Does that blanket of hair you seem to find on your bathroom floor on a daily basis or the clump of it clogging your tub drain make you fret that you’re losing too much hair? I think hair loss is one of the things I hear more friends worry about than anything else, so I checked in with a hair scientist to get some answers as to when we should be concerned and what we can do to help with hair loss.
Even losing a pile of hair daily is normal
First off, we’ve all heard that it’s normal to lose up to 100 strands of hair a day. What’s that look like, though? “If you have long or very thick hair that can look quite a lot (a significant pile or a loose handful) while still being perfectly normal,” says Dr. Frauke Neuser, Principal Scientist P&G Salon Professional based in London, England. And the reason we lose that much daily is because roughly speaking 85 percent of all your hair fibres are growing at any point in time, she says, which means that 15 percent are resting in preparation to being shed.
When to seek out professional help
“If you lose more than 100 fibres every day for more than two weeks, you should contact a trichologist (or doctor or dermatologist),” says Dr. Neuser. She notes that surveys reveal that more than 70 percent of women in North America (and more than 50 percent globally) say they’ve noticed hair thinning at some point—so don’t feel alone in this, it’s not uncommon.
Consider what may be contributing to your hair loss
Are there aspects of your lifestyle you can control that might be contributing to your hair loss? Your doctor can help you determine what’s at the root of the issue, but put some thought into what’s going on in your life, such as:
Diet and nutrition. Are you always yo-yo dieting? “If you go on crash diets, or if your body is lacking certain nutrients such as vitamins or minerals, it can manifest itself in thin-looking hair. Vegetarians who don’t get enough iron are also at risk,” says Dr. Neuser. If you suspect this might be your problem, ask your doctor to perform some blood tests, she says.
Hormones. Just had a baby? “Suffering from thinning a couple of months hair after childbirth is quite common and based on changes in hormone levels.”
Stress and/or trauma (both mental and physical). Going through a divorce or just lost your job and not sure how to cover the bills? Extreme stress can affect your body and thereby indirectly your hair growth, she says.
Medication. Check your prescriptions as some medications can cause hair thinning as a side effect.
Inadequate hair care. Yes, your constant bleaching, heat styling and more could be contributing to your hair loss. Ensure you’re using hair care to treat your hair and scalp, too, so you’re not damaging your mane. A product such as Nioxin, for example, which helps to nourish and strengthen hair, might be something to add to your regimen (it also gives the benefit of thickening the appearance of each strand). “Treat your hair like you would your favourite silk scarf or cashmere sweater—gently!” says Dr. Neuser.
Lastly, one key thing to remember? “Hair is not essential for your body,” says Dr. Neuser. “If the body is in an emergency situation (such as lack of nutrients or energy), healthy hair growth is one of the first things to suffer as the body has a lot more interest in keeping you vital organs, your brain, your blood and your skin healthy.” So look after your body and overall health first and foremost, she says.