to leave trails of hair in the car, pillow, or just from running your fingers through your hair.
- You're noticing larger amounts of hair in the drain when shampooing.
- You see a sudden decrease in the density or thickness of your ponytail or hair over a 3–6 month period.
But don't panic: Burg says this is completely reversible. "This sort of phenomenon is referred to as telogen effluvium, which just means that a group of hairs has stopped growing at the same time and then have shed together," he explains. Also, your hair and nails take a lot of energy to grow—but they're not a top priority for your body, which is why you may experience shedding during times of physical and emotional stress.
Read on to find out pro tips on how to stop hair from shedding.
Eat a Balanced Diet
"Eat a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, lean meat, and seafood—all of these contain the essential nutrients for hair," Burg says.
Look for foods packed with vitamins and healthy fats, like eggs or avocados.
Here are some of our other favorites:
- Spinach is full of iron, which helps carry red blood cells to your scalp to promote new hair growth.
- Food full of vitamin C, like oranges, tomatoes, and peppers, helps produce collagen, which keeps hair follicles healthy.
- Seeds like flax or chia are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep hair healthy and strong while also promoting new growth.
Avoid Tight Hairstyles
Alas, if you're experiencing shedding, a tight ponytail is definitely not helping. "Avoid tight hairstyles and harsh chemical treatments or heat near the scalp," Burg advises. "These can stress follicles and lead to increased hair fall."
The American Academy of Dermatology says that you can help prevent early hair loss by looking for signs you're pulling your hair back too tightly. Have breakage near your hairline or where you secure your hair back? Try wearing a looser style. Loosen your braids, don't pull your hair into super-tight updos, and try to change up your hairstyle when you can. Alternating styles not only gives you a new look, but it also gives your hair some time to recover.
Get Enough Sleep
"Get at least seven to eight hours of sleep, as the body and mind need that amount to regenerate," Blaisure advises. The hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle, melatonin, has also been proven to promote hair growth (both when applied topically and when you get enough of it naturally from sleep).
Not only is getting enough rest vital to helping your hair grow, but it can also help keep your hair from getting super oily. When you lose out on sleep, your stress levels can rise, leading not only to decreased hair growth but also increased oil production.
Take a Supplement
Haven't you heard? Multivitamins are super cool now. Blaisure says to take a multivitamin, like BosleyMD Healthy Hair Growth Supplements ($35), to help make sure you get the nutrients you may be lacking. This supplement has copper and riboflavin in it, both of which are important to promote new hair growth and healthy hair follicles. We're also fans of Ouai Hair Supplement for Thinning Hair ($28).
Get Your Omega-3s
Blaisure also recommends getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, as they can help boost hair growth. You can get these in the form of whole foods like salmon and chia seeds, or try a fish oil supplement from a quality brand like Hum Nutrition. Fish oil helps reduce inflammation, which means it could give your hair follicles more room to open, allowing more hair to grow.
Try a Scalp Treatment
One of the best preventative measures you can take against hair shedding is incorporating scalp care into your regular haircare routine. Hill explains, "Using weekly pre-shampoo scalp treatments that stimulate follicular health goes a long way to help retain the strength and vitality of the hair follicle." She recommends René Furterer Complexe 5 Stimulating Plant Concentrate ($50), which detoxes the scalp using essential oils like orange and lavender to clarify and purify without removing any of the good oils. It also comes with a bonus scalp massager so you can really get into those roots.
Hill also recommends using additional topical scalp treatments, like creams, masks, and shampoos. Some are available over the counter, while others may require a doctor's prescription, in the case of treating scalp psoriasis or other skin ailments. Groh Scalp Hair Rejuvenating Serum ($50) is designed to promote healthy hair growth and is meant to be massaged into the scalp daily to help thinning hair. Also by René Furterer, TRIPHASIC Reactional Concentrated Serum is one of the best hair growth serums on the market—it's designed to be used once a week for three months. Fans have been loyal to this product for decades, and for good reason.
Maximize Your Masks
Applying a hair mask before you go to sleep can really make your mask work for your benefit. While you snooze away, the nutrients your hair needs to live its best life make their way to your hair and scalp. "This allows maximum penetration of moisture, lipids, and proteins to penetrate the hair cuticle to serve as the best foundation for the hair to retain elasticity and strength," Hill says. A formula like Living Proof's Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Overnight Perfector is designed to work over an extended period—put it on, catch some zzz's, and wake up the next day with stronger and healthier-looking hair.
When to See a Professional
If the tips above aren't helping or you feel like you are experiencing excessive hair shedding, you may want to speak to your doctor to rule out other health conditions. Telogen effluvium may result from an illness like hypo or hyperthyroidism. As mentioned earlier, it can also be caused by stress, poor nutrition, and certain medications.
A medical professional can help you land on a proper diagnosis and treatment plan by analyzing your history of hair shedding, examining your scalp and pattern of hair loss, executing a pull test to examine bulbs of shed hairs, trichoscopy, or doing blood tests. In certain instances, a scalp biopsy may be required. A dermatologist may prescribe medication or recommend in-office treatments like PRP or vitamin B complex injections to address your hair shedding.
What causes your hair to thin?
Hair thinning can be caused by a number of factors, including stress, diet, hormones, and age.
What are some signs your hair is thinning?
You might notice an excessive amount of hair in the shower after you shampoo, trails of hair left on your pillow, or lots of hair in your brush or comb after styling.
Is hair thinning permanent?
Hair loss attributed to stress, hormones, tight ponytails, diet, and lack of sleep can be reversed.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. Hairstyles that pull can lead to hair loss.
Fischer TW, Trüeb RM, Hänggi G, Innocenti M, Elsner P. Topical melatonin for treatment of androgenetic alopecia. Int J Trichology. 2012;4(4):236-245. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.111199
Al Aboud AM, Zito PM. Alopecia. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2021.
Trüeb RM. Systematic approach to hair loss in women. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2010;8(4):284-297, 284-298.