Have you noticed your hair looking or feeling thinner than normal? Are you finding unexpected clumps of hair in your hairbrush or shower drain? Hair loss can be daunting, especially when the root of the issue seems unclear.
More than 50% of women will experience noticeable hair loss at some point in their life, estimates say, and there are a range of causes behind hair loss. If you’ve found yourself wondering about the potential issue behind your hair loss, and more importantly how to stop it, this blog is here to help!
How Much Hair Loss is Normal?
According to experts, it’s normal for people to shed an average of 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. This is all part of your hair’s natural life cycle, which includes:
- The anagen phase (growing phase) - which lasts anywhere from two to eight years and includes the majority (80-90%) of the hair on your head.
- The catagen phase (transition phase) - which takes about two to three weeks and is the time that your hair follicles shrink.
- The telogen phase (resting phase) - which takes about two to four months and ends with the hair that falls out.
This cycle of growing and shedding is normal for healthy hair. The whole process usually goes on unnoticed since your follicles are all at various stages.
However, hair loss is different from hair shedding. Hair loss occurs when hair falls out and less hair grows in to replace it. The medical term for hair loss is “alopecia.”
Is It Hair Loss or Just Shedding?
Hair shedding occurs when the hair growth cycle has been interrupted, causing strands of hair to prematurely fall out. Typically hair shedding comes from all over the head, rather than in localized patches. There are a variety of factors that can influence hair shedding: stress, diet, hormonal changes, styling, and the list goes on. But, the good news is that shedding is typically resolved once the underlying issue has been addressed.
On the other hand, hair loss occurs when something is actively preventing new hair from growing. Typically with female pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia), women will see thinning near their temples and around the crown of their head. On the other hand, if you’re noticing small round bald patches on your scalp, that may be the result of an autoimmune disorder (alopecia areata) that attacks hair follicles.
However, hair loss does not automatically signal a disorder. There are also a variety of other factors that can lead to unexpected hair loss.
What are Some Common Causes of Hair Loss?
Stress can be a huge problem when it comes to hair loss. When you’re stressed, your body produces this hormone called cortisol, which signals our hair follicles to prematurely shift out of the growth phase into the transition phase, which can then lead to hair loss. It can take six weeks to six months after a stressful event for hair loss to occur.
But don’t let this stress you out more - most people’s hair will grow back on its own when the pattern of stress and loss has passed.
It’s common for new moms to encounter excessive hair shedding after pregnancy. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hair shedding typically peaks around four months after giving birth. This excessive shedding is caused by a drop in estrogen levels postpartum.
While the stress of hair loss is the last thing new moms need to worry about, fortunately, most women regain their normal hair growth within the next year.
Similar to postpartum, hormonal changes during menopause can also lead to hair loss. During menopause, the female body experiences a decrease in the production of hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which help hair grow faster and stay rooted for longer. When these hormones are lowered, hair becomes thinner and grows more slowly.
Additionally, menopause also triggers the production of androgens (a group of male hormones) that can shrink hair follicles, resulting in increased hair loss.
Harsh chemical treatments like bleaches, relaxers, or perms can weaken hair growth or, in extreme cases, lead to scalp scarring. Over-styling using dyes, hot tools, or aggressive brushing can also prevent hair growth, as these methods dry out strands, leaving them brittle and easily breakable. While broken strands do not necessarily cause hair loss, they can exacerbate thinning and detract from hair health.
Poor nutrition often causes malabsorption and inflammation, which can interfere with your hair’s natural growth cycle. Inflammation can lead to cell damage, which results in hair loss. Significant weight fluctuation (20-plus pounds) can also signal the hair follicles to move into an inactive stage, which leads to hair loss.
How Can I Prevent Hair Loss or Improve My Hair Growth?
The first step to preventing your hair loss is identifying the cause. While we always recommend consulting with a professional to figure out what course of action best fits you and your hair, here are some of our general tips for helping strengthen your hair health:
Try to Maintain Stress Levels
We get it, this is far easier said than done. If you find yourself feeling stressed and overwhelmed, try stepping away from your screen (phone or computer), going for a walk, meditating, calling a friend, or doing whatever it is you feel you need to find your inner calm.
Make sure you’re eating a balanced, vitamin and nutrient-dense diet
Incorporating more vitamins and minerals into your everyday diet is a great way to promote health, strong hair growth.
Be gentle with your hair when styling
Try to style your hair on low heat or using a heat protectant spray to prevent breakage.
Hydrate your hair and scalp
Our Lotus hydrating hair and scalp oil is packed with 13 intensely hydrating and soothing, all-natural ingredients that promote healthier, stronger, and softer hair.
Hair loss can feel distressing and overwhelming. But, identifying the root cause is the first step to finding a treatment that’s right for you - because we all deserve a full, luscious, healthy hair day, everyday!
SourcesCleveland Clinic: Hair Loss In Women | Mayo Clinic: Hair Loss | WebMD: Women and Hair Loss - Possible Causes | American Academy of Dermatology Association: Hair Loss - Who Gets and Causes | Harvard Health Publishing: Thinning Hair in Women: Why it Happens and What Helps | Healthline: Why Is My Hair Falling Out?