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7 Sneaky Causes of Hair Loss in Women

7 Sneaky Causes of Hair Loss

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Hair loss. You may think only dudes are affected, but it’s becoming a growing problem (pun intended) with women. In fact, 40 percent of us will experience hair loss by the time we're 50, according to the American Hair Loss Association. Luckily, unless your entire family tree has inherited the balding gene, there are a few roadblocks you can avoid to keep your hair full and voluminous. Find your easy fixes here. (Also, we have these 17 Ways to Score Sexy, Fuller Hair—Fast.)

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The Weather Has Shifted

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You know those warm, heavenly months in between extreme seasons as fall and spring, but they’re also the most common times for hair loss, says Dr. Francesca Fusco, M.D., New York City dermatologist for Clear Scalp & Hair. “Whenever the climate changes, your body goes through an adjustment period that can throw off your hair growth cycle,” she explains. “And since hair tends to grow faster in the summer, it’s only natural to experience more shedding at the end of it.” Luckily, eating a diet chock full of the right nutrients—like iron, protein, and healthy fats—can encourage steady growth and help ease the transition. Need some good-for-you food inspo? Try these 10 Powerful Healthy Food Pairings.

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You Always Wear Your Hair in a Ponytail

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Elastic bands keep your pony intact during those intense sweat sessions, but wearing it more than four times a week (even if it’s only when you’re in bed at night) means your hair is undergoing constant concentrated pressure—causing crazy breakage that could lead to shedding. A gentler option: Snag-free hair ties, like the Sephora Collection Seamless Hair Ties ($9, sephora.com). (Love this product? Then take a look at these 10 Workout Hair Accessories That Actually Work.)

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You’re Overstyling Your Hair

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When you do anything severe to your strands, like using hot tools or doing a keratin treatment, you’re affecting the health of your hair. “Putting that extra stress on the follicle can deplete the hydrogen bonds in your hair that keep the moisture in, causing tiny little cracks,” says Sunnie Brook Jones, a hairstylist for Head & Shoulders. “That makes it more likely to break instead of stretch, like healthy hair should.” Translation: Step away from the straightener, blow dryer, and chemicals as much as possible. And if you can’t, always use a heat protector first. (While you're at it, break these 12 Hair Habits Distressing Your Strands.)

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Your Shampoo Game is Off

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If you notice larger-than-normal hairballs at the bottom of your shower drain, you may be not be sudsing up enough. “You typically lose 50 to 100 hairs a day, so when you don’t shampoo—which would shed naturally as you wash—it means that the hair is just sitting on the scalp,” says Dr. Fusco. Mix that with the overuse of style-extending products, and “you’ll see the accumulation when you do go to wash your hair.” The answer doesn’t have to mean showering more often; just make sure you don’t clog the hair follicles by limiting your use of dry shampoo and exfoliating your scalp at least once a week. “Try adding sugar or salt granules to your shampoo to help remove any build-up,” she says. (Before you hit the shower, brush up on these 8 Hair-Washing Mistakes You May Be Making.)

Photo: Corbis Images

Stress

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Any type of physical or emotional strain—whether from your late-night work shifts or the flu—can trigger a cascade of hormones that disrupt your hair cycle. Stress prompts your brain to pump out cortisol (which, as Dr. Fusco describes it, is “the mother of all stress hormones”), causing your hair to fall out, your skin to freak—the works. The best way to keep your zen and offset any shed-inducing tension: Exercise and meditation. (We’ve got you covered with The ‘F*ck That’ Meditation Video Helps You Breathe Out The Bullshit.)

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You Skipped the Conditioner

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Conditioning your hair is like moisturizing your face: If you don’t do it, you could cause the skin to dry, flake, and inflame. The scalp is the same way. “Inflammation around the hair follicle can cause the hair to shed before the end of its growth cycle,” Dr. Fusco says. If you’re skipping it to avoid weighing your fine hair down, massage in a lightweight conditioner for 30 seconds only, then rinse.

Photo: Corbis Images

Cotton Pillowcases

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Anything that causes friction for your hair can weaken the follicle, making strands look thin and brittle. And since cotton’s coarse texture can absorb moisture, Brook Jones suggests swapping it with a high thread count satin or silk pillowcase to cut down on breakage. We like the Slip Silk Pillowcase ($80; slipsilkpillowcase.com). “Every little bit helps,” she says. (Psst: the pillowcase is one of 10 P.M. Skincare Products That Work While You Sleep.)

Photo: Corbis Images

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