Hair loss affects millions of women, but it’s something we rarely talk about. Here are the reasons you might be shedding more than the normal amount of hair–and what you can do to help stop it.
Most women lose about 80 strands of hair a day. That may sound like a lot, but the average person has about 100,000 follicles on her head. Blondes have more than that, with an average of 150,000, while redheads are at the lower end of the hair follicle spectrum with just 90,000. Regardless of the exact number, most of us can stand to shed a little without it ever being noticed.
Seasonal shedding is also pretty normal. Many women lose extra hair in autumn due to the body’s natural hair growth cycle. However, if you notice a widening part, receding hairline, or a whole lot of hair clogging up your brush, then you might have a hair loss issue.
The most common reason why your hair might look less full is because of the way you’re treating it. Excessive breakage can happen when you use a lot of harsh products, such as alcohol-based gels, and heat tools. Your hair may also be more brittle if you’ve dyed it–especially if your color job involved bleach. Brushing your hair while it’s wet can also damage strands and cause them to break off.
In all these cases, you’re not actually shedding hair and the follicle remains intact. As long as you start taking better care of your tresses, they’ll gradually grow back.
A special category of hair loss is traction alopecia. This condition is caused by any hairstyle that pulls on your hair. That includes weaves and extensions, wigs, protective styling such as braids, and even just tight ponytails. YouTube star JoJo Siwa gets a lot of criticism for her extremely high, tight signature style, as does Ariana Grande. They argue that they’re doing permanent damage to their hairlines.
While mild cases of traction alopecia can be helped by wearing your hair loose and natural, more advanced cases need to be treated by a pro.
There are two basic reasons why your hair might be thinning. Genetic factors may cause you to lose more hair over time. Although progressive hair loss is more common in men (as in “male pattern baldness”), it affects women, too. This is an issue that you should discuss with your doctor as well as your stylist.
Reactive triggers for hair loss are even more common. Triggers for this type of hair loss include everything from hormonal imbalances to stress. Again, you should have a convo with your doctor first to see if there’s a medical cause for your excessive hair loss. But we can all benefit from less stress, so consider trying meditation and–if possible–getting help with some of your more stressful responsibilities.
Poor nutrition–especially vitamin B 12 deficiencies–often show up as hair loss because your body decides to stop producing hair and focus on keeping more important systems going. Experts advise getting more protein and complex carbs in your diet, as well as supplements to make sure that you aren’t missing out on any essential vitamins.