There are plenty of completely normal reasons why your hair is 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. But it's not the end of the world, 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 looking into how to stop hair from falling out.
Trichologist Dominic Burg, chief scientist at Evolis Professional explains that hair goes through periods of growth that last about five to seven years, then they chill for a while, and then they fall 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 percent of your hair each day, and each of these is being replaced by a new hair shaft."
Read on to find out why you might be experiencing more hair loss, and how to stop hair shedding.
What Causes Hair Shedding?
"There can be a number of causes; genetics is the primary reason for men and many women," says Michelle Blaisure, trichologist and Bosley Professional Strength product and technical specialist. 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 trichologist and colorist Bridgette Hill of Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa, you should be concerned if you're seeing one of the following ailments:
- You seem to leave trails of hairs in the car, pillow, or just from running your fingers through your hair when not brushing or combing.
- When shampooing and noticing larger amounts of hair in the drain.
- A sudden decrease in density or thickness in 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.
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, help 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.
Want more healthy-hair foods? Check out our top 10.
Avoid Tight Hairstyles
Alas, if you're experiencing shedding, a tight ponytail is definitely not helping. "Avoid tight hair styles 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've got your hair pulled back too tight. 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 from sleep).
Not only is getting enough rest vital to helping your hair grow, it can also help keep your hair from getting super oily. When you lose out on sleep, your stress levels can rise, leading to not only decreased hair growth, but also increased oil production.
We know getting more sleep easier said than done, so here are our very best tips to help you actually log enough beauty rest.
Take a Supplement
Haven't you heard? Multivitamins are super cool now. Blaisure says to take a multivitamin, like Bosley Strength Healthy Hair Vitality Supplement ($35), to help make sure you get the nutrients you may be lacking. This Bosley 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. Fish oil helps reduce inflammation, which means it could give your hair follicles more room to open, allowing more hair to grow. 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.
Try a Pre-shampoo Scalp Treatment
One of the best preventative measures is incorporating regular scalp care into your regular wash day routine. Whether you're washing daily, or twice weekly, or every week, it's important to give both your scalp and your hair follicles the good treatment they deserve. 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 Complex 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.
Treat Your Scalp with Topicals
Hill also recommends scalp topical treatments—meaning a treatment for your hair like a shampoo, mask, or cream with ingredients to help treat your scalp. 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's Scalp Hair Rejuvenating Serum ($50) is designed to promote healthy hair growth and is meant to be used daily on thinning hair and massaged into the scalp. René Furterer's TRIPHASIC Reactional Concentrated Serum is one of the best hair growth serums on the market—designed to be used once a week for three months, where you'll see a change after three months. Fans have been loyal to this product for decades, and for good reason.
Maximize Your Masks
Applying a hair mask before going to sleep can really make your mask work for your benefit. While you snooze away, the nutrients your hair needs to really live its best life can 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 Protector 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.
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